Jeff Harrison

Jeff Harrison

President/Chief Executive Officer, Citizens Energy Group
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More than 30 years after accepting a high school counselor’s advice to use his strong academic credentials and interests in math and science to seek a career in engineering, 1989 electrical engineering alumnus Jeff Harrison has become a leader of one of Indiana’s largest utilities with an influential role in the Indianapolis community.

And, he’s an inspiration to others that they can follow in his footsteps.

Harrison became president and chief executive officer of Citizen’s Energy Group in 2015 after being in a variety of leadership roles in engineering, sustainability, market development, manufacturing, and capital programming since 2003. He spent the first 13 years of his career with Indianapolis Power & Light.

Citizens Energy Group is a public trust utility providing natural gas, steam and chilled water, water, and wastewater treatment services to about 800,000 residential, commercial, and industrial customers in central Indiana.

HARD WORK IN ACADEMICS, ON HARDWOOD HAS BENEFITS

As the son of a southern Indiana bricklayer, Harrison was a first-generation college graduate who knew that hard work would be the key to a successful career. He had no idea it would be as an engineer.

“A high school guidance counselor suggested I take a look at engineering because of my standing among the top 10 percent of my graduating class [at Jeffersonville High School]. I had no idea about engineering or Rose-Hulman, but was willing to give it a try,” says Harrison. “My father instilled in me a strong work ethic to accomplish anything that I put my mind to do.”

Harrison also excelled on the basketball court, first at Jeffersonville and then at Rose-Hulman. As a Fightin’ Engineer, he started 72 games over four seasons, averaging 7.3 points and having 140 steals. His strong defensive play helped the 1988-89 team advance to the second round of the NCAA Division III postseason tournament. Harrison earned the Sam Hulbert Award for outstanding sportsmanship during that senior season.

“Sports showed me the importance of being a team player and how everyone – from a starter to every player on the bench – is valuable to a team’s success. I have carried those lessons with me throughout my career,” says Harrison.

BECOMING A MINORITY LEADER IN BUSINESS AND COMMUNITY

As Citizens Energy Group’s chief executive, Harrison became the first African American to head an Indianapolis-based utility company. He has succeeded at every juncture of his career, while being among the few minorities in leadership positions on his engineering or management teams.

“Hopefully, I am respected because of the work I have accomplished and my ability to work with people to get things done,” he says. “I have tried to set a positive example for others. I believe in strong customer service and being nice and welcoming to people. I have never forgotten my humble roots and am always looking to give back to others … As president and CEO (of Citizens Energy), I work hard every day to ensure our team is fulfilling the trust’s mission to serve customers and the community with unparalleled excellence and integrity.”

Harrison’s community volunteer endeavors include board memberships for the United Way of Central Indiana, the Indianapolis Zoo, Goodwill Education Initiatives Inc., YMCA, and the Indiana Energy Association. He is a graduate of the Stanley K. Lacy Executive Leadership Program, the Hoosier Fellows Program and the Diversity Leadership Academy of Greater Indianapolis. He is a member of the executive committee overseeing the organization of events for when Indianapolis hosts the 2022 College Football Playoff National Championship Game.

And, Harrison encourages future engineers through support for Indianapolis’ Center for Leadership Development, mentoring minority youths toward careers in engineering and high-tech careers, and as a member of the executive committee for the Central Indiana Corporate Partnership, a group of civic leaders striving to advance the region’s prosperity and growth.

“Engineering has afforded me so many opportunities and I encourage as many youths as possible to consider engineering as a career. If I can make it, they can too,” he states.

LEADING BY EXAMPLE AT ROSE-HULMAN AS WELL

In 2015, Harrison’s career pathway returned full circle as he joined Rose-Hulman’s Board of Trustees. He is lending his voice as a successful and loyal alumnus and proud parent, whose son, Zac, is a 2020 mechanical engineering alumnus.

The father says, “It was exciting to see Rose-Hulman through the eyes of a parent. Zac’s experiences were different than mine, but he still received the same solid foundation in engineering that will pave the way for his future.”
  
   

Meet More Alumni

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Thomas

Mechanical Engineering and Engineering Management alumnus who coaches robotics.

Victor Aguilar

Victor

Biomedical Engineering alumnus at Cornell University.

Marcie Hawk

Marcie

A chemical engineering alumna in the wine business.

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