The following cooperative communicators recently earned the Certified Cooperative Communicator credential. Congratulations on this achievement!
Farmer’s Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Chasity has been with Farmers’ Electric Cooperative for five years. One of the highlights of her job is interacting with their members during the many events they host annually. Chasity says, “It’s wonderful to get to know them and find out exactly what our Cooperative can do [programs and services] to help them.”
When not working for the members, Chasity enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking, reading, gardening and cooking. Prior to serving as the communications manager at Farmers’ Electric Cooperative in Chillicothe, she worked as a field representative for U.S. Senators Kit Bond and John Ashcroft, then went on to become a Radio News Director. She earned a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from the University of Central Missouri. Chasity lives on a small hog farm with her husband, Danny, and their two daughters.
Amanda (Mandy) Barth
Indiana Electric Cooperatives
Mandy joined Indiana Electric Cooperatives in December 2013. She says, “The fantastic story the electric cooperatives have to tell makes my job fun! Each day I’m working on something new, whether it’s with one of our member cooperatives on a project, finding creative ways to share the cooperative story with one of our key audiences, or even working on our state’s international electrification effort called Project Indiana. And, the people who make up our state’s electric cooperative family are fabulous!”
Mandy hails from a very small, rural East Central Illinois community. She graduated from Illinois State University in Normal, Ill. with a bachelor of science in public relations and a master of science in communication. Before relocating to the Indianapolis area for her husband’s job, she worked for the University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine in public engagement and extension. She also previously worked for a park district and a countywide chamber of commerce in communication capacities. Mandy and her husband, Matt, have two daughters: Macie, 9, and Mara, 3.
White River Valley Electric Cooperative
Diana has been with White River Valley Electric Cooperative for the past nine years. One of her responsibilities is coordinating the Youth Tour program for her Cooperative. “While I enjoy the entire process, the best part is picking up our delegates from the airport upon their return from the trip to D.C.,” says Diana. “The four-hour trip home is filled with laughter, stories of surprising new friendships, awestruck remembrances of their brief encounters with history in all its Washingtonian forms, and 17-year-old’s vows of being more involved in community, politics and people. It validates the program, the Co-op and my participation in it.”
In her spare time, she enjoys reading and movies, which have been passions since childhood. She loves to travel, spend time on the water, play pickleball, spend time with family and friends, and loves it most when she can combine two or three of these things. Diana has skydived, snorkeled, paraglided and parasailed … and would happily do the first two again.
Diana received a bachelor of science in journalism from Kansas State University in 1982. In May of 2013, she graduated with a master’s in communication from Drury University. She has three daughters, all in their 20’s now, and they’ve become her favorite friends. She has one grandbaby, Grayson the Perfect, who just turned one month old in July.
Ruralite Services, Inc.
Jennifer has been at Ruralite Services since March 2012. She was hired as an associate editor, but with her CCC designation she is now an assistant editor.
“The most rewarding thing about my job is that I work on a great team of like-minded people who are dedicated to creating magazines, projects and products that are nothing short of excellent,” says Jennifer. “No day is the same, because of the variety of work in front of me, including writing, graphic design, copy editing and travel. I even play a large role in producing cookbooks (one so far; another to be printed in 2017). I love my job … really!”
Before arriving at Ruralite, Jennifer worked for 14 years as editor for a monthly magazine for a private athletic club in Portland. She was also an editor for several trade publications in Kansas City, Mo., after graduating from the University of Missouri’s journalism school. Jennifer enjoys hiking, baking, and spending time with her teenage daughter.
South Plains Electric Cooperative, Inc.
Whitney has been at South Plains Electric Cooperative for a little over two years. “The most rewarding thing about my job is being able to use my talent and expertise to do my part to help the Cooperative, and ultimately improve member satisfaction,” she says. “I enjoy posting updates to our Facebook page during outages. I like being able to provide members with the information they need and let them know we are on top of it and that our linemen are working hard. I do not have the expertise to literally go out and help the linemen restore an outage, but it is rewarding knowing I am doing my part to help. I also really like facilitating our new employee orientation. I love getting to meet our new employees and help them understand the cooperative difference. I also like to communicate how awesome it is to work for the Cooperative.”
Whitney received a bachelor’s degree in journalism and a master’s degree in mass communications from Texas Tech University. After graduating, she taught middle school for five years before hanging up her teaching cap. She worked a few years at a local hospital in the marketing/communications department before making the switch to the Cooperative. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family. Whitney and her husband have a nine-month-old daughter, Kennedy, who brings great fun and joy to their lives.
Northern Electric Cooperative
Benjamin has worked at Northern Electric Cooperative for more than a year. He started as the Communications Director on May 26, 2015.
“The most rewarding part of my job is getting out in the field and meeting members on a personal level,” saysBenjamin. “Whether it’s during interviews for stories for our monthly magazine, on a bus tour we sponsor to the power plants that supply our distribution co-op with electricity, or the ‘Co-ops In The Classroom’ program during the school year, I enjoy the personal interaction with our membership.”
Benjamin graduated in 2005 with a bachelor of science degree in mass communications. Following graduation, he worked as a television news reporter for 10 years before he started his career at Northern Electric Cooperative.
Member Services Representative
Consumers Power, Inc.
Jonathan started with Consumers Power in December 2014. “Hands down receiving pictures, cards and personal notes from member families about the impact the co-op has had in their lives is one of the best parts of my job,” says Jonathan. “I am often in members’ homes, their schools or places of employment and get to see the end product of all of the hard work that so many other co-op employees put in.”
Jonathan grew up in the co-op world and even learned to ride a bike in the parking lot of Coos-Curry Electric in Port Orford, Ore. He has worked everywhere from an Alaskan fishing boat to performance health technologies and found out along the way that building relationships is what he enjoyed most. He also realized that his father has been involved with co-ops on many levels throughout his career and it was he who fostered Jonathan’s love of people and creating relationships.
After returning from a church mission to Italy, Jonathan decided to attend college and develop some more marketable skills. He earned a bachelor’s degree in communication studies and was even student body president a few times along the way.
“Landing here at Consumers Power has been like coming home,” added Jonathan. “The co-op is a great place to work where you can feel good about what you do and who you work with. I am grateful for their commitment to professional development and the many in the co-op world who have supported me along my journey to earning the CCC designation.”
Broken Bow, Neb.
Melissa has been at Custer PPD since February 2015. She enjoys the people she works with and says, “We have some really great people in the team who truly care about the members we serve.”
Melissa has a bachelor of arts degree in marketing with an emphasis on speech communications. Her background is economic development. Melissa really enjoys being outdoors, whether it's running, biking, kayaking; and it is the best when she is with her family.
Elizabeth (Beth) Gertsch
Choptank Electric Cooperative
Beth has been at Choptank Electric Cooperative for three years this November. She says, “The most rewarding part of my job is that I get to do what I love every single day. When I graduated college, the job market was bad, so I knew I would have to make concessions when it came to jobs. But working for my Co-op, I get to design, write, plan, and so much more! I never thought I would be able to use all of my skills and continue to build on them. Every day is different, so it’s never boring, and most of all, I love working with co-op people. Co-op people are kind, courteous, and they care about the members.”
Beth attended Salisbury University in Maryland where she graduated with a bachelor’s of arts in communication arts with a concentration in public relations and journalism and English with a concentration in writing and rhetoric, also known as business writing, in 2012.
Beth was born and raised on the Eastern Shore of Maryland. She is married and has a fur-child Great Dane named Belle. She enjoys reading, writing, painting/drawing, and exercising.
Marketing Communications Specialist
Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation
For the past four years, Heather has been working at Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation. “The complexity and challenge of communicating with a diverse membership and strategizing to keep pace with our changing industry is the most rewarding part of my job,” says Heather. “Also I love getting out in the communities we serve and talking with the members as I represent the co-op. Internally, I love finding new and better ways to communicate with our 160 employees.”
Heather graduated high school from Salem Academy’s 215th class of graduating women, and then earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia’s School of Journalism. At one time, she owned and edited an independent newspaper for Sullivan’s Island/Isle of Palms. Her interests include travel, cooking, letter writing and making eclectic greeting cards.
Deputy Director of Community Affairs
Sumter Electric Cooperative, Inc.
In April 2016, Kathy celebrated nine years with Sumter Electric Cooperative, Inc. (SECO). “I find the most rewarding part of my position with SECO is being able to work closely with the communities in our territory in Central Florida,” says Kathy. “I enjoy meeting community leaders and members and giving back in a variety of ways from our annual scholarship program, sponsoring youth fair exhibits, and other programs.”
Kathy has a background in workforce and economic development, marketing, public relations and strategic management. Her bachelor's degree is in business with a focus on organizational management. She is enjoys serving the community from volunteering with local youth sports, the local American Red Cross, and the United Way. She also likes to travel in her spare time and is always adding to her list of locations to visit.
Corporate Communications Manager
Midwest Energy, Inc.
Mike Morley has been at Midwest Energy four years. He enjoys using photos and video to highlight his co-ops crews working hard during outages. “It gives our crews much deserved recognition while informing our members of progress,” says Mike. “Our members feel a true sense of ownership, and are 100 percent supportive of their line crews.”
Before starting his co-op career, Mike served 23 years in the U.S. Navy, enlisting as a Journalist in 1989. While enlisted he earned two undergraduate degrees from University of Maryland and Regents College in Albany, N.Y. He commissioned as a public affairs officer in 2001 and served all over the world. He retired as a Lieutenant Commander in 2012. Mike finished a masters’ in Public Administration from Fort Hays State University in Kansas.
Mike and his wife have three children, and after 15 years living overseas in Europe, Asia and Africa, they’re “sort of traveled out.” Now they enjoy weekends at home, or with friends at the lake. As a family, they’re slowly restoring a 1969 Mustang Mach 1 they found in a Kansas shed last year. Mike enjoys running half marathons, weight lifting and various shooting sports.
James (Jim) Robertson
Boone Electric Cooperative
Jim has been with Boone Electric Cooperative since April 2008. “The most rewarding part of my job is witnessing the ‘light bulb’ turn on when a member finally gets it,” Jim says. “I am fortunate to work with great people and serve a large group of people every day. I find reward when those people, our members, understand that we are here to serve them and that we work for them.”
Jim’s interests include running a freelance photography business and teaching the trade to his children and others in the local 4-H club. He is currently president of the local Safe Kids coalition and volunteers a large amount of time to various organizations with his photography and graphic design skills. He also enjoys supporting his children as they pursue sports careers through middle school and high school.
Jim graduated from Niagara University in Western New York with a bachelor of arts in communications. The degree program consisted of journalism, advertising/marketing strategy, design and production. Much of his college career was dedicated to playing Division I baseball.
Director of Member and Public Relations
Alaska Power Association
Michael has been with Alaska Power Association (APA) for almost two years. “The most rewarding aspect of my job is working with each of our members to accomplish the Association’s goals,” says Michael. “APA’s members provide immense value and diversity to the Association, and their expertise and knowledge help make APA the unified voice of the electric utility industry in Alaska.”
His interests can be separated into two categories: outdoor interests and indoor interests. For outdoor, he enjoys exploring Alaska’s wilderness with his family through hiking, biking and winter sports. For indoor, he enjoys reading about United States history and collecting rare books and newspapers that pique his interest during the long, cold Alaska winters.
Michael and his wife, Candace, moved to Alaska 10 years ago after graduating from college. They are both from Ohio, and wanted to live somewhere with abundant nature, a lack of crowds and congestion, and cold, snowy winters. Alaska hit the mark on all those counts. Michael began his career in Alaska as a newspaper reporter for a newspaper in the Matanuska-Susitna Valley, where they live. In 2009, he went to work for a state senator and served as her chief-of-staff for four years. Following her loss in the 2012 election, he worked as the legislative liaison for the Knik Arm Bridge and Toll Authority, which was working toward construction of the Knik Arm Crossing. In 2014, he was hired to his current position at APA, a job he absolutely loves. Michael has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and communication from the University of Cincinnati.
Amanda “Mandy” Saucerman
Communications and Marketing Specialist
Mandy has been at Boone REMC for just over one year. Prior to that, she worked at Indiana Electric Cooperatives (the statewide association) for almost four years. She received her bachelor of arts in public relations, with minors in marketing and journalism, from Huntington University.
“The most rewarding thing about my job is being involved with our statewide and national youth programs,” Mandy says. “I love receiving applications from eager students wanting to learn, travel and make new friends. I really enjoy calling them, telling them they’ve been accepted, and hearing the excitement in their voices. I find it incredibly rewarding to talk with them when they return and hear how much they enjoyed the experience and how grateful they are for the opportunity.”
Outside of work, she enjoys hiking, camping, biking, gardening, and scrapbooking.
Butler County Rural Electric Cooperative
As of June, Anne has been at Butler County REC for 13 years. “The most rewarding thing about my job is hearing how our cooperative has helped our members and made their lives better—whether through rebates, billing situations, economic development, and more.”
Anne’s interests include spending time with her kids and friends, reading, and golfing. She graduated from Wartburg College with degrees in journalism and English. She worked in college textbook publishing after graduation, and then freelance copy editing for the same company after she moved and became a stay-at-home mom. Then her career shifted and she joined the cooperative world.
Rock Energy Cooperative
Barbara joined the team at Rock Energy Cooperative in April 2009. “I enjoy the variety of things I do at the co-op—event planning, writing, member communication, media interaction, website maintenance,” Barbara says. “I’m a one-person department, so I do it all! However, the most rewarding part of my job is seeing all the smiling faces at our annual Member Appreciation Day Pancake Breakfast. We have activities for all ages, and it’s great to see everyone having fun. Connecting with members is what makes co-ops special.”
Barbara has a journalism background and worked at daily newspapers for more than 25 years, starting as a reporter and working her way up to managing editor. She earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism and political science from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater. When she is not working, she enjoys gardening, walking, playing with her cats and dogs, and traveling.
Member Services and Key Accounts Manager
Shelby Electric Cooperative
Heidi has been in “co-op land” for over eight years. She spent five years at Jo-Carroll Energy in Elizabeth, Ill., and has been at Shelby Electric for the past three years.
“I enjoy working with youth,” Heidi says. “My favorite part of my job is working with area schools on the CFL Charlie Super Energy Savers Program, presenting in classrooms and administering the Youth Day and Youth Tour Program and our local scholarship program.”
Heidi is a graduate of UW-Platteville with a bachelor’s degree in communications and public relations with a double minor in music and agribusiness. She came from a small family farm in Chadwick, Ill., and plans to someday return as the fifth generation to farm it. While here in Shelbyville, Heidi and her husband spend most of their free time running around after their son Trey while he plays basketball and baseball. Trey is most excited to recently become a big brother. Heidi’s son arrived at the end of July.
Director of Communications
Logan County Co-op Power and Light Association
Michael joined his co-op in January 2015. He says the most rewarding thing about his job is “giving back to the community through donations, volunteer hours, partnerships with schools, awarding children-of-member scholarships, educating members on issues that affect them, and helping members understand their electric usage and lower their electric bills.”
Michael was born in Cincinnati and raised in West Liberty, Ohio. He has three brothers. He just celebrated his 21st wedding anniversary, watched his oldest daughter graduate from high school and prepared to send her off to college. He is involved in the youth group and young adults at their church. He coaches a junior high soccer team. Michael has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Cedarville in Cedarville, Ohio.