Hanging It Up After 28 Years Serving AVEC

Posted: January 5, 2022

By Sheena Marrs
Alaska born and bred, Debbie Bullock proudly spent her entire career with Alaska Village Electric Cooperative.

Her first professional job resulted in 28 years of service, where she most recently served as AVEC’s manager of administrative services.

“Be careful,” she says. “Blink and time is gone.”

Before retiring January 6, Debbie oversaw the cooperative’s financials and managed multiple departments.

Prior to starting with AVEC, Debbie spent several years at home raising her four children and attending school. She graduated with an accounting degree from University of Alaska Anchorage after resuming her education the same year her youngest—twins—started kindergarten.

When ready to work outside the home, she received multiple job offers.

Debbie says she had not heard of AVEC before interviewing, but found it the most appealing option. AVEC
promoted itself as family-oriented, and family is at the heart of Debbie’s values.

However, the cooperative model required a shift in thought because the corporate model was taught in the accounting program.

Debbie started at AVEC as a plant accountant but quickly took on responsibilities of the general accountant.

Through the years, the cooperative has grown and evolved. When Debbie started in 1993, green bar printer paper and standalone
computers with no computing networks were used.

AVEC has a reputation for running lean, but the operation and scope changed in 2001 when AVEC partnered with the Denali Commission.

Debbie refers to the two pivotal events in her personal and professional life as “BT” and “BDC”—Before Twins and Before Denali Commission.

Caring for twins and the demand to develop and learn new processes to address the influx in funding from the Denali Commission were similar in that activity happened so fast it didn’t allow
her to stop to think. She just got the job done.

Debbie and her team did what was needed to manage and track the cost of construction of new power plants.

Her willingness to improvise and adapt reflects an unwavering commitment to AVEC and the communities it serves.

Debbie excels in building new processes and maintaining financials. However, her most treasured accomplishment was building relationships.

She says no single individual made an impression on her, but collectively she has taken a bit from all her working relationships—some for better, some for worse. In some instances, she says she learned
what not to do.

Debbie describes herself as somewhere between an extrovert and introvert. Numbers and spreadsheets come naturally. On more than one occasion, she said, “I’ll take Excel over Word any day.”

Managing people was a skill developed over the years. Being a good listener became the most effective skill she developed. Her parents instilled a mindset of compassionate leadership by emphasizing understanding and respect for others.

She says her aim was to strengthen employee relationships through trust and honesty.

Debbie fostered a cohesive work environment by demonstrating professionalism, care and direct communication.

She developed strong and lasting relationships with her colleagues, and was viewed as a respected leader by the AVEC Board of Directors.
During the 2021 annual meeting in which board members and staff were present but delegates attended virtually, she received a standing ovation and was recognized for her outstanding accomplishments
and dedication to AVEC.

Staff members describe her as an amazing person and an example of a good boss.

Following her retirement, Debbie looks forward to traveling and spending time with her nine grandchildren and family.
She describes herself as a planner. “Travel acts as an outlet to channel that while exploring the world and gaining new experiences,” she says.

Debbie says she has a little guilt about retiring in the middle of year-end. She is confident in her replacement and the accounting team’s ability to see it through.

Debbie has left a legacy of leadership and made a positive difference that will remain for years to come.