Jackie Flowers is no stranger to breaking gender barriers. She broke one when she first began her stint at Idaho Falls Power as manager in July of 2006, becoming the first woman to do so in the 106 years since the utility began operations.
But her journey really began in high school, under the tutelage of her science teacher, Mr. Myszewski. “I became passionate about water,” Flowers says. “I wondered, were we going to have enough?” Flowers says Myszewski “made science fun,” and as a tribute to his inspirational teaching, Flowers nominated him for an award for “Most Influential Teacher,” which he won.
She looks at the challenges STEM is facing today and hopes that she can take what she’s learned to win over the younger generation. “You can make a difference. That’s what’s going to make young girls interested in the profession – you can make a difference in the world.”
In addition to her myriad jobs at Idaho Falls Power – running the state’s largest municipal power utility, overseeing a city-wide fiber-optic network and traffic signalization program, and leading her staff in becoming experts in GIS Technology and cybersecurity management, to name a few, Flowers has also created an invaluable resource and ally by establishing ties with the Idaho National Laboratory.
In addition, she serves as the governor-appointed chair on the Idaho Strategic Energy Alliance board, and is also the only female appointee to the Energy Resources Authority Board – also governor appointed, and she holds numerous other professional board positions in the state and throughout the Northwest. “It seems that once someone gets to know this woman, they can’t help but want to work with her,” writes Rebecca Casper, Idaho Falls mayor, in a letter recommending Flowers for this award.
And that doesn’t even take into consideration her community involvement. She works with educators to help students learn about renewable energy and in 2014 she helped to develop an education camp curriculum for those looking towards engineering and science careers. And, under her purview as president of the local Rotary Club, Flowers oversaw the founding of a new chapter of the youth service club, Interact.
But that’s not all. When you speak of Flowers’ accomplishments, Casper says, you have to acknowledge the fact that Flowers “has broken down barriers in a largely male- dominated industry.” She is the first woman to lead the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems board, an organization of 44 municipal and cooperative power agencies.
“It’s not uncommon for me to walk into a room and be the only woman … I don’t even notice it anymore,” Flowers says.
And, she is leading the charge to bring the cutting edge Small Modular Reactor technology to Idaho. SMR technology is the new energy darling and several other states and even Great Britain are champing at the bit to be the first to deploy it, but Eastern Idaho is farther along than any other site in the world, says Casper, largely due to the efforts of Flowers. “What a gift to Idaho!” Casper says.
Flowers, who, in addition to her affinity to science was also a cheerleader and ute and piccolo player in high school, has two children, Gaven, 20, and Mary 16, and two puppies, Winnie and Tigger. She says next to having her kids, her Rotary club experience “has had the most impact on me for making a difference.”