Kristen Denney, environmental, health and safety (EHS) specialist at Southwire’s West Georgia CSC, recently received a Voluntary Protection Programs Participants' Association, Inc. (VPPPA) scholarship to help fund her master’s program at Georgia Tech.
According to its website, VPPPA is the Premier Global Safety and Health Organization® dedicated to cooperative occupational safety, health and environmental management systems. The company is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) charitable organization that provides a network of more than 2,300 companies and worksites who have achieved or are striving for occupational safety and health excellence, including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) or the Department of Energy's (DOE) Voluntary Protection Programs (VPP).
Denney was awarded the William “Sully” Sullivan Scholarship, which is given to a current employee that is furthering the ideals and success of VPP at his or her site. She has been working at Southwire for more than three years and, last August, decided to further her education by pursuing a master’s degree in occupation, safety and health. She plans to graduate with the degree in August of 2021,
Denney, a full-time Southwire employee, new mother and full-time student has her hands full, but she is optimistic about all of the opportunities she is able to juggle.
“I’ve been at Southwire for a while, but last July I started my current position,” said Denney. “Two months later, I began my master’s program, and three months after that I gave birth to my first child. To be successful, the main thing I do is prioritize my time. When I’m at work, I work, when I’m at home, I’m at home and when I set aside time for school, I focus on that. It is all about balance.”
Denney explained that having a company that not only accepts this, but encourages it, has made the process easier. In addition to the VPPPA scholarship, Denney is part of Southwire’s tuition reimbursement program, where the company pays for a portion of her school every year.
“My background is more focused on environmental and sustainability than safety,” explained Denney. “So, when I started at Southwire as an EHS specialist a few years ago, I really didn’t have much experience in safety at all. I’ve gained a lot of experience in that field over the years, but I decided to go back and do this master’s program so that I can further my knowledge in safety, both for myself and for the company.”
Erin Kiess, EHS director at Southwire, said that Denney was very deserving of this award and is excited to see how obtaining it will continue her impact at Southwire.
“Kristen is an extremely hard worker, well organized, and is able to think and plan ahead to continue to build a strong safety culture at Southwire,” said Kiess. “She exemplifies the VPP process of being better than you have to be and doing more than what is required. She strives to create a safe, engaging workplace for everyone and pushes herself to learn more each day.”
Sean Moore, West Georgia CSC manager, explained that Denney’s determination to learn and grow each day is what sets her apart in her role and is the reason she achieved this award.
“I will honestly say that Kristen coming to Southwire’s West Georgia CSC has introduced a revival to the safety culture that was much needed. She did not only revive it, she enhanced it,” said Moore. “I can absolutely see her advancements in education positioning her in a place to obtain an elevated seat in the hierarchy of the company, placing her in clear view of those throughout Southwire who are also tasked with securing safety. If given that opportunity, she would be able to share insight with a larger group that would absolutely learn from her process and relational approach to leading.”
To read more about VPPPA and their scholarship opportunities, click here.*Please note that the pictures in this article were taken prior to the US outbreak of COVID-19. Please excuse any reference that is no longer accurate, seemingly disrespectful or unhealthy due to general effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.