Carrie J. Hightman

Carrie J. Hightman

Class of 2012

Ms. Hightman is a proven director and executive who has held a broad range of leadership roles in highly regarded companies such as NiSource, AT&T and Fifth Third Bancorp. In her over three decade career she gained extensive experience in regulated industries, spanning gas and electric utilities, energy, telecom, banking and higher education. Carrie’s focus has been on strategy, crisis management, ESG, legal, gas operations, risk management, government affairs, corporate communications, environmental and regulatory. She also chaired the board of a $14B state pension system. After retiring from NiSource in 2021 she was elected to the Board of Directors of Spire.

Carrie is recognized for being a strategic, creative and collaborative problem solver.

Public Company Board Position
In 2021, Ms. Hightman was elected to the Board of Directors of Spire Inc., the country’s fifth largest publicly traded natural gas company serving 1.7 million homes and businesses through its gas utilities in Alabama, Mississippi and Missouri. Spire’s natural gas-related businesses include Spire Marketing, Spire STL Pipeline and Spire Storage. Spire is headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. She is a member of the Audit and Strategy Committees of the Board.

Executive Positions
From 2007 until 2021, Ms. Hightman served as Executive Vice President & Chief Legal Officer of NiSource Inc., a Fortune 500 NYSE listed energy holding company. She was one of seven executives developing and implementing the company’s long term strategic plan, running the business, and overseeing risk management and compliance. She was founder of a women’s leadership program, which led to an enterprise-wide diversity program. She served as trusted strategic advisor to the Board and CEO.

From 2020 until its sale by NiSource, Ms. Hightman also served as Chief Executive Officer & President of Columbia Gas of Massachusetts, a wholly owned subsidiary of NiSource Inc. and one of the largest gas utilities in Massachusetts operating nearly 5,000 miles of pipeline serving 325,000 customers. Ms. Hightman assumed the CEO role to oversee 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, and ultimately sale of the subsidiary. Her focus was on pipeline integrity, reliability, safety and compliance.

Ms. Hightman served as President of AT&T Illinois from 2001 to 2006, in a period of accelerated technological change. She was recruited to lead the company’s industry, community, regulatory and government relations functions following a service crisis. Ms. Hightman executed key legislative and regulatory reforms necessitated by the evolution of telecom from wireline service to “three screens” and access to content. She drove cultural change, restored the company’s reputation, improved relationships with key stakeholders, and revived the government relations and external affairs functions.

Other 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 Positions

  • 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, Lincoln Presidential Foundation


  • B.A. Finance, University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana (1979)
  • J.D., Florida State University College of Law (1982)