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Wendell Holland

Attorney Wendell Holland was born on February 10, 1952 and raised in Ardmore, a community in Lower Merion Township in Pennsylvania. His parents are Jeremiah William, Sr. and Jane Foster Holland. Holland attended Lower Merion High School. He then attended Fordham University on a full basketball scholarship, graduating in 1974 with a B.S. degree in urban studies and psychology. He also attended Rutgers School of Law, where he was class president.

In time, he specialized in energy and utility regulation, and worked with the New York Public Service Commission and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC). He served as a judge and in 1990 was appointed as commissioner of PUC. After practicing law and serving as a corporate executive, he became chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission in 2004 where he was responsible for deciding utility mergers and acquisitions; for the implementation of legislation that triggered comprehensive and substantial changes to renewable energy; telecommunication reform; and consumer services legislation.

Holland also served as vice president and general counsel of the Global Bioscience Development Institute. In 2002 and 2003 respectively, Holland was appointed to coordinate the City of Philadelphia Trade Missions with China and South Africa.

Holland has served on three public company boards. He was elected to the board of directors for Aqua America, Inc. in 2011. He was also named to the board of trustees for Main Line Health Inc. in 2012. Holland was also the 1994 recipient of the annual award for excellence for the National Association of Water Companies, Pennsylvania chapter. He was named one of Philadelphia’s 100 Most Influential African Americans. In 2007, he became the recipient of the Whitney M. Young, Jr. Service Award for the Cradle of Liberty Council of the Boy Scouts of America. Holland has served as president of the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utility Commissions and the Organization of PJM States. In 2007, he was the treasurer of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), where he also served on the board of directors and as chairman of its audit and investment committees. Holland is married to Anita Persaud Holland, and they have three children.

Wendell Holland was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on May 24, 2012.

Accession Number

A2012.128

Sex

Male

Interview Date

5/24/2012

Last Name

Holland

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Occupation
Schools

Lower Merion High School

Fordham University

Rutgers School of Law

Ardmore Avenue Elementary School

Wynnewood Road School

Ardmore Junior High School

First Name

Wendell

Birth City, State, Country

Bryn Mawr

HM ID

HOL16

Favorite Season

4th Of July

State

Pennsylvania

Favorite Vacation Destination

Cape Town, South Africa

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Pennsylvania

Interview Description
Birth Date

2/10/1952

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Philadelphia

Country

USA

Short Description

Lawyer Wendell Holland (1952 - ) was the chairman of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission, and played a leading role in the privatization of public utilities in the United States.

Employment

Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PaPUC)

LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP

Reed, Smith, Shaw & McClay

American Water Works Company

Obermayer, Rebmann, Maxwell & Hippel

Global Bioscience Development Institute

Saul Ewing LLP

Legal Services of Greater Miami

Timing Pairs
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DAStories

Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Wendell Holland's interview

Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland lists his favorites

Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland describes his mother's family background

Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland describes his father's family background, pt. 1

Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Wendell Holland describes his father's family background, pt. 2

Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Wendell Holland describes his parents' personalities and professions

Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Wendell Holland describes his earliest childhood memory

Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Wendell Holland describes his neighborhood in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Wendell Holland describes the sights, sounds and smells of his childhood

Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Wendell Holland remembers the Penn Relay Carnival in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland talks about the basketball community in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, pt. 1

Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland talks about the basketball community in Ardmore, Pennsylvania, pt. 2

Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland remembers the integration of schools in Lower Merion Township, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Wendell Holland describes his experiences at the Ardmore Avenue School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Wendell Holland recalls his elementary school years in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Wendell Holland remembers his first day at the Wynnewood Road School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Wendell Holland describes his experiences at the Wynnewood Road School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland remembers Ardmore Junior High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland talks about his early influences

Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland describes his early experiences of religion

Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Wendell Holland remembers the deaths of his mother and his role model

Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Wendell Holland recalls his suspension from Ardmore Junior High School

Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Wendell Holland remembers his introduction to the Black Power movement

Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Wendell Holland remembers the assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland talks about the Black Power movement

Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland recalls the consequences of the walk out at Lower Merion High School in Ardmore, Pennsylvania

Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland describes his decision to attend Fordham University in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Wendell Holland recalls his introduction to New York City's African American community

Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland describes his academic experiences at Fordham University in New York City

Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland recalls his basketball career at Fordham University

Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland describes his experiences at the Rutgers School of Law in Newark, New Jersey

Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Wendell Holland remembers meeting his wife

Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Wendell Holland describes his work with Legal Services of Greater Miami, Inc. in Miami, Florida

Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Wendell Holland describes his role at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Tape: 5 Story: 8 - Wendell Holland recalls his appointment as commissioner of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission

Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Wendell Holland talks about his law career in the utility industry

Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland remembers the inauguration of South African President Nelson Mandela

Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland describes his positions at Reed, Smith, Shaw and McClay LLP

Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland talks about the privatization of public utilities

Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Wendell Holland describes his role at Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell and Hippel LLP

Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Wendell Holland talks about his work with the Global Bioscience Development Institute

Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Wendell Holland remembers his trade mission to China in 2002

Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Wendell Holland talks about the Mid-Atlantic Conference of Regulatory Utilities

Tape: 6 Story: 9 - Wendell Holland remembers being honored by the Cradle of Liberty Council

Tape: 6 Story: 10 - Wendell Holland describes his board membership at Aqua America, Inc.

Tape: 6 Story: 11 - Wendell Holland describes his position at Saul, Ewing, Arnstein and Lehr LLP

Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Wendell Holland talks about the privatization of public utilities

Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Wendell Holland describes his hopes and concerns for the African American community

Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Wendell Holland reflects upon his life

Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Wendell Holland reflects upon his legacy

Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Wendell Holland talks about his family

Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Wendell Holland describes how he would like to be remembered

Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Wendell Holland narrates his photographs

DASession

1$1

DATape

5$6

DAStory

7$7

DATitle
Wendell Holland describes his role at the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission
Wendell Holland remembers his trade mission to China in 2002
Transcript
This is 1980 that you started?$$Yeah 1980, and the reason--well why was the, why was the public utility commission [Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission] relevant at that time? And I didn't know it because I had never heard of the public utility commission. It was relevant because energy was in the news at that time. You might recall in the mid to late '80s [1980s]--mid to late '70s [1970s], we had the Arab oil embargo, but on March 28, 1979, we had the largest nuclear accident in America right here in Pennsylvania, right here in Harrisburg--right in Harrisburg and Harrisburg was about twenty miles literally from Three Mile Island [Dauphin County, Pennsylvania]. The person--the regulator who was in charge of fixing that mess, if you will, was a guy by the name of [HistoryMaker] W. Wilson Goode, who was the--who went on to be the first African American mayor of the City of Philadelphia [Pennsylvania]. So the public utility commission was still in the news even a year--two years later because the backlash from that accident--that nuclear accident continued to put focus on nuclear power and energy. I realized that in my own quiet way, I had been blessed because I found an area of law that was law, had the kind of hard and technical numbers that I wanted. It had a little bit of economics, accounting, engineering, auditing and all the things that we didn't do in college. Most importantly it put me in a situation where I was doing an area of law that was untraditional from what most black lawyers did. In fact, when I started there were three black lawyers in the whole agency. The whole agency was a group of about maybe 625 people with a total legal compliment, gosh close to 100 and I was one of three black lawyers in the whole State of Pennsylvania and there are twenty-nine thousand lawyers in Pennsylvania to practice that kind of law. I realized that I loved it almost from day one, almost from day one.$$Okay. So--$$Why did I love it?$$Yeah (laughter).$$Sure. I loved it because first, it was exciting, it was energy, it was something that people were talking about on an everyday basis. Second, energy and utilities; electric, natural gas, telephone and water, they are traditionally utilities are used and consumed by every single American, every single minute of the day. So I was involved in an area of law that everybody touched every day. Right now, for example, we're using electricity because of the light. I'm sure we're about to get a drink of water in a little while, we'll go to a water fountain. Those are the kind of things that utilities are involved in. Second, I found that it was something that I could help not only my community but many communities around the state in. When you litigate a utility case--an energy case, it doesn't affect just one person but it affects all the customers of a particular utility. So in the case of Philadelphia Electric [Philadelphia Electric Company] or PECO [Philadelphia, Pennsylvania] the kind of cases that I would handle would affect and change the course of lives for 1.5 million Philadelphians. That was kind of neat--that was kind of interesting, that was the kind of thing that was more impactful to somebody who generally thought he was here to change the world. That was more impactful than me going out and try a slip and fall case or me going out and trying a murder case. Third, what I learned in time was that this is the kind of thing that I could literally use around the world, literally use around the world because people needed energy and utility services in Czechoslovakia [Czech Republic and Slovakia], in southern Africa, in China and in Asia. Once I came to that realization, I literally tried to take my skills to other parts of the world and, and help those nations, in particular those developing nations.$You were appointed in 2002 to coordinate the Philadelphia trade mission--$$Yeah.$$--with People's Republic of China.$$Yeah, that was some experience. I learned in the early '90s [1990s] the joy of selling America to the world. My first venture was a telephone privatization in Hungary that I took a Pennsylvania company to, and then it progressed to the Southern Africa experience that I talked about. While at Obermayer [Obermayer Rebmann Maxwell and Hippel LLP], the city had a very aggressive--was in a very aggressive posture to do business literally around the world. So I formed a trade mission and we took about twenty--well we took twenty-five Philadelphia [Pennsylvania] businessmen to China and we hit seven cities in nine days and came back with three deals. One involved auto parts, the other was a restaurant and I forgot what the third one was. But again it was my and Philadelphia's attempt to literally join the rest of the world and see to what extent we can strengthen and expand economic ties. Our sister city's a little place called Tianjin [China], which is about forty miles [sic.] outside of Beijing [China] and it was an incredible experience. Not my first trip to China but an incredible experience. The mayor was grateful and we came back with a couple of deals.$$Any observations about China?$$Yep, I've never been in a country with a billion people before, I guess China is a billion three [1.3 billion] and it was funny if we hit seven cities in nine days, five of those cities were larger than New York City [New York, New York]. In fact, New York City with only 8 million people would be smallish compared to Shanghai [China] and Beijing who had 17 and 26 million. Second, I realized that if you have, yet again, a good business product that transcends race and nationality and the business of business is business and that impression was reinforced yet again by that trip.$$Do you get a sense when you are in China that it's so much bigger than New York by being there (simultaneous)?$$(Simultaneous) Oh by far, by far. And it's literally not even close. Not only was it the sense that it was bigger than New York, but you often hear about the Chinese economy growing by leaps and bounds. One of our favorite early morning activities at breakfast was to come down and talk about how many cranes that we had seen in the cities that we were in that represented new developments, new office building or whatever going up. It's the kind of thing that you don't see in Philadelphia often. I don't even know if you see it in Detroit [Michigan] anymore but--and I don't know what Dayton [Ohio] is like but that's real growth, that's real development and that's exactly the kind of thing that everyone was talking about. The second thing that just kind of smacks you in the face is the sense of bilingualism. While every--while many Chinese people speak their own respective dialects, there's a great effort to learn and speak English and it's clear that they are ready to do business with the world.$$Now I don't know if this comes next or not 'cause I think you already mentioned being chair of the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission so that doesn't come in this scenario, I mean after the trips to China, right?$$Yes it did, I think I did China in '02 [2002] or '03 [2003] and then I became chair and then as I said, we literally shopped Pennsylvania to Serbia, to--we had partnerships with Serbia; Zambia; India, two states, Uttar Pradesh [India] and Delhi [India]; Hungary and there was one other one and again it gave me a chance to see that the world is more--as an African American, the the world is more than just Africa. That we can do business virtually anywhere and, you know selling Pennsylvania was proof of that.