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Kathleen Ligocki leads green energy industry as CEO of Harvest Power

March 25, 2014
KOKOMO, Ind. — Kathleen Ligocki sets an example of what a woman with an Indiana University Kokomo degree can accomplish, with determination.

ligocki-IMG_5058Kathleen Ligocki, CEO of Harvest Power

Ligocki, B.A. '78, is now a leader in the green energy industry, in her newest job as CEO of Harvest Power. She looks forward to applying her knowledge and skills to a company working to provide sustainable energy.

Prior to this position, she's been a trailblazer in the automotive industry, moving up the ranks first at General Motors, and then at Ford Motor Company where she was a vice president. She's been a CEO for Tower Automotive, GS Motors, and Next Autoworks as well, before becoming an operating partner with Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers.

"I really love the mission of Harvest Power," Ligocki said. "It's trying to solve one of society's big issues. The idea that we owe society a sustainable future is something I believe. As I get older, I feel it is our responsibility to leave a better world for the next generation."

She sees tremendous opportunities available to recycle organic waste into clean energy and products, with the increased awareness of alternatives to dumping it in landfills.

The company uses anaerobic digestion to convert organic waste, such as discarded food and yard trimmings, into mulches and fertilizers, and also captures and sells energy created during the process.

"We're coming full circle, taking the discards of society and creating value out of it, converting energy back to the grid, and really nourishing our soils," Ligocki said. "What would take weeks and weeks to compost if you threw it in your back yard, now takes about a week. "

Harvest Power, founded five years ago, employs more than 600 people at nearly 40 sites, has built and operates three Energy Garden anaerobic digesters, processes more than two million tons of organic wastes per year, sells 33 million bags of soil and mulches across North America, and produces and markets millions of cubic yards of compost based soil, mulches, and natural fertilizers.

Ligocki, a Kokomo native, replaces company founder Paul Sellew, who now serves as executive chairman of the board. He said Ligocki has the skills to lead the company into the next phase of its growth plan.

"Kathleen Ligocki brings the right combination of bold strategic insight, broad operational expertise across a number of industry sectors, and financial acumen that will propel Harvest to the next level," he said. "I am pleased and excited by the prospect of working with her."

Ligocki is a long-time supporter of IU Kokomo, especially of its overseas study programs. She founded the Kathleen Ligocki International Travel Studies Travel Program in 2008, which provides financial assistance for students to participate in travel experiences. She is a member of the IU Kokomo Alumni Association Hall of Fame, received an honorary degree from the campus in 2002, and serves on the IU Foundation Board.

"Kathy provides IU Kokomo students an excellent example of what they can accomplish with a degree from our campus," said Chancellor Susan Sciame-Giesecke. "She continues to excel and lead in her field, while giving back to our students. Her generous contributions to our student international travel scholarship fund and the Milt and Jean Cole Family Fitness and Wellness Center impact our students every day. We extend our congratulations to Kathy on her new appointment."

Ligocki called her self "a huge believer in the regional campuses at IU," based on her experiences at IU Kokomo.

"The relationships you have at a regional campus is more like a family," she said. "I had access to people I would have seen from afar on a big campus. I was never taught by a teaching assistant. I had professors teach all of my classes. They were available to us outside of class. The access I had at IU Kokomo was just tremendous."

In addition to her B.A. in liberal studies from IU Kokomo, Ligocki earned a master's degree in business from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 09/11/2014