Empowering Communities

A ComEd Leader Shining Bright on Career, Family, and Community

June 28, 2024

Valerie Colletti, named Senior Vice President of Distribution Operations at ComEd in 2024, grew up in southern Illinois with values of hard work and personal, authentic connections with people. It is this upbringing that has served Valerie in her 30-year journey through the complex and dynamic world of energy distribution – where she’s navigating a wide range of roles while never losing her passion and commitment to excellence while serving people and her community in the process.

As the overseer of distribution operations for ComEd’s expansive 11,000-square-mile service area, Valerie oversees a large organization directly responsible for maintaining the nation’s most reliable grid and power delivery for more than 9 million people across northern Illinois. This responsibility includes the operational areas of new business, work management, construction and maintenance, field operations, and ComEd’s operations control center – each a vital field function that sustains ComEd’s mission of providing safe and reliable service.

Home Roots Form Foundation and Success

Valerie in during a field a visit with Chris Grubb, Manager of Regional Electric Operations at ComEd

Valerie during a field a visit with Chris Grubb, Manager of Regional Electric Operations at ComEd.

Valerie was born in Murphysboro, IL and lived in southern Illinois until the age of 10 when her family relocated to Orland Park, Illinois.

Growing up, she was raised with a service mindset and understood the value of hard work.  Her parents made it clear that no matter your age, everyone in the family had a job and everyone contributed to the family’s success.

Valerie’s first job was at the age of five. She was the hostess in her family’s restaurant – Colletti’s in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. The original Colletti’s restaurant that her grandparents opened is still in existence on Elston and Central in Chicago, IL— with that early experience, she quickly learned the importance of starting the customer’s experience off right.

“I am fortunate to have learned first-hand entrepreneurial skills at a young age and found that these skills – leadership, teamwork, communication, listening, initiative, critical thinking and more – could be applied to many roles and industries,” said Valerie. “Those formative years helped shape the leader I am today – the value of people, making authentic connections, and my drive and my passion to learn in any situation, even failure.”

Valerie’s goals were not originally to be in the energy sector, as she was aspiring to be in the hotel/restaurant management industry, but destiny had different plans for her.

As she was in search of management roles in the hotel/restaurant industry, she accidently came across ComEd who was seeking for part-time employees to answer customers call. At that moment, she took the part-time job until she could find a role full-time in the hospitality industry, but once she started ComEd, she loved it so much that the rest is history.

Valerie’s academic background laid the foundation for her career. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University and later obtained a master’s degree in Management & Organizational Behavior from Benedictine University. This combination of technical knowledge and organizational expertise defines her leadership approach which is both results-oriented and places a strong emphasis on supporting and enabling her team.

Valerie at a career fair with part of the distribution operations team members.Left to right: Ryan Griffin, Supervisor of Field Operations at ComEd; John Ericson Manager of Regional Operations at ComEd;

Valerie at ComEd’s career fair with part of the distribution operations team members.

A Journey of Leadership: Breaking the Glass Ceiling

This year is a big milestone for not just Valerie, but for ComEd as well, as she is the first woman to lead the role of Senior Vice President of Distribution Operations role at ComEd.

Starting at ComEd in 1994, Valerie’s rise through the ranks is marked by a series of significant roles that highlight her versatility and expertise.

She has taken on several key leadership roles in both customer operations and distribution operations that have made her a trusted operations leader and partner to many across ComEd.  In her various field positions, she has been the first woman leader to many roles and encourages others in her team to step outside their comfort zone to learn and grow.

Before her current position, Valerie served as Vice President of Distribution Operations for ComEd’s Suburban Regions, where she managed the North, South, and West regions’ overall operations, including Construction & Maintenance and Field Operations.

Her leadership roles have been diverse and impactful as well. As Vice President of Support Services, Valerie oversaw essential functions such as safety, training, performance assessment, environmental, and fleet services. Prior to that, stints as Director of Distribution Operations in ComEd’s West Region and in the Operations Strategy & Business Intelligence (OSBI) division, further shaped her strategic vision and operational acumen.

Valerie has led large teams of distribution operations employees as ComEd has continued to steadily enhance its reliability performance over the years, including in 2023 when ComEd earned recognition by PA Consulting—a consultancy that’s bringing ingenuity to life—as the nation’s most reliable electric utility. “I have been in distribution operations for several years and I have led efforts to improve many facets of operational performance and our safety culture,” stated Valerie. “The knowledge of our people, our culture, and the system will be an asset to continue the work necessary to keep us the most reliable utility in the nation and a premier electric utility.”

Dedication to Service and Community

Valerie’s influence extends beyond the walls of ComEd.

Her civic involvement is as impressive as her professional achievements!

She serves on the board of directors for LaRabida Children’s Hospital and previously served on the Chicago Foundation for Women and DuPage Habitat for Humanity, organizations all dedicated to empowering communities and fostering equity.

Habitat for Humanity volunteer event. Valerie had been the sponsor of the “Women’s Build” for the last 5 years. Left to Right: Valerie; Nina Gattuso, Director of Safety and Human Performance; Denise Munoz , Director of Strategy and Innovation at ComEd.

Habitat for Humanity volunteer event. Valerie had been the sponsor of the “Women’s Build” for the last 5 years. Left to Right: Valerie; Nina Gattuso, Director of Safety at Exelon; Denise Munoz, Director of Strategy and Innovation at ComEd.

By helping improve the lives of others and inspiring people to thrive, Valerie’s leadership style is characterized by empathy, inclusivity, and a genuine desire to uplift those around her. She understands that true leadership is not about wielding authority but about empowering others to realize their full potential. Her dedication to service is not just a professional obligation but a personal mission, reflecting her belief in the power of collective effort and community —both here at ComEd and beyond.

“Empowering and enabling others have always been central to my philosophy,” Valerie stated.  “I would not be where I am today without many people along the way sharing their knowledge, being patient with my inquisitive nature, and trusting me enough to try something new that hasn’t been done before”.

A Vision for the Future

Under Valerie’s guidance, ComEd continues to evolve, embracing new technologies and methodologies to enhance service reliability and efficiency. Her strategic initiatives have driven fundamental changes within the organization, preparing ComEd to tackle future challenges and seize emerging opportunities.

“Our industry is at a pivotal point, and it’s crucial that we remain forward-thinking,” Valerie asserted. “We must balance the immediate needs of our customers with sustainable practices that ensure a resilient future,” said Valerie. “My vision is to lead with purpose. Distribution Operations plays a critical role in ComEd 2030 and it’s important that everyone in the team knows our purpose and the importance of our work and my strategic priorities are to engage and develop our workforce, further develop a high-performance culture, and to enhance the customer experience.”

For those who may want to tap into the utility industry, Valerie offers some advice:

“Be authentic.  Take risks, believe in your abilities, and never stop learning. The utility is a diverse and ever-changing atmosphere. Do not be afraid to take on challenges, step out of your comfort zone, and seek out mentors who can guide you along the way.”

Previous leadership team with Valerie. Left to right: Dorvel Offord, Dir Regional Elec Ops; Bruce Davis, VP Electric & Gas Operations: Mike Martin, VP, Valerie, George Lewis, Ops Coordinator; Anjonai Miller, Exec Admin Coordinator.

Previous leadership team with Valerie. Left to right: Dorvel Offord, Dir Regional Electric Operations; Bruce Davis, VP Electric & Gas Operations; Mike Martin, VP of Distrubution Operations, Valerie; George Lewis, Ops Coordinator; Anjonai Miller, Exec Admin Coordinator.

As ComEd navigates the complexities of modern energy distribution, Valerie’s authentic leadership continues to illuminate the path forward, ensuring that the lights stay on for millions of people every day.

“I’m incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved at ComEd, but there’s always more to do,” Valerie said. “As long as we stay committed to our values and our community, the future looks bright.”

Valerie’s story is a powerful reminder that with passion, perseverance, and a heart dedicated to service, one can make a lasting impact on both an industry and a community. To learn more about careers at ComEd, visit www.ComEd.com/Careers.