SJI appoints its first-ever chief diversity officer

Kimberly Redmond//October 28, 2022

SJI appoints its first-ever chief diversity officer

Kimberly Redmond//October 28, 2022

Shawn Abner-Purnell

As part of an effort to build a work culture centered on inclusion and belonging, South Jersey Industries has appointed Shawn Abner-Purnell as its first-ever chief diversity officer.

In an Oct. 26 press release announcing the promotion, the Folsom-based utility company said Abner-Purnell will continue to align SJI and its subsidiaries with the organization’s corporate diversity, equity and inclusion  priorities.

Previously, Abner-Purnell served as SJI’s vice president of diversity, inclusion and engagement since July 2021.

Under her leadership, SJI took several steps to strengthen its commitment to the company’s DEI strategy, including the formation of a diversity and inclusion team within the human resources department.

Abner-Purnell has also implemented several initiatives, such as listening sessions, an annual engagement survey and the SJI Diversity Corner, which is an internal hub that offers insights into various backgrounds, cultures and heritages reflective of the company’s workforce.

“As chief diversity officer, I look forward to continuing SJI’s work to create an empowered workforce, where our more than 1,100 employees feel safe, accountable, and equipped with the resources and support necessary to uphold our shared commitment to inclusion, care, and belonging,” Abner-Purnell said.

Mike Renna, president and chief executive officer of SJI, praised Abner-Purnell’s leadership, saying that it has helped ensure the company’s DEI values “are not only reflected in our work, but also in how we treat each other.”

“SJI serves more than 700,000 customers diverse in experience, background and thought, which means our commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion is inextricably linked to the work we do each day,” he said.

Renna went on to add, “I’m confident that as chief diversity officer, Shawn will continue to leverage ways for us to better serve each other, our customers and our communities.”

In addition to celebrating her new role, Abner-Purnell was honored this week with The Forum of Executive Women’s “Champion of Board Diversity” award, which recognizes the top public companies in the Philadelphia region with 30 percent or more women on their respective boards.

Careers in Utilities Week


About 200 students at the Gloucester County Institute of Technology recently got a closer look at a career in the energy industry, thanks to an interactive information session from Atlantic City Electric and South Jersey Gas. Click here to learn more.