Meet the First Grads of the NECA Safety Professionals Institute

By Katie Kuehner-Hebert | May 14, 2024
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The NECA Safety Professionals Institute is geared toward new safety directors, safety managers, site safety officers, safety coordinators, safety specialists and anyone looking to move into a safety role. 

The NECA Safety Professionals Institute is geared toward new safety directors, safety managers, site safety officers, safety coordinators, safety specialists and anyone looking to move into a safety role. The next program runs Nov. 12-14, 2024. Learn more at

“Participants in this inaugural program received a comprehensive overview of the topics that any safety director needs to be aware of, giving them the groundwork they need to start building their knowledge,” said Mike Starner, NECA’s executive director of outside line safety.

“For their capstone projects, most participants did a site-specific safety plan for one of their employer’s job sites, either detailing known hazards or addressing a gap in safety protocol that was identified in the program,” said Emily Huesman, NECA’s associate director of education development.

“Creating specific policies related to safety and health is key for every employer, and so is knowing how to implement these policies. The capstone brings these together,” said Wes Wheeler, NECA’s executive director of safety. 


Lynn Anderson 

Safety manager at Terminal-Andrae, Milwaukee

Anderson started her electrical career in 1994 and served a 5-year apprenticeship through the Milwaukee JATC/IBEW LU 494. She became an OSHA-authorized construction trainer in 2012 and taught OSHA 30 for 10 years. Anderson’s teaching passion truly lies with the NFPA 70E standard, so she attained the Certified Electrical Safety Compliance Professional (CESCP) certification in 2023 and continues to teach this course. In addition to her role as safety manager for Terminal-Andrae, Anderson serves as the secretary of the Milwaukee chapter of the NECA Safety Professionals Group, of which she has been a member since 2016.

Brad Baxter

Director of safety at Sidney Electric Co. Inc., Sidney, Ohio

Baxter started with Sidney Electric Co. Inc. in 2006 and has more than 30 years of electrical experience. Prior to Sidney Electric, Baxter was the organizer for IBEW Local 32 and the training director for the Lima Area Electrical Apprenticeship (formerly known as the Lima Area JATC). He is a graduate of Wilmington College and has been a qualified OSHA construction outreach instructor since 1997. Baxter has served in many other capacities in his career, including as an electrician, foreman and safety instructor. He is an active member of the West Central Ohio Safety Council and a certified occupational safety specialist.

Benjamin Burchett

Field safety and health coordinator for the New England Region, M.J. Electric LLC, Iron Mountain, Mich.

Graduating from Illinois State University with a degree in occupational health and safety, Burchett is eager to put his passion for safety into action. Having spent the last six months at M.J. Electric, initially as an intern and now as a full-time employee, he looks forward to continuing his growth in this role, leveraging his education and hands-on experience to prioritize the well-being of the workforce and uphold M.J. Electric’s reputation for excellence in safety practices.

Jaimie Cortez

Safety specialist, Northline Utilities LLC, AuSable Forks, N.Y.

Cortez has more than 40 years in the electric utility world, beginning in 1980 as a commercial tree arborist and becoming a lineworker in 1987. In 2013, he made the transition to the distribution engineering department, while also working part-time with a safety contractor. Now, Cortez works full-time as a safety specialist with Northline Utilities. He completed his lineworker apprenticeship in 1992 and went on to earn his Certified Utility Safety Professional (CUSP) certification, TapRooT certificate and OSHA 10.

Garrett Egresi

Regional risk manager, Northline Utilities LLC, Au Sable Forks, N.Y.

Egresi started his career in safety in 2010 as a trainer of oilfield contractors in powered industrial trucks competent operator courses, SafelandUSA courses and competent person fall protection courses. He joined an oilfield company working on natural gas drilling sites from 2013–2016 as a technician, before eventually taking the role of safety coordinator and ultimately safety manager for U.S. operations until September 2017. To be closer to home, Egresi switched to a civil construction and gas utility construction company, which introduced him to the world of utilities. After achieving the CUSP green credential with gas endorsement, he joined Northline Utilities in May 2020. Egresi has since received the CUSP endorsement for electric transmission and distribution.

Avi Ganesh

EH&S manager, Schenectady Hardware & Electric Co. Inc., Schenectady, N.Y.

Ganesh started as an electrician’s apprentice at Schenectady Hardware & Electric (SH&E) in 2004. After graduating from IBEW-NECA’s apprenticeship program, he worked as a journeyman wireman. While in this capacity, Ganesh became a construction safety instructor at IBEW-NECA JATC, with certifications in OSHA 500 and NFPA 70E, along with several other industry-specific certifications. In 2015, he was promoted to EH&S manager back at SH&E. With a background in safety policies, best practices and training programs, Ganesh monitors workplace activities to ensure regulatory compliance, risk mitigation and promoting a proactive safety culture. Under his leadership, the team at SH&E has won multiple safety awards and currently holds safety ratings that exceed industry standards.

Sean Lehman

Journeyman at Arc Electric Construction Co. Inc., Hazle Township, Pa.

Lehman is an inside journeyman wireman with 19 years of experience. With a passion for delivering high-quality workmanship and innovative solutions, he has established himself as a trusted professional in the field. Lehman graduated with honors from Pennsylvania College of Technology, where he earned a degree in electrical occupations. Together with a five-year apprenticeship at IBEW Local 163, Lehman’s academic background provides him with a strong foundation in electrical theory and principles, complementing his practical experience in the field.


Weldon Mann

Vice president of EHS and risk management at The State Group Industrial, Franklin, Tenn.

Mann is responsible for strategic leadership and support based on management systems and metric-based fundamentals. He is a results-focused team leader with proven success in mentoring and developing peak performing teams, and he leverages problem-solving expertise to drive continuous improvement within people-based processes. Mann’s competencies include enterprise risk management, insurance placement, risk transfer, strategic planning, leadership disposition and business acumen.

Philip Moran

Safety director, Billitier Electric Inc., Rochester, N.Y.

Moran, safety director at Billitier Electric Inc. at the time of interview, is a CUSP and Certified Treecare Safety Professional (CTSP). He is a safety professional with more than 15 years of construction, utility and vegetation management safety and operations experience with a deep-rooted connection to field-level craft workers. He is passionate about maintaining and elevating the health and well-being of all team members.

William Mulcahy

Safety manager, Three Phase Line Construction Inc.,
Rochester, N.H.

In addition to his role at Three Phase Line Construction Inc., Mulcahy is also a member of the Three Phase Safety Committee. Mulcahy began his career as a heavy equipment operator before joining an electrical apprenticeship program. After completing his apprenticeship, he became the PPE coordinator for Three Phase before being promoted to safety manager in 2023.

Mike Phillips

Estimator/project manager, Arc Electric Construction Co. Inc.

Phillips started his career as an apprentice with Local 163 more than 20 years ago. He worked his way up through the ranks from journeyman electrician, to foreman, to his current role as estimator/project manager, a role he has held since 2017 for Arc Electric. Phillips specializes in preventative maintenance testing and inventive solutions for large companies. In addition to his role as estimator/project manager, he teaches classes on blueprint reading, estimating and job costing at his local JATC.

Mike Storer

Safety manager at Wheeler Electric Inc., Idaho Falls, Idaho

Storer, who holds a Safety Trained Supervisor Construction certification, brings six years of experience in safety and 25 years of experience in construction to his role as safety manager for Wheeler Electric. He is passionate about safety and believes that training and coaching all employees will improve their own personal safety and increase hazard awareness. Storer received his construction management degree from Brigham Young University-Idaho. He teaches OSHA courses and other training programs, with an emphasis on leading employees to a safety-conscious workplace.

Sophia Ward

Safety manager, Dynalectric Co. Colorado, Lakewood, Colo.

Ward has more than 10 years of experience in the world of EHS risk management. Prior to her role as safety manager at Dynalectric Colorado, Ward held positions of increasing responsibility, including safety and employee relations manager for a trucking company and EHS coordinator and regional human resources at data center solutions company. In these roles, she demonstrated expertise in training, audits and regulatory compliance, coupled with a proactive approach to addressing employee relations matters. Ward has a bachelor’s degree in communications and sociology from Metropolitan State University at Denver and an MA certificate in human resources—organizational leadership and development from the University of Denver.

Seth Werling

Senior safety manager, electric power division, West at Hooper Corp., DeForest, Wis.

Werling has been with Hooper for five years and currently works as a senior safety manager for the company’s Western electric power division. He oversees work groups completing transmission, substation, distribution and civil work. Werling began work in the utility industry nearly a decade ago, building his career in safety on a foundation of field work where he started as a groundman performing gas and electric installations as part of a new construction crew. He is a CUSP and an Associate Safety Professional.

About The Author

KUEHNER-HEBERT is a freelance writer based in Running Springs, Calif. She has more than three decades of journalism experience. Reach her at [email protected].  





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