Debbi Jarvis: “I lead to serve . . . I serve to lead”

Debbi Jarvis, Vice President, Corporate Relations for Pepco Holdings,  An Exelon Company

by Phyllis Cunningham Hines

Debbi Jarvis is a visionary leader and gifted communicator. Currently she serves as Vice President, Corporate Relations of Pepco Holdings, An Exelon Company and is responsible for all philanthropic efforts.  Pepco Holdings (PHI), headquartered in Washington, D.C., is a recently acquired subsidiary of Exelon Corporation, one of the nation’s leading energy services companies. Serving nearly 2 million customers in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, and New Jersey, PHI’s operating utilities—Pepco, Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric, provide regulated electricity service; Delmarva Power also provides natural gas service.

Debbi Jarvis,
Vice President, Corporate Relations
for Pepco Holdings, An Exelon Company
  • Jarvis holds a degree in International Business from Hope College in Holland, Michigan, and she is a graduate of the CSR Executive Education Program at Harvard Business School. She began her career in sales, marketing and advertising in the pharmaceutical industry in the Midwest and along the East Coast before moving into broadcast news. Jarvis has more than 20 years of success in TV and radio news, advertising and marketing in the Washington, D.C., Ohio, Michigan and Connecticut broadcast markets. During the early years of her career, she also served as a district sales manager for General Electric and was a stockbroker for Paine Webber before breaking into TV and radio sales for WWJ NewsRadio 95 in Detroit and WVIT-TV 30 in Hartford.

Prior to joining PHI, Jarvis served for nearly ten years as a news anchor and reporter with NBC4 in Washington when she was tapped to join Pepco in 2004 as Manager, Media Relations.  In that role for three years, Jarvis served as the company’s face and voice in radio and TV commercials and was soon promoted to PHI’s Vice President of Corporate Communications responsible for all internal and external communications.

Three short years later, Jarvis was being tapped to create and lead a new department focusing on corporate citizenship and social responsibility as PHI decided to place additional emphasis on community impact and creating stronger nonprofit partnerships.  Jarvis was perfect for this new role as her passion has always been in providing a voice to the voiceless. “I have always had an interest in social impact and being a voice to those who feel they don’t have a voice especially for those who live within the communities we serve,” says Jarvis. “For the past six years, my team and I have helped PHI move far beyond “check book philanthropy” to begin developing deeper community involvement and partnership programs that impact the community,” says Jarvis.

One very important community program that Jarvis is most proud of is the STEM partnership with Discovery Education. Pepco and Discovery Education joined forces with the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington to support youth achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math with an exclusive initiative available only at select Boys & Girls Club sites. Collectively known as STEM, these crucial elements of 21st Century education are integral to success, both in school and out. “Through this the Pepco STEM Club initiative, it is our hope to ignite the intellect and imaginations of our children so they can prepare for the jobs of tomorrow,” says Jarvis. 

In addition to her executive responsibilities, over the past 10 years, Jarvis has volunteered as emcee for more than 200 nonprofit events and served on the boards of several charitable organizations in the Washington area.  “I am adamant about making sure that the nonprofit boards that I serve on have members in the business community that look like the communities we serve,” confides Jarvis. To this end, Jarvis currently serves as immediate past chair to Leadership Montgomery’s Board Chair. In 2013, she was appointed as Board Chair for the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington and served in this role until 2016. In addition, Jarvis has served on the boards and advisory councils of the Washington D.C. Police Foundation; DC Education Fund; Washington Area Women’s Foundation; N. St. Village; South East Tennis and Learning Center’s Recreation Wish List Committee; Catholic Charities; Children’s National Medical Center and Generation Hope.

Jarvis is also the recipient of numerous meritorious awards and recognitions including: A Wider Circle Community Ball – Corporate Social Responsibility Leader; PR News -CSR Professional of the Year Finalist; Washington Business Journal – Minority Business Leader Award; Mary’s Center – CSR Leader; Washington Women in PR – Woman of the Year Finalist; Washington Business Journal – Women Who Mean Business Award; MEA Magazine – Minority Women in Business Award; and the American Heart Association “Heart Throb” Award.

In her current role as Vice President of Corporate Relations, Jarvis continues to work closely with the region presidents for Pepco, Delmarva Power and Atlantic City Electric to forge long lasting community partnerships. She is happy to say that the recent Exelon merger has been a smooth transition that continues to afford her the opportunity to involve community volunteers, build deeper community relations and create programs that directly impact the community in positive ways. “I’m so grateful that they’ve given me the green light to think outside the box, to highlight nonprofits but also show just how important we are. It’s called shared value. It’s good for the company, and it’s good for the community.”

Today, Pepco Holdings employs more than 4,700 people, owns more than $16.1 billion in assets and generates approximately $4.8 billion in annual revenues. Jarvis admits, “It really is about who Pepco is, and our commitment to the community. That was one reason why my department was created and I was asked to lead it—because of the commitment we have to our customers, to the community. I’ve always done that.”

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