February is Black History Month, a time to celebrate the cultures and accomplishments of the Black community, as well as recognize the work that must be done as we strive toward a more just society.

We have teamed up with Black & Brown @ Invenergy (BBI), our employee resource group focused on expanding opportunities for people of African ancestry in the renewable energy industry, to spotlight some of our Black colleagues and learn more about their work at Invenergy, career journeys, and the significance of Black History Month to them.

Meet Glenetta McNeal, Senior Specialist, Accounts Payable, who has been with Invenergy for five years working in our Chicago office. Glenetta shares with us the lessons of independence and resilience she learned from her mother, who also inspired her to pursue a career path in financial accounting.

Tell us about your role and how long you have been with Invenergy.

I work in the Accounts Payable department as the Senior Accounts Payable Specialist. I have been at Invenergy for five years and previously held roles at Sidley Austin and Pepsico/Quaker Oats. My responsibilities at Invenergy include full cycle accounts payable, ranging from processing invoices, printing checks, voiding checks, making deposits and processing funding requests.

What drew you to Invenergy?

I was introduced to Invenergy by a previous coworker who shared an opening for a role at Invenergy. Though I didn’t have much familiarity with the energy industry, Jackie spoke highly of Invenergy’s company culture, and I respected the Invenergy mission to build a sustainable world.

Who are some role models that have inspired you and/or helped you pursue your career path?

My mom, Sandra Lockett, has been a major inspiration to me. Though my mother was hearing impaired and did not receive her high school diploma, she attended college and worked at the Federal Reserve Bank for 30 years. She was also a single mother, who was able to overcome obstacles to purchase her first home, all while making sure me and my sister were raised with Christian values. I remember summers playing Uno or backgammon on the front porch with my mom and sister, spending quality time together despite my mom’s hectic work schedule—she often worked 10–12-hour days, 6 days per week. My mom showed me how to be a strong and independent woman and that you can attain anything in life regardless of the challenges you may face.

My mother also served as a role model for my career in the financial sector. It started with teaching me how to accomplish financial goals in life and led me to my career path as an accountant. Thanks to my mother, I have been able to instill my beliefs in financial responsibility into my two daughters, and my financial savvy allows me to now take care of both parents.

What are some challenges you have faced along the way?

Some may think that because Invenergy is a private company, it’s a small business, but it represents a lot of challenges from an Accounts Payable perspective. Because the company is growing, there are many different projects in development and project sites, with new ones being added to the pipeline all the time. This, paired with the different business entities associated with the company, keeps my job interesting!

Black and Brown at Invenergy is working on some exciting programs since being formed in 2019. What are some of your favorite initiatives or events?

Right before we began working from home due to the pandemic last year, BBI hosted “Culture Fridays” for Black History Month. Each week, a colleague presented on an aspect of Black culture, sharing his or her personal experiences, cultural background, and some food or music as well. I look forward to being able to celebrate Black History Month with our colleagues in our office again.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Freedom, unity, power, love—when I think of Black history, these four words resonate in my spirit.  Black people have long strived to be free and to live in communities where we could feel united. We also know how powerful our voices are, and how much love Black people share among one another.

Black History Month also represents the struggle of our ancestors to literally exist, and the need to continue that fight to continue our existence into the next generation. I am inspired by those who are willing to continue to stand up to injustice, and by those who are not afraid to use their voices to express the need for change. I know the freedoms I have today are thanks to those who came before me—those who believed in a world where Black children could aspire to become national leaders because they’ve seen people like them represented in our government.

Black History to me stands for peace, strength, courage and resilience against the fear of those that look different