Kara Salazar

Many career paths lead people to Northern Wasco County PUD. Kara Salazar’s path came through health care.

A Hood River native, Kara started working at a medical office when she was 18. That was followed by 13 years at Mid-Columbia Medical Center in The Dalles, primarily in human resources, and three years at Klickitat Valley Health in Goldendale.

She learned about the opening for a human resources generalist at the PUD through a human resources collaborative group.

“There are not a lot of HR jobs out there,” Kara says. “It’s been a really challenging time in health care and even more so with the pandemic. I love HR. It’s my passion. I thought it was time for something new, so utility industry it is.”

Kara joined the PUD in February. She has not met everyone yet because many PUD employees are working remotely.

“The people I have met, I’ve been incredibly impressed with,” she says. “This organization as a whole has been really great."

Kara has noticed a few differences between health care and the electric utility business.

“There’s definitely more rules and regulations in health care HR,” she says, “but there’s certainly a lot to learn about the utility industry as well. I’m excited to learn about all of it.

“I’m a firm believer that if you’re not uncomfortable, you’re not learning. So, I’m very uncomfortable right now, which is a good thing. I think that’s an indication that I’m learning and growing, and that’s important to me in my career.”

Kara’s job fits into a busy lifestyle. She and her husband, Robert, celebrate 20 years of marriage in August. They have five children: Alena, Lilia, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Jesiah. In early June, Lilia graduated from high school, and Alena graduated from Linfield College and was expecting her first child.

The family loves the outdoors and enjoys exploring the Gorge.

“We’re waterfall chasers,” Kara says. “Anywhere there’s water, we’ll go.”

Cooking is also a passion.

“With five kids—and three of them being teenagers—I have to cook for an army,” Kara says. “I have to say, I’m really good at a lot of things, but my barbecued chicken is it.”

Kara has lots of praise for the utility.

“I think it comes from the top down,” she says. “Roger Kline sets the stage. It’s really impressive how quickly they’ve adapted to the pandemic—having everybody work remotely and doing that successfully. There’s strong support for healthy work-life balances, which is really important, especially with the pandemic going on.”