For decades, the representation of Black businesspeople at the helm of America’s biggest corporations has been scarce. However, recent years have witnessed a remarkable shift, with a notable increase in the number of Black CEOs in the S&P 500. According to Forbes, between 2000 and 2020, only 16 Black CEOs were appointed.
Yet, since 2020 alone, at least five new Black CEOs have been appointed to these prestigious positions, marking a quicker pace of change. In a report earlier this year, Billionaires.Africa revealed that the number of Black executives leading Fortune 500 companies had reached a historic high of eight, from just six in the previous year.
Among the latest additions to this elite group is Calvin Butler, Jr., a consummate leader who assumed the role of CEO at Exelon in December 2022. With a rich background in law, business, and energy, Butler’s journey to the top is a testament to resilience, dedication, and passion for transforming the energy landscape.
Butler laid the groundwork for his illustrious career by earning a bachelor’s degree from Bradley University in Peoria, Ill., and a JD degree from Washington University School of Law in St. Louis, Mo. His relentless pursuit of knowledge and personal growth was recognized when he received an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Morgan State University in 2014.
Today, as the president and chief executive officer of Exelon, Calvin Butler, Jr., oversees a colossal network of six local electric and natural gas companies: Atlantic City Electric, BGE, ComEd, Delmarva Power, PECO, and Pepco. Together, they form the nation’s largest utility company by customer count, serving approximately 10 million electric and gas customers.
Before ascending to the helm of Exelon as CEO, Butler’s journey within the company was marked by a series of accomplishments and leadership roles. Prior to his promotion, he served as president and chief operating officer of Exelon, showcasing his exceptional ability to drive growth and navigate complexities in the ever-changing business landscape.
Butler’s exceptional career wasn’t limited to his tenure at Exelon. Before joining the company in 2008, he played pivotal roles in external affairs and manufacturing at R.R. Donnelley, a prominent print, digital, and supply chain solutions company. However, his early career experiences at Central Illinois Light Company (CILCORP, Inc.) laid the groundwork for his passion for energy, shaping his trajectory toward a future of innovation.
In addition to serving on the Exelon Board, he holds the chairmanship of each Exelon operating company board: BGE, ComEd, PECO, and PHI. Beyond the corporate realm, he is the vice-chair of the Institute of International Education (IIE) and has been recently appointed as a new member of the Civic Committee of the Commercial Club of Chicago.
Deeply committed to giving back, Calvin Butler, Jr., serves on several nonprofit boards in regions where Exelon operates. Additionally, he is a valued member of the Board of his undergraduate alma mater, Bradley University in Peoria, and the James Madison Council of the Library of Congress.
Butler’s transformative leadership and commitment to the community have garnered widespread recognition. In 2021, The Daily Record named him to their coveted “Power 100” list, honoring his profound impact on the business landscape. Notably, he has been listed three times as one of Maryland’s “Most Admired CEOs,” a testament to the respect he commands among his peers.
In 2020, Butler’s dedication to empowering the next generation in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) was honored with the BEYA Chairman’s Award. This prestigious accolade celebrates Black leaders who have made meaningful contributions to the advancement of STEM fields, a cause close to his heart.
As corporate America embraces change and inclusivity, Butler stands at the forefront, leading with purpose and vision. His journey from humble beginnings to becoming one of America’s most influential Black executives inspires aspiring leaders and is a testament to the limitless possibilities of ambition and perseverance.