Kenai refinery’s employee network chapter brings together women and allies

Community News

Kenai, Alaska, sustainability, Foundation, People
Back row from left: Mike Van De Grift, Erica Brincefield, Danelle Roan, Stephanie Plate, Joe Gabriel, Seth Teeter then Sara Hollier-Pellegrom (hat on); Front row from left: Michelle Lee, Randi Broyles, Lena Wissmar, Carrie Titus, Teira Graham, Johnna DeGray, Michelle Carlson
  • The Marathon Petroleum Kenai refinery in Alaska chartered its first employee network group in 2021 to inspire, empower and support women at the facility.
  • Leaders, members and allies participated in community service activities and hosted networking lunches to give employees an opportunity to connect and learn from each other.
  • The Women’s employee network chapter is looking forward to adding more members and activities throughout the year to continue creating a more inclusive culture.

At Marathon Petroleum, creating an inclusive culture enables us to attract the most highly skilled and diverse employee base. One of the ways we can achieve that goal is through our employee network chapters.

When the Human Resources team at the Kenai refinery in Alaska hosted an information session giving a high-level look at the company’s employee networks, there was one that stood out to employee Michelle Carlson. She said there was a lot of interest in starting a Women’s employee network chapter, which would become the refinery’s first employee network chapter. The network strives to attract, retain, inspire, support and empower women at the facility, and plans year-round activities and events to advocate for gender equality in our workplace and communities.

“I’ve been in the oil and gas industry for 35 years,” said Michelle Carlson, Engineering Project Controls and Budget Coordinator at the Kenai refinery. “Having strong company support is so valuable when it comes to increasing the diversity in our industry.”

Carlson, an Athabascan Indian, has lived in Alaska her entire life. She joined Marathon Petroleum in 2019 and moved to Kenai for her new job. She was encouraged that the company recognized the importance of hiring a diverse workforce. She’s been able to mentor other women on an individual level. Carlson became one of the original members of the Women’s employee network, and she’s excited to see the group grow in numbers and activities that bring people together.

“It’s important to empower yourself and empower others.”

In its first year, the network organized a beautification project to plant flowers at the refinery, which garnered a lot of attention from employees because the growing season is very short in Alaska. They also hosted a Trunk or Treat event for the Boys and Girls Club, donated to the food bank for Thanksgiving and supported Engineers Week activities at local schools.

Kenai refinery employees and members of the Women’s employee network Teira Graham, Refining Engineer, and Isaac Perkins, HR Manager, prep the flowerpots outside the refinery.

“Our brown bag lunches have brought together people who are looking for a sense of community,” said Carrie Titus, Document Controls Coordinator at the refinery. “There are very few women who work at the refinery, so we are being intentional about getting together to support each other. And there is more participation from allies, too.”

One of those allies is Carlson’s manager, Seth Teeter, Project Control Supervisor at the Kenai refinery. He joined the group in 2022 to support his employees and learn how to be a more effective leader.

“I want everyone to have a voice on my team and within the refinery as a whole,” said Teeter. “It’s important that people can be themselves and be confident in how they perform their job.”

The Women’s employee network plans to keep the conversation going and engage more employees and the community.

“It’s important to empower yourself and empower others,” said Carlson. “I want to inspire others with a message that you can do anything.”

The Women’s employee network chapter hosted a Trunk or Treat event for children on Halloween.