Outstanding Directors 2023: Debora Frodl

Outstanding Directors 2023: Debora Frodl

For board service to ITC Holdings Corp. (2020-present)

Other board service

Spring Valley Acquisition Corp. (2020-22)

Renewable Energy Group (2018-22)

Spruce Power Holdings Corp. (2018-22)

When she retired from a 28-year career at GE in 2017, Debora Frodl knew she wanted to put her energy industry expertise to use. “I really wanted to focus my next chapter on corporate board work,” says Frodl, who spent much of her career in the Twin Cities.

“I had this incredible global leadership executive experience career in multiple businesses,” she says, adding that she wished to use this knowledge to help companies focused on the move to cleaner energy sources and supply. She has served on four boards and held various roles, including board chair at one company. “My passion has been, how do we continue to foster and accelerate the clean energy transition?” she adds. “I’m delighted to be able to continue that and serve on these boards.”

Currently, Frodl sits on the board of Novi, Mich.-based ITC Holdings Corp., the largest subsidiary of Canada-based utility holding company Fortis. Though Fortis is publicly traded, ITC operates as a private company. It’s the largest independent electricity transmission company in the United States, and it has operations in Frodl’s home state of Minnesota.

“ITC Holdings focuses only on transmission,” Frodl says. “That’s critical infrastructure for clean energy generation. We need a lot of additional transmission to meet decarbonization goals.” In addition, the company “has a very strong culture based on integrity and doing the right thing that aligns with my own values.”

It’s an industry that Frodl knows almost from its beginnings. In 2009, she had been with GE Capital for two decades. “It was the very early days of vehicle electrification and alternative fuels,” she recalls. “Being in financial services at that time, it was both challenging and exciting.” It was “a huge opportunity for GE,” which invested in electric vehicles, EV charging infrastructure, and battery systems. “That was the beginning for me.” Starting in 2012, Frodl led GE’s global clean energy strategy.

At ITC, “I’ve definitely been tapped for my previous GE and clean energy experience as we think about the strategy and where investment dollars should be deployed,” she says.

ITC has welcomed her expertise. “We have experienced considerable growth over the last five to seven years as a result of renewables,” says Linda Apsey, ITC president and CEO. “We expect to continue to see significant needs in investment in transmission as we continue to decarbonize our economy.”

Frodl’s knowledge of the renewables space has provided valuable insights into how ITC can prepare for the coming changes and challenges. “She’s very engaged, very collaborative, very constructive, with a keen eye towards the longer-term strategic direction of the company,” Apsey says. “She recognizes, from a strategy perspective, the macro trends, the challenges, the unique approaches or ideas in terms of how to collaborate with other external entities.”

Frodl is helping ITC stay focused on its growth strategy in energy transmission. This has allowed ITC’s management team to move forward with those projects and develop new opportunities within the company’s coverage area. For instance, ITC is currently developing Cardinal-Hickory Creek, a new transmission line project in Wisconsin. “Staying the course of the strategy has been a win-win for both the board and the company,” Frodl says. “Our year-over-year investments continue to grow quite substantially.”

Frodl serves on the board’s governance and HR committees, which “has allowed me to share governance best practices around board and CEO succession planning, compensation frameworks, and cultural issues such as diversity and employee engagement,” she says.

On one of her other boards, she developed a board succession tenure model. This has helped the ITC board—which has age and term limits in place—make plans for member transitions. “I’ve been able to create a board tenure model for ITC as well as identify the board composition matrix and what’s needed in the next few years so that the board can start to recruit from our networks or potentially engage with recruiters—always with an eye toward diversity,” she says.

In April, she joined New York City-based Greenbelt Capital Partners as a senior advisor. She’s advising the private equity firm on prospective energy transition companies that it could invest in via its new nearly-billion-dollar fund. Meanwhile, Frodl’s board service has gone from four companies to just ITC, as the other three companies have been acquired. But ITC won’t be her last directorship, she says. “I’ll be serving on other boards in the future.”

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