It was with great sadness that we here at the Deschutes River Alliance learned of the sudden and unexpected death of Julie Keil on November 24.
Julie’s passing is a tremendous loss to the river and fish communities of Oregon. She was an active board member of conservation groups (Native Fish Society, Deschutes River Conservancy), Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the Low Impact Hydropower Institute, and a paid advisor and consultant to us here at the Deschutes River Alliance.
She was the Director, Hydro Licensing and Water Rights for Portland General Electric for 15 years prior to her retirement in 2014. During that time she was the lead person responsible for the relicensing of the Pelton-Round Butte Project that included the construction of the Selective Water Withdrawal Tower and fish passage facility. That earned Julie and PGE the Edison Award.
Julie had the ability to take a room full of disparate and dissenting individuals, and create a community. In 2013 a group of us had been meeting with PGE regarding biological changes in the lower Deschutes River. It was at her behest that we, as a group of anglers and other lower Deschutes River stakeholders, formed the Deschutes River Alliance. As Julie told us at the time, we would have no legitimacy until we became a bona fide organization.
At her retirement from PGE, she stated that she had seven rules to live by. They say a lot about Julie. In her memory, they are repeated here, with some observations:
- Be comfortable with silence. (Julie often sat silent in many meetings, and then would become the last to speak. This gave her great authority at meetings.)
- Take the work seriously, don’t take your self seriously. (Julie had a wonderful sense of humor, often dry and ironic, and quick to laughter.)
- Strive to be kind and respectful to support staff and junior staff. Be suspicious of those who aren’t. (Anyone who worked for Julie revered her.)
- Focus on the quality of the work. It is more important than your career.
- Be more prepared than everyone else. Every time. (She never failed at this expectation she set for herself.)
- Learn something from everyone you work with.
- Never ask your staff to work harder than you do.
We wish to express our deepest and most heartfelt condolences to the Keil family, and to Julie’s many friends and co-workers, both past and present. All who knew her keenly feel her loss.
The Julie Keil Women in Hydro Scholarship Fund has been created to support women planning on entering the hydro industry. Donations can be made via U.S. Bank, or to:
Northwest Hydroelectric Association
P.O. Box 2517
Clackamas, OR 97015