Sonja M. Cox

As of March 1, Sonja M. Cox will become SMECO’s fifth CEO in the co-op’s 83-year history.

Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative announced Jan. 10 the appointment of Sonja M. Cox as its new president and CEO.

Cox has been serving as SMECO’s senior vice president of financial, economic and employee services and chief financial officer and will assume the new role on March 1, according to a SMECO news release.

She will be the fifth CEO in the cooperative’s 83-year history and will join the ranks of women who serve as managers at 77 of the 941 electric cooperatives across the nation, according to the release.

Cox started her career with SMECO in 1999 and oversees SMECO’s power portfolio, human resources, customer billing, energy and technology, and accounting personnel. Prior to her tenure at SMECO, Cox worked at Carolina Power and Light in South Carolina. A licensed CPA in the state of Maryland, she earned her master’s degree in business administration from Johns Hopkins University and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland. Cox currently serves as a trustee on the board of the College of Southern Maryland and as treasurer of the board of Southern Maryland Community Resources Inc.

“Sonja Cox has a wealth of experience with electric utilities and has served the cooperative well over the past 21 years. She is respected among SMECO employees and industry peers, and she has the full confidence of our board,” Scott White, chairman of the SMECO board of directors, said in the release. “SMECO has made a lot of progress with regard to technological innovations, construction of power lines, substations, and new facilities and the expansion of customer services, and Sonja has been involved with these improvements every step of the way. We couldn’t be more proud to appoint her as SMECO’s new CEO.”

“I am honored to be appointed to this new leadership role,” Cox said in the release. “SMECO is a great organization with dedicated employees and a meaningful role in Southern Maryland. Not only do we work tirelessly to provide electric service to our members, we also support local organizations and participate fully in the life of the community.”

Austin J. “Joe” Slater Jr., who has served as SMECO’s CEO for 17 years, submitted his retirement letter to the board of directors at its monthly meeting in October. Upon retirement, Slater plans to teach in the business school of his alma mater, Shepherd University, as an adjunct professor. He and his wife, Carmen, are restoring a home in Shepherdstown, W.Va., that was built in 1789, and they plan to enjoy the many outdoor activities the area offers.