Carrie J. Hightman

Carrie J. Hightman

Class of 2012

CEO & President of Massachusetts’ largest gas utility and EVP & Chief Legal Officer of its parent company. Skilled public company executive with more than three decades of diverse business experience including gas operations, P&L, compliance, ethics, environmental, safety, sustainability, data privacy, communications, regulatory strategy, federal government affairs, and human resources.   

Strategic advisor to the Board on a variety of issues, including risk management, strategic planning and transactions, ESG, crisis management, director refreshment, CEO succession planning, corporate governance and responsibility, and shareholder activism.  

Experience in regulated industries spans gas and electric utilities, energy, telecom, banking, and higher education, with leadership roles in highly regarded companies such as NiSource, Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, AT&T, and Fifth Third Bank.  

Creative, collaborative and results-driven problem solver. 

Executive Positions 

Chief Executive Officer & President of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, a wholly owned subsidiary of NiSource Inc., the largest Massachusetts gas utility operating nearly 5,000 miles of pipeline serving 325,000 customers. Responsible for all operations, with focus on pipeline integrity, reliability, safety, and compliance. Oversight of crisis response to an incident that resulted in a death, numerous injuries and property damage, leading to litigation, state and federal investigations, and a Department of Justice investigation.  

Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer of NiSource Inc., a Fortune 1000 NYSE listed energy holding company, with 13 years boardroom experience as strategic advisor to the Board and CEO. One of seven executives defining and implementing the company’s long term strategic plan, running the business, and overseeing compliance.  Founder of a women’s leadership program, which led to enterprise-wide diversity program. 

President of AT&T Illinois following a service crisis and public backlash.  Led cultural change that restored the company’s reputation, improved relationships with key stakeholders, revived a reactive government relations and external affairs function, and executed key legislative and regulatory reforms.  

Key Board Experience 

•    Since 2013, advisory board member Chicago region, Fifth Third Bancorp, a Fortune 500 NASDAQ listed diversified financial services company.
•    2009 until 2013, chair of the Illinois State Universities Retirement System Board, with fiduciary duty over a $14B pension system serving 200,000 members.
•    2007 until 2013, chair of the Illinois Board of Higher Education, a state oversight board responsible for all colleges and universities operating in Illinois.

Prior Executive Experience 

•    Partner and Energy, Telecommunications and Public Utilities Practice Group Leader of national law firm Schiff Hardin
•    Staff Attorney, Florida Public Service Commission
•    Staff Counsel, Florida Office of Public Counsel

Current Civic and Community Leadership

•    Director and Vice Chair, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum Foundation
•    Trustee, Chicago Architectural Center


•    B.A. Finance, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana
•    J.D., Florida State University College of Law