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2024 Alumnus of the Year: Douglas I. OIiver ’93

Milton Hershey School’s 2024 Alumnus of the Year Douglas Oliver ’93 said Milton Hershey School opened his eyes and expanded his horizons. The school exponentially increasing his sense of what was possible. He learned many lessons, including two that had the most impact—discipline and accountability.

Douglas Oliver '93

Doug has worked for various organizations, gaining experience, recognition, and increased responsibility. He is now senior vice president, governmental, regulatory, and external affairs for PECO—An Exelon company.

Before enrolling in MHS, a young Doug, his mother, and his 4-year-old brother lived in an apartment in the Philadelphia area. Doug’s mother recognized he was beginning to make choices that would adversely impact his life, so she sought to put him in a better position. She learned about MHS from a friend whose family members attended the school. She sought more information, liked what she learned, and approached Doug about what he described as an exciting opportunity.

A Caring Community

At age 14, Doug enrolled at MHS as he entered ninth grade. He had not been outside the Philadelphia area, so the drive seemed to take hours. Hershey was different, he remembers, noting the contrast of the meandering roads to the grid of the city to which he was accustomed.

“It was beautiful, but also quite suburban, rural, even,” said Doug.

He also remembers an abundance of everything—from physical space to choices in cereal.

“I was surrounded by teachers, coaches, administrators who cared,” said Doug. “Every adult in my life shared the same mission to help me be the best versions of myself.”

Doug also observed that the students were involved in everything.

“They danced. They laughed. They sang. They played sports,” said Doug.

He also noted that life in the student homes was structured, and he understood that he would have to adapt to his new environment as the students before him had. Early wake-up times, morning chores, 4 p.m. chores, and consistent bedtimes taught Doug the benefits of developing a routine.

“Experiencing immediate and timely consequences for failing to fulfill my obligations at MHS taught me that I would have to be accountable for my behavior and my decisions,” Doug said.

Doug came to MHS only knowing of his circumstances in Philadelphia. He learned those circumstances were not unique.

“I learned that lots of kids from all different ethnicities come from single-parent households and are financially challenged,” he said. “I learned that many had confronted far more difficult circumstances than I had. I learned to appreciate my blessings, including my family back in Philadelphia, even more. I also learned that it was okay to explore my interests.”

Embracing Opportunity

At MHS, Doug’s interests broadened, and he became intellectually curious. He developed a sense of courage to pursue things that interested him. He was primarily a basketball player, but also played soccer, performed in the marching band, played intramural volleyball, and tried choir.

Many staff members impacted Doug’s life, including houseparents Fred and Oriana Battles, the late Lewis K. “Web” Webster, Randy Eshleman, Theresa Govelovich, Osbia Jones, Cliff Ainsworth, Tom Hissick ’78, Jack Storm, and Bob Guyer.

Doug met Mr. and Mrs. Battles when he transferred to student home Southfield in his second year at MHS. He described Southfield as a safe place, and he loved and appreciated Mr. and Mrs. Battles for the care they provided him. His best memory of Mrs. Battles was that she cooked and ran the student home as if it were her own personal house.

“She loved us, and we all felt it,” he said.

Web, Doug’s basketball coach and American Government teacher, committed to his mother that he would take care of him while he was at MHS.

“Web was no-nonsense but also funny and caring,” said Doug. He wanted to win basketball games, but he couldn’t care less about winning if it came at the expense of strong character. I’m certain he was primarily coaching all of us for the game of life. He changed my life. ”

Douglas Oliver gives back to the ommunity in many ways, including through PECO’s signature workforce development initiative, Infrastructure Academy.

Excelling Beyond MHS

After graduating from MHS, Doug enrolled at Lock Haven University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and mass communication with a minor in Spanish. While there, he also played basketball for the university. After graduating from Lock Haven, Doug worked at Beach Advertising, which was at that time the oldest African American-owned advertising agency in Pennsylvania. During his time there, he earned a graduate degree in professional communications from LaSalle University.

In 2003, Doug returned to the Harrisburg/Hershey area to become press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare (now Department of Human Services) under Governor Ed Rendell. In his role, Doug learned the policy underpinnings of social services for the state. For a brief time, he also served as a relief houseparent at MHS.

Doug returned to Philadelphia in late 2004 to work as communication director for Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) where he was first introduced to the energy sector. Eventually, he was promoted to vice president of external affairs and became responsible for managing the company’s political relationships.

He also earned a second graduate degree, a Master of Business Administration, from St. Joseph’s University. Subsequently, Doug served as press secretary for the City of Philadelphia under Mayor Michael Nutter, after which he returned to PGW where he earned a promotion to senior vice president of marketing and external affairs.

Transformational experience

In December 2014, Doug quit his job to become a candidate in the 2015 Philadelphia mayor’s race, which he described as a transformative experience.

“Running for mayor was probably the most transformational moment in my professional career,” Doug said. “It represented the simultaneous confronting of my fears while demonstrating a personal commitment to the things, the city, and the people I care about.”

After the mayor’s race, Doug returned to PGW for another year before moving to PECO where he has served in several progressing roles, from director of communications, then vice president of communications, vice president of governmental and external affairs and, currently, senior vice president of governmental, regulatory, and external affairs.

In his current role, Doug is responsible for development and execution of the company’s strategy and policy objectives, including state and local legislative agendas, regulatory and rate filings, energy efficiency programs, economic development initiatives, and philanthropic giving.

Doug gives back to the community through PECO’s signature workforce development initiative, Infrastructure Academy, and through the newly-established Environmental Justice Advisory Committee, both examples of ways his company shows up in disadvantaged communities.

“In my role, I am literally and figuratively connected to every home and business in Southeastern PA with an electric wire, a gas pipe or a customer program or initiative,” Doug said. “The team that I lead promotes equitable energy policies that create cleaner air, attract more jobs, prepare an inclusive workforce, and support more than 500 community organizations and non-profits. It truly feels like the culmination of all my previous roles in my career.”

Doug discovered his passion for excellence from advice he received as a child from an aunt and from observing people who were exceptional at their work. MHS also played a role.

“MHS planted seeds for my passions by showing me people who exhibited passion for their work,” Doug said. “The commitment to living my life in a way that would make Web and Esh proud was born at MHS.”


Beyond his professional responsibilities, Doug serves on the non-profit boards of Philadelphia Youth Network, Urban League of Philadelphia, and The Promise, a subsidiary of United Way Greater Philadelphia. All three have a direct and immediate connection to underserved communities across Philadelphia.

Additionally, he serves on the boards of Philadelphia Works, Philadelphia Industrial Development Corporation, and Leadership Philadelphia. He also is a mentor to high school and college students as well as younger professionals in the energy sector through the American Association of Blacks in Energy. Doug is also a proud member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc., Norristown Alumni Chapter.

Giving Back to MHS

Doug has maintained his connection to MHS by volunteering as a speaker for numerous student programs and assemblies. In addition, he and his brother, Alexander Oliver ’01, and cousins Jason and Malcolm Brown, both Class of 1999, sponsor the Enterprising Student Scholarship Award for a graduating senior. In 2011, MHS honored Doug with an Alumni Achievement Award for career accomplishment.

Douglas Oliver, Family Man

Doug and his wife, Dana, were married last year. They enjoy traveling and empty nesting. Doug and Dana share one son, Douglas Oliver II, a junior at University of Pittsburgh; and a daughter, Mekhi Wilson, a sophomore at San Diego State University.


About the Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award

The Milton Hershey School Alumnus/Alumna of the Year Award began in 1954. Recipients of the award have demonstrated humanitarianism and exemplary service to others, achieved distinguished service in their careers, and exhibited high standards of achievements, both personally and professionally.

Nominate a Graduate for the AwardMHS Announces 2024 Alumnus of the Year

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.