Empowering Communities

ComEd Generates Girl Power

March 8, 2024

From left to right: Jennifer Nickels, Training Supervisor, Savoya Taylor Overhead Electrical Specialist, Andrea Simmons, Overhead Crew Leader, Nichole Owens, VP of Distribution Operations

The auditorium at ComEd’s Chicago Training Center saw a rising voltage of girl power as more and more young women from Chicago-area high schools filled the room and took their seats in anticipation of seeing what their future could hold in STEM and the trades.

On March 6, ComEd celebrated National Women in Construction Week for the second year in a row by hosting nearly 60 teen girls brought by community partners Polished Pebbles, Lumity, and Ladies of Virtue to inspire them to pursue future careers in the construction and energy fields. Students engaged with a panel of diverse female industry leaders, built models of electric poles, and toured ComEd’s state-of-the-art training center which features an indoor training area where students witnessed pole climbing demonstrations by female line workers.

Andrea Simmons, Overhead Crew Leader

“As we prepare to power the clean energy future in northern Illinois, ComEd is working to equip more local students with the knowledge and skills that will land them key roles in addressing climate change,” said Laticia Holbert, workforce development manager for ComEd. “At ComEd’s annual Women in Construction event we’re sparking an interest in more capable young women from Chicago’s diverse communities to pursue careers in the fast-growing energy industry. Though this is a once-a-year event, we work with community partners to deliver on this mission all year long through a variety of workforce and training opportunities.”

ComEd is committed to making STEM and trades career pathways more accessible for people who have historically been underrepresented in these roles, such as women. With the clean energy transition poised to create up to 150,000 jobs by 2050 in Illinois, ComEd seeks to build a diverse, local talent pipeline that reflects the communities it serves by providing youth the opportunity to connect with and learn from leaders in the industry who share their background. Throughout the day’s program, students engaged with ComEd leaders Melissa Washington, senior VP of customer operations, Cheryl Maletich, senior VP of transmission and substation, and Nichole Owens, VP of distribution operations, as well as with female overhead electrical line workers and field trainers – each of which play a critical role in maintaining and modernizing the most reliable grid in the nation.

Lumity, a nonprofit celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, focuses on making STEM education more equitable for Chicago youth. “It’s always great bringing our students to events catered specifically for young women where they’re inspired by messages like ‘you can do it, too’,” said Amber Taylor, corporate and volunteer relationship manager for Lumity. “The panel and different activity stations were very engaging and motivating, which our students really appreciated. It was meaningful for ComEd to provide this opportunity for our different community organizations to come together and connect on our shared missions.”

“It was beautiful to see how passionate the panel was about the work they do and how they work together to get things done. Their unity, camaraderie, and inclusivity were beautiful things to witness and that I hope to experience in my future career,” said Maya Cadichon, junior at Chicago Vocational Career Academy and Lumity participant. “Today we learned that there’s a lot more that goes on behind the scenes to turn on the lights, but my highlight was learning that some of the ladies in the panel grew up on the South Side of Chicago like us and that it was their passion and drive that made them successful – it was very inspiring.”

ComEd works to educate local youth on the growing, family-sustaining careers within the company and industry that will play a key role in the future of our communities. Through partnerships with community-based organizations like those hosted at the Women in Construction event, ComEd has in recent years expanded career programming specifically for youth, including Chicago BUILDS, Youth Ambassadors, Tools of the Trade, and the CONSTRUCT Youth Academy, which will begin accepting applications for its summer programming soon. Students interested in learning more about ComEd workforce and education programs can find more information at www.comed.com/cleanenergyjobs.