EERE branding for Michelle Pannell in Black History Month.

Michelle Pannell, Workforce Management Office Director

Michelle Pannell often says she began her service in the federal government in 2009 “the same year and month President Obama started his career working in the federal government.”

A graduate of Texas Tech University in her home state who earned an MBA from the University of Maryland Global Campus, Pannell had already served in the Army Reserves and amassed extensive experience in the private sector when she joined the National Institutes of Health as a human resources specialist. “They invested in me to ensure that I was going to be successful, and I really just took advantage of the opportunity,” she remembers.

Pannell credits the support of great mentors for contributing to her rapid rise in responsibilities in a variety of human resources roles, both in the private sector and at a range of government agencies, including the Department of Labor, the Food & Drug Administration, and the Executive Office of the President.

She developed a passion for issues involving people, performance, and human capital; earlier in her career as a recruiter, she would receive cards from people thanking her for helping them secure opportunities. “I would get cards saying, ‘Thank you, now I can take care of my family.’ So, I knew early in my career that I wanted to pursue a path of helping employers and employees find the right match.”

Today Pannell serves as director of EERE’s Workforce Management Office (WMO). Her goal is for WMO to be viewed as “the premier customer service office for EERE” for everything from talent management and onboarding to performance management, employee engagement, and professional development, plus facilities management oversight. Her goal for her team is simple: “We’re going to get the job done right the first time, and with smiles on our faces.”

Much of her recent focus has been on communication and implementation planning for the agency’s return to office, a continually evolving project as new COVID-19 variants have complicated the timeline. Pannell has also been preparing WMO to manage the staffing and onboarding efforts related to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law.

Her leadership approach emphasizes collaboration and team empowerment. “I found out early in my career that I don’t work well with micromanagers; that’s why I trust and empower my team to get the job done, while holding us accountable to deliver. We strive to set the example of what the rest of the organization needs to look like.”

Pannell is especially excited about the Biden Administration’s focus on building a more inclusive and diverse workforce within the federal government and the clean energy economy. Working closely with Terrence Mosley, EERE’s senior advisor for diversity, her team is heavily involved in outreach to underrepresented groups in STEM industries, including at historically Black colleges and universities. 

She is enthusiastic about WMO’s ongoing efforts to transform itself and become an even more impactful advisor to EERE leadership and staff. She also recognizes that she “does not have all the answers. If there are areas where our colleagues feel we can better serve our customers, I’m very open to hearing new ideas and recommendations.”

In her personal time, Pannell is an avid reader of authors like Mary Higgins Clark, Walter Mosley, and James Patterson and has published three books herself, including The About-Face Request: 31 Days Meditational Guide, focused on helping readers endure challenging times. “Writing not only helps me relax but have a sense that I’m giving back to the community,” she says.

EERE is proud to call Pannell a Clean Energy Champion.