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I&M Employee Creates Parent and Caregiver Employee Resource Group

September 18, 2023

Kelly Rentschler has held several roles at I&M and AEP. But her most important role is being a mother of two young children.

Saturday, September 16 is Working Parents Day. We are highlighting Rentschler, who is a member and chair of the Empowered Parents and Caregivers Employee Resource Group (ERG).

How long have you been with I&M/AEP and in what roles?

Kelly Rentschler and her family

I have been with AEP for almost 7 years. I started as a Transmission Right of Way Agent in I&M and AEP Ohio. I was also the External Affairs Manager for I&M’s Fort Wayne District and am now the Distribution Work Plan Manager in I&M’s Muncie District.

Tell us about your family!

My husband Jake and I have been married 7 years. We are blessed with two beautiful children; Willow (4) and Dallas (1).

How has I&M/AEP helped you through parenting?

I have had both of my babies while working at AEP. I was fortunate to have a family in my work teams who supported me through my pregnancies, shared in my pregnancy-craving snacks, and cared about the wellbeing of me and my family.

We are fortunate to have great parental leave benefits, which have gotten even better, and a culture that truly supports working parents.

What moved you to start the ERG?

I got very involved in the Working Mom’s Affinity Group after the birth of my daughter in 2019. I saw the incredible value of having a community during that time of life and was dedicated to growing the group to be a company-wide resource.

In 2021 we expanded from being focused on mothers to encompassing fathers and caregivers. Aside from parental responsibilities, we have seen a significant increase in the caregiving sector for those in the ‘sandwich’ generation -- grandparents now assuming primary care roles for grandchildren. We changed the name to Empowered Parents and Caregivers (EP|C) for all AEP employees. We help support, advocate for, and educate those who are on the parental/caregiving spectrum while maintaining their careers.

I’m serving as chair of the ERG. We are excited to expand to be a resource to the entire company.

What have you learned at I&M/AEP that you pass on to your family?

I have learned through my career at I&M/AEP how to be adaptable. Whether it’s a work task or at home task, things RARELY go exactly how I planned or envisioned. I’m able to adapt to changing situations, problem solving and really being agile to remain high-functioning through changing conditions.

Do you have any advice or words of wisdom to fellow parents and grandparents?

I always try to remind working parents/caregivers that there is NO SUCH THING as a work/life balance! If you are consistently giving 50-50 to these categories, you will constantly be feeling like you’re failing at both. My advice is to stop focusing on this idea of ‘balance’ and start looking at items as critical vs non-critical. This will help you focus your energy on the important things and free yourself from the guilt that can come from trying to do it all.

What is your favorite family activity?

My favorite thing in life is Saturday morning dance parties in our kitchen! Every Saturday I make a big breakfast, turn on music and dance around singing our hearts out. It is my absolute favorite.

For more information on employee resource groups and other initiatives at AEP click here.

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