Southern Company today announced the retirement of Thomas A. Fanning as the executive chairman of its board of directors, effective Dec. 31. Concurrently, the company also announced the election of Christopher C. Womack, president and CEO, as the new chairman of the Southern Company Board of Directors, effective Dec. 31.
Chris Womack has been elected chairman of the Board of Directors of Southern Company, effective Dec. 31, 2023. Womack currently serves as president and CEO of Southern Company.
Tom Fanning will retire as executive chairman of Southern Company, effective Dec. 31.
David J. Grain, lead independent director for Southern Company, expressed the board's support for this transition, stating, "Tom Fanning's remarkable leadership has furthered Southern Company's standing as one of this country's premier energy companies. On behalf of the board of directors and the entire company, we extend our heartfelt appreciation to Tom for his exceptional contributions. We are confident that Chris, with his proven track record of success and visionary leadership, will guide Southern Company to continued success in the evolving energy landscape."
Fanning has served Southern Company with unparalleled dedication, strategic vision and unwavering commitment for more than 43 years. Under his leadership, Southern Company achieved significant milestones, experiencing remarkable growth and success across the energy industry. Fanning's innovative thinking and ability to adapt to a rapidly evolving landscape have positioned the company as a leader in delivering clean, safe, reliable and affordable energy to millions of customers through its subsidiaries.
"I am eternally grateful for my more than four decades of service to Southern Company, customers, communities, and its shareholders and stakeholders," said Fanning. "I have seen first-hand what this company can accomplish, including putting into service the first new nuclear generation unit in our country in a generation, and I am confident our best chapter is still ahead."
Elected by the board of directors in July 2010, Fanning became president of Southern Company in August 2010, a role he held until March 2023. He assumed the additional responsibilities of chairman and CEO in December 2010. As part of Southern Company's succession plan, Fanning retired as CEO and assumed the role of executive chairman of the board of directors in May 2023. During his time with the company, Fanning held executive roles across various business disciplines, including finance, strategy, international business development and technology. As president, chairman and CEO of Southern Company, Fanning received numerous accolades, including being named one of the most influential leaders in the energy industry in the past 25 years.
Fanning also became a leading voice on matters relating to national security. For nearly a decade, he served as co-chair of the Electricity Subsector Coordinating Council, which is the principal liaison between the federal government and the electric power sector protecting the electric grid from threats that could impact national security, including cyber and physical threats as well as natural disasters. Beyond electricity, Fanning became a leader in reimagining U.S. national security in a cyber environment. His leadership was recognized by the U.S. Senate with an appointment to the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a group tasked with developing a protection strategy for the cyberspace interests of the U.S. Furthermore, he was appointed by the White House as chairman of the advisory board to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), the agency within the Department of Homeland Security charged with protecting the nation's critical infrastructure from both cyber and physical threats.
From 2012-2018, Fanning served on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta and is a past chairman. He is also a past chairman of the Conference of Chairs of the Federal Reserve Banks and the Edison Electric Institute.
"Tom Fanning has been a great leader who has left an indelible mark on Southern Company. It is incumbent upon us to carry his legacy forward as One Team," said Womack. "I am proud of this company's history, enthusiastic about our present and excited for the opportunities ahead. We have a bright future and have developed a talented workforce ready to meet the evolving needs of customers."
Womack, who currently serves as president and CEO of Southern Company, will assume the additional role of chairman of the board of directors, reflecting his position as a trusted leader within the organization and by the board of directors. Womack's extensive experience in the energy industry, coupled with his deep understanding of Southern Company's operations and strategic direction, complement his election to this new role.
"Working alongside Chris has been an honor and humbling experience," said Fanning. "He possesses all the very best qualities you would seek in a leader. He is the ideal person to lead Southern Company into the future."
Starting with Southern Company in 1988, Womack was elected president and a member of the board of directors in March 2023 and CEO in May 2023 following a succession of leadership roles across the Southern Company system. Womack previously served as the president and CEO of Georgia Power — the company's largest subsidiary — and executive vice president and president of external affairs for Southern Company, where he led external positioning and branding efforts. In recognition of his career accomplishments and community involvement, Womack has received numerous honors, including being named among Black Enterprise's 100 Most Powerful Executives in Corporate America.
Southern Company remains dedicated to delivering sustainable solutions, investing in clean energy technologies and providing exceptional service to 9 million customers nationwide through its subsidiaries.
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