After 30 days on the job as CEO of Kansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., I’ve had time to reflect on the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead as I begin this new chapter in my life while navigating uncharted territory of a pandemic—as all of us are.
Thirty-nine years serving in the U.S. military as well as the last nine years as the state’s adjutant general has certainly prepared me to manage through the unfamiliar and overcome obstacles, just as your electric cooperatives have done since their inception. Your cooperative’s commitment to providing power to nearly 80% of our state’s territory is just as strong in 2020 as it was in 1938 when Brown-Atchison Electric Cooperative began stringing wire and Brown County became the first in Kansas to receive service.
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented Kansas electric cooperatives with first-time challenges, and they’ve met them head on. Your electric cooperatives and their leadership have responded with decisions that protect the health and wellbeing of co-op members, employees and the communities they serve. They have taken and continue to take steps to be prepared in the event there is a significant and ongoing impact from the coronavirus in our communities. They are focused on maintaining a healthy workforce and keeping key personnel — such as line workers and member service representatives — available to continue to provide the excellent service you expect.
Outgoing KEC CEO Bruce Graham, who retired after 8 years with KEC and 30 years dedicated to the electric cooperative industry, left a legacy for us to build on. KEC, its member cooperatives, and you — the consumer-members we all serve — benefitted from Graham’s leadership and passion for advocating for the electric cooperative industry and the rural way of life. I will continue his dedication to putting our cooperatives and their members first. As I lead KEC in its service to Kansas electric cooperatives who serve you — our readers —discussions and decisions will be based on answering two simple questions: Are we providing value to our member cooperatives? Are we making a difference every day?
Many of you are facing tough times, with interruption of work and upheavals in family schedules. Social distancing alone, in which we haven’t been able to celebrate family milestones – weddings, graduations, births, and the lives of loved ones who have passed – has added additional burden to what we already are carrying through this pandemic. Even as Memorial Day approached, it was clear we could not gather as a unified nation or as mourning families to honor the men and women who died while wearing the cloth of this Nation. This somber occasion of remembering those who paid the ultimate price for our freedom became “virtual” observances in many cases . Nonetheless, we carried on because we must and because optimism brings positivity and joy to even the most difficult situations.
I prefer to view challenging situations through the lens of opportunity, and I envision the prospects for prosperity on the horizon.
Success for KEC, Kansas electric cooperatives and our rural communities will require collaboration, communication and coordination between all of us, whether in-person or virtually.