Jessie J. Knight, Jr.
Jessie J. Knight is chairman of Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas®); chairman of San Diego Gas & Electric Co. (SDG&E), an affiliate of SoCalGas; and executive vice president of external affairs for Sempra Energy. SoCalGas, a Sempra Energy California regulated utility, is the nation’s largest natural gas distribution utility, delivering outstanding service to more than 20 million consumers in more than 500 communities through a dedicated team of more than 8,000 employees.
Previously, Knight served as chairman and chief executive officer of SDG&E from 2010 to 2013. Prior to that, he was executive vice president of external affairs for Sempra Energy.
Before joining Sempra Energy in 2006, Knight served for seven years as president and chief executive officer of the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce, which represents 2,800 companies with more than 400,000 employees. The San Diego chamber is the largest business organization in California and the third largest chamber of commerce in the western United States.
From 1993 to 1999, Knight served as commissioner for the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), after being appointed by then-Gov. Pete Wilson. The agency has regulatory oversight for California’s energy, telecommunications, railroad, transportation and water industries.
Prior to his appointment as CPUC commissioner, Knight served as executive vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, responsible for international operations, economic development and business development for that chamber’s 2,100 businesses.
From 1985 and until 1992, Knight was vice president of marketing for the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner newspapers, overseeing business-to-business and circulation marketing, research and strategic planning. While there, he won five coveted national Clio Awards for television, radio, and print advertising and a Cannes Film Festival Golden Lion Award for business marketing.
Knight began his corporate career in 1975 with Dole Food Company Inc., where he worked 10 years in both domestic and international operations, including five years as director of marketing for the U.S. and Canadian pineapple business, Dole's largest subsidiary.
Knight is a board member of the Seattle-based Alaska Air Group and Alaska Airlines (NYSE: ALK), life member of the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and member of the corporate council of the Hoover Institution of Stanford University.
Knight earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University, was a fellow of the University of Madrid, and holds a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Wisconsin.Back to Chief Officers Menu
Dennis Arriola is president and CEO of Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
Arriola spent most of the past 20 years in a broad range of leadership roles for the Sempra Energy companies. He has served as president and chief operating officer of SoCalGas since 2012, and was promoted to CEO in 2014.
In 2008, Arriola left the Sempra Energy companies to become executive vice president and chief financial officer for SunPower Corp., a Silicon Valley-based solar panel manufacturer. He rejoined SoCalGas in 2012.
From 2006 to 2008, he was senior vice president and chief financial officer of both SDG&E and SoCalGas. Previously, Arriola also served as vice president of communications and investor relations for Sempra Energy and regional vice president and general manager of Sempra’s South American operations. He first joined the company in 1994 as treasurer for Pacific Enterprises/SoCalGas.
Arriola serves on the board of directors for the American Gas Association, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Western Energy Institute, California Business Roundtable, Latino Donor Collaborative and Southern California Leadership Council.
Arriola has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Stanford University.Back to Chief Officers Menu
Bret Lane is chief operating officer (COO) for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
Prior to becoming COO, Lane served as senior vice president of gas operations & system integrity for SoCalGas, responsible for all aspects of gas delivery services, including region operations, engineering, transmission, storage and pipeline safety.
Lane has held several senior level positions with SoCalGas, including vice president of gas operations & system integrity; vice president of gas transmission & distribution; vice president of field services; vice president of environmental, safety & facilities; vice president of labor relations and was Chief Environmental Officer.
Lane also has held leadership positions in field operations and various staff functions including human resources, environmental services and gas supply. He joined the company’s transmission and storage operations division in 1982.
Lane serves on the Board for the College of Engineering at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He is also on the American Gas Association Board Safety Committee and the Operations Managing Committee. He is a former board member of the American Red Cross Los Angeles Chapter and the Los Angeles Police Foundation. Lane holds a bachelors of science degree in petroleum engineering from Oklahoma State University.Back to Chief Officers Menu
Chris Baker is senior vice president and chief information officer for Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities.
As chief information officer, Baker is responsible for information technologies, vision and operational oversight, including computing infrastructure, client services, applications, information security and information management for SDG&E, SoCalGas and Sempra Energy’s Corporate Center.
Previously, Baker was senior vice president of strategic planning and technology for SDG&E and SoCalGas. He also served as Sempra Energy’s director of software development from 1997 to 2000, and as information management and security administration manager from 1995 to 1997.
Prior to joining Sempra Energy in 1995, Baker was a senior systems consultant with Logicon 4GT, where he worked with defense finance and accounting services. He also worked on analysis for several government entities, including the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Office of Finance and Management and the U.S. Postal Service’s National Air and Surface System.
Previously, Baker held several positions in the banking industry, including serving as section manager of information management and executive information services at HomeFed Bank, a position he held from 1990 to 1993. Prior to 1990, he was employed with Home Savings of America, holding several different positions in their information technology division.
Baker serves on the board of CommNexus and CONNECT. He is a cum laude graduate of California Polytechnic University at Pomona, where he earned bachelor’s degrees in biology and business administration / computer information systems.
Robert M. Schlax is vice president, treasurer, controller and chief financial officer of Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
Schlax joined the company in 2005 as vice president and controller. In October 2008, he was appointed chief financial officer in addition to his current role. In this expanded position, Schlax oversees all of the financial planning and budgeting, energy risk management, financial reporting, debt management and affiliate compliance.
Preceding his current role, Schlax served as chief financial officer, treasurer and vice president of finance at Mercury Air Group, Inc.. from 2002 to 2005. From 1977 to 2001, he held various management positions within the accounting and finance departments at Unocal Corporation.
Schlax holds a bachelor's degree in accountancy from the University of Illinois and a master's degree in business administration from Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif. He is a member of the board of directors of the Alzheimer's Association San Diego/Imperial Chapter and is also a member of the Orange County Chapter of Financial Executives International.
Senior Vice Presidents
Jimmie I. Cho is senior vice president, gas operations & system integrity for Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities.
Cho is responsible for all of gas operations and engineering. In his previous role, Cho served as vice president of gas operations for SoCalGas and SDG&E where he oversaw all aspects of field operations including gas distribution, transmission, storage and system operations.
He also held prior roles as vice president of human resources, diversity and inclusion for SoCalGas; director of customer communications, research and web strategy; director of safety and emergency services; director of customer service field operations. He also held positions of increasing responsibility in environmental engineering, corporate affairs, gas operations and customer services.
In addition to his tenure with Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities, Cho held positions with Las Virgenes Municipal Water District, a member agency of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, as director of resource conservation and public outreach, and Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts in various environmental engineering roles.
Cho holds a bachelor's degree in geology from Brown University and a master's degree in civil engineering from Stanford University. He serves on the board of directors of Los Angeles Conservation Corps.Back to Senior VPs Menu
Patrick Lee is senior vice president of customer service, innovation and business strategy for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
Lee is responsible for all customer services and programs, as well as strategic planning and development of new businesses and technologies at SoCalGas. Prior to joining SoCalGas in August 2012, Lee served as vice president of Sunrise Powerlink for San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). Lee had overall responsibility of the project including public affairs, environmental, land services, engineering, procurement and construction of the largest capital infrastructure project in SDG&E’s history. The $1.9 billion, 500-kilovolt transmission line was completed successfully in June 2012.
Prior to his role on Sunrise Powerlink in April 2009, Lee was vice president of energy supply for Sempra Generation, which is now part of Sempra US Gas & Power. Lee was responsible for natural gas procurement, energy sales from a fleet of combined cycle and renewable power plants, and daily trading and long term hedging of power plant output.
Prior to that, he held several director positions at SDG&E. His past responsibilities included: construction, maintenance and operations of transmission, substation and distribution systems in the San Diego region; skills and compliance training; business processes support; and performance management.
Before joining SDG&E in 1991, Lee worked for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the City of Roseville, California. His utility experience includes electric system planning, engineering standards, transmission & substation construction and maintenance, electric reliability, system automation, smart grid, engineering data integration, business process re-engineering and renewable energy development.
Lee is a member of the California Council on Science and Technology and serves as a trustee on the California State Parks Foundation board. He has a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University and a master’s degree in electrical engineering from California State University, Sacramento. He is a registered professional electrical engineer in California.Back to Senior VPs Menu
Lee Schavrien is senior vice president of finance, regulatory and legislative affairs for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
In his position, Schavrien is responsible for all regulatory matters before the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), as well as the financial affairs of the utility. In addition, Schavrien has responsibility for all state legislative matters impacting SoCalGas.
Since 1979, Schavrien has been involved in all regulatory matters for San Diego Gas & Electric and since 1996 for SoCalGas, as well as the merger of Enova and Pacific Enterprises that formed Sempra Energy. Schavrien was the co-author of the groundbreaking new way for California regulators to establish utility rates, a methodology known as Performance Based Ratemaking.
He is a past board member of the San Diego Arthritis Foundation, The California Interscholastic Federation – San Diego Section and the Poway Wrestling Foundation. Schavrien holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from National University.Back to Senior VPs Menu
Diana L. Day is Vice President, Enterprise Risk Management for Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy’s regulated California utilities.
Day has held various positions with the Sempra companies since 1997, including Assistant General Counsel – Commercial of SDG&E, General Counsel of Sempra Energy Global Enterprises and Vice President and Associate General Counsel of Sempra Energy.
Prior to joining Sempra Energy, Day was with the San Diego office of Latham & Watkins, where she served on that firm’s EEO Committee.
Day has prior service as a director of the San Diego American Corporate Counsel Association, the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program, and San Diego Imperial County Girl Scouts.
Day is a graduate of the University of Virginia School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree in economics (summa cum laude) from Washington State University. She resides in Point Loma with her husband and eight children.Back to VPs Menu
Scott Furgerson is vice president of gas operations for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy's California regulated utilities.
Furgerson oversees all aspects of gas field operations including gas distribution, transmission, storage and gas control, as well as emergency services for SoCalGas.
Previously, Furgerson served as vice president of construction and operations for Sempra US Gas & Power. In this role he oversaw engineering, construction, operations and asset management in the Renewable Energy Group. He was also responsible for the the operation of over 1,000 MW of Wind generation and 300 MW of Solar generation, in addition to 250 MW of Solar energy currently under construction.
Furgerson has more than 33 years of experience in the power generation business. He began his career with San Diego Gas & Electric as a generation engineer in the power plant. During this tenure with the utility, he has held several management positions including director of electric regional operations.
He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo and is a registered professional engineer in the State of California.Back to VPs Menu
Paul Goldstein is vice president of gas acquisition for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
Goldstein has been in the energy industry for more than 20 years. From 2007 to 2013, he served as director of fuel supply for Sempra Generation and as a managing director at Sempra U.S Gas & Power. Goldstein returned to SoCalGas in early 2013 to support the development of recommendations to enhance the reliability of the gas transmission pipeline system for SoCalGas and SDG&E. In addition, he worked to structure the framework to be used to comply with California’s Cap-and-Trade program.
Goldstein first joined SoCalGas in 1998 as a senior supply forecast analyst and served in a variety of roles in the gas acquisition group. Prior to joining SoCalGas, he held engineering and operations roles at Nicor Energy in the Chicago area.
Goldstein has a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cornell University and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Chicago.Back to VPs Menu
Mitch Mitchell is vice president of state government affairs for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), Sempra Energy's California regulated utilities.
Based in Sacramento, Mitchell is responsible for state governmental affairs for both California utilities. Prior to his current position, Mitchell was regional vice president of external affairs, responsible for public affairs and external affairs activities for SoCalGas.
Prior to joining SoCalGas in 2005, Mitchell served as vice president of public policy and communications at the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce where he worked with the Chamber's members and diverse volunteer base to develop a public policy agenda that is favorable to the business climate and standard of living in San Diego. He was also in charge of representing the Chamber and its members' public policy positions to local, state and federal officials.
Previously, Mitchell was director of governmental relations for American Medical Response, the nation's largest ambulance transportation firm. From 1996 to 1997, he served as assistant director of governmental relations for the San Diego Mayor's Office under Mayor Susan Golding, overseeing the city's legislative priorities and advising the mayor on policy issues.
Prior to working at the mayor's office, Mitchell was the director of governmental relations for the San Diego City Fire Fighters Local 145 IAFF, one of the city's largest labor unions.
Mitchell is an active member of the community. He has served for several years on the board of directors for the San Diego Food Bank and the Children's Museum, and he was previously on the boards of the San Diego Opera and Burn Institute. Mitchell is also a governor's appointee to the Little Hoover Commission. Mitchell earned his bachelor's degree in political science from University of Redlands.Back to VPs Menu
Doug Schneider is vice president, engineering and system integrity for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
He is responsible for gas engineering and pipeline integrity policies and programs. Previously, Schneider served as the director of pipeline integrity where he oversaw the development and management of the utilities’ pipeline integrity programs.
Schneider joined SoCalGas in 1991 as an engineer. He has held a number of engineering and related roles including technical services manager, pipeline integrity manager, project manager for OpEx and engineering design manager. He left SoCalGas briefly, from 1997 to 2001, and during this time held the title of vice president of sales and marketing for Rohrback Cosasco Systems, a manufacturer of corrosion control instrumentation and related systems.
Schneider is a registered professional engineer with a master’s degree in business administration from California State University, Fullerton, and a bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Rutgers University.Back to VPs Menu
Michael M. Schneider is vice president of operations support and Chief Environmental Officer for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas) and San Diego Gas & Electric Company (SDG&E). In his current position, he is responsible for facilities, fleet services, supply management and supplier diversity, and environmental services for both California utilities.
Previously, Schneider served as vice president of customer operations, where he oversaw billing, collections, customer contact center and meter reading organization, remittance processing and credit.
Over the last 22 years, Schneider has held various positions within SoCalGas and SDG&E in finance, customer services and regulatory affairs. Schneider was the treasurer of both SoCalGas and SDG&E, responsible for treasury activity, financial and economic analysis included in regulatory filings, risk management and strategic planning. Schneider regularly testifies before the California Public Utilities Commission on a variety of financing, ratemaking, economic and energy policy matters.
Prior to his employment with SoCalGas and SDG&E, Schneider was employed by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) as an energy economist in the office of electric power regulation.
Schneider is a member of the Advisory Board and Director's Circle for the Lamden School of Accountancy at San Diego State University. Schneider was corporate walk chair for the Greater LA Chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Campaign in 2011 and honorary walk chair in 2012. Schneider serves on the Board of Directors for the Greater L.A. Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and Junior Achievement of Southern California, and the Industry Advisory Board for the Eller School at the University of Arizona.
Schneider holds a master's degree in business administration from George Mason University with an emphasis in finance and a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Arizona.Back to VPs Menu
Rodger R. Schwecke is Vice President of Customer Solutions for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
As Vice President of Customer Solutions, Schwecke oversees major customer-related activities for SoCalGas, including account executives, customer communications and eservices. Schwecke is also responsible for customer programs promoting energy efficiency, sustainability, low-income assistance and the development of new emerging technologies, including clean transportation, distributed energy, in-home services and biofuels.
From 2010 through 2012, Schwecke was Director of Storage, managing underground storage field operations that supports the daily and seasonal operational flexibility for the gas transmission and distribution system for SoCalGas. Prior to this position, Schwecke was Director of Energy Markets and Capacity Products from 2007 to 2010. In this role he led the development, marketing, and capacity planning for products and services using existing pipeline and storage assets, developing regulatory cases involving those assets, and exploring expansion of the assets.
From 2007, Schwecke served in increasingly responsible management positions in business development, operations, marketing, engineering and project management for SoCalGas and Sempra Energy affiliates.
He serves on the Discovery Science Center Board, Orange County Business Council and UCLA Extension Certificate Advisory Board. Schwecke graduated in 1983 from California State University, Long Beach, with a Bachelor of Science in Chemical Engineering.Back to VPs Menu
Cheryl Shepherd is the vice president of accounting and finance, and assistant treasurer for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
In this role, she oversees accounting operations, financial planning and budgeting, performance management and reporting, financial systems and controls, and financial and regulatory analysis.
Previously, Shepherd was director of finance and director of customer operations for SoCalGas. Prior to that Shepherd was director of real estate and land services, and director of accounting operations and assistant controller for both SoCalGas and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E).
Shepherd began her professional career with SoCalGas in 1981 and during her thirty-one years with the Company has held numerous management positions of increasing responsibility in accounting and finance, marketing, human resources, real estate and land services, and customer operations.
Shepherd holds a bachelor’s degree in Economics from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).Back to VPs Menu
Dan Skopec is vice president of regulatory and legislative affairs for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
Based in San Francisco, Skopec is the utility's primary representative before the California Public Utilities Commission. He also manages the utility's Sacramento office.
Prior to joining the utility in January 2008, Skopec served as Undersecretary for the California Environmental Protection Agency from 2006 to 2007.
Skopec has extensive experience dealing with environment and energy policy issues. As a former deputy cabinet secretary for California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Skopec served as a liaison between the Governor's office and the California Environmental Protection Agency, Resources Agency, Department of Food and Agriculture, California Public Utilities Commission and the Governor's Washington D.C. office.
In 2001, Skopec directed the subcommittee on energy policy, natural resources and regulatory affairs in Washington D.C. As the lead consultant on energy issues, he held numerous energy-related hearings involving the California electricity crisis, natural gas, Federal Energy Regulation Commission and gasoline markets.
Prior to 2001, Skopec served as the legislative director for U.S. Rep. Doug Ose, for whom he oversaw legislative strategy and was responsible for pursuing the congressman's legislative goals. Skopec also worked as a legislative assistant for Congressman Jack Quinn, whom he advised on how to vote on various issues including foreign affairs and agriculture.
Skopec holds a master's degree in international economics from George Washington University, Washington D.C. and a bachelor's degree in political science and European history from the University of California, San Diego.Back to VPs Menu
Hal D. Snyder is vice president of human resources, diversity and inclusion for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
In this role, Snyder is responsible for human resources, labor relations, diversity, organizational effectiveness and employee health and safety at SoCalGas. Previously, Snyder was vice president of customer solutions, responsible for customer programs promoting energy efficiency, sustainability, low-income assistance and the development of new emerging technologies, including clean transportation, distributed energy, in-home services and biofuels. Snyder also managed major customer-related activities for SoCalGas, including account executives and customer communications.
From 2004 through 2007, Snyder was vice president of gas storage, transmission and distribution, managing operations serving more than 6.2 million SoCalGas and San Diego Gas & Electric customers.
From 1998 to 2004, Snyder served in increasingly responsible management positions for Sempra Pipelines & Storage, which develops and operates North American natural gas pipeline and storage facilities. Snyder also led Sempra Pipelines & Storage's development efforts in Canada.
Prior to 1998, Snyder held a variety of management positions in business development, operations, marketing, engineering and project management for SoCalGas.
Snyder serves as a board member of the California Science Center and the Coalition for Clean Air. He also is actively involved in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. Snyder holds a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from California State University, Long Beach, and a master's degree in business administration from Pepperdine University, Los Angeles.Back to VPs Menu
Sharon Tomkins is the Vice President and General Counsel for Sothern California Gas Company (SoCalGas). She began working for SoCalGas in 2010 as the Regulatory Assistant General Counsel.
Prior to joining SoCalGas, Tomkins was a partner of O’Melveny & Myers LLP, where she was a founding member of its Energy, Natural Resources & Environmental Practice. At O’Melveny, Tomkins represented clients in a variety of litigation, regulatory and appellate proceedings. She developed and taught an Energy Law, Policy & Climate Change course in the fall of 2009 at UCLA Law School. Shortly after graduating law school, Tomkins clerked in the U.S. Court of Appeals, Sixth Circuit, for the Honorable Danny J. Boggs.
Tomkins co-authored, “Litigating Global Warming: Likely Legal Challenges to Emerging Greenhouse Gas Cap-and Trade Programs in the United States,” which was published in the May 2009 issue of Environmental Law Institute’s News & Analysis Journal; “Shareholder Derivative Actions: From Cradle to Grave,” Practising Law Institute (2006, 2007); and “Recent Developments in Shareholder Derivative Actions,” Practising Law Institute (2001 -2005). She was named three years in a row as a “Southern California Rising Star” in surveys conducted by Law & Politics Media Inc. and published in Los Angeles magazine. She was also profiled by the Los Angeles Business Journal for their Who’s Who of Environmental Lawyers and Who’s Who of L.A. Law special sections in 2008.
Tomkins serves on the board of directors for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles. She previously served on the board of directors for the Conference of California Public Utility Counsel, the Women’s Lawyers Association of Los Angeles and Uncommon Good.
Tomkins graduated Order of the Coif from the USC Gould School of Law. She received her undergraduate degree in English, with High Distinction, from Pennsylvania State University.Back to VPs Menu
Denita Willoughby is regional vice president of external affairs at Southern California Gas Co. (SoCalGas).
Willoughby leads the company’s community relations, public affairs and media and employee communications efforts.
Previously, Willoughby was the chief executive officer of The Willoughby Group, a management consulting firm she founded that specializes in executive services, business development and government relations.
Before starting her own firm, Willoughby was with AT&T for more than 15 years. From 2006 to 2011, she served as vice president of external affairs and led the company’s local government and community affairs activities in the Greater Los Angeles area. At AT&T, Willoughby also served as vice president of TV Programming for the company’s U-Verse television venture and as regional sales vice president for SBC Communications.
Willoughby has a master’s degree in business administration from Harvard University and a bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
She serves on the boards of Green Dot Public Schools, Vision to Learn, UNITE LA and California Institute of the Arts.Back to VPs Menu
Gillian Wright is vice president of customer services for Southern California Gas Company (SoCalGas).
In this role, Wright is responsible for all customer field and office activities, including the call centers.
Previously, Wright was the director of customer programs and assistance where she was responsible for managing SoCalGas’ energy efficiency and low income customer assistance programs, representing a combined budget of more than $200 million annually.
She joined Sempra Energy in 1999 as a regulatory policy and analysis analyst. In 2002, she was appointed director of California regulatory affairs for SoCalGas and SDG&E and then director of energy markets and capacity products for both utilities in 2005. In 2007, she became director of commercial and industrial services for SoCalGas.
Wright serves on the boards of the Los Angeles Business Council and California State University Foundation.
She holds a master’s degree in public policy from the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, and a bachelor’s degree in economics from Reed College.Back to VPs Menu