If there is one thing Curtis Wynn has learned during his two years as president of NRECA’s board of directors, it’s that America’s electric cooperatives are equipped for change.

“Embrace it,” he told the March 3 session of NRECA’s PowerXchange and TechAdvantage Experience.

“This multidimensional environment in which we operate can work in our favor if we acknowledge its complexity and take proactive steps to act and lead through it.”

Wynn took the gavel in 2019 before thousands of co-op leaders, directors and staff gathered at NRECA’s annual meeting in Orlando. There, he called for co-ops to fully examine their future and lead their member communities into the next generation.

As his leadership term comes to an end, his message was unwavering: “Act boldly, with purpose and with a sense of urgency; and seize the opportunities that matter to our members so America’s electric cooperatives can be a force for the future.”

Wynn, a longtime NRECA board member, is president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative in Ahoskie, North Carolina. Despite its rural location in a region bypassed by growth and squeezed by persistent poverty, Roanoke Electric has pursued retail broadband internet, electric vehicles and EV-to-the-grid technology with directional batteries—the first co-op to do so.

“Though I am hopeful that this year begins our transition to better days, I am proud of the work we have done during the pandemic,” he said. “It reflects the resilience of electric cooperatives and our commitment to the members and communities we serve.”

He reminded co-op leaders that they “won’t have to go it alone” and listed the many NRECA services and resources that his co-op used to improve its service and efficiency for members.

“Frankly, it was amazing to see all of the support our trade association provides us—from advocacy in Washington, to benefits for my employees, to training and professional development for my board of directors, to research and development on new technologies, to organizational assessments, to help recruiting new employees, to communications support and on and on and on,” he said.

Wynn also encouraged co-op leaders and staff to reflect on the societal strife that has occurred nationwide and find ways to help and heal their communities.

These events “called for electric cooperatives, as trusted organizations in our communities, to increase our awareness of diversity, equity and inclusion,” he said, adding that he took it as “a personal call” while NRECA president.

“As leaders of America’s electric cooperatives, it is our role to lead the way to more equitable economic opportunities for our members and communities,” Wynn said. “Be inclusive and intentional about addressing the unique needs of all of your members, especially those with high energy burdens.”

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