CIO Doug Brown to Retire from Exelon

By Christine Giordano

After 41 years in the industry, Exelon’s bastion, senior vice president, chief investment officer, (and soon to be MG CIO Hall of Fame inductee) Doug Brown announced his retirement today. He will be succeeded by Jessica Hart, currently Exelon’s vice president of Investment Strategy and Public Markets. Brown's last day will be July 1.

Markets Group will induct Brown into the peer-nominated CIO Hall of Fame during the 10th Annual Midwest Investor’s Forum in Chicago on May 14-15.  Allocators are invited to attend to celebrate his successful career and commemorate his mentorship to many. 

Brown joined the utility company Exelon as CIO in 2009, and, over 13 years, he and his team produced $30 billion in investment returns across all asset pools under management for its $52 billion pool of funds, according to a company press release. Out of corporate CIOs, Brown is often respected for holding the unofficial record for managing the longest term of liabilities because his responsibilities included the nuclear decommissioning trust funds. He also manages the pension funds, defined contribution trusts and other employee benefit trusts and was instrumental in helping Exelon navigate the company’s separation from the power generation and energy business Constellation.

A respected and considerate investor throughout the greater Chicago area, in 2022, Brown was also a key player in founding Exelon’s Community Impact Capital Fund, which aims to provide more economic opportunities to businesses in under-resourced communities within Exelon’s footprint. He also helped to create the company’s Women and Minority-Owned Investment Manager Initiative and was a member of Exelon’s Corporate Investment Committee and Exelon Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“It is rare and remarkable to work alongside someone who is considered an icon in the field,” said Exelon Chief Financial Officer Jeanne Jones in a written statement. “It was a privilege to have Doug at Exelon. Beyond his contributions to the business, Doug has left a lasting impression on everyone who has had the honor of working with him.”

Brown has been known to be mentor to many within the industry throughout his career, with at least eight of them rising to become CIOs. His reputation lured top talent to the Exelon team, and outside of the office, he could often be seen lending advice as an active member of the trade group Committee on Investment of Employee Benefit Assets Inc (CIEBA) for more than 20 years, where he served as Chairman of the CIEBA Board of Directors from 2018 to 2020.

Prior to Exelon, Brown started at Chrysler in 1983, and was chief investment officer at Chrysler LLC with global asset management responsibilities totaling $30 billion. Holding various roles, he built an investment team from scratch and also navigated the volatile, small auto company while it went through a bankruptcy and teetered on another bankruptcy. Despite its volatility, Chrysler has become known, in a sense, as an incubator for some of the smartest in the industry, including Brown, Mark Schmid (who just retired from the CIO role at the University of Chicago) and Bob Watson, Rob Manilla (retired from the CIO role at Kresge Foundation) and Jay Laramie (CIO of PepsiCo) among others. Brown mentored a number of future CIOs as well as his replacement, Bob Watson, before leaving for Exelon. 

Watson reflected during an interview with Markets Group on Brown’s mentorship, “Honestly, working for Doug was such a draw that it almost didn't matter what the job was. You knew the type of environment you were going to be in, and he was going to include you in decisions and bring you along and teach you. So I rotated to work for Doug on the pension side, and was able to keep layering on my expertise.”

Neil Roache, now CIO of Johnson and Johnson, who was one of the first members of Brown’s investment team at Exelon, reflected, “Having coached seven CIOs, that’s not luck,” when interviewed on Brown’s style as he built the team from scratch. “And at the end of the day, if something was the right thing to do, you always knew you could do it, and that he would always have your back,” said Roache.

Angie Buk, now CIO of 3M reflected, “He recognized, supported, encouraged and created an environment for good work. And, as a result, he got it.”

Brown is also a member of the Economic Club of Chicago, serves on the Board of Trustees of the Goodman Theatre in Chicago and as an Independent Trustee and Board Chair for the National Railroad Retirement Investment Trust in Washington, DC. From 2013 to 2015, Doug served on the Board of the CFA Society of Chicago and from 2020 to 2023, he served on the Board of Directors of the William G. McGowan Charitable Fund.

Brown’s successor, Hart, joined Exelon as vice president, Investment Strategy and Public Markets in July 2022, having held a range of leadership roles at Northern Trust Asset Management including leading the company’s Outsourced Chief Investment Officer (“OCIO”) Retirement Assets Practice advising corporate, public and multi-employer plans.  She was actively involved in diversity initiatives in the Multi-Manager Solutions business at Northern Trust Asset Management and led the development of a manager diversity due diligence framework, according to an Exelon press release. 

Related stories:

Part 1: How Doug Brown of Exelon Mentors Future CIOs (with Neil Roache)

Part 2: Angie Buk’s Rise from Part Time Employee to CIO

Part 3: of Doug Brown’s Successful Strategy as a Mentor: Grooming His Heir-Apparent