Theresa Phillips Named Communicator of the Year

Posted on Oct 29, 2021

By Mike Teegarden

Congratulations to Theresa Phillips, winner of Pioneer Utility Resources’ 2021 Dave D’Avanzo Communications Award.

Theresa Phillips

Theresa is public relations manager for Lassen Municipal Utility District, based in Susanville, California. One of her many responsibilities is managing the local page content for Ruralite magazine, the utility’s monthly publication for its consumers.

In being selected for the award, Theresa was cited for her effective use of magazine pages, guiding the municipal’s social media presence, and her exceptional execution of a clear and consistent communications plan on behalf of LMUD.

“Theresa is one of those people who you just love to work with, even in the middle of a crisis,” says Pioneer Utility Resources Editor Mike Teegarden.

“She brings so much energy, expertise and a positive outlook to every project,” he adds. “Theresa is a gifted networker, cultivating contacts throughout the Susanville community and the utility industry.”

Theresa has handled the communications needs for LMUD for more than 18 years. Every month she conducts interviews, takes pictures, writes and designs her utility’s local pages inside Ruralite magazine.

Theresa teamed up with Powerful Web to redesign her website in 2021, launching days before the Dixie Wildfire forced an office evacuation.

Theresa Phillips’ Content in the Wild entry featured her new website,

“We LOVE our new Powerful Web website! We went live just in the nick of time,” Theresa says. “The epic fire tore through our main transmission feed, and our backup generator experienced a catastrophic equipment failure. The result was five days of rolling blackouts while the fire raged around us. Our website made crisis communications easier and more effective.”

During the wildfire and rolling blackouts, Theresa handled more than her share of negative comments from consumers on social media. She regularly uses empathy and honest assessments to connect with consumers on LMUD’s Facebook channel.

Theresa’s dependable support doesn’t end with her consumers. A longtime volunteer in the public power community, Theresa has supported Utility Pioneers as a speaker on ways we are #MorePowerfulTogether, and she chaired NWPPA’s 2021 Northwest Innovations in Communications conference in October.

Theresa Phillips received the award on Thursday, Oct. 29. Pioneer Editor Mike Teegarden and Associate Editor Victoria Hampton joined her virtually to celebrate with her Lassen MUD family.

The Dave D’Avanzo Communications Award

Pioneer’s Communicator of the Year award is named in honor of longtime communicator Dave D’Avanzo, who was known for always giving, helping and making other people better. During a cooperative career spanning nearly four decades, Dave worked at four utilities: Umatilla Electric Cooperative in Hermiston, Oregon; Claverack Rural Electric in Wysox, Pennsylvania; Midstate Electric Cooperative in LaPine, Oregon; and most recently Lane Electric Cooperative in Eugene, Oregon. He earned top communicator honors for his exceptional work and dedication serving his cooperative on Ruralite magazine. Dave died in 2020 after a long battle with cancer.

Past Communicators of the Year:


  1. Congratulations Theresa!!! Well deserved and I am filled with such joy that you were honored with Dave’s award, he was an amazing human, just as you are!! Keep up the great work!

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  2. What an honor… You deserve every bit of this AWARD and celebration! Communicator, excellent manager, the gal who cares… You’re so selfless… LMUD is blessed to have you on their TEAM! You keep everyone wired… My friend! Congratulations! Ken & Therese Bailey, Susanville

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  3. Congratulations Theresa, you have certainly been graced with the recognition you so richly deserve. We here in Susanville and the surrounding areas are proud of you and thank you for your hard work and dedication for us all.

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  4. I can’t think of anyone more serving than Theresa Phillips of this honor. She lives for the Susanville Community and is a true leader, especially when a crisis arises. Thank you for all you do.

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  5. Congratulations, Theresa! You do such good work for your utility and are such a great help to so many other communicators!

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  6. Congratulations, Theresa! You deserve this award for all the work you do for Lassen Municipal Utility District and the Susanville community!

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