Women’s History Month Q&A Series: Dawn Roth Lindell

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Dawn Roth Lindell has served as the General Manager of Burbank Water and Power since November 2020. (photo courtesy of the City of Burbank)

Dawn serves as the General Manager of Burbank Water and Power, where she oversees staff members with the mission of providing cost-effect, sustainable and dependable water, as well as first-rate internet and energy services, to city residents.
In this Q&A, she discusses her pride in leading BWP and reveals how her mother’s determination taught her to go after her goals and enjoy the process of doing so.

What has your career path been like getting to your current role with Burbank Water and Power?

My first job out of college was leading a team of 17 union men, the youngest of whom was 15 years older than I was, who made Duncan Hines cake mix for Procter and Gamble. They started out calling me “the little genius,” and they did not mean that kindly. But they taught me a lot, and eventually I won them over. My undergraduate degree was a BS in chemical engineering, and I always knew that I wanted to focus on the people side of engineering – working process and problem solving.   

From there, I moved to Colorado Springs after getting married. I spent 12 years at a greeting card, gift wrap and giftables company called Current, Inc. This was an excellent organization that really focused on leadership development, and I held multiple roles in most areas of the organization including manufacturing, catalog development, customer service and IT.

After that, I entered the utility field, spending 12 years with Colorado Springs Utilities leading customer service, completing a stint in operations and then leading information technology. After my youngest graduated from high school, I left CSU to take the CIO role at WAPA. I then served a short stint as COO before running the Sierra Nevada regional utility, followed by running the Rocky Mountain regional utility. I wanted to get back to a municipal utility that was interested in leading in the area of sustainability, and that led me to BWP!

BWP LIRAP
Burbank Chamber
Milano

What aspects of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love helping people find a path to success. Watching people solve an issue that seemed really difficult is exciting. I have always loved leading people, improving processes and maximizing technology to make a difference. Measuring our outcomes enables us to know where we are and … see our improvement.

How does it feel to be a female serving in a leadership position for the city?

I love it here! At the executive level, we have an amazing team of leaders who truly have the best interests of Burbank at heart. At BWP the people are awesome and give so much of themselves to help this community. I am proud to be a part of it.

Which women in your life have inspired you the most to go after your goals?

My mom is an amazing woman still – at 84! She does jazzercise five times a week, has served in every leadership position in two different garden clubs, plays bridge, bunko and who knows what else.  

When I was 10 and my brothers were 6 and 4, my dad had a massive infarction (heart attack) and was dead for seven minutes. When they revived him, he had brain damage and no longer remembered that he was a doctor or had kids.  My mom had to close two medical practices, sell our farm and all animals, get the crops sold, find a job, find a place for her mentally impaired husband to stay, and manage three kids. After nine more months, my dad had another infarction and died. Through it all, she focused on what she had to do next and found a path through an extremely difficult time. She instilled in me the belief that hard work pays off, … life isn’t always easy but it is doable and there is a great deal of joy in the doing.  

What advice would you impart to young girls pursuing their dreams?

Find a way. If one door closes, then look for another door or a window. Keep believing in yourself. Ask others for advice and for feedback. Don’t take things personally. Just take what you can learn from any event and move on. Keep your goals in sight and keep moving in their direction. Don’t let anyone else define balance for you. You decide how to spend your precious hours in the way that makes the most sense to you. Forget about today’s silliness and focus on where you are headed. Forgive yourself and give grace to others. No one is perfect and trying to be is just exhausting. Help others be awesome and you will be awesome. Count your blessings and remember to be grateful – it puts you in a state of mind of abundance and that generates more abundance. Keep a sense of humor. Exercise.