From classmates to teammates at ComEdMarch 24, 2023
For many of us, our high school years and friendships are in the rearview mirror. But former high school classmates Adela Vargas, Edith Ruiz, and Nicole Cole routinely cross paths in the halls of ComEd buildings or out in the field where the energy company provides electricity to families and businesses.
Adela, Edith, and Nicole graduated from George Washington High School in Chicago and are now colleagues at ComEd. In recognition of Women’s History Month – which celebrates the accomplishments of women throughout the years and the positive contributions they have made in our culture and society – we talked to each about what they’ve learned and how they’re using that knowledge to help other women in the organization.
Adela Vargas is the company’s first female Latina to achieve the position of operations dispatcher, senior distribution dispatcher and emergent work manager. “I did not have a mission to work for ComEd when I was younger,” said Adela. “I completed a court reporting degree and was working two jobs. One of my coworkers told me to apply to ComEd.” Adela started her journey at the Customer Care Center, yet it was her transition to the Joliet Operations Control Center (OCC) where her passion for operations began and where there were only two other women in her role. “I was so grateful for the opportunity. Just being a public servant—being able to power lives—you get a sense of accomplishment every day.”
Adela says she did not initially understand how the lights were kept on, but she was determined to understand how it all worked. She asked questions and found her colleagues always there to help. Her night supervisors and crew leaders fostered and developed a relationship by offering to help in times of need. “It’s a great organization and my contribution is to continuously seek ways to pay it forward and encouraging the next generation of young professionals. If my experience, hard work and my performance can allow someone else to have a similar opportunity, then I feel fulfilled,” said Adela.
Edith Ruiz is one of the external affairs managers for the north region. She started her ComEd career as a bilingual supervisor at the call center. Later, at Constellation—when it was still part of parent company Exelon— she was an analyst before moving on to become a senior analyst where she successfully led the launch of a new collection system.
Her time at Constellation was more of challenge since she was one of the very few women to work there at the time. “No one looked like me, sounded like me, walked like me,” said Edith. She worked closely with one of the vice presidents at the time, who also was a woman, to create a women’s network that would help support other women in the workforce.
Creating this network was a way to develop rapport with other women, while also creating a safe space to discuss challenges, successes, and changes that they may want to see within the organization. “From an energy perspective, it’s a male environment. There were very few of us who were women, especially a Latina woman,” said Edith, who is the board’s secretary of the Organization of Latinos at Exelon (OLE), an employee resource group supported by ComEd’s parent company, Exelon. At OLE, Edith helps create opportunities for employees to reflect on their culture, network, and give back to local communities. “Allow yourself to be a little uncomfortable. Challenge yourself and never compare yourself to your neighbor, your peer, supervisor, just try to be the better you,” said Edith.
Nicole Cole is an area operator who enjoys her time inspecting, de-energizing, and re-energizing power lines across Chicago’s south region. “I work with a lot of men, but I ask a lot of questions, and, with that, it has helped me create good relationships with my coworkers,” Nicole said. “I have a lot of wonderful things to say, and I have learned so much. I have met great people along the way.” Nicole encourages other women to ask questions, speak up, and network. “I always reach out to other fellow women. I used my connections to ask for advice and to help as well,” said Nicole.
We Rise Together
ComEd fosters a culture where people of different backgrounds with a vast range of perspectives and skills can come together and put forward their best ideas. Through its parent company, Exelon, ComEd supports the Network of Exelon Women (NEW) employee resource group that strives to give women of all races, orientations, and diverse backgrounds the right support and resources to succeed in their professional and personal lives.
As an advocate for women in innovation, ComEd offers women a critical experience in STEM related fields. Like Nicole, Edith, and Adela, ComEd is always looking for ways to empower the next generation of trailblazers and innovators, including women. This is one of many ways that ComEd advocates for diversity and inclusion.
ComEd has been recognized as model for diversity and inclusion in the utility industry. While there’s always room for improvement, ComEd believes our workforce should reflect the diverse communities we serve.