Annual Conference Awards

During the Annual Conference, NEUAC recognizes the extraordinary work of our members and partners for their contributions to the goal of providing energy assistance to those most in need.

Corporate Excellence Award

The Corporate Excellence Award recognizes outstanding achievements by a company or corporate entity on behalf of its economically challenged customers. Utilities or other corporate partners may be nominated who demonstrate innovative practices, outstanding community partnership, or impressive depth of programming that is effectively and uniquely serving historically underserved communities and building longstanding equitable energy practices.
CPS Energy

“The advantage of being a community-owned utility, like CPS Energy, is in the ability and support we receive in developing programs like WRAP. We have created a pathway to support our LMI community members in achieving lower energy bills, increased home comfort, and kWh savings for over 100 families that did not exist last year. With an average $2300 WRAP spend per home, we are able to significantly impact Casa Verde program participation denial rates.”

 Laura Jacobs, CPS Energy

Established in 1860 in San Antonio, Texas, CPS Energy is the nation’s largest community-owned provider of electric and natural gas services. CPS Energy provides safe, reliable services to 930,114 electric and 381,379 natural gas customers in San Antonio and portions of seven adjoining counties. CPS Energy’s combined energy bills rank among the lowest of the nation’s 20 largest cities.

In line with its dedication to equity and access, CPS Energy created a new program to facilitate acceptance into its utility-funded weatherization program. From the start of its weatherization program “Casa Verde” in 2012, CPS Energy employees have become familiar with residents who absolutely need services, but were unable to access support because program requirements prohibit any improvements that do not generate a kWh savings. In response, CPS Energy crafted the Weatherization Repair Assistance Program (WRAP) to provide minor home repairs to enable weatherization.

Utilizing its fuel fund, the Residential Energy Assistance Partnership (REAP), CPS Energy has funded WRAP through solicited donations. In December 2023, it kicked off WRAP with donations received from San Antonio residents, the City of San Antonio, and a federal appropriation set forth by Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20). Collectively, WRAP has received $2,025,000 in funding.

To date, CPS Energy has supported more than 100 households with WRAP at an average spend of $2,300 per home, weatherizing homes through Casa Verde that otherwise may have been denied services. CPS Energy’s weatherization program now boasts 3,200 homes weatherized and approximately $18 million in spending annually.

Sister Pat Kelley Achievement Award

The Sister Pat Kelley Achievement Award recognizes a person with exemplary achievement in furthering NEUAC’s objectives of increasing public awareness of access issues related to heating and cooling, advancing energy assistance policy, and promoting charitable energy assistance. Sister Pat Kelley was a nun based in St. Louis, Missouri, with the Sisters of Charity order. She founded the national effort to advocate for vulnerable households for energy assistance. After the summer of 1980 when hundreds of vulnerable citizens died during a terrible midwest heatwave, Sister Pat Kelley started an organization, Missouri EnergyCare, that would eventually become the National Fuel Funds Network and later NEUAC, with a mission to advocate for energy assistance.

Bonnie Temme

“Bonnie served on many nonprofit boards to bring awareness of the basic needs of limited-income populations that were often overlooked. As an individual, she led with her heart and a giving spirit that has left an everlasting impression.”

— Nominator Jackie Castrellon

Bonnie Temme spent 37 years at Salt River Project (SRP) serving and advocating for Arizona’s most vulnerable populations prior to retiring this year. She has been a friend and advocate of NEUAC and its predecessor organization since 1989, when SRP was awarded the National Fuel Funds Network’s Non Shareholder Corporate Award of Excellence. Her commitment to NEUAC’s mission is evident by her engagement on the organization’s conference planning, bylaws, and nominations committees. Bonnie recently completed six years of service on the NEUAC Governance Board.

In Arizona, Bonnie has been instrumental on numerous boards and commissions serving disadvantaged communities, and she continues to serve on the statewide Wildfire Arizona Home Energy Assistance Fund Advisory Board. Bonnie fostered and sustained utility relationships with many community partners and skillfully advocated internally to SRP executives to implement new and enhance existing programs and offerings to those facing hardships.

Bonnie values her family — she will celebrate 43 years of marriage this August with her husband, Walt — and enjoys spending time in the mountains. She credits her personal and professional relationships to contributing to her success and passion for serving those facing energy security challenges.

Victorine Q. Adams Award

The Victorine Q. Adams Award spotlights institutional innovation and achievement among non-profit NEUAC members. NEUAC presents the Victorine Q. Adams Award to a nonprofit organization that displays an innovative spirit towards raising public awareness and generating financial aid for people in need of energy assistance. Victorine Q. Adams was a woman of distinction; a public leader and testament to good will who founded one of the nation’s first fuel fund programs in Baltimore, Maryland. With grace and compassion, the late Mrs. Adams dedicated her life to bringing about energy justice and change for the betterment of her community. We celebrate diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment. We strongly encourage you to apply if you are from a marginalized or underrepresented group.

“It’s a great honor to receive this award on behalf of Elevate. We are grateful to be part of the NEUAC and we aligned as we all tackle our goal of ending poverty.”

– Brianna Parker, Elevate

Elevate is a nonprofit organization that operates nationally to create a more just and equitable environment in which everyone has access to clean and affordable heat, power, and water in their homes and communities — no matter who they are or where they live. Elevate is a founding partner of the Justice40 Accelerator, which supports community-based organizations working at the frontlines of climate to grow their capacity and scale community-driven climate solutions.

Through a 12-month cohort experience, the Justice40 Accelerator supports climate and environmental justice organizations in building their capacity, partnerships, and readiness to access government funding to implement community-designed solutions. Participants have access to a suite of offerings and opportunities for active, voluntary participation to support the process of learning about and preparing to apply for government funding.

To date, the Justice40 Accelerator’s cohorts of more than 150 community organizations have won more than $43 million in public funding.

Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency

“[Wayne Metro] has leveraged more than $100M in public/private funds to ensure Michigan’s people and water ways remain healthy and thriving for generations to come.”

– Nominator Mia Harnos

Wayne Metropolitan Community Action Agency (CAA) serves approximately 75,000 income-eligible residents throughout Wayne County, Michigan. Wayne Metro CAA has pioneered programs such as the Water Residential Assistance Program (WRAP); Detroit Restart, which restored water to more than 800 households during the height the pandemic; and the Detroit Lifeline income-based payment plan, which ensures income-eligible residents only pay 3% of their income or $18 per month on their utility bill. These programs boast 80%-90% payment compliance rate and are integrated with energy, weatherization, lead remediation and removal, waste reduction, and more. Additional notable achievements include:

  • Establishing a universal application and intake process for energy and water services;
  • Enrolling 26,000 residents in Detroit Lifeline over 18 months; and
  • Securing specific funding for plumbing repairs and replacements.

Using an inclusive approach to ensure that every voice is heard and no community is left behind in its efforts to improve water accessibility and environmental sustainability, Wayne Metro CAA’s team and collaborators have leveraged more than $100 million in public and private funds to safeguard Michigan’s people and waterways.

Edward G. Gingold Award

The Edward G. Gingold award was created in 2023 to recognize outstanding achievements by a government entity or employee of a government entity on behalf of economically challenged families and individuals. Government entities including tribes, state LIHEAP offices, local government offices, federal government offices, and/or the specific employee(s) of these entities may be nominated who demonstrate commitment to the mission of NEUAC, lowering the energy burdens of vulnerable populations, and addressing household energy crises in their communities. Mr. Gingold spent more than 40 years at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and was a long-time NEUAC board member.
Leslie Ann Lesko

“[Leslie] helped implement the Utility Disconnect Avoidance Program and the Summer Supplemental Payment Program to distribute millions to help low-income customers with large utility bills avoid disconnection.”

— nominator Deidre Coughlin

Leslie Ann Lesko has worked in LIHEAP for more than 24 years, including eight years as the State of Illinois LIHEAP Program Manager. She leads a program that collaborates with 33 local agencies and serving more than 350,000 utility customers, distributing roughly $400 million in benefits during and after the pandemic.

Leslie Ann’s commitment to LIHEAP and utility assistance is unwavering. She established three new county service territories to fill gaps in service delivery, ensuring LIHEAP service continuity for eligible households. Leslie Ann also was instrumental in establishing a statewide call center and a new Request for Services Form for the first step of LIHEAP applications online.

Leslie Ann helped implement the Utility Disconnect Avoidance Program and the Summer Supplemental Payment Program to distribute millions to help eligible customers with large utility bills avoid disconnection.

Prior to her role as LIHEAP Program Manager, Leslie Ann worked as a LIHEAP Grant Manager for 14 years. In addition to working with LIHEAP, Leslie Ann also had responsibilities with the Community Services Block Grant and the Illinois Home Weatherization Assistance Program. Leslie Ann started her state career in 1996, and spent five years as a Public Aid Caseworker maintaining TANF, SNAP (previously known as Food Stamps), and Medicaid benefits.

Leslie Ann is active in her local community as a Girl Scout Leader. She and her husband enjoy spending time with their five children and seven grandchildren.

Extra Mile Award (LIHEAP Action Day)

Congresswoman Kay Granger (TX)
The Extra Mile Award is presented during LIHEAP Action Day to a member of Congress in recognition for going the extra mile championing LIHEAP and making a difference for limited-income energy consumers across the nation.
The Extra Mile Award is presented during LIHEAP Action Day to a member of Congress in recognition for going the extra mile championing LIHEAP and making a difference for limited-income energy consumers across the nation.