The national organization that prepares for and reduces the risk of cyberthreats to the North American electric grid has recognized an electric cooperative leader for strengthening cybersecurity and reliability across the utility sector.

The Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) presented Great River Energy’s Marc Child with its first Electricity Security Service Award on Oct. 20 at its GridSecCon security conference. Child is the information security program manager at the Maple Grove, Minnesota-based generation and transmission co-op.

Child is also co-chairman of NRECA’s member advisory group on cybersecurity, where he helped develop the Rural Cooperative Cybersecurity Capabilities (RC3) program and advised the association on its cybersecurity research portfolio.

“Marc is a true leader in cybersecurity and in making sure electric co-ops are up to date on the latest technologies and solutions to protect the grid and their members from cyberthreats,” said Emma Stewart, NRECA’s chief scientist.

Child chaired the North American Electric Reliability Corp. Critical Infrastructure Protection Committee from 2016 to 2020, prioritizing relationship-building and cyber-solution sharing among asset owners, regulators, E-ISAC, the national labs, educational institutions, research organizations and the supplier community. He also serves on NERC’s Reliability and Security Technical Committee.

He formed and co-leads a security information-sharing team for GRE’s member co-ops that enables collaboration to support widespread security improvements.

Jim Jones, GRE’s vice president and chief information officer, said that “with so many people relying on reliable electricity, collaboration and information-sharing is paramount.”

“Marc fully understands the value of collaboration and advocacy and embraces opportunities to propel security-related concepts, approaches and protections forward by working with others,” he said. “He not only embraces this himself, but also inspires active participation of his peers, both internal and external to GRE, for the betterment of our industry and society.”

Child thanked his co-op and E-ISAC for valuing his volunteer service to spread cybersecurity awareness.

“Cooperatives have historically been under-represented on industry forums where decisions are made that affect us,” Child said. “That tide is turning, but I strongly encourage my co-op colleagues to volunteer and lend your voice. Our regulators, intelligence partners, and research organizations all need to hear what makes co-ops unique.”

The award was created in honor of Michael J. Assante, who helped establish the E-ISAC and served as NERC’s first chief security officer. Mikhail Falkovich, chief information security officer at Con Edison, also received the award.

Explore NRECA’s resources on cybersecurity.