In Loving Memory of Frank Lambert (1951-2021), President of PES (2020-2021)

Learn from You, Listen to You, and Love You

On 27th July, the PES Governing Board received the worst news of recent times: Our standing President Frank Lambert has left us for Heaven. The suddenness of the event has left us in shock and shatter. Frank’s association with the IEEE goes over 50 years – it all started during his bachelor’s and master’s years at Georgia Tech (1969-1976) when the majority of our PES GB members had not seen the lights of this world. Having served Georgia Power for more than 22 years in various ranks, in 1996 he joined the National Electric Energy Testing Research and Applications Center (NEETRAC), a division of Georgia Tech interfacing industry with academia where he delivered various projects related to product testing and validations. He led several NEETRAC development programs as its Associate Director. Although he officially retired after 22 years of service, his association with NEETRAC remained till the last day of his life.

Frank became an IEEE student member in 1970; ever since he was active with the Atlanta area Chapter serving all positions. Frank actively participated and significantly contributed to various PES Working Group meetings and technical activities; e.g. Distribution Subcommittee. He was an outstanding volunteer and a technical authority in several important industry topics, including stray and contact voltage, an area in which he made seminal contributions.

Since 2010, he served on the PES Governing Board – first as PES Chapter Representative (USA/Canada) and as PES Vice President of Chapters between 2014-2017 before becoming PES President-Elect in 2018. He was of the view that Chapter leaders were our “foot soldiers” and they were the face of PES at the local level. So, when he became the PES Vice President of Chapters, he oversaw the operations of our Chapters globally, and worked closely with numerous Chapter Chairs. He traveled all around the world, led Chapters leaders’ training programs, and mentored many volunteers in PES roles; many of his mentees have been serving in the PES Governing Board and beyond.

As PES President, his vision was to get the next generation involved, advance diversity, and promote an inclusive and equitable culture in PES. As President, he supported President-Elect, Chair of Long Range Planning (LRP) Committee, engaging the PES Chapters Student Activities Committee, Young Professionals Committee, and Women in Power Committee when developing the PES five-year strategic plan.  As President, he created a special PES Governing Board position to focus on diversity and inclusion efforts. He was very proud to preside a diverse PES Governing Board with members from all 10 Regions, and six women volunteers in 2021 – the highest number (26%) of female governing members ever in the PES history.

Frank wouldn’t give up on anything that could provide value to our community of PES volunteers and members. He would find a humorous angle in any discussion to adapt his style of communication and make it more fun and engaging. Frank was a professional with the best of both worlds of academia and the industry with exemplary insight.

Frank did not preach rather championed the message of global citizenship. He participated in a mission trip to Haiti, came back, and shared his experiences; and then traveled back to Haiti several times to design and install a photovoltaic (PV) system for a new medical centre in the remote mountainous village of Thomann.

With the help of Georgia Haitian American Chamber of Commerce, he led the training of 16 local Haitians in PV systems and business practices of large cluster hut level PV systems, designed, and commissioned for lighting and cell phone charging which was later extended to create economic opportunity for local women in the sewing business.

He always trusted his colleagues and made them feel valued. He treated others the way he liked to be treated by them. He belonged to the league of leaders who did not believe much in standing up and speaking out rather displaying tremendous courage and calm in sitting down and listening to others working for/with him. The hallmark of Frank was getting things done quietly without hurting any feelings. Always through his smiling face and pleasant demeanor, he conducted the business in the PES Governing Board.

Frank was a person open to all. Those who have met him, they would know him in an instant. In his reception of people, there was smile, there was love, there was kindness and most importantly there was a very human touch: all these he was not gifted at birth rather acquired through his upbringing, his approach to living of and learning from life. During the first wave of COVID his message to us was “ALL: STAY SAFE. JUST HANG IN THERE: “STAYIN ALIVE”, a la Bee Gees is our objective !!!” Very unfortunately, he could not hang in there.

Frank is survived by his wife, Karen, and his sons, John, Philip, and Ghaly. He was preceded in death by his daughter, Elizabeth.

Without Frank, PES Governing Board meeting will be very different. In fact, at the scheduled GB meeting on the day following his death all of us missed him dearly. The Governing Board approved a resolution at the July 29-30 meeting, in recognition and appreciation of PES President, Frank Lambert, “for his effective and exemplary leadership, integrity and dedication to the IEEE Power & Energy Society. In his PES roles, he made many friends around the world and his absence shall be deeply felt by all who had the pleasure of working and meeting him. The PES Governing Board expresses its deepest sympathy to his family – Karen, John, Philip and Ghaly.”

By Jessica Bian on behalf of the PES Governing Board