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A Nuclear Family Ensuring Our Clean Energy Future

When Marian Kellett first moved to Tri-Cities, Wash. while in her 20s, she wasn’t too sure about nuclear energy.

“I was so negatively biased toward nuclear power growing up. Our landlord, a Ph.D. at Battelle Northwest, was a good guy who was clearly smart,” Kellett said. “The fact that he chose to raise a family here challenged every (negative) preconception I had about nuclear energy.”

She came to realize that people who were a lot more knowledgeable than she was on the subject were quite comfortable with nuclear energy.
Laura Pickard and her mother, Marian Kellett
“It was a clarifying moment, and I started to learn more about nuclear instead of just giving in to what I knew from movies and the press.”

Good thing for Marian. That change in perspective led to a nearly 26 year career at Energy Northwest’s Columbia Generating Station, located 10 miles north of Richland, Wash. She started as a temporary clerk seeking a stable working environment and an opportunity to advance if she worked hard. She certainly did that and now is assistant to the vice president for operations and spearheading the station’s Delivering the Nuclear Promise effort, an industry initiative to reduce costs through greater efficiencies.

But more than that, Marian is also a colleague to someone she knows very well – her daughter Laura.

“More than anything, it's a real treat to see her as an adult who fends for herself, makes her own way, has a great sense of style and humor, and will occasionally call me ‘momma’ when I see her on site,” Kellett said.

Laura Pickard works as nuclear security officer at Columbia. She joined the Marine Corps after high school and spent five years serving her country, training at the Defense Language Institute to become a Korean linguist. When she left the service it was back to school and a degree from Washington State University in Pullman. Even though her degree is in communications, nuclear security seemed a good fit.

“My military background has been extremely helpful in my job working security, where so much of the focus is on regulations and tactics,” Pickard said. “I really enjoy the annual training, which is even more extensive than the training I received in the military. This is such a great career for veterans like me, because my previous training has only been enhanced by the nuclear aspect of this job.”

Marian is looking forward to her daughter having a long career in nuclear energy, just as she has. But she knows the industry has faced hardships, both internal and external. Delivering the Nuclear Promise will address some of those hardships and, hopefully, pave the way for future generations to find meaningful employment providing carbon-free electricity to homes and businesses.

“From a personal perspective, I've been given so many opportunities in this industry to grow and advance, it's astounding. I was seeking a stable working environment with benefits,” Kellett said. “Today, I have earned a degree that was supported and financed by Energy Northwest, I've had the opportunity to work my way up in the company and had meaningful and rewarding work along the way, and I'm looking ahead at a retirement complete with the satisfaction of having worked with some of the most talented people I've ever known.”

It’s not hard to see why her daughter Laura feels similarly.

“I really appreciate that I’m able to have a stable job with great benefits in an industry that provides a service to my community. I’m also proud to be part of creating safe and clean energy for a huge part of Washington,” Pickard said.

We know momma is proud too.

The above post was written by Energy Northwest’s John Dobken for the Powered by Our People promotion, which aims to showcase the best and the brightest in the nation’s nuclear energy workforce.

Share this story of nuclear’s benefits with your network using #whynuclear. To learn more, go to nei.org/whynuclear.

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