Rural Missouri - January 2013 - (Page 5)

Hart to Heart New role for a friend of the co-ops L by Barry Hart ast summer, I had the pleasure of sharing the podium with U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson at Ozark Border Electric Cooperative’s annual meeting. It’s customary at these member gatherings for the manager to introduce the guest speaker to as many members as possible. On this occasion, however, it was Jo Ann doing the introductions. She knew more people there than the local co-op employees! Wherever she went in Missouri’s 8th Congressional District, Jo Ann needed few introductions. That’s because she took the time to get to know as many people as possible during her 16 years in office. As a result, she has become known as the “best of the best” when it comes to representation and service to the people. She wanted to know what their needs were and how she could use her office to help them. It’s this desire to stand up for the people that will make her an excellent choice in her new role as CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Her selection to this post was bittersweet for the electric cooperatives in her district. Tom Steska, manager of Black River Electric Cooperative and president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives, had this to say about her: “She has been a close friend to us. We are going to miss her in the 8th District, but we are confident she will represent us well at NRECA.” Electric co-op employees in southeast Missouri remember how Jo Ann traveled to the district in 2009 when the worst ice storm in Missouri’s history downed power lines. She saw firsthand the devastating effects of the ice. In response, she brought together all of the affected electric utilities and was instrumental in keeping thousands of contractors in the area working for electric co-ops. Her actions got our members’ electricity restored a lot quicker. Electric co-op mem- bers across the country benefited from Jo Ann’s love for rural people and rural communities and her desire to see them prosper. She was one of the leading champions of the electric cooperative loan program through the Rural Utilities Service. We knew we could count on her when others wanted to limit the availability of these much-needed funds. Many times, she would lead the effort to ask House members from cities and suburbs to help us. While much of Washington split along party lines, Jo Ann was one of the few who routinely crossed the aisle to seek bipartisan support for a program she felt strongly about. We saw this come into play when she teamed up with former U.S. “It’s with great pride that electric cooperatives nationwide applaud the selection of Jo Ann Emerson as the person who will lead our national association into the future.” Barry Hart Rep. Ike Skelton in an effort to reign in the Environmental Protection Agency when that agency overstepped its authority and tried to drastically increase your electric bill. It also was Jo Ann who led the effort in the House to improve the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Today, these funds ripple through Missouri’s economy, funding hospitals, water and sewer projects and creating new jobs where they are needed the most. It’s with great pride that electric coops nationwide applaud the selection of Jo Ann Emerson as the person who will lead our national association into the future. Now representing more than 42 million electric co-op members, she will continue the fight to level the playing field for rural people. All of us in Missouri who have worked with her over the years to fight for and protect electric cooperatives know NRECA is in good hands. We know she will bring the same dedication and commitment to her new position and fight for all Americans who own their electric co-ops no matter where they live — and she will still serve the members in Missouri. Hart is the executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives. Guest Column A unanimous choice for CEO F by Don McQuitty or most of 2012, I was involved with something that hasn’t been done in the rural electric program for close to 20 years. I was a member of the committee charged with selecting a replacement for the retiring CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, Glenn English. We had no one on the NRECA board who had been through this process before. We needed to know what other associations did to hire a CEO at that level in these modern times. In time, we developed a policy that could be used when Glenn made his retirement date official, an action that took place in June 2012. As chairman of NRECA’s Administrative Committee, I joined two other co-op managers and six directors on a nine-person search committee. Our next task was to select a firm to conduct a national search. The agency we chose talked with an extensive group from around the country to determine what those representing the nation’s more than 900 electric co-ops wanted in a national leader. After more than 150 phone calls, it was obvious our members agreed on two key points: • They wanted someone with a background in politics and who understood the political process, because that is the most important thing the association does. • They wanted someone who understands business management, because NRECA is a large association that requires a leader with savvy business skills to keep it operating at the lowest possible cost. After we approved a job description for the new CEO, the search was on. The firm brought together a large group of potential candidates, then nar- rowed it down to a couple dozen of the most promising. The committee narrowed the pool further through a conference call. Those who made the cut went through rounds of lengthy interviews. This let us narrow the list to six, who went through another round of interviews. We met back with them a week later. We alternated with each candidate, meeting some for breakfast, some for dinner. Then the committee members sat down and spent a couple of hours going back through what we were charged to do. The final selection, we felt, best represented what we were “In the end, we all agreed that those managers and directors of electric cooperatives we asked to give us direction made our jobs easy.” Don McQuitty JANUARY 2013 sent out to do by the NRECA board. In the end, we all agreed that those managers and directors of electric cooperatives we asked to give us direction made our jobs easy. They said don’t bring us someone who is a Democrat or Republican — find someone who understands D.C. politics and can work both sides of the aisle. And by the way, they told us, we really believe they ought to understand association management. That was the key. Ultimately, the search committee unanimously selected Jo Ann Emerson. She was approved by the full board without a single dissenting vote. This search took a lot of time, but it was an interesting process. It opened my eyes to the high esteem electric cooperatives receive from people in high places. This process was just like what your local board does to select its manager. We looked under every rock for the best person to represent you nationally. I’m elated with the choice, and I look forward to working closely with Jo Ann in her new role. McQuitty is manager of N.W. Electric Power Cooperative in Cameron. He represents Missouri on the NRECA board. 5

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Missouri - January 2013

Rural Missouri - January 2013
Table of Contents
Turning disabilities into abilities
Aiming to win
Out of the Way Eats
Missouri snapshots
Hearth and Home
Marmaduke’s first raid
Around Missouri
No strangers to hard work

Rural Missouri - January 2013