Tracy Townsend Wins 2018 Pipeline Leadership Award

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Tracy Townsend, vice president of construction, compliance and safety, Washington Gas, has been named the recipient of the 2018 Pipeline Leadership Award. North American Oil & Gas Pipelines, a Benjamin Media Inc. publication, and Continuum Capital announced the award Nov. 7 at the fourth annual Pipeline Leadership Conference in The Woodlands, Texas.

Townsend led one of the most impactful industry transformations on behalf of Washington Gas from 2001 to 2003, with her development and implementation of a “strategic alliance” that yielded unprecedented improvement in productivity, safety performance and quality compliance.  Washington Gas, provides safe, reliable natural gas service to more than 1.1 million customers in the District of Columbia, Maryland and Virginia.

In addition, Townsend was able to demonstrate that it was both possible and practical to simultaneously lower a utility’s cost to install capital assets while a contractor could expand margins. Prior to this point, nearly every utility undertook the procurement and management of its capital asset expenditures as a “zero sum game” where there can only be one winner in negotiations between a utility and its contractors performing capital construction.

“Tracy Townsend has been instrumental in driving innovation and change throughout the industry,” says Mark Bridgers, principal, Continuum Capital. “Her work with strategic alliances has led to performance improvement at Washington Gas and serves as an example in the pipeline industry.”

The Washington Gas effort was one of the first of its kind between a contractor and a local distribution company and was built on both collaboration – simply working together as a team to solve common planning and construction challenges – and integration – building common process, practice, and technology platforms that are seamlessly shared between firms – in the natural gas industry.

The concept of “win-win” was demonstrated as valid and achievable by Townsend.  She has successfully guided Washington Gas’ efforts over the past 16-year timeline and built enduring respect for her achievements and Washington Gas as an innovator, unmatched in the United States.

“I am deeply honored to accept this award. This has truly been a team effort. I am lucky to be in this industry full of sponsors and mentors,” Townsend says. “All you have to do is ask, and they will give you their knowledge freely. I am happy to accept this on behalf of Washington Gas.”

North American Oil & Gas Pipelines created the Pipeline Leadership Award in 2015 to honor leadership initiatives and advances in the construction, operation and maintenance of oil and gas pipelines. This includes innovations in the construction process, design, procurement, contract administration, management, labor relations, training and safety that improve the global pipeline industry.

The Pipeline Leadership Award is presented each year at the Pipeline Leadership Conference, which is organized by North American Oil & Gas Pipelines and Benjamin Media Inc., in partnership with Continuum Capital. This year’s conference was held Nov. 7-8 at the Hyatt Place Houston/The Woodlands in The Woodlands, Texas.

The Pipeline Leadership Award is voted upon by the conference Program Committee, comprised of pipeline industry veterans. Past Pipeline Leadership Award winners are Chuck Shafer of NiSource Inc. (2015), Pat Michels of Michels Corporation (2016) and J. Patrick Tielborg of the Pipe Line Contractors Association (2017). For more information about the Pipeline Leadership Award and the Pipeline Leadership Conference, visit plconference.com.

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