Dominion leadership changes lead to promotions for African-Americans, women

Free Press staff report | 8/6/2020, 6 p.m.
African-Americans and women will play more prominent roles in the operation of Dominion Energy in the wake of a leadership …

African-Americans and women will play more prominent roles in the operation of Dominion Energy in the wake of a leadership overhaul at the Richmond-based energy giant following its abandonment last month of the $8 billion Atlantic Coast Pipeline project.

Among those who will move up effective Oct. 1 is Edward H. ‘Ed” Baine, a 25-year veteran of the company who will become president of Dominion Energy Virginia – the company’s largest business unit.

Mr. Baine joined Dominion in 1995 after earning his bachelor’s in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech and has risen through management ranks, most recently serving as senior vice president for power delivery for the Virginia unit.

He and the company’s general counsel, Carlos M. Brown, are the highest-ranking African-Americans in Dominion, and Mr. Baine will be the first African-American to head a business unit, the company noted.

Charlene Whitfield has been tapped to succeed Mr. Baine as senior vice president and will report to him. A graduate of Virginia Union University and a 38-year veteran of Dominion, Ms. Whitfield will oversee the Virginia unit’s electric transmission, distribution and customer solution operations.

The changes stem from leadership revisions higher up the company’s corporate ladder.

Dominion announced last Friday that Thomas F. Farrell II, Dominion’s chief executive officer, president and chairman who led the failed Atlantic Coast Pipeline fight that cost the company $2.8 billion, will be stepping back from day-to-day administration on Oct. 1 and giving more control to the leadership team he has been building.

Now 65, Mr. Farrell will continue to command the company as executive chair of the board, according to the company’s statement, but will hand off the roles of president and CEO to his heir apparent, Robert M. “Bob” Blue, previously executive vice president and co-chief operating officer.

Diane Leopold, who had been co-chief operating officer and executive vice president along with Mr. Blue, will become the sole chief operating officer to whom Mr. Baine and other presidents of operating units will report. Ms. Leopold will report to Mr. Blue.

“One of my goals as CEO was to build a strong leadership team and a long-term succession plan,” Mr. Farrell stated. “Today’s announcement is the next step in that process.”

Mr. Farrell, who joined Dominion in 1995 as general counsel and has led the company since 2006, emphasized that he is not ready to retire. “There is no established timeframe for my role as executive chair,” he stated.

He noted he will focus more on policies, continuing development of Dominion’s strategic plan and “Dominion’s leadership in the new clean energy economy.”

The company now ranks third among U.S. electrical utilities in solar energy, he stated.

An attorney like Mr. Farrell, Mr. Blue joined Dominion Energy in 2005. His various roles have included stints as the company’s chief lobbyist and as president of Dominion Virginia Power.

Ms. Leopold joined Dominion in 1995 and has been an officer of the company since 2004. Her career includes service as senior vice president for business development and generation construction and executive vice president and CEO of the gas infrastructure group. She also currently chairs the board of the American Gas Association.

The company’s top leadership is still dominated by white males, according to a Dominion listing of its executives. Of the 22 people currently holding titles of senior vice president or higher, 14 are white males, six are women and two are African-American.