Gaines and Benz Announce Plans to Retire

May 20, 2021

Bennett Gaines, senior vice president, Corporate Services, and chief information officer (CIO), and Gary Benz, senior vice president, Strategy, have elected to retire.

“Bennett’s leadership over the years has guided the company’s ongoing advancement in many critical areas, and his high performance standards will continue to serve the company well,” said Steve Strah, president and CEO. “And as the first Diversity & Inclusion Council chair, Bennett has been a driving force of positive change. His work in the D&I space has been invaluable – providing oversight of our overall D&I strategy and initiatives and encouraging continued progress and accountability, working to increase the diversity of our workforce and creating a more welcoming workplace where every employee feels like they belong.”

“I have really enjoyed my career at FirstEnergy,” said Bennett. “While I will miss the challenging work and the talented teams of employees I have worked with throughout my career, I’m excited about the new opportunities ahead for my family and me. I’m confident that the company is moving in the right direction – and although we have more work to do, I am proud of the progress we’ve made in enhancing diversity and inclusion within the company. Also, I am especially proud of the teams I have been honored to lead and the value they created for FirstEnergy year after year.”

Bennett’s retirement is effective June 1.

“With more than 32 years in key roles in the company, Gary has made significant contributions to FirstEnergy’s growth and success,” said Steve. “His vast experience in leading the development, refinement and ongoing implementation of our strategic direction has provided the solid vision shared across the entire organization. Gary’s passion for ensuring all employees fully understand our organizational initiatives – as well as his work overseeing new business opportunities and emerging technologies – has been instrumental in advancing our company in an ever-changing industry.”

“I’ve always felt it was a privilege to work for FirstEnergy and have greatly appreciated all the opportunities and lessons it afforded me,” said Gary. “I feel a tremendous sense of pride in the career I have had, filled with exciting challenges, brilliant colleagues and amazing teams. The company is in great hands with a bright future, and I will enjoy watching and relishing in its successes.”

Gary will retire on August 1. Succession plans and the structure in Bennett’s and Gary’s areas are being reviewed and announcements will be made at a later date.   

Bennett Gaines

Bennett joined FirstEnergy in 2006, as vice president, IT/Corporate Security and CIO and was promoted to his current position in July 2012, responsible for the delivery of IT services, including the corporate IT strategy and governance process, as well as the communications and data network. He also is responsible for both physical and cyber corporate security, flight operations, supply chain and admin services. In 2020, he also gained responsibility for the company’s corporate real estate function.

Prior to FirstEnergy, Bennett served as vice president and CIO at Cincinnati-based Cinergy Corporation, where he was responsible for the delivery of all IT services and telecommunications/network operations. Before joining Cinergy in 2003, he held a number of management positions at Powergen plc in the United Kingdom, LG&E Energy Corp. in Louisville, Ky, and EDS Corporation in Dallas, Texas.

Bennett earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Baldwin-Wallace College and received a Master of Arts degree from the University of Phoenix.

Gary Benz

Gary joined the company in 1989 as an attorney. In 1997, he was promoted to senior counsel and associate general counsel in 2000. In 2009, Gary was named director, Business Development and to executive director in 2011. The following year, he was named vice president, Supply Chain, and promoted to his current position in June 2015. In 2020 he also assumed responsibility for the company’s sales and marketing and product development functions, as well as the Innovation Center.

Gary earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Bowling Green State University and a law degree from the University of Toledo. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank Foundation and the Board of Trustees of the Great Lakes Theater Foundation. Gary serves on the Board of Advisors for the Bowling Green State University College of Business Administration and is president of the Board of Directors of Friends of 91.3 The Summit radio station.