Women of the Year candidates often have a lot of energy, but they can’t hold a candle to Amy Lientz. As director of the Partnerships, Engagement and Technology Department for the Idaho National Laboratory, she essentially runs everything that’s outward-facing – that is, dealing with the public – at the Idaho Falls nuclear energy facility.
Lientz manages a staff of 100, plus 350 interns, including 50 joint appointments who are shared and considered employees of INL as well as the university. That staff manages “everything you would think of that’s external,” she says, such as government affairs, education programs ranging from K-12 to universities, emergency communications, public affairs, technology deployment, and commercial deployment for the $1 billion, 4,200-employee operation.
INL is managed by Battelle Energy Alliance, a nonprofit organization that also manages several other national laboratories. “Its not-for-profit status means that when they make money, they roll it back as an investment,” Lientz explains. Logically, the investment Battelle picked for Idaho was science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) instruction, with an annual contribution of around $600,000. For her part, Lientz administers all the grant dollars.
Lientz was also instrumental in the creation of the STEM Action Center, which helps improve Idaho STEM education. “We’re partnered very intimately with them,” she says. “We’re aligned with their goals. We’re not conflicting in any way – we’re all walking down the same path.”
To help Idaho Falls residents understand their powerful neighbor, Lientz also helped come up with the Intermountain Energy Summit with the Idaho Falls Post Register. “It’s a collaboration with the local newspaper, which wanted to get more understanding from the general public and region about energy issues that cross borders,” she explains. Now an annual event, she uses her own personal network, as well as the lab’s network, to help bring attention to eastern Idaho about the role that the region plays in energy.
In previous positions, such as at CH2M Hill, Lientz worked in siting energy facilities of all kinds. Environmental assessment work is required before you site any energy facility, whether it’s a wind farm or a nuclear plan, she explains – which provided a great launch point for her current position. “As program manager of managing these major projects, you have to do a lot of other things,” such as government affairs, policy, industry relations, and working with academia. “It’s a really good match for what I’m doing now.”
When Lientz isn’t working, she enjoys taking advantage of the recreation that Idaho Falls offers, including rowing, rafting (she has her own cataraft), fly fishing, skiing, and golfing. “My dad ran fish hatcheries, so I was always exposed to the outdoors,” she explains.
She also serves as a board member for a wide variety of professional and regional
civic and nonprofit organizations, ranging from the Idaho Council of Industry and the Environment to the Idaho Falls symphony. Roger Plothow, Post Register editor and publisher recommended her highly for this award.
“She’s tireless in her support of charitable and cultural programs essential to maintaining the quality of life Idahoans cherish.”