Irene Peterson, Utilities Marketing Coordinator, City of Charlottesville
Where were you born (and raised, if different)?
I was born in Seville, in the south of Spain. When I was 2 years old, my family moved to Sao Paulo, Brazil, the world’s seventh largest city.
When and why did you move to the Charlottesville/Albemarle area?
In 2001, I met my husband-to-be, a Charlottesville resident, while he was on vacation in Rio de Janeiro during the samba Carnaval parade holiday. While we were dating, I traveled to visit him and fell in love with the small town charm and big city amenities that are so unique to Charlottesville. In 2002, we got married and I moved to the US.
What neighborhood do you live in now?
We live in the Locust Grove neighborhood.
Family (spouse, kids, etc.)?
My husband John, a local architect, my son John Paul, an energetic 3 year-old boy, and Toddy, my furry Jack Russell daughter.
What is your alma mater and when did you graduate?
My alma mater is the ESPM – Superior School of Advertising and Marketing. ESPM is a market-run institution that ranks among the most prestigious Marketing, Communications and Business Management institutes of higher learning in Brazil. In 1994, I received a bachelor’s degree in marketing and a business administration master’s degree in 1998.
What were you doing before you came to work for the City?
I was one of the product managers of the largest publishing company in Brazil. I was responsible for overseeing marketing campaigns of some travel magazines, including National Geographic Brazil.
Your job title is Utilities Marketing Coordinator – what, in your own words, would you say you do?
I have to wear many, many hats—including a hard hat occasionally—in this position. My duties vary from visiting job sites and helping builders with natural gas service installation process to creating multimedia campaigns to promote Charlottesville Gas branding.
What is the best part of your job? The most difficult part?
My favorite part of this job is promoting safety with Flicker the Flame, the Charlottesville Gas mascot that I created 7 years ago. I really enjoy taking Flicker to visit the kids in our community through our school program (flicker@yourclassroom). The most challenging part of my position is to go to job site during blistering winter or blazing summer days.
How does your job most directly impact the average person?
One of my duties is to develop an integrated communication plan to promote gas safety. The overall goal of this campaign is to create a safer community by raising awareness of gas smell recognition and promoting safe digging practices. As a result of these efforts, the number of residents within the service area who can recognize the smell of natural gas increased by 87%.
What is the most interesting project or work experience that you’ve had while with the City?
I enjoy conducting feasibility studies to extend gas service to existing neighborhoods. It’s a wonderful opportunity to meet our citizens face to face and help them with their home energy upgrade projects.
What is a little-known fact about you?
Although I am pretty tall, I am not athletic at all. I can’t play any sports to save my life. Also my first language is Portuguese.
What do you do outside of work hours – hobbies, etc.?
My passions are planning trips and watching classic movies. I haven’t done much of either since my boy was born. So my only hobby now is to be full time mom and wife.