Empowering the Future – Jessica Matlock of LPEA
By Elizabeth Miller
Confident, curious, and resilient. These are qualities Jessica Matlock emphasizes when speaking about how she became the first female CEO in La Plata Electric Association’s eighty-three-year history. Matlock worked in the electric power industry on the West Coast and Washington, D.C., including over 20 years of leadership experience with the nation’s 12th largest public utility, a power marketing administration, and the U.S. Senate.
Growing up in Morrison, Colorado, near Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Matlock’s move to Durango was a chance to return to her roots. The Matlock family opened the first creamery, Purity Creamery, in Denver in the early 1940’s. Much of the extended Matlock family still lives in Colorado and accepting the position with LPEA was “an opportunity to come back home.” Matlock says her family was drawn to the strong Durango community and the care people have for one another. The outdoors was also calling: the Matlock family participates in Durango Devo, Ski Team, and the Durango Recreation Center swim team.
Matlock and LPEA are at the heart of several school programs and STEM education opportunities, including scholarships for college- or trade-school-bound individuals, grant programs, and funding for more STEM opportunities. “We see it as investing in our future,” Matlock says. Matlock has also proven to be an incredible female role model for the young women of Durango. She was the commencement speaker at Fort Lewis College in 2021, and had the opportunity to speak at The Boys and Girls Club as part of the SMART Girls program, focusing on empowering young girls. Matlock shared her personal journey of being a female in a male-dominated industry: “Ask questions, be curious,” Matlock said, “Be a problem solver and go for it.” She credits her time in the Coast Guard for helping her learn resiliency and problem solving.
It’s this resiliency that has allowed Matlock to bring changes and “experiences, ideas, and collaboration” to LPEA, focusing on partnering with the Durango community to secure a sustainable future. LPEA just embarked on a historic collaboration between LPEA, Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, and Crossover Energy Partners that supports the projected power supply, providing greener energy at lower costs, as Matlock and LPEA know the local community values both cleaner energy and cost savings. Community is the reason they are looking toward a creative and sustainable future. As Matlock explains: “We want to create a more resilient, creative electric grid that benefits the Durango area.”
It is clear Matlock is excited about actively searching out local partnerships and finding creative and innovative ways to support the Durango community through her work with LPEA. She considers herself lucky to call Durango home: “This place is special.”