Staff Interviews: CEE as a workplace, from the ’80s to today
In June, CEE was named a Top 150 Mid-Sized Workplace by the Star Tribune, based on the results of an all-staff survey earlier this year — you can see the press release here. The results of the survey were heartening in a variety of ways, among them that 92% of employees who responded would highly recommend working at CEE. Of the employees who completed the survey:
- 93% feel that they have the flexibility to balance their work and personal lives;
- 91% feel that their manager cares about their concerns; and
- 91% feel genuinely appreciated at CEE.
Our staff are the all-important key to our mission — they are, in fact, the ones who are discovering and deploying the most effective energy solutions to strengthen the economy and improve the environment. The results affirmed out internal culture of welcome, recognition, and innovation — a culture that we’re constantly working to maintain and improve.
The survey and Star Tribune recognition offer a broad look at CEE as a workplace, but we are also excited to highlight and explore individual perspectives and experiences. To explore what it is like to work at CEE from multiple perspectives, I interviewed two employees — Mary Raasch, who has been with CEE for 37 years, and Gillian Molland, who started three months ago.
What is your role and how long have you worked for CEE?
Mary: I am a senior program manager working with One-Stop in our Commercial Programs Department. In 1983, I started working in the Minneapolis Energy Office with a group of colleagues who later founded CEE as an independent nonprofit. As an intern, I organized neighborhood block volunteers for the Neighborhood Energy Workshop (NEW) program. It was our main program at the time, focused on educating folks to take action on the easy, no-cost/low-cost measures to reduce their energy use.
Gillian: Hello! My name is Gillian, I use she/her/hers pronouns and I work with the administrative team as an office and administrative specialist. I have been with CEE for a little over three months, starting back in the middle of March.
What is your favorite part of working for CEE?
Mary: I am stimulated by the passion and energy of not only those with whom I work closely, but of the entire organization. I’ve always felt a certain “buzz” when I come into the office — with COVID right now and people having to work from home, I miss that a lot.
Gillian: I would have to say my favorite part of working for CEE is learning about all of the cool community programs and services we offer and seeing just how passionate everyone is. I have always known that my career was going to take me to a place where I could give back to the community in some capacity, most often finding myself working in the fields of sustainability and justice. Before starting here, I had obviously done my research and thought I read just about all you could know, but it has really been a treat seeing just how committed CEE is to the community it serves and how that support can manifest itself in ways I didn't think existed.
What part(s) of the organization’s mission and values resonates with you the most, and why?
Mary: All of the values speak well to what we’re about. However, the one that speaks loudest to me is science. I’ve worked on several programs in my career here — NEW, Project Choice (for low-income residents), the multifamily program, the sound insulation program, and of course, One-Stop. All of them were implemented after we did the research and gathered the data which then provided the backbone to why we thought it made sense to deliver them in the first place: to generate measurable savings in a cost-effective manner.
Gillian: The part of CEE's mission and values that resonates with me the most would be our commitment to community and equity. I think it is true in most workplaces that these values are at the center, but it is truly rare to see them put into action with our programming and internal communications. In recent conversations and meetings about community and equity, it was not simply the directors speaking to all staff about what our organization thinks. Rather, it was a space for the staff to say how they feel and how they want to proceed moving forward. As a new staff member, being able to hop in at any time and contribute to that dialogue, and be respected while doing so, was truly incredible.
What’s a favorite work memory? (from the office, from a meeting, etc.)
Mary: So having been here for so long, I have tons of favorite memories. It was April Fools 2006, when a couple of co-workers (who shall remain nameless, but they know who they are) FOILED my office. Yes, every last item down to a pencil was wrapped in aluminum foil. [Author’s note: I’m sure all of the foil was reused or recycled post-prank!]
Gillian: Funnily enough, I think my favorite memory would have to be my interview! I was fortunate enough to interview back in February before we started working from home, so that meant I got to meet with Judy, Beth, and Emma. At the end of the interview, I asked everyone how long they had been with CEE, and what their favorite part of working here is. Everyone noted that they've been here for quite some time and just how incredible it is to work for this organization. They cited feeding off the passion of other staff members, the healthy work environment, and community we foster. Their comments just reaffirmed my desire to work here, and they continue to drive me to help make CEE the best place it can be. I think a close second would be when Lecam and I spent a good chunk of a morning watering the remaining office plants after everyone started working from home. That was just a really wholesome morning. [Author’s note: Lecam Trang is Gillian’s predecessor, who now works as a loan servicing processor.]
Anything else you want to share?
Mary: In the end, simply put, for me it has always been about putting money back in people’s pockets, doing what’s right for the community and the environment, and having fun along the way.
Gillian: If there is one thing to take away from my ramblings, it would be that working for CEE truly lives up to the reputation. This is an organization supported by staff who all share a common goal and extend mutual respect to one another in a way that is seldom seen in typical workplaces. I feel really fortunate to work for this organization and proud of the work we do.
CEE recognized among Minnesota’s top mid-sized workplaces
Staff bio: Mary Raasch
Staff bio: Gillian Molland
CEE’s History & Awards