SAN ANTONIO, Texas—NRECA honored four electric cooperative leaders with prestigious awards at PowerXchange this week. Here’s a look at their accomplishments:

President's Award

Lou Green, the recently retired executive vice president of The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina, is the winner of the President’s Award. It recognizes individuals who have made outstanding leadership contributions to rural electrification, the nation, their states or communities.

Before his 30-plus-year career at the statewide—first as vice president for communications and then executive vice president—Green was an NBC television personality well known to South Carolinians. That background led him to a 20-year run as the host of NRECA’s annual meeting.

He also was the master of ceremonies for many South Carolina distribution co-ops’ annual meetings and evolved into “the face of the South Carolina electric cooperatives to the local, state and regional press,” according to a letter supporting his nomination.

“Lou Green is an extraordinary advocate for America’s electric cooperatives,” NRECA President Tony Anderson said. “His ability to inspire trust and his 30-plus-year commitment to sharing the cooperative purpose are perhaps his greatest contributions to the electric cooperative community.”

Green also was a constant presence for Touchstone Energy® Cooperative, first becoming involved 25 years ago as a regional member representative and eventually joining the Board of Directors from 2020 until 2023.

“We all have one thing in common: We’re working for members, whether they are members of the co-op, members of the state or national association, or members of the G&T,” Green said. “For me, working for ‘members’ rather than ‘customers’ made the job more meaningful. And it feels extra-special to be honored for doing something that I enjoyed.”

George W. Haggard Memorial Journalism Award

Shannon Brock, editor of Kentucky Living, the statewide magazine of Kentucky Electric Cooperatives, won the George W. Haggard award for the publication’s presentation of ideas advancing electric co-ops and their consumer-members.

“Shannon is the first Haggard Award winner from among a new wave of editors to take over the statewide magazines. There are about 15 new editors that have been hired in the last 4 or 5 years,” said RE Magazine Editor Scot Hoffman. "This win is extremely well deserved and bodes very well for the drive and commitment of our new leaders and for the future of the statewide magazines.”

Kentucky Living strives to create a community of people who take pride in thinking of themselves as Kentuckians, and as knowledgeable electric co-op members, in order to improve their quality of life.

“I am incredibly lucky to be a part of the team at Kentucky Living,” Brock said. “We work hard to produce a magazine that tells the cooperative story while highlighting the people and places of our great state. Being recognized as the winner of the Haggard award—especially the year Kentucky Living celebrated its 75th anniversary—is a tremendous honor. Our sister magazines produce incredible work, and we know the judges had a difficult decision. This award means so much to our entire team.”

Curtis Wynn Diversity Champion Award

Two co-op leaders received the Curtis Wynn Diversity Champion Award, which recognizes individuals who make outstanding contributions to lead and promote diversity, equity and inclusion within their co-ops.

The winners are John Hewa, president and CEO of Rappahannock Electric Cooperative in Fredericksburg, Virginia, and Betty Jo Kiesow, vice president of engineering and administration at Dakota Electric Association in Farmington, Minnesota.

The award is named in honor of Wynn, NRECA’s president from 2019 to 2021. He is currently the CEO of SECO Energy in Sumterville, Florida, and previously served as president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative in Aulander, North Carolina.

“I am humbled and honored to receive an NRECA award that bears Curtis Wynn’s name,” Hewa said. “For me, receiving this award is beyond motivating to uncover what more I can achieve with our fantastic team of employees, board members, and caring culture at Rappahannock Electric. Each of us are remarkably similar and unique in the same moment.”

Hewa led the development of Rappahannock’s diversity, equity and inclusion plan, which focuses on leadership and strategy, employee education and awareness, and recruitment and retention. The plan has increased employee engagement, collaboration and a sense of belonging, according to a letter supporting Hewa’s nomination.

Meanwhile, Kiesow, who is closing in on 30 years of service at Dakota Electric, is the executive sponsor of Dakota Electric’s Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Awareness (IDEA) team.

“The exciting thing about the IDEA team is that it was formed by a group of employees who wanted to improve the culture at Dakota Electric,” Kiesow said. “Their passion for DEI is inspiring, and I am grateful to have been able to offer my support. It’s crucial for employee resource teams to receive backing from the executive level and the board to ensure their success.”

Kiesow also joined the Minnesota Public Utility Commission’s Energy Utility Diversity Group, which focused on the challenges and opportunities of attracting and retaining a diverse workforce. Outside of work, she also volunteers as an English as a Second Language teacher.

“John and Betty have demonstrated exceptional achievements as they worked to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion within their cooperatives,” Anderson said. “Each has worked to foster cultures of belonging that enabled employees to feel valued and empowered.

“As a result, both Rappahannock and Dakota Electric are seeing greater employee engagement and collaboration throughout their workforces. Both have a deep appreciation for the importance of attracting a diverse workforce in the energy industry. I’m very pleased to present Betty and Lou with the Curtis Wynn Diversity Champion Award."

View resources on diversity, equity and inclusion on NRECA’s DEI topic page.