Jessie Hill Roberson Receives Award from Secretary Jennifer Granholm

Jessie Hill Roberson holds the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Award presented by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, far right. Also pictured are Joyce Connery, Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board chair, and Thomas Summers, the board's vice chairman.

A former EM assistant secretary who recently retired from the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board (DNFSB) was honored by Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm with an award for distinguished service for her dedicated service to the Department and nation.

Granholm recognized Jessie Hill Roberson with the Secretary of Energy Distinguished Service Award for the culmination of an extraordinary career. Roberson’s leadership and contributions to EM and the DNFSB have significantly impacted the success of the DOE mission, according to the award citation.

Roberson was nominated by former President George W. Bush to lead EM in 2001. She served in that capacity for three years. Read a 2013 EM Update interview in which Roberson reflects on her experience as EM assistant secretary.

Official Portrait



Jessie Hill Roberson served as the fifth Senate-confirmed assistant secretary for EM from July 2001 to July 2004.

In 1994, Roberson became the assistant manager for the environmental restoration programs, managing two divisions intimately involved in the cleanup of the former Rocky Flats Plant. In 1996, she was selected as the Rocky Flats Field Office manager due to her superior performance overseeing the spectrum of environmental restoration activities at the site near Denver, Colorado. During her tenure, a clear path to closure was identified with significant schedule compression and cost savings, and a full-scale decontamination and decommissioning began under her leadership. Roberson also had worked as an engineer at the Savannah River Site in Aiken, South Carolina, in environmental cleanup, waste management, safeguards and security, as well as nuclear reactors and weapons. 

In 2000, Roberson was selected as a board member for the DNFSB, responsible for monitoring DOE’s nuclear defense-related activities. In 2001, as EM assistant secretary, Roberson sought to apply lessons learned from Rocky Flats to other cleanup sites. Her goal was always to inspire innovation to achieve safe and effective cleanup of EM sites.

In 2004, Roberson left DOE for the private industry, and in 2010, she was requested to serve on the DNFSB, as vice chairperson.

A native of Evergreen, Alabama, Roberson has over 30 years of experience in the nuclear engineering field, with profound experience in low-level waste management, environmental restoration, reactor operations and project management.

Before joining DOE, Roberson worked with Georgia Power Company as a system engineering specialist from 1987 to 1989. At Georgia Power, Roberson focused on maintenance, testing, upgrades and performance reliability of electrical and mechanical plant systems and equipment.

She has extensive experience in nuclear reactor operations and successfully completed the testing requirements for reactor operations with E. I. DuPont in 1982. Later with DuPont she trained nuclear reactor operators and supervisors in both nuclear and field operations. Before leaving DuPont in 1987 Roberson worked as a nuclear reactor operations manager at several sites.

From 1977 to 1980, Roberson completed work assignments as a student engineer for Westinghouse at the Clinch River Breeder Reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and the Nuclear Center in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Roberson received a Bachelor of Science degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee.

-Contributor: David Sheeley