Environmental Program Manager | Knoxville, Tenn.
The year was 1978. Three’s Company was a television hit, NASA unveiled the first group of women astronauts and Ruth Horton had just come to work for TVA.
A self-proclaimed mover and shaker, Horton has served in more than a few different roles through the decades. From corporate planning and minority economic development to National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) specialist, this environmental program manager has had a front-row seat to TVA’s evolution.
“One of my first jobs at TVA was as an administrative assistant to the Chairman of the Board,” Horton said. “Coming out of college with a history degree, one of my proudest moments was getting hired by TVA. At the time there was a three-member board and the chairman was basically CEO of the company. It was exciting.”
In her current job as an environmental program manager, Horton is responsible for making sure the environmental compliance requirements are met when TVA undertakes new projects. Currently, she’s supporting such projects as the Clinch River small modular reactor project, steam generator replacement for Watts Bar Unit 2 and closure of Johnsonville Fossil Plant.
“I’m a troubleshooter and a liaison,” Horton said. “My job is to understand the project and understand the environmental requirements, and then marry the two. Everything TVA does requires some level of environmental review, so our team makes sure all the environmental state and federal regulatory compliance needs are understood and met.”
While her work is weighty, she’s never shied away from meaningful causes. A Valley transplant, she moved to the area in ’75 to work as a Volunteers in Service of America (VISTA) volunteer, a state-side version of the Peace Corps.
“I worked in the East Tennessee Community Design Center for two years providing assistance to community groups in the 16-County East Tennessee Development District,” she said. “That’s where I met TVA architects and planners who led me to my work with TVA.”
Horton was able to segue the community-building experience she gained through VISTA into becoming a successful public outreach contractor at TVA. She helped set up and conduct more than twenty public meetings in less than a year at TVA. Working with the public and hearing their thoughts on TVA’s impact and potential future direction set a solid knowledge base that she’s built upon throughout her career.
Horton has dedicated 41 years to her work with TVA, but that doesn’t mean it’s her only passion. “I dance! I just am a mover,” she explained. “I was an early and dedicated participant in TVA’s Live Well program. I’ve danced my whole life, from modern dance and ballet to disco, folk dance and even clogging. Now I do a lot of yoga as well.
Dancing with a group called Circle Modern Dance in Knoxville, swing dancing with her husband and folk dancing with an English-country group keeps Horton fit and active. “If there’s ever an opportunity to dance, that’s for me,” she said.
Most would be thinking of slowing down and pursuing retirement after four decades, but for Horton, she’s still looking toward TVA’s horizon. “I’ve still got my eyes on TVA’s small modular reactor projects and I love to work. I love my job. And I still love coming to work every day.”
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