Inside Aera
Bakersfield, Featured, Who We Are Nov 11, 2022

Aera’s got GRIT and a JEDI

Aera Energy again named a Best Workplace, C. Lwanga Yonke named a JEDI

Aera Energy is an ALLY Energy “Best Energy Workplace” for the fourth year in a row.

ALLY Energy created the award four years ago to recognize top companies that are powering the globe. Aera has taken the top honor home every year.

“Winning a Best Energy Workplace award once is incredibly impressive and for Aera Energy to win the award four times in a row is just remarkable,” said Katie Mehnert, CEO and founder of ALLY Energy. “We created this award to recognize those who have a deep vision of an energy future where workforce, technology, and justice are integral to positively impact the world; and those who lead by example and show others that anything is possible. Year after year, Aera continues to set the bar.”

GRIT stands for growth, resilience, innovation and transition in a transparent world. Nominees are evaluated through a blind review by external judges on professional accomplishments, personal philanthropic efforts and other qualities. The organization receives hundreds of nominations from around the world in oil and gas, power and utilities, wind, solar, climate tech startups, and academia every year making the top honor a true world-class accomplishment.

C. Lwanga Yonke has GRIT

Aera’s C. Lwanga Yonke, an information quality process analyst, also received a prestigious GRIT award in ALLY’s Justice, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion (JEDI) category, being considered a force for good and working to create a more inclusive and sustainable work culture.

Yonke was recognized for his contributions to inclusion and diversity (I&D) over a thirty-year career, first with Shell then with Aera.

He helped pioneer Aera’s I&D efforts, initiating the launch of Aera’s first employee resource group (ERG) — the Aera Black Employee Network (ABEN) in 2010. Aera now has 10 ERGs connecting employees with shared interests and goals.

Yonke has volunteered with several nonprofit organizations in Kern County including New Advances for People with Disabilities (NAPD), Mathematics, Engineering, Science Achievement (MESA), and Project BEST (Black Excellence in Scholarship and Teaching).

“Lwanga has worked tirelessly to create opportunities for employment, leadership development, promotion, academic and career success for disadvantaged youth, minority students and professionals who have traditionally been overlooked in the energy industry, serving as a mentor and sponsor on many occasions,” Rita Waugh, Aera engineering technology manager, and Linda Mohammad, an Aera engineering supervisor, wrote in a nomination letter submitted to ALLY. “While it is hard to describe the full impact of people like Lwanga, he’s changed the trajectory for our company regarding inclusion and diversity, expanded our vision of the future, and personally impacted the lives of many.”

The GRIT Awards program describes a JEDI ally as “a person who not only believes in cultivating more diversity, equity and justice in the workplace but diligently makes that belief into a reality.”

Ricardo Rojas, an Aera senior reservoir engineer, was mentored by Yonke while he was in high school and college. “Because of him, there are individuals like me who had an opportunity to work in the energy industry,” said Rojas. “I am forever grateful and inspired by his care for others.”

Yonke holds a bachelor’s degree in petroleum engineering from University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in business administration from California State University, Bakersfield.

Aera’s Carbon Technology Lead Jonathan Dethloff was a GRIT award finalist in ALLY’s ESG/Climate Champions category.

To see the full list of winners, go to:

DID YOU KNOW? Aera Energy is a three-time recipient of the Forbes America’s Midsize Employer List, placing ninth in the 2022 ranking and securing its spot in the top ten midsize companies to work for in the United States.

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