By Terry F. Mazzone, CCC, Lorain-Medina REC

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Greetings to our growing CCC nation. After serving four years on the CCC board, I was honored and privileged to be elected chairman of the CCC board at our reorganizational meeting in June. I am in my 23rd year at my northern Ohio electric cooperatives, and I consider the opportunity to serve as chairman of this program one of the highlights of my career.

The program is growing. When I joined the CCC board in 2011 we had 190 in the CCC program. Today, we stand at about 230, a 21 percent increase in less than four years. That’s pretty impressive. The numbers don’t move dramatically because we lose a few each year due to retirements and communicators leaving the cooperative program. However, the 250 milestone is only a year or two away as more General Managers/CEOs and communicators are seeing the value of earning your C’s.

It was gratifying to have NRECA President Mel Coleman address the Connect Conference in May in Minneapolis. It is a great show of support for a NRECA President to attend a Connect Conference. Mr. Coleman devoted his RE Magazine column in July to discussing the importance of our communication teams playing “an indispensable role in shaping the future of Co-op Nation.”

I have long believed that communicators should be at the leadership table at their cooperatives, helping shape strategic decisions. Sometimes communicators need to step out of their comfort zone and push for change. We were so pleased to hear Mr. Coleman encourage communicators to pursue professional credentials such as our CCC program. Having those three C’s after your name helps immensely and bolsters your credibility.

We have our challenges in front of us. Communications is changing rapidly. The CCC test and portfolio standards must remain relevant. Each year, we carefully review and update the Body of Knowledge (BOK). The BOK has become a living document. What a great resource to have available for all communicators on Cooperative.com. As the BOK changes, we have to make sure those changes dovetail with the CCC exam. It’s an ongoing task. So if you ever wondered what we do as a board, that's a huge chunk of it right there.

Earlier this year, we had NRECA Market Research Division conduct a survey of current CCCs, General Managers/CEOs, and non-CCCs. We sent surveys to 3,750 and received 687 back -- an 18 percent response rate.

We had several goals in mind when we commissioned NRECA to conduct the survey:

  • Determine the perceived benefits of becoming a CCC
  • Identify the obstacles to becoming a CCC
  • Determine why people maintain their certification
  • Solicit suggestions on ways we can improve the program to enhance its value
  • Learn why communicators do not participate in the program or why they start and do not finish
  • Determine the support of the program among CEOs/General Managers, and their perception of its value for their staff

We have assigned a section of the survey results to three committees. We will analyze the results and determine how it applies to our strategic plan. We will keep you informed through our newsletter.

Another project we have been working on is a complete review of our bylaws. Since we are essentially a program and not an organization like NRECA or an electric cooperative, we are converting our bylaws into operating guidelines. No sweeping changes will be proposed. We condensed and re-ordered sections, but essentially the same bylaw provisions will remain. Currently, these operating guidelines are under NRECA review. We plan to review their recommendations at our October CCC board meeting and then ask the CCC membership to adopt the changes, hopefully by the end of the year.

One of my chairman goals this year is to grow the Peer Advisor program to help CCC candidates navigate through portfolio and test preparation. We need more CCCs involved and it’s especially helpful if you recently attained your certification because you’re still familiar with the process. If you’re willing to help, contact Jean Barber of NRECA.

If you have suggestions or concerns, let us know. There are no secrets. We just want to grow the program. With a strong certification program we can help cooperative communicators attain the skills and knowledge needed to better serve our cooperatives and members.

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