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Seattle City (spot)Light: Elias Gebreslasie

Electrical Engineer Elias Gebreslasie has been at City Light since 1999. As part of the Energy Delivery Engineering division, Elias is part of the Network Services group where he works on the front line with City Light customers. “I work with customers who apply for power,” Elias explained. “Whenever someone wants to build a new house or apartment building, they must work with us to determine the amount of electricity that’s needed for the project. We design and install the transformers that distribute power for our customers.”

Elias was born in northeastern Africa, but has lived in Seattle for 27 years. He attended the University of Washington and received a degree in Electrical Engineering. “I was planning to study medical, but the language barrier was very challenging,” Elias shared. “I was always good in math and physics so decided to study electrical engineering. I also knew that there was a wide chance of job opportunity in this field.”

Elias lives in Lynnwood with his wife Elsa and his three boys Mossa, Zekhri and Sham. In this week’s (spot)Light, Elias talks about his journey to the U.S. and shares about his role here at the utility.

Elias (top left) with his family in Dubai

“I’m from Eritrea in northeastern Africa. There was a 30-year war between Ethiopia and Eritrea and I fought against the communist regime. Because of my political views, I was imprisoned and was forced to escape. I ended up in Sudan and through a refugee program was able to come to the United States. Seattle was my port of city and I’ve been here since 1991.”

“One attribute of the Northwest that I really like is the cooler weather. I come from a very hot region, so the rain and cooler environment is something I enjoy. The landscaping here is beautiful. It’s a good place to live with a lot of activities. I like to go target shooting near Woodinville. I play soccer with my sons. I also go running four days a week—it doesn’t matter if it’s raining. I make sure to get out there. I also like to cook. My specialty is an Eritrean dish Zigni. It’s spicy!”

“I’m a family-oriented person which is one of the reasons I like working at City Light. It offers a nice work-life balance and stability for my family. It has a good working environment. I refer to my work group as brothers, like part of my family. It’s a good group with strong friendships. There is also diversity. I have a different background and culture as do many others here. It’s nice to connect with others in that regard. I really enjoy working with the people here.”