Whether travelling, baking for her family or working to bring clean-renewable hydropower to the people of the Northwest, Cornejo is excited to learn new information and explore new ideas so she can help make our part of the world a better place to live.
When people ask me what I do for work I tell them: The elevator version is that I work on BPA’s Residential Exchange Program. It’s a 40-year-old federally mandated program created to share the benefits of the Federal Columbia River Power System with all residents of the Pacific Northwest.
My main job is to evaluate the average system costs of Northwest utilities participating in the program and calculate their REP benefit payments from BPA that are passed through to their customers. The REP essentially ensures all residential and farm customers of Northwest utilities, including those that are not public utilities, benefit from our less expensive federal power.
I also implement our REP compliance review program, assist our utility customers with REP-related issues, develop and provide educational materials and training for internal and external parties, conduct the REP biannual review process, which runs parallel to BPA’s rate case proceedings, and work on any other REP-related one-offs that arise. Never a dull moment.
I like working at BPA because: I enjoy working with so many interesting and intelligent folks. Each of my co-workers brings a different energy, passion and perspective to the job, which keeps me engaged and constantly learning. I’ve worked in several BPA organizations and the people, for me, are a common factor in enjoying my work. I really like the familial working environment and respect for work/life balance. I’m also proud to work for an organization that supports all of its customers equally, regardless of size, and prioritizes their interests.
My most memorable work-related story is: I have many great work stories, but one of my favorites was taking a work field trip to Warm Springs Power and Water Enterprise. At the time, we had a Warm Springs tribal member working at BPA, and toward the end of his rotation with our team, he organized the field trip.
The coolest or most surprising thing about my job is: I’ve really enjoyed stepping up to co-manage and implement the entire program. The workload over the past year has been overwhelming at times, but I find it exciting and engaging.
What leadership behaviors do you try to demonstrate, or is there one you’re working on being better at? I strive to connect my work to others and vice versa. I often seek out the input of colleagues in other BPA organizations and, when appropriate, collaborate with them. We are often working with the account executives on customer issues, with the Power Rates team on long-term rate impacts, and most recently with Power Services to develop educational material for our customers. I have so much to work on and I strive every day to learn something new and continue to grow.
With everything going on in the world today, what does respect and dignity mean to you? I strongly believe in respecting our cultural differences, finding commonality in each other’s humanity, seeing one another as deserving of the same equal rights and dignity, and reaching across the aisle to learn and understand, rather than judge and stereotype. Harm and divisiveness comes from poorly educated assumptions; bridging our differences will require willingness to learn and empathize with one another’s humanity.
What are some of your notable past jobs/previous careers, awards, published work/technical papers? As part of BPA’s Power Planning and Forecasting group I had the great opportunity to lead a cross-agency team to develop alternative service options for some of our customers. We presented our ideas to customers in January. This was the first time I had the chance to lead and present a topic externally that is so important to many of our customers. I enjoyed working alongside very knowledgeable, thoughtful and patient folks on our team. I couldn’t have asked for a better group to work with.
When I’m not working or sleeping, I like to: I regularly bake for my family and love learning new recipes. I also love to dance. As a kid, my parents would wake us up each day to music blasting on the radio. My husband grew up the same way and we’re always playing music at home and spontaneously dancing. Even our dog wiggles his tail with us. My husband and I were actually on a salsa performing dance team some years ago. It was incredibly fun, but it also required lots of hard work and dedication. Spending time with family and friends is maybe not a hobby, but it’s a pleasurable pastime that I deeply cherish and look forward to when we can resume social gatherings.
Two things I can’t live without are: My family and chocolate! No ifs, ands or buts.
I am inspired by: When traveling, we visit specific sites or places for their history and culture, but in my mind I attribute that to the people that live or lived there. So I look for local foods, customs and personal stories. It’s the same in my personal and professional life – I seek personal stories tied to places I’m interested in visiting or learning about.