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Seattle City (spot)Light: Valerie Szopa, Internal Communications Advisor

The Basics
Years of Service: 4-plus
Division: Communications
Role: I like to think of my role as one that connects and informs our employees. That ranges from managing our (spot)Light profiles series, writing weekly articles for Network newsletter, and coordinating the Monday Message to creating and co-facilitating programs like Get to Know City Light, Value Ambassadors, and our overall One Utility effort. I’m always looking for ways to best serve our employees with the information and resources they need to do their job effectively while providing opportunities to engage with one another.

Thermal, Calif. (a hop, skip, and a jump away from Indio or Palm Springs)
Alma Mater: Loyola Marymount University (undergraduate) and California State University Northridge (graduate)
Discipline/Trade of Study: I have a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and a master’s degree in mass communications.
Tell us about your family: Well, I’m a new mom! My husband and I welcomed our son, Theodore, right before COVID hit. It was a big year but staying at home has given us the gift of time, which we can never get back. It’s been a blessing in disguise for us. Teddy is the absolute best, and we love him so. Outside of my little family, I’m the oldest of three children (one sister and one brother, who just got engaged—yay!). My parents and siblings still live in Southern California.

“I have genuinely enjoyed getting to know different people at City Light. I’m a people person and working in Communications gives me access to so many cool, kind, and interesting people. I hear their stories, learn about their backgrounds and interests, and am often fascinated by all the talent and skill that goes into operating a utility. There are so many pieces!”

Just for Fun
Where do you currently live and what’s something you love about the area?
We live in Bothell, and it’s exactly what I envisioned when my husband and I moved to Washington five years ago. We pictured a friendly community, quiet neighborhoods, lots of trees and trails—Bothell has all that, plus big parks and a river. Woodinville is also close by, which is fun for us.

What is your favorite travel memory/experience? My husband and I got engaged in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, so that will always hold a special place in my heart. I also absolutely loved Banff National Park and think it just might be the most beautiful place I’ve ever visited. It was a winter wonderland—like a page right out of a storybook—which was a big deal for someone who grew up in the desert. Ice skating on Lake Louise, dogsledding, hiking on snow to ice canyons—I ate it all up!

What was your first concert? Oh my goodness. My parents took us to a 5th Dimension concert when I was in fourth grade I think. My sister and I were the youngest ones there. The lead singer spotted us and called us out! Hahaha. After that, my next real concert experience was Ice Cube my freshman year of high school. Talk about an eye-opener!

What TV show are you currently bingeing on? My mom has been staying with us to help with Teddy and has us bingeing a Canadian series called Heartland, a feel-good family show I would never have watched without her! Even my husband tunes in with us, lol. I also started Grace and Frankie (which I’m loving) and have to get in a plug for Schitt’s Creek and Workin’ Moms.

What is something most people don’t know about you? That I grew up on a date ranch about 40 minutes east of Palm Springs. I have fond memories of seeing my grandpa and my dad working on the ranch together; it was in my family for three generations. My family settled in the Coachella Valley more than 100 years ago, and I am very proud to have such a deep connection to the area. If you haven’t tried a date shake, I highly recommend it. I’m not a fan of dates (ironic, right?) but won’t turn down a date shake!