​By Terry F. Mazzone, CCC, Lorain-Medina Rural Electric Cooperative

We now about 230 active CCCs nationwide, the highest total in the 31-year history of the program. We’re experiencing unprecedented growth with close to 40 candidates in the “pipeline.” They have submitted their applications and are either planning to submit their portfolios or they are preparing to take the exam at CONNECT in Portland or at Co-op University in Nashville next October.

With the program growing so quickly many of our new CCCs may not be aware of the role of the CCC board of directors.

Currently, we have a 12-member board. Ten of us are elected to staggered two-year terms. We can serve up to three terms. We also have three appointees who are CCCs: a representative from the Council of Rural Electric Communicators (the panel of communicators who oversee the Spotlight on Excellence Program and other initiatives); a representative from NRECA; and a representative from the Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). The CFC position is currently vacant.

We have four official meetings each year: a winter meeting in conjunction with NRECA’s Annual Meeting, a spring meeting in conjunction with CONNECT, and a fall meeting at NRECA headquarters. Our fourth meeting is a reorganizational summer meeting to seat newly elected board members and elect officers. This meeting is conducted via phone. In addition to the official meetings, we conduct monthly conference calls.

Most of our work is done in committee. We have three main committees.

  1. CAPS Committee

    The Candidate Assessment and Program Standards committee is affectionately called the “CAPS committee.” Committee members are responsible for the examination and the Body of Knowledge, which is an excellent resource guide for any communicator. The BOK is a living document that is always evolving. Anytime the exam is updated, the BOK must be modified at the same time. One can’t move without the other. It’s an immense task. The CAPS committee is planning a major review in 2016. I’m now in my fifth year on this board and this is the second time we’re reviewing the BOK in detail.

  2. Program and Planning Committee

    The Program and Planning Committee is responsible for the bylaws and the strategic plan. Over the past two years, we conducted a full review of the bylaws. We learned that because we are an NRECA program rather than an official incorporated organization, there is no requirement that we need bylaws. We are converting the existing bylaws into operating guidelines. It is essentially the same document, just refreshed and updated. In the coming months, we will be asking active CCC members to approve the new document in conjunction with our board elections.

    Another task of this committee is updating the strategic plan. Last spring, we commissioned a survey of CEOs and general managers, active CCCs and non CCCs. Each of our three main committees, with the help of members from the CREC, analyzed the results of the survey and the respondents’ comments. We are using the survey results and those comments to modify our strategic plan.

  3. Program Communications and Marketing Committee

    This committee is responsible for the content of this quarterly newsletter and the overall marketing of the program. You can see their handiwork each year at the CONNECT Conference.

These committees often convene their own phone conferences depending on the task at hand. Each month our NRECA administrator Jean Barber convenes a phone conference work session for the entire board. It’s not an official meeting, but it’s an excellent opportunity for the entire board to receive updates on the progress of each committee.

Are you interested in joining this board? In February, we will be sending letters to your CEOs and General Managers asking them to consider allowing you to run for a seat on the CCC board. You need to have their support because time and money need to be devoted to serving on this board. Five seats will be up for election in 2016.

We have a nice blend on the board with representation from around the country. We have communicators who are relatively new to the cooperative world and veterans. Some serve at their statewide and others work for distribution cooperatives. Those who recently earned their certification should consider running because you recently submitted the portfolio and passed the test and bring a fresh perspective to the board.

And don’t worry if you don’t win. The past three years we have had unexpected resignations, and we turned to our pool of candidates to fill the vacancies.

You just never know. I’ve learned a lot from serving on the CCC board, made some great, long-lasting friendships and had some laughs along the way. For a few months, I was actually the only man on the board. I learned a lot then, too. But that’s another column.

"The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go."

Dr. Suess