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Working in the Energy Sector

Working in the Energy Sector

Employee Profile: Karen Tracy, Supervisor Inside Sales

 

Karen Tracyt

By Cynthia Spigner, Corporate Communications 

Working for Washington Gas is close to being a rite of passage for Karen Tracy’s family, long-time residents of the District. Karen joined Washington Gas 34 years ago and is currently the Supervisor of Inside Sales Representatives. Two of Tracy’s uncles worked for Washington Gas in the early 1940s and recommended her father, Ken, apply. Karen’s husband, Gregory, and much later, her daughter, Brittany, then joined the company too.

“She’s with another company now, but I was so proud of my daughter when she got a job here,” Karen shared. “She has a college degree from Morgan State University and needed something with good pay and benefits. My father was very proud that both of us worked here. He came over to our Springfield office one day to go to the credit union and ran into me and Brittany walking from opposite directions. He just smiled and hugged us both.”

Ken Tracy’s name is legendary within Washington Gas. He started with the company in 1946 as a laborer in the Transportation and Distribution department. During his remarkable 40-year career with Washington Gas, he became the company’s first black compressor operator, one of its first black inspectors, the first black foreman, the company’s first black union officer, a lobbyist and in 1986 became Washington Gas’ first black vice president. He directed the company’s Community Affairs department until his retirement in 1987.

Born and raised in the District, Karen graduated from Ballou High School. After working for the federal government, she followed her father’s advice and joined Washington Gas in May 1988. “Washington Gas was paying more and had better benefits,” she acknowledged. “My husband worked for a federal agency, also, and had already moved to Washington Gas. I should have beaten him there but didn’t. I knew Washington Gas was a good company because of how my dad started at the bottom digging ditches and worked his way up the ranks.”

Karen’s first position at Washington Gas was as a receptionist in the Marketing department at the company's Operations Center in Springfield, Va. Next, she moved to Southeast Field Operations Station in Forestville, Md., and spent two years working on a project changing out old steel pipelines to more efficient plastic pipelines. She then worked in Sales in the East Station next to Maritime Plaza, following her dad’s sage advice to work hard and continuously improve herself so that she would be ready when opportunities presented themselves. In 2004, she earned an associate degree from Prince George’s Community College, obtained a bachelor’s degree in business administration in 2006 and a master’s degree in project management in 2015 from Strayer University. Today, she is back at Washington Gas’ Springfield Center supervising Inside Sales Representatives and Clerks who handle natural gas requests for single-family and townhomes in the area.

Karen said Washington Gas’ tuition reimbursement program helped tremendously with college costs. “Washington Gas reimburses us for up to 75 percent of what we paid in tuition, provided we maintain at least a C average,” she explained. “I encourage everyone who hasn’t done so to continue their education and take advantage of this benefit if your company offers it.” “I am constantly trying to make myself more marketable within the company and I’m also an advocate for education,” she said. “I strongly believe that when you have knowledge, no one can take that away from you. I am also hoping that younger family members who saw me go back to school will get inspired to do so.”

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A version of this employee profile was published in the Washington Informer in February 2020 in commemoration of the African American History Month.

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