Community Commitment
April 29, 2024

Meet the Good Energy Award winners paying it forward

Xcel Energy employees direct dollars to the cause of their choice

The giving spirit of our employees continues to grow stronger. In 2023, our volunteers completed nearly 92,700 hours of volunteering in our communities, a 25% increase from 2022.  

As part of National Volunteer Month this April, Xcel Energy’s Social Investments team selected five employees or internal groups to receive our Good Energy Award. This award is given to employees throughout the enterprise who exhibit outstanding service to their communities. Good Energy Award winners are granted $500 to award to their nonprofit of choice. This is the fourth year that the award has been distributed. 

Meet the 2024 Good Energy Award winners: 
Sarah McDowell, Good Energy Award Winner from Wisconsin.
Sarah McDowell, electric construction operations specialist, Wisconsin 

Sarah McDowell has a passion for giving back to her community and views volunteering as a way to make an impact in her region. McDowell serves on the board of directors of The New Day Advocacy Center in Ashland, Wisconsin, where she can further fulfill her passion of community service.  

 “I am grateful I am able to give my time and that Xcel Energy supports me to do this,” said McDowell.  “I look forward to continuing this rewarding work.” 

McDowell recently participated in a celebration of life service for a colleague and created a fundraiser with the City of Ashland’s Parks and Recreation Department on his behalf. Funds were used to purchase a score board for the youth softball teams.
McDowell chose The New Day Advocacy Center to receive the $500 grant.  


Hannah Crites [left], showcasing prom dresses for Night to Shine guests to wear.
Hannah Crites, reliability assurance analyst, Texas/New Mexico 

Hannah Crites’ love for volunteering is exemplified through her efforts with Night to Shine Amarillo, a national organization that hosts an annual prom dance for 500 students with special needs and their caretakers. Night to Shine has been held in February for the past six years and works in partnership with the Tim Tebow Foundation.  

“I am passionate about volunteer work and making a positive influence in our communities,” said Crites. “I believe it is so important to find a cause that you are passionate about and use your gifts and talents to serve your community.” 

Crites’ $500 grant will be awarded to Night to Shine.  
In order from left to right: Thul (WIN chair), Kamini Balakrishnan (WIN secretary), Holly Hernandez (WIN treasurer).
Women in Nuclear (WIN), Xcel Energy Business Resource Group (BRG) – Represented by Olivia Thul, WIN chair and department support coordinator 

Xcel Energy’s WIN BRG works not only to provide professional development opportunities to Xcel Energy employees, but also aims to educate younger generations about nuclear energy. This is present through their efforts with organizations like River Valley Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts of America, Generation Atomic and Genesys Works.  

“It’s powerful bringing children into this type of education,” said Olivia Thul, chair of Women in Nuclear, Xcel Energy. “The more they can be educated on this from an early age, the more their interests will grow throughout their lives. We want to keep them excited and engaged.” 

Xcel Energy’s WIN chapter stems from the national nonprofit organization Women in Nuclear and was recognized by the national chapter for their volunteer efforts. The BRG chose the Bakken Museum, an interactive, STEM-based museum in Minneapolis, to receive the $500 grant. The donation will be used to fund youth scholarships for the museum's Makerspace program.  

“It’s a huge honor, and we are all extremely grateful. It means a lot to see that our work is being highlighted, and this fits in so well with our mission,” added Thul.  
Michael Gabriel, senior IT solution analyst, Minnesota
Michael Gabriel has been involved in many volunteer projects since starting his career with Xcel Energy in 2019. In 2023, Gabriel volunteered at over 15 events, including pro bono work.  

Gabriel chose the Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities (UGMTC) as his nonprofit of choice to receive the $500 grant. UGMTC provides mental health and faith-based assistance to community members struggling with addiction or experiencing homelessness or hunger.  

Gabriel expresses his gratitude for the company programs that help him give back to his community.
“The various programs, such as the United Way [Giving Campaign], Day of Service, volunteer paid time off, Dollars for Doing, and Matching Gifts, make it easy to give back,” said Gabriel. “I feel fortunate to work for a company that values and supports community involvement.” 

Carla Patrick, Career Launch program manager (left) and the Colorado Career Launch Analyst Cohort (right).
Career Launch Analyst Colorado Cohort – Represented by Carla Patrick, Career Launch program manager, Colorado 

The Career Launch program is a cohort-centered rotation program that provides an avenue for professionals to start their career. The Colorado Career Analyst Cohort demonstrated admirable volunteer efforts in the last year and was selected as a Good Energy Award winner.  

“Taking advantage of volunteering is something we aim to do because we love giving back to our communities,” said Carla Patrick, Career Launch program manager. “It’s very special to all of us that we have been recognized and our volunteering efforts have been noticed.” 

Several analysts from the program credit their volunteering involvement to the resources Xcel Energy provides such as volunteer paid time off, matching donations and Dollars for Doing.  

Ben O’Neill, a Career Launch analyst based in Denver said, “There are lots of really great organizations that do events and need help during regular business hours, so having the option to use VPTO and be at those events rather than trying to only find after-hours opportunities has been really awesome.” 

The Colorado cohort elected We Don’t Waste, a local nonprofit dedicated to reducing food waste and hunger, to receive the $500 grant.