​​Chris Christensen, a former high school teacher and a longtime electric cooperative board member, believes in the value of education and service. As NRECA’s incoming board president, he is encouraging co-op leaders to recommit to continuing education and engagement to best serve their members.

“We must commit to continuous learning, development and engagement,” he said after a ceremonial passing of the gavel at NRECA’s ​PowerXchange and TechAdvantage Experience.

Christensen will serve a two-year term and succeeds Curtis Wynn, CEO and president of Roanoke Electric Cooperative and North Carolina’s NRECA director.

Christensen is the NRECA director from Montana, where he serves on the board of NorVal Electric Cooperative in Glasgow and runs his family cattle ranch in the northeastern part of the state.

With thousands of co-op leaders and staff attending the conference online, Christensen spoke of his early years on the NRECA board. He learned that directors need continuous education to keep pace with new technology and member needs.

The pandemic, he said, has further prompted co-ops to find new ways of doing business and communicating with members and policymakers.

“During my term as president, you’ll hear me talk about how co-ops can do just that, by leveraging education, technology and engagement to manage this rate of change,” he said.

Christensen recalled his teaching days when he assigned each of his students a crank case engine block with a serial number and a parts breakout sheet and asked them to build a running motor. The students randomly picked components from boxes and had to trade and team up to finish the project.

“Like my former students, our cooperatives will have to seek out all of the available resources, share ideas and collaborate to fine-tune and perhaps even refurbish our cooperatives’ working engines for the good of our members and communities,” he said.

“As I take office, I look forward to working with my fellow board members, the NRECA leadership, and the membership so that we, as America’s electric cooperatives, can meet the challenges facing our industry, capitalize on oppor​tunities together and cheer each other on as our engines roar.”

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