Co-op CEOs and general managers from throughout the nation will gather in Southern California this month to strengthen their leadership skills and learn new strategies to meet the ever-changing challenges of leading an electric co-op.

CEO Close-Up will take place Jan. 12-15 in Palm Desert. Nearly 500 CEOs and industry partners are expected to attend the conference, making it the largest single gathering of co-op leaders outside of the NRECA Annual Meeting.

"CEO Close-Up gives co-op leaders the opportunity to network with peers from across the country to learn from each other through shared experiences," said Val Parks, NRECA's director of learning strategies. "We strive to develop programming that presents new ideas and perspectives on current and future challenges and opportunities. CEOs tell us this is one of the best events NRECA produces."

Speaker Highlights

Political scientist Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics, will give his predictions for the 2020 congressional and presidential elections as the keynote speaker at the first general session on Jan. 13. Sabato, a politics professor and editor of the center's nonpartisan Sabato's Crystal Ball newsletter, will analyze the political climate just weeks before the Iowa Democratic caucuses, which take place on Feb. 3.

NRECA President Curtis Wynn will make brief remarks and lead a Q&A session on opening day, focusing on the future of the electric industry and how CEOs can guide their co-ops through a time of transition. Wynn is president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative in Ahoskie, North Carolina.

The keynote speaker for the closing session on Jan. 14 will be Jake Harriman, a former Marine platoon commander and the founder and CEO of Nuru International, which helps lift people out of poverty in Kenya and Ethiopia through programs that increase crop yields for farmers and boost local entrepreneurs.

Additional NRECA speakers will include CEO Jim Matheson; Louis Finkel, senior vice president of government relations, who will talk about the latest news from Congress and federal agencies; and Scott Peterson, senior vice president of communications, who will discuss reputation management.

Award Presentation

The J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award will be presented on Jan. 13 to a co-op CEO who plays a leadership role to ensure that strong and effective communications are a part of everything that co-ops do.

Breakout Sessions

There will be 30 breakout sessions on a wide variety of topics, including cybersecurity, governance, labor relations, broadband, energy storage, creating value for consumers, and the relationship between CEOs and directors. Specific sessions include:

Cybersecurity: Experts will talk about what to do when a co-op is hit with ransomware, fake invoices or other cyberattacks.

Climate change: As the policy debate and politics of climate change swirl, how can co-ops position themselves to be part of the solution? CEOs and other experts will talk about how co-ops are meeting the challenge.

Governance and reputation management: Co-op leaders will talk about how they worked to restore their members' trust after controversies.

Workplace safety: Co-op and NRECA leaders will discuss why it's good business to put safety first at co-ops.

Broadband: Co-op CEOs and other experts will talk about the true cost of deploying broadband and how to maximize networks.

Battery storage: This session will provide an update on the evolving economics of battery energy storage and cover the financial and technical aspects of storage projects. CoBank economist Tom Binet will help lead the discussion.

View more information on this year's CEO Close-Up.