More than three decades of electric cooperative leadership experience have prepared Alan Wattles, president and CEO of Illinois-based Monroe County Electric Cooperative (MCEC), for almost anything, except for the untimely passing of Dean Tesch, CFC board president. Wattles was
elected CFC president to serve the remainder of Tesch’s term during a special board meeting November 9.
“I’m extremely humbled to be president of the CFC Board of Directors,” Wattles shared. “It’s somewhat bittersweet. I cherished the friendship and camaraderie that I had with Dean. I’ll do my best to serve these next few months of his term to honor him to the best of my abilities.”
From Family Farm to Co-op General Manager
Wattles grew up on his family’s farm on Clay Electric Co-operative (CEC) lines in southeast Illinois. “I had a wonderful childhood growing up in the country,” he added. “I wouldn’t change it for anything.”
He struck out on his first interview with CEC in 1988, but received a call two weeks later from the general manager offering him a new position, director of Member Services. That fortuitous phone call began Wattles’ electric cooperative journey to become general manager and executive vice president of CEC, to fill his current role at MCEC, and to take a seat on the CFC Board of Directors in 2016.
“I didn’t really know what to expect when I started at Clay,” Wattles reflected. “It turned out joining the electric cooperative program was one of the best decisions I’ve made.”
Delivering the Highest Levels of Service
Even with more than 18 years of service as MCEC president and CEO, Wattles continues to find joy working with the cooperative’s dedicated staff and board of directors. The system maintains more than 1,200 miles of line and serves more than 7,500 connections across the Illinois counties of Monroe, Randolph and St. Clair.
“Being so close to St. Louis has its benefits and challenges,” Wattles added. “We are a bedroom county and our members are quite accustomed to being able to get what they want. So MCEC must be able to provide the next level of member services.”
His knowledge of managing consumers’ high expectations and meeting their needs prepared him to represent CFC’s diverse membership. “The board helps CFC stay focused on attaining the highest level of service to ensure we help our members meet their financial needs,” Wattles said. “Our members’ success is our success.”
Throughout his tenure at electric cooperatives, Wattles said working with CFC has always been positive. “CFC helped MCEC take a more in-depth look at our financials—from budgeting, to forecasting and rate design. We are now more financially stable because of our work with CFC.”
Facing His Biggest Challenge
Since joining the board, Wattles has had the honor of moderating several question-and-answer sessions at the Independent Borrowers Executive Summit and Forum events. His fondest experience was being on stage with basketball legend Earvin “Magic” Johnson.
“While it was a rewarding experience participating in CFC events as a board member, my biggest challenge as board president is chairing the committee to select the next CFC CEO,” Wattles said. “Our goal is to ensure CFC maintains its position as the most trusted financial resource for the electric cooperative network.”
Wattles also serves as a board member for Southern Illinois Power Cooperative (G&T). He received a bachelor of science in finance from Eastern Illinois University and has earned the NRECA Management Essentials Certificate.
Outside of work, Wattles is passionate about following his favorite sports teams—the St. Louis Cardinals and Blues—but his love of sports goes beyond spectating. He has a fountain of knowledge of sports, music and movie trivia. The next time you see him, make sure to ask him a question to see if you can stump him.