Empowering Communities


January 6, 2022

Teary eyes fill the boxes of the Teams video call as the inaugural class of the CONSTRUCT Business Operations Academy reflect on their experience and graduate from their six-week program.

The cohort consisted of eight Black women who were inspired to participate in the program for various personal reasons. One participant wanted to learn about business operations after remodeling her family member’s bathroom and falling in love with the project management process of construction. Another participant joined because she worked in a post office mailroom and wanted to enhance her administrative skills.

“We’ve gained so much knowledge from everyone that we’ve spoken to and it has built my confidence,” said Adrian Bee a graduate of the CONSTRUCT Business Operations Academy.

Kristie Conklin, ComEd senior workforce development specialist, worked on this program and knows from personal experience how life changing it can be to earn a family-sustaining career in the industry.

“My mom was a single mom, and she landed a job at a utility company in an administrative role and it completely changed her life,” Conklin shared. “These types of roles offer such great career paths and wages for individuals; it can really change the trajectory of a person’s career and home life.”

Student taking notes

“The graduation itself was a really nice event and you could see students crying as they were graduating. That speaks volumes,” Conklin said. “They cared so much about this class they put their heart and soul in it. And now at this point they graduated and are ready for work. It’s such an accomplishment.”

In the span of six-weeks, participants learned about business operations and project management; developed professional skills, soft skills; and received job placement and support services for administrative and project coordinator roles in utility, construction and related industries. The CONSTRUCT Business Operations Academy was administered by YWCA Metropolitan Chicago, St. Augustine College, and was funded by ComEd and INTREN.

“This program is really focused on developing qualified minority candidates for administrative and project coordinator roles in an office setting,” said Diana Sharpe, ComEd vice president of economic and workforce development. “It’s really building those essential skills, [and] widens the pool of people that we can tap into to bring into the industry.”

Most recently ComEd was honored with the Community Partner Award from the Center for Energy Workforce (CEW) for its successful programs that prepare Chicago-Area residents for good paying jobs. The award noted the strength of the CONSTRUCT Infrastructure Academy job training program, of which the new CONSTRUCT Business Operations Academy is a part.

“We really are looking for partners in the community that want to add value and what ComEd uniquely understands is that strengthening a community starts with strengthening the people within that community,” said Shelley Bromberek-Lambert, YWCA Metropolitan Chicago Interim CEO.

The program is expected to grow in 2022 with plans to make it fully virtual in hopes to make more accessible for job seeker to participate across the Chicago-land area. For more information or questions about the CONSTRUCT programs, contact WorkforceDevelopment@ComEd.com.