A life of community service
In a way, most engineering careers are dedicated to a kind of public service. Whether designing products, the processes that manufacture them or structures, our work is largely dedicated to technical problem solving focused on improving the comfort, convenience, safety and other needs of the communities around us. That certainly has been the case for Mechanical Engineering classmate Chris Hermann, who spent his entire 43 year working career with the Louisville Gas & Electric Company. Employed by a company dedicated to (and Chris’ personal commitment to) ensuring our community is provided with a safe, reliable and low cost energy supply might go underappreciated until one considers how important our gas and electric utilities have been to the progress and comfort enjoyed in this region for many years.
Chris began with LG&E upon graduation, joining the engineering department as an entry level staff engineer. Along the way his vision of a career path took unexpected changes. While he initially strived to manage a power plant or plants, he became VP of Power Generation in 1994. Then in 1997 he found himself in the role of Integration Officer for the merger of LG&E and Kentucky Utilities. Soon after that the British company PowerGen based in London acquired LG&E in 2000 and he became a part of the international integration team. Two years later PowerGen was acquired by the giant German utility Eon based in Dusseldorf. Following that transaction, he was the only non-German to lead a best practice team involving the many companies held by Eon across Europe and in the US. During this period of transition he also had responsibility overseeing LG&E’s three gas business investments in Argentina.
Over the years he advanced through the organization eventually being promoted to serve as Vice President of Energy Delivery including his international responsibilities. However, even beyond the “community service” nature of his career in the utilities sector, Chris was also personally dedicated to service to community outside of his job. During his working career he became active with many local community service programs and his involvement in community has only increased since his retirement from LG&E in 2013. Just a few of the community programs he has very actively engaged in include the Metro United Way, the youth tutoring program at the Dreamer’s Academy, Leadership Louisville’s Encore Program, KET, the Shawnee Neighborhood Food Pantry at his church, Redeemer Lutheran, Kentucky Chamber of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity and many, many more organizations including our own Speed Scientific School where he has served on the Industrial Board of Advisors since 1994.
As a result of these and his many other service efforts, our community is a richer and a better place and a grateful community has recognized Chris for his contributions. In 2009 he received the Speed School’s Distinguished Alumnus of the Year and in 2012 the entire University of Louisville Community conferred the permanent title of Alumni Fellow. This year the WLKY Spirit of Louisville Foundation named Chris a 2017 Bell Award Recipient for his ongoing work with Metro United Way where he currently serves as Chairman, his Church’s outreach programs and other pro bono work with non-profit organizations. Chris’ unselfish service to our community, both through his working career and his personal life outside of work, can serve as a model for the younger members of our profession whose talents and efforts will hopefully continue this legacy of community service.
Chris and his wife, Marcia, have continued to reside in Louisville following his retirement. In addition to Chris’ volunteer work here, he and his wife enjoy family time with their daughter, her husband and two grandsons.