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Stephanie Osborne wouldn’t exactly characterize her first weeks as executive director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association as “settling in.”
“It’s been a little bit like drinking from a fire hose,” the Texas native told Arkansas Business after succeeding Katie Laning Niebaum as chief of the Little Rock-based association, which promotes renewable power, energy efficiency and advanced energy technology.
“It has been fun but also crazy,” said Osborne, who led the Arkansas Society of Association Directors in Little Rock before joining the AAEA and its partner organization, the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation, when Niebaum left the workforce just before having twins.
Osborne started Aug. 3, but her appointment wasn’t announced for weeks. “It’s a unique time in Arkansas now for advanced energy, and I’m trying to wrap my arms around it as quickly as I can.”
Like Niebaum, Osborne will lead both the AAEA and AAEF, a mission that’s thrown her into a world of terms like net metering, distributed generation and SEPO-B (a proposed Entergy Arkansas solar energy purchase offer). “It’s a new vocabulary to learn, but I’m excited.”
“Stephanie brings a strong range of experiences that make her perfectly suited to our team,” AAEA Chairman Gary McChesney and AAEF Chairman Douglas Hutchings said in a joint statement. “She is a proven strong leader who understands the complexities of association management, but also brings expertise in navigating important policy issues and advocating for members.”
Before her two years at ASAE, she worked on both international and domestic policy issues for Occidental Petroleum of Houston, the company founded by Armand Hammer. She has degrees in history and international affairs from Texas A&M and a master’s in international affairs from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
Osborne praised AAEA and AAEF for advocacy in advanced energy industry and government policy, but said there remains much to do to keep a growing new industry thriving in Arkansas, including “strong policies that encourage job growth in all our advanced energy sectors.” The goal, she said, is to protect established helpful policies and “expand opportunities for all advanced energy companies throughout the state.”
Osborne said her reason for landing in Arkansas was simple. “I married a Little Rock boy, and knew eventually I’d be here.” Her husband, Caleb Osborne, is a former Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality official who is now Stacy Hurst’s lieutenant as chief of staff to the Arkansas Department of Parks, Heritage and Tourism.
Leigh Anderson, former Capital Hotel sales manager and a seven-year veteran of the Little Rock Convention & Visitors Bureau, is taking on Stephanie Osborne’s old role as executive director of the Arkansas Society of Association Directors.