Energy Spotlight: Katharine Fredriksen
Katharine Fredriksen walks what she calls a “tough line” at Consol Energy Inc.
As senior vice president for health, safety and environmental affairs at the Cecil-based coal and natural gas producer, she drives the policies that keep workers safe in a sometimes dangerous job while protecting the land and air around them.
“But you can wrap everyone in bubble wrap and that might not let them do their job,” she said of balancing precautions. “Luckily, we have really smart subject-matter experts in the company.”
Her work in leading that team was recently honored at the National Diversity Council's Pittsburgh Leadership Conference, as Fredriksen was named one of the region's Most Powerful and Influential Women.
“I grew up knowing I was going to work in the energy space,” she said, reflecting on the award. “But I never really thought about being a female in a typically male-dominated environment in the energy world.
“I always say the energy business is a great leveler of the playing field. It doesn't matter what your gender is or how old you are, your race or ethnicity; we need your talents. And I really see that coming to bear in this industry, particularly at Consol,” she said, noting a growing number of women in her workplace. Women account for 40 percent of the company's corporate staff.
A native Louisianan who grew up in Texas, Fredriksen, 50, has a bachelor's degree in marine biology and a master's in environmental and civil engineering from Texas A&M University. She led her own consulting company, served in the Department of Energy and worked in the petrochemical and utility sectors.
She quickly fell in love with Pittsburgh's “Midwest flair” when she came here to work at Consol five years ago.
“People always talk about how friendly and down to earth people in Texas are. But that's exactly how the people in Pittsburgh are,” Fredriksen said.
She lives Downtown with her rescued Doberman, a reflection of her passion for caring for animals. She is on the board of the Animal Rescue League Shelter & Wildlife Center. She's also a patron of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust.
“If I just left every day to come to work and go home, that would sort of short-shrift my personal values,” she said. “I really want to give to things that I care about and that blend with my value system.”