President and CEO
Helen Wesley is president and CEO of Peoples Gas, where she leads a diverse team responsible for the safe and reliable delivery of natural gas to nearly 470,000 homes and businesses across Florida. With a keen focus on the state’s clean energy future, Wesley is positioning Peoples Gas as a leader in sustainable energy solutions through investments in emerging fuels such as renewable natural gas.
Wesley joined Peoples Gas in 2020 as chief operating officer. Prior to Peoples Gas, Wesley was with ENMAX Corporation, where she served as chief financial officer and executive vice president of Finance and Information Technology. As a result of a diverse career, she has more than 30 years of experience in various forms of energy — regulated and unregulated generation and transmission and distribution, upstream and downstream oil and gas, and commodity chemicals and pipelines. She has worked throughout North America as well as internationally in a variety of senior strategic and operational leadership positions. Wesley was a director with a public, global midstream gas processing company for nine years.
Throughout her career she also has been involved in community not-for-profit organizations. Now, she participates in the Tampa Bay Partnership, is a member of CEOs Against Cancer and Leadership Florida Executive Class 12, and sits on the board of directors for the Southern Gas Association and the board of trustees for the University of Tampa.
Wesley earned her Bachelor of Commerce in Marketing from the University of Calgary, and her Master of Business Administration in International Business from Bentley University in Boston. She also holds a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation and a Directors Designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.
Vice President of Human Resources
Donna Bluestone joined Peoples Gas as the Vice President of Human Resources in September 2022. She leads a team of HR professionals who provide support to all team members across the State of Florida.
Bluestone has more than 20 years of Human Resource experience in a variety of industries with over 10 years in an HR leadership role. Most recently, she was the Vice President of Human Resources & Shared Services for Bloomin’ Brands. In her career, Bluestone has led all aspects of Human Resources, talent acquisition, leadership development, HR Operations, Benefits, Compensation, HR Technology, and overall talent management.
Bluestone received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Longwood University in Farmville, VA and her Master of Business Administration from the University of Florida in Gainesville. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Florida Diversity Council.
Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer
Greg Blunden is Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Treasurer of TECO Energy and CFO of Emera Inc.
Blunden joined Emera in 2000 and has held financial leadership roles at Emera Inc., Emera Maine and Nova Scotia Power. He has gained valuable experience and industry insight into all aspects of Emera's business, including corporate finance, business development, utility operations, customer service, renewable energy and regulatory policy.
Most recently, he was Emera's vice president of Corporate Strategy & Planning and before that held the position of executive vice president of Customer, Business & Financial Services at Nova Scotia Power.
Blunden is a Chartered Professional Accountant and a graduate of Mount Allison University.
Vice President of Pipeline Safety and Regulatory Affairs
Luke Buzard is vice president of Pipeline Safety and Regulatory Affairs for TECO Peoples Gas.
Buzard first joined TECO in 2010 as manager of Audit Services, where he later became director. Most recently he served as director of Pipeline Safety and Operational Services for Peoples Gas, where he led the development and implementation of the safety management system, enhancement of technology solutions and process improvements.
Prior to TECO, Buzard held financial auditor positions at Cherry, Bekaert & Holland LLP in St. Petersburg and KPMG LLP in Tampa. He was involved in audits of various industries, including retail, manufacturing, government and real estate.
Buzard received both his Bachelor of Science in Accounting and his Master of Accountancy from the University of South Florida. He is a Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Internal Auditor.
Buzard serves on the board of the Early Learning Coalition of Hillsborough County. He previously served as chair of the USF Accounting Circle and was a member of Class IV of the Leadership Connect Institute.
Vice President of Residential & Commercial Business
Shawn Connell is Vice President of Residential & Commercial Business at Peoples Gas. He is responsible for the attraction, retention and stewardship of the two largest customer segments of Peoples Gas, throughout the state of Florida.
Shawn has more than 25 years of experience in the finance, consulting, and utility industries. Since joining Emera in 2003, he has served in roles of increasing responsibility throughout the organization including customer service, information technology, procurement, revenue operations and business development.
Shawn has a Bachelor of Business Administration from Acadia University and an Applied Information Technology Diploma from ITI.
Vice President of Finance
Jon E. DeVries is Vice President of Finance for TECO Peoples Gas.
DeVries leads a team of finance and accounting professionals who provide financial services across the company’s 14 service areas, as well as directing corporate finance initiatives and policies.
Before joining Peoples Gas in November 2023, DeVries spent 13 years in the utility industry at NiSource Inc., one of the largest fully regulated utility companies in the United States. He embraced positions of increasing responsibility and developed expertise in regulatory, strategic planning, financial planning and analysis, technical services, and operations. DeVries also spent time as a financial statement auditor for KPMG LLP.
DeVries earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Master of Business Administration from Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.
Vice President of Information Technology and Chief Information Officer
Chris Heck is vice president of Information Technology (IT) and chief Information officer (CIO) for TECO Energy, in addition to his role as chief digital officer for Emera Inc., TECO’s parent company.
Heck is an accomplished utility sector IT leader with a career spanning more than 35 years. Throughout his career, he has led digital transformations and built strong cyber-security programs. He is experienced in many aspects of the utility industry, including creating competitive advantage, merger and acquisition planning and integration, lean process improvement, automation, data analytics, product and services sourcing and workforce strategy.
Heck earned his Master of Computer Science from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He also attended Appalachian State University and Darden School of Business.
Vice President of Legal, General Counsel and Chief Ethics and Compliance Officer
David M. Nicholson is vice president of Legal, general counsel and chief ethics and compliance officer. He is responsible for legal affairs, federal governmental affairs, real estate and ethics and compliance.
Prior to joining TECO in 1999, Nicholson was a shareholder at the Tampa law firm of Macfarlane Ferguson & McMullen. While at the firm, he represented Peoples Gas before it was acquired by TECO in 1997.
Nicholson received his Bachelor of Science and graduated with honors from the University of Florida College of Law. Upon graduation, he was inducted into the Order of the Coif. While in law school he also attended the University of Glasgow, Scotland, for a year on a Rotary Ambassadorial Scholarship.
Nicholson serves on the board of the Hillsborough County Bar Foundation, where he is past president. He also serves on the boards of the Tampa Bay History Center and the University Club of Tampa.
Vice President, Operations, Sustainability and External Affairs
Timothy O’Connor is vice president of operations, sustainability and external affairs for Peoples Gas. He is responsible for the safe operations of the company’s 14 service areas across Florida and oversees the company’s operations of sustainable renewable natural gas facilities. He also leads external affairs activities to advocate and position Peoples Gas with customers, the natural gas industry and key stakeholders.
With more than 18 years of experience in the energy sector, O’Connor has held a variety of positions in accounting, strategy and business development at Emera Maine, Emera Energy and Emera Inc. Prior to his current role, he was vice president of business development for Peoples Gas.
O’Connor is an active supporter of the natural gas industry and serves on the American Gas Association’s Operations Managing Committee, the Southern Gas Association’s Executive Council and is a member of the Florida Natural Gas Association board of directors.
O'Connor earned his bachelor's degree in both finance and economics from New York University and holds a Master of Business Administration from Fordham University. He currently is a member of the board of directors for the Tampa Bay History Center.
Head of Finance
Rachel Parsons is Head of Finance for Peoples Gas.
Parsons joined TECO in 2006, and has been with the Peoples Gas finance team since 2016. She served as the Director of Business Planning, where she was responsible for annual budgeting and forecasting, long-term forecasting, and financial analysis.
Prior to her time at Peoples Gas, Parsons served in various roles at TECO Energy focusing on strategic & financial analysis, regulatory accounting, and financial reporting, including Manager of Business Strategy, and the Finance, Change Management and Communication Lead for the company's Customer Relationship Management (CRM) project. She began her career in utilities as a budget analyst with Seminole Electric Cooperative.
Parsons is a Certified Public Accountant in the state of Florida, and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and a Master of Accountancy from the University of South Florida.
Vice President of Engineering, Construction and Technology
Christian Richard is vice president of Engineering, Construction and Technology for Peoples Gas.
Richard began his career at Emera in 2013 as general manager of Emera New Brunswick, where he had responsibility for Brunswick Pipeline Co. and Emera's interest in Maritimes and Northeast Pipeline. In his most recent role at Emera, he served as vice president of Special Projects and was responsible for tidal energy and Emera's interest in Cape Sharp Tidal Venture.
Prior to joining Emera, Richard worked for New Brunswick Power in strategic planning, strategy execution and process and productivity improvement.
He received his bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from University of New Brunswick and his master's degree in Business Administration and Management from l'Université de Moncton. He is a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt.
Richard previously served as vice president and treasurer on the board of the New Brunswick SPCA, the Saint John Business Anti-Poverty Initiative and on regional economic development boards, such as the Atlantica Center for Energy and the Enterprise Saint John Regional Oversight Committee. He currently serves as treasurer/manager for his children's hockey teams.
Vice President of Business Development
Lew Rutkin is vice president of Business Development for Peoples Gas. He is responsible for developing and implementing business activities to reach unserved areas of Florida, expand the system to new customers, and to integrate long-term system resource requirements with new customer growth.
Rutkin joined Peoples Gas in 2019 as director, Business Development. Prior to his role at Peoples Gas, he worked for Enbridge and Spectra Energy in Business Development, served as a Senior Asset Trader with Entegra Power Group, and was a Senior Risk Analyst with TECO Energy. He has served in roles of increasing responsibility including developing and growing customer relationships, strategic decision making, and managing and developing personnel.
Rutkin holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics with a minor in Business Administration from the University of South Florida. He currently serves on the board of the Coastal Conservation Association.
Vice President Federal Affairs
Mike Sewell is vice president of Federal Affairs for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas, New Mexico Gas Co. and Emera. He represents the companies’ interests in Washington, D.C., with the U.S. Congress, administration and federal agencies.
Sewell is a seasoned professional in the utility industry with more than 20 years of experience and an extensive knowledge of federal affairs. He joined TECO in 2020 after working at another utility. Prior to that, he worked on Capitol Hill with the Florida congressional delegation.
He has a bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Virginia.
Sewell is a board member of the National Energy Resources Organization. He serves as a volunteer youth golf coach with the First Tee of Washington, D.C., and basketball coach with the Catholic Youth Organization.
Vice President State and Regional Affairs
Stephanie Smith is vice president of State and Regional Affairs for Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.
Smith is a seasoned professional with more than 20 years of experience in public affairs and governmental relations, including developing strategies to advance legislation and navigate regulatory issues on behalf of Fortune 500 companies. She joined TECO in 2022. Previously, she worked for two Florida gubernatorial administrations.
She has a Bachelor of Science in Political Science from Florida State University.
Smith serves as the chair of CareerSource Florida. She also is a board member of Enterprise Florida and the Florida Alliance Against Human Trafficking.
Vice President of Customer Experience
Karen Sparkman is vice president of Customer Experience for both Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas.
She joined the company in June 2017 as director of Customer Experience Operations at Tampa Electric and Peoples Gas and has played a key role in the transformation of the broader Customer Experience organization across Contact Centers, Customer Billing, Credit & Collections and Payment Operations partnering with IT, Electric Delivery and Regulatory senior leadership teams to optimize business process integration on priorities such as Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) solutions and Customer Relationship & Billing (CRB) system utilization and improvements.
Before joining TECO, Sparkman was a Customer Experience leader at Snohomish County Public Utility District (PUD) in Everett, Wash., and prior to worked at Colorado Springs Utilities. She has a bachelor's degree in business management from the University of Phoenix and a master's degree in business administration from Colorado Technical University.
Joann T. Wehle
Vice President of Strategy, Marketing and Communications
Joann T. Wehle is vice president of Strategy, Marketing and Communications for Peoples Gas. She is responsible for the company's sales and marketing, including growth of the company's customer base.
Since joining TECO in 1990, Wehle has served in roles of increasing responsibility in the Audit Services, Marketing, Fuels Management, Energy Conservation, and New Construction departments. Most recently, Wehle was director of Marketing and Fuel Planning for Peoples Gas.
Wehle holds a Bachelor of Business Administration in accounting from St. Mary's College in Notre Dame, Ind., and completed graduate coursework in accounting at the University of Florida. Wehle maintains her CPA license in Florida and held a variety of accounting and auditing jobs earlier in her career.