Hydropower Industry Bestows Lifetime Achievement Award to Mary Gail Sullivan

Hydropower Industry Bestows Lifetime Achievement Award to Mary Gail Sullivan

Dr. Kenneth Henwood Award Is Industry’s Most Prestigious Honor

Sacramento, CA (October 19, 2022) – The National Hydropower Association (NHA) is pleased to announce Mary Gail Sullivan as the recipient of the 2022 Dr. Kenneth Henwood Award at the second-annual Clean Currents. The Henwood Award is the hydropower industry’s highest honor and celebrates a lifetime of achievement to those who demonstrate great leadership in the hydropower field. In recognition of Dr. Kenneth Henwood’s dedication to the industry, May Gail Sullivan was selected by a committee of her peers for this prestigious honor.

“There have been a few things in my life that I’ve been proud of, my two girls is at the top of those, but this lifetime achievement award, which I will cherish for a lifetime, is also one,” said Mary Gail. “Nobody accomplishes anything by themselves. It’s a team, including NHA and its staff; my staff; my mentors – the company who allows me to do it, and my family who has shared in my work life. It’s important for people to realize that you can’t succeed alone.”

“We are thrilled to present the hydropower industry’s most prestigious award to Mary Gail Sullivan,” said LeRoy Coleman, Director of Communications, NHA. “Mary Gail is a visionary and pioneer in hydropower, and this award recognizes her dedication to fostering relationships, commitment to environmental stewardship, and determination to facing every challenge with poise. On behalf of the industry, we would like to congratulate Mary Gail for all that she has done to advance the industry.”

Sullivan is the Director of Environmental & Lands Permitting & Compliance at NorthWestern Energy (NWE). Sullivan holds a myriad of responsibilities within her position managing the Lands and Real Estate Department, which has a direct link to the vast geographic area in which the rivers for NWE flow.

During her time at NWE, Sullivan’s expertise, commitment to the hydropower industry, communication skills, and leadership have been integral to NWE’s growth and success. For instance, when NWE expressed interest in purchasing 11 hydroelectric projects and one storage reservoir, totaling a combined generating capacity of 633 MW, Sullivan led the charge to acquire the projects. To achieve this goal, Sullivan educated the Montana Public Service Commission commissioners, staff, and the acquisition’s opposition in a bid to increase understanding and appreciation of NWE’s role in responsible environment stewardship and clean energy generation.

When relicensing NWE’s largest single asset, Thompson Falls Hydro Project, came up, Sullivan’s organization, calm demeanor, and trustworthiness – acknowledged by staff, consultants, and stakeholders alike – made her the logical choice to lead NWE’s work on the relicensing of the 93 MW project.

In addition to working on NWE’s sustained generation growth, Sullivan has strengthened NWE’s internal coordination and effectiveness. Through an appreciation and understanding of the importance of relationships amongst project engineering, environment, economics, and operations personnel, Sullivan has been lauded for bringing multiple perspectives, her commitment, and going the extra mile to ensure that an issue can be solved or project improved. This dedication has been recognized and celebrated by her colleagues. Sullivan’s insistence on open and clear communication has made it possible to clearly and promptly communicate critical insights to higher level management. With decades of experience, Sullivan guides and mentors the next generation of environmental stewards.

Mary Gail Sullivan, and NWE, have been active members and supporters of NHA in a variety of roles, such as serving as a member of on NHA’s Board of Directors.


  • The Dr. Kenneth Henwood Award is presented to an individual within the hydro industry who exhibits:
  • Dedication to hydropower as an energy technology;
  • Persistence in the face of institutional obstacles
  • Appreciation and understanding of the relationships among project engineering, environment and economics;
  • A strong commitment for fair dealing and plain speaking; and
  • Uncommon energy, enthusiasm, and excitement as a leading force in the industry.