Ted Case, executive director of the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the author of two books on co-op history, has won the annual J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award.
The award, presented to Case on Jan. 13 at the CEO Close-Up meeting, recognizes an electric cooperative CEO or general manager who is committed to advancing communication at the co-op and in the overall industry. It is named in honor of the late editor and publisher of NRECA’s RE Magazine, J.C. Brown, who led the publication from 1973 to 1993.
“I am honored to win this award, particularly when I look at who the award is named after and the previous winners,” Case said. “It’s humbling just to be in the same conversation as these talented co-op communicators.”
Case has been a national voice for co-ops, serving on NRECA’s 21st Century Cooperative Committee, which examined the purpose of modern electric co-ops. Last year, he was a vocal champion for the successful passage in Congress of the RURAL Act, which protects the tax-exempt status of co-ops when they accept government grants.
Case also has been an advocate for responsible vegetation management in national forests and has worked to promote literacy programs in rural communities, NRECA CEO Jim Matheson said in presenting the award to Case in Palm Desert, California.
The leader of the Oregon statewide association has written two books chronicling key moments in co-op history. One of those books, “Power Plays: The U.S. Presidency, Electric Cooperatives and the Transformation of Rural America,” has become required reading for co-op communicators. He also launched a statewide magazine in 2012.
Case said it’s “vitally important” that co-ops communicate the electric cooperative story.
“If we don’t, someone else will tell our story for us,” he said. “I write books about electric co-op history because there are countless stories that deserve to be told. And I’m not done yet.”
One of the five judges who helped pick the winner described Case as “visionary and tenacious.”
“Ted Case has dramatically transformed the communication approach of ORECA by launching a content-rich statewide publication, adding staff and recognizing communicators as co-op leaders,” the judge said.
The panel of judges is made up of communications and management experts from academia and business, including co-ops. The award, first presented in 2004, was established by the Council of Rural Electric Communicators and the Certified Cooperative Communicator Program Board.
Case is a native Oregonian who spent 20 years in Washington, D.C., and served as staff director of a House subcommittee that oversaw the Bonneville Power Administration. He worked at NRECA for 12 years, including five years as legislative director. He has a master’s degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.