By Abbey Sprague, CCC, Communications/Marketing Coordinator, Midland Power Cooperative, Jefferson, Iowa

Six candidates were nominated to fill six CCC Board seats in 2019. Congratulations to these three incumbents and three nominated CCCs that will be seated on the CCC Board for a two year term starting in May.

April Lollar, APR, CCC

Director of Communications, Coast Electric Power Association, Bay Saint Louis, Miss.

This will be my third and final term on the CCC Board and I appreciate the opportunity to represent you on our board. I have served on the Candidate Assessment and Program Standards Committee (CAPS) committee for both of my terms and am currently the board vice chair.

Since I began serving four years ago, I have witnessed a group of dedicated professionals work­ing tirelessly to enhance the CCC program for each potential candidate and those who have already achieved the CCC designation. We are currently making changes to the program that will be beneficial for candidates. It’s work I am excited about and I am glad to have the opportunity to serve this next term, so I can follow through with the important work we have started.

I am the Director of Communications at Coast Electric Power Association in Mississippi and have been part of the co-op family for 14 years. In my role at Coast Electric, I serve as the company spokesperson; oversee our social media plan, write, edit, and work to ensure our internal and external communications help the company achieve our strategic goals.

While I enjoy what I do daily, working with the CCC Board has provided me the opportunity to learn from stellar co-op communicators and to do something beneficial for fellow communica­tors. Serving on the board is a great way to give back.

Erica M. Fitzhugh, CCC

Marketing Coordinator, East River Electric Cooperative, Madison, S.D.

I serve on the CCC Board as a member of the Candidate Assessment and Program Standards Committee (CAPS) and I am honored to continue to represent you.

I am the Marketing Coordinator at East River Electric Cooperative, a G&T cooperative in South Dakota. I have assisted our cooperatives with member programs and communication pieces for four years. I first joined the cooperative world eight years ago at a distribution co-op, Northern Electric, as their Communications Director. My experience on both the distribution and generation and transmission sides of the cooperative brings a unique perspective and better understanding of communicating from all angles.

I attended the New Co-op Communicators Orientation and was inspired to pursue my CCC. The process of preparing my portfolio and studying for the exam truly prepared me for my career as a co-op communicator.

I earned my CCC in 2013 and felt compelled to stay involved with the program. I volunteered as a CCC mentor and served on a subcommittee to help develop Peer Advisor Guidelines and Best Practices. In 2018, I was asked to fill a vacancy on the CCC Board. I am currently working with the CAPS committee to revise the Body of Knowledge (BOK). I feel it is important to continue to improve and build upon the CCC program and I am privileged to be part of that process.

Heather B. Holbrook, CCC

Supervisor, Marketing Communications, Brunswick Electric Membership Corporation, Shallotte, N.C.

I am eager to serve on the CCC Program Board of Directors because I am passionate about the cooperative business model and always looking to effectively communicate the member benefits of the cooperative difference. But more than that, I want other communicators to discover what earning a CCC designation can do for them.

My professional journalism background has come in handy in my job, but becoming a Certified Cooperative Communicator is what has solidified my confidence in what I do for my cooperative. I have been in Marketing Communications at BEMC for seven years, serving as department head as well as media spokesperson for the past four. Our service area in Southeastern North Carolina spans 1,500 square miles and ranges from rural farmland to beach tourist destinations. Brunswick County is one of the fastest-growing counties in the US and I enjoy the challenge of communicating the cooperative difference to our growing membership.

The process of obtaining my CCC has made me a more confident communicator with our very diverse membership. The more you know about a subject, the easier it is to develop effective messaging that will resonate with specific target audiences. I rely on my CCC experience every day; during media interviews, speaking to civic groups, and developing print and digital messaging. Conveying the complexities of the electric cooperative to the people we all serve will become even more important as the industry rapidly evolves, and the CCC Program will continue to be essential in developing communicators who are effective in maintaining well-informed and highly satisfied members. It will be a privilege to assist in directing this impactful program and that’s why I’d like to serve.

Lauren A. Irby, CCC

Communications Specialist, Southside Electric, Inc., Crewe, Va.

I believe that we are fortunate as Co-op Communicators for many reasons, but particularly in that we are able to grow and learn from each other in a unique industry environment. We are offered so many resources through NRECA and our statewide organizations to continue our education and professional development.

Ever since I attended New Co-op Communicator Orientation in 2015, I knew I wanted to become a CCC. Now, as I approach my one-year anniversary of earning the certification, I am truly honored to serve my fellow communicators as a member of the Board of Directors.

Education has always been a priority for me. I look forward to the possibility to incorporate my “pre-cooperative” experience as an educational consultant for a national nonprofit as well as a program specialist for the communication studies department at a university.

As a current member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE), I will use information gleaned from these organizations to complement my service. I look forward to serving the community of co-op communicators!

Jodi Borger, CCC

Communications Coordinator, Pioneer Rural Electric Cooperative, Inc., Piqua, Ohio

I am the communications coordinator at Pioneer Electric Cooperative in Piqua, Ohio. I have been with the co-op for four years. Prior to working for an electric cooperative, I worked in marketing and communications for an agricultural cooperative for two years.

My professional experiences include preparing visual, verbal and written communication in a variety of settings for different mediums, as well as work in sales support, social media, event planning, school presentations, fundraisers, and special projects. My more notable accomplishments and involvement include being invited to CONNECT in 2016 to speak about my role in helping establish the template for Co-op Web Builder 2.5, and now 3.0, being invited to participate in NRECA’s younger member engagement advisory committee, and recently writing the nomination for Touchstone Energy’s 2018 #WhoPowersYou contest winner. I believe these experiences, in addition to the more routine functions of my job, have made me a well-rounded communications professional.

In addition to professional experience, I also volunteer to read at my church to help build my communications skills and strengthen my commitment to community.

I earned my Certified Cooperative Communicator designation in 2017. As someone who recently went through the certification process and has acted as a mentor to others, I believe I can offer a perspective that benefits the CCC Board and continue to push the process in the right direction.

I will embrace this opportunity to work with the board to promote and enhance the program.

Nell Withers McCauley, CCC, MIP, CKAE

Communications Advisor, SEDC, Atlanta, Ga.

Each day it is clearer how valuable communication is in the evolution of the cooperative industry. For the past 30 years, I have been involved in the progress, including 28 years as a Certified Cooperative Communicator. I sought re-election to continue to share my unique perspective, experiences, and connectedness with this board to meet the demands of the future.

I have had the honor to participate in a variety of NRECA projects and roles including

  • Crisis Communications Tool-Kit
  • Co-op Cavalry
  • Planning committee member for Marketing, Member Services and Communications Conference, New Communicator Orientation and Connect Conferences
  • Council of Rural Electric Communicators Always On initiative.
  • CCC board member serving various committees including:
  • Spotlight on Excellence Awards
  • Awards and Recognition
  • Program Planning Chair
  • Marketing and Communications
  • Mentor for candidates obtaining their communicator certification
  • Board member on the Council of Rural Electric Communicators
  • Two-term Board President for the Council of Rural Electric Communicators

I will continue working cohesively with the board of professional communicators. I am grateful for the opportunity to continue the work I value of mentoring communicators to meet the demands of the future and earn the Certified Cooperative Communicator designation. I am a tireless advocate for cooperatives and the hard-working employees who make them invaluable in our communities. I consider it an honor and a privilege to be re-elected to serve on the CCC Board.