Ten Leaders to Know: Dusky Terry (Full Profile)

August 14, 2023 | Ten Leaders to Know


ITC Midwest

Birth City
Story City, Iowa

Current City
Earlham, Iowa

How did you get where you are today?
I got here through a lot of hard work, a few great mentors, and a little luck along the way. Like a lot of Iowans, I gained a work ethic from my parents growing up milking cows, bailing hay, and walking beans on the family farm. After college, I went to work for a little-known state senator named Tom Vilsack who was running for governor. I started as his driver on the campaign and eventually ended up as policy director in the governor’s office, which was a truly great experience. I moved to the private sector when Dennis Murdock, former CEO of CIPCO and past ABI Chair, asked me if I ever thought about what I wanted to do when I grew up (he didn’t consider politics a real profession). I entered the energy sector at a time of rapid change and spent a dozen years at the electric cooperative. Four years ago, Krista Tanner, CBO at ITC Holdings and former ABI Director, tapped me as her successor at ITC Midwest. Each of these individuals have been impactful to me personally and certainly to my career.

What excites you the most about the business you work in?
These are extraordinary times. To be part of one of the most stable yet rapidly changing systems in the world – the electric grid – is fascinating to me. It feeds my desire to continue learning, growing, and solving problems. What was once a carefully engineered business of generating electricity to serve a core customer base has evolved into a highly complex system being stressed by technology, political, regulatory, and market changes. How we use electricity is changing just as fast as how we generate it. I remain optimistic because there is no substitute for what we do at ITC Midwest. High voltage transmission provides the means to efficiently move large amounts of electricity over long distances. With all of the advancements in generation and storage technology, there is no technology threatening electric transmission – in fact, we are the backbone that makes it all possible.

What do you see as the next big trend in your industry?
The three biggest trends impacting the electric grid are not new but will continue for the foreseeable future. The first is a massive shift in electric generating resources. Here in Iowa, we’ve already seen a significant buildout of wind energy and the start of solar. Transitioning from a utility model built on large, central station power plants to one largely consisting of dispersed wind and solar farms requires a modernized grid. At the same time, weather events are increasing in frequency and severity, which drives the need for a more resilient grid. And finally, the electrification of the economy, most notably with the gradual transition of vehicle fleets to all-electric, puts different strains on the grid with high voltage, fast-charging stations requiring increased transmission capacity. The combination of these three trends is driving the need for a stable yet flexible transmission grid.

Where do you look for inspiration or to generate new ideas?
I’m at the age where I am more purposeful about the people in my life. I choose to spend time – both personally and professionally – with people who inspire me, who challenge my thinking, and who I have something to learn from. Throughout my professional career, I’ve taken advantage of many opportunities to continue to learn, grow, and meet new people, including ABI’s Business Horizons and Leadership Iowa. I’m also an active volunteer in my community. Inspiration can come from unexpected people and places if you’re open to it.

What does effective leadership mean to you?
My experience is that success comes from a strong, diverse team working collaboratively with common purpose and mutual trust. But that doesn’t just happen naturally, and it takes leadership to build the right team and the right culture over time. The first and most important step is finding the right talent. Then, with a clear vision and expectations, empower people to be successful and provide resources and coaching along the way. Addressing conflict directly and instilling accountability – for both self and others – are essential as well. Effective leaders are visionary, authentic, and strike the right balance of confidence and humility.

What is your favorite thing about Iowa?
The people. Iowans are like no other.

What piece of advice would you give your younger self?
Focus on the areas you can influence and are important and let go of everything else.

Why are you a member of ABI?
ABI provides a unified voice for Iowa businesses, a network of business leaders, and opportunities for professional growth and development.