By Abbey Sprague, CCC, Director of Corporate Relations, Midland Power Co-op, Jefferson, Iowa

Learn a little about the 15 latest people to earn the CCC designation. Please join us in recognizing their achievement!

Jennifer L. Barger

Manager of Marketing & Communications, Kosciusko REMC, Warsaw, Ind.

Jennifer has been with KREMC for five years. She was hired as a member service representative, moved into the communication specialist position, and, in March of 2019, she was promoted to Manager of Marketing and Communications.

“I never get bored. There is a vast array of responsibilities in this position. I stay on my toes and time flies by each day,” Jennifer said in reference to what she enjoys about her job.

Before she worked in the world of marketing and communications, she was a yoga instructor and fitness trainer. “I really enjoyed my lifestyle and how I felt every day taking care of myself and staying active. I work hard in my free time to bring that level of wellness back into my life. It's a challenge,” said Jennifer.

When earning a bachelor’s degree, Jennifer double majored in business and wellness. “Early in my professional career, my job focus was on corporate wellness – health and fitness in the workplace. To motivate employees to be involved in the wellness programs at the company, I had to hone my skills in marketing and communication. KREMC's investment in me for further education and training has been invaluable,” said Jennifer.

Jennifer said her husband was a great support to her as she earned the CCC designation, spending hours quizzing her and discussing the body of knowledge. “My husband could probably pass the CCC exam if given the opportunity. I'm pretty sure he has walked away with all the knowledge as well,” said Jennifer.

Allie Bennett

Marketing and Communications Manager, Macon Electric Cooperative, Macon, Mo.

Allie has been the Marketing and Communications Manager at Macon Electric Cooperative for three years. “I enjoy working with the members in a variety of avenues, including safety, youth, and energy efficiency programs. I also love planning the Annual Meeting,” said Allie.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, including her daughter and husband. She loves learning new things and pushing herself to learn as much as she can about the electric cooperative industry.

Allie has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri in Agricultural Education. She taught high school agriculture for three years. While teaching, she earned a master’s degree in Administration. She is currently working on a Doctorate Degree in Business Administration and anticipates completing that in 2020. “One weird thing that I love to learn about is Entomology, the study of insects!” said Allie.

Tyson Blanton

Communications Coordinator, Lynches River Electric Cooperative, Inc., Pageland, S.C.

Tyson has been the Communications Coordinator at LREC for two years. As part of her responsibilities, she assists in managing the co-op’s employee supported and founded non-profit called The LIGHT Foundation. “Seeing the positive impact our efforts have on others is the most rewarding and amazing part of my job!” said Tyson.

In her free time, Tyson enjoys running and spending time outdoors with her two dogs, Zuko and Rizzo (named after Grease characters).

Tyson has a Bachelor’s in Public Relations with a minor in graphic design. “Before coming to the co-op, I worked in the athletic media relations department at the University of South Carolina. Go Gamecocks!”

Amanda L. Busby

Public & Member Relations Coordinator, GreyStone Power Corporation, Douglasville, Ga.

Amanda has been with GreyStone Power for nine years, starting as a Public Relations and Communications Specialist and moving into the role of Public and Member Relations Coordinator.

“My absolute favorite task is the logistical planning and coordinating of Annual Meeting. I LOVE IT! We basically plan a family fun day for our members. Each year, the attendance varies, but is usually around 3,000 people. I also really enjoy coordinating the Co-op Connections Card program for our members. There’s an awful lot about my job that I love, and I am grateful and blessed to enjoy going to work every day,” said Amanda.

Amanda’s free time is spent with her family. She recently adopted two little girls (sisters) and has been working hard to integrate them into the family while maintaining normalcy with her other two children. “I love being a mom and teaching my kids about life and how they can be anything they want to be with hard work and determination,” said Amanda.

Amanda has a BA in Marketing and many years of experience planning events. “For me, the ability to ‘see’ the logistics laid out in my mind as I am planning is incredibly helpful,” said Amanda. Due to surprising timing in the adoption process; the demands of moving, remodeling, selling and buying a home for her expanded family; and the daily needs of various family members; earning the CCC designation was quite the process for Amanda. “The last two years have been a constant upheaval in my world, so to know that I passed amidst all the craziness, makes this designation even more special for me,” said Amanda.

Marissa Louise Cronauer

Marketing Specialist, REA Energy Cooperative, Inc., Indiana, Pa.

Marissa has been with her cooperative for three years.

She enjoys sharing and demonstrating the hard work of their co-op crews with members, as well as sharing the cooperative difference.

Marissa has a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and shared, “I married a lineman (who works for an IOU) and have numerous lineman in the family. I truly appreciate their hard work and dedication and do my best to relay the message to our members on what exactly it takes to get power to them day in and day out. Hearing their stories over the years has given me an outsider’s experience, as well as on-the-job training.”

She and her husband are incredibly excited to be expecting their first little girl August 20.

In Marissa’s second year at the co-op she set a goal to obtain the CCC designation. “After passing my portfolio I flew from PA to Houston, Texas, to do so and truly think the studying and preparation made me look into things all employees at a cooperative would benefit from learning,” said Marissa.

Cassie M Cunningham

Communications Supervisor, White River Valley Electric Cooperative, Branson, Mo.

Cassie has been with White River Valley Electric for three years. She started as the Communications Coordinator and has become Communications Supervisor. She oversees all internal/external communications and marketing. She acts as the co-op’s media liaison, manages their social platforms, company website, employee intranet, and local pages for their statewide magazine, as well as any graphic design and photo/video work. “Wearing so many hats keeps it interesting. There are always irons in the fire,” said Cassie. Prior to the cooperative, she worked with more than 400 different businesses in communications, sales and marketing capacities through her previous employers or freelance work.

Cassie has a B.A. in Music Education. “Music has always been a passion of mine, but after the arts programs were getting cut across the nation, I went back to school and got a B.A. in Communications and Marketing,” said Cassie. She then earned a Master’s in Integrated Marketing, Non-profit Communications, and Organizational Leadership, as well as a graduate certificate in Social Media and Crisis, Risk, Disaster Management.

“I like contributing to my community and spend a good deal of time volunteering with various organizations like Red Cross and United Way. The rest of my days are spent doing outdoor activities, watching sports (Go Cardinals), rehabbing homes with my husband, and hanging out with our sweet little girl, Callie Wren,” said Cassie.

Lynn A Hutchison

Director of Member Services, Tri-County Elec. Cooperative, Inc., Mount Vernon, Ill.

Lynn has been with Tri-County Electric Cooperative since 2014. She started as the Administrative Assistant and transitioned into Director of Member Services in 2018. “I enjoy creating the member newsletter and passing along information to the membership in ways that are relatable and interesting. I also find great joy in helping members work through issues and find a solution,” said Lynn.

In her free time, Lynn enjoys spending time with her husband Laramie, their two boys (Levi, 7 and Landon, 9), and their two dogs Leo and Lucy. She enjoys being outdoors, camping, reading, playing the guitar, cooking, and gardening.

Before entering the cooperative world, she was the Regional Community Resource Director for United Way. “This position provided me with poverty training to better understand some of the situations that our members face as well as the knowledge of resources in the community to assist them,” said Lynn. She also believes her experience prior to that, working for ESPN Radio, gave her the knowledge of effective communication and public relations.

According to Lynn, her Bachelor’s in Business Administration formed the foundation to analyze her co-op’s current programs and assess their benefits to the membership, and that it will serve the membership well as they look to develop more programs to benefit them in the future.

“The information provided to me during the CCC process has already helped me grow as a cooperative employee and communicator. I look forward to working with this group and continuing to learn from each person in it!” said Lynn.

Jessica R. Johnson

Communications Specialist, Poudre Valley REA, Inc., Fort Collins, Colo

Jessica has been with Poudre Valley REA for more than four years. “I love my job! I have the opportunity to do so many out-of-the box projects ranging from organizing food drives and scholarship award nights to skydiving and writing a story about it for our magazine. Every day is different. I have a passion for others and am grateful that community outreach is a large component of my role at Poudre Valley REA along with communications,” said Jessica.

Originally from a small mountain town in Colorado, Jessica earned a degree from Colorado State University in Fort Collins with no intention of working in the electric industry. After job hunting and research, she discovered the co-op in Northern Colorado. “Colorado is an amazing state and when I’m not working, I take advantage of all there is to do here with my family and friends: biking, 4-wheeling, going to concerts, hanging out by a lake or a pool, and hiking,” said Jessica.

Dana R. Kelroy

Editor, Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association, Madison, Wis.

Dana Kelroy has been editor of the Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News since December 2013, and has been with the Wisconsin statewide since 2006. WECN, the nation’s first statewide publication for electric cooperative consumer-members, has been published monthly since July 1940. The magazine has earned its reputation as a reliable, people-oriented publication whose focus is non-rural and statewide issues that affect electric cooperatives.

Previously, Dana was Cooperative Network’s Director of Media Relations, and was responsible for all internal and external communications activities for the organization, which represented nearly 800 cooperative businesses in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Dana graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2004 with a degree in Agricultural Journalism. She is a member and former board director of the Cooperative Communicators Association and a member of the National Electric Cooperative Statewide Editors Association.

Dana has three children: Kian, 8; Ava, 6; and Weston, 9 months. She does not have free time. (Ha!) “My favorite part of working on the statewide magazine is developing an annual training program for Wisconsin’s electric cooperative communicators,” said Dana.

Jennie L. Lacey

Manager of Cooperative Communications, Flint EMC, Reynolds, Ga.

Jennie has been with Flint Energies since 2010, and she has been of Manager of Cooperative Communications since 2017. “I most enjoy creatively educating members and employees about the cooperative difference, and how they can take advantage of their member benefits,” said Jennie.

During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her niece and nephews, going to dinner with friends and traveling.

She has a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Georgia College, with a concentration in Public Relations and Advertising. Before she joined Flint Energies, she worked in communications for Girl Scouts of Historic Georgia. “My time there photographing groups of girls helped prepare

me for taking photos of groups of linemen. You have to grab their attention fast and take the photo quickly because no one is looking in the same direction, they’re all constantly moving, and someone is always picking on someone else!” said Jennie.

Jessica S. Miller

Communications Specialist, Clark County REMC, Sellersburg, Ind.

Jessica has been with Clark County REMC since 2005. She has been in the role of Communications Specialist since 2013.

The thing she enjoys most about her job is planning events within the community. “I really enjoy spending time with our members and giving back to our communities,” said Jessica.

Jessica has a 4-year old and a 14-month old. “They keep me on my toes, and I enjoy watching them learn and grow. They are my world,” said Jessica.

Jessica received a Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University Southeast in 2007 with a major in Psychology. She trained for her current role at the co-op with a previous boss that retired with more than 30 years of experience. Jessica said Denise Adams, who retired from the co-op in 2016, taught her a lot of what she knows, and does, every day. “I feel privileged to have worked alongside her,” said Jessica.

Jill Reece

Communications Specialist, South Plains Electric Cooperative, Inc., Lubbock, Texas

Jill has been the Communications Specialist at South Plains Electric Cooperative since 2017. Prior to that, she was the Member Service Specialist at North Plains Electric Cooperative for three years. “The most rewarding part of my job is being able to serve our members and communicate the cooperative difference to them,” said Jill.

Amanda K. Richardson

Senior Communications Specialist, SECO Energy, Sumterville, Fla.

Amanda has been with SECO Energy for 15 years. She transferred to their Corporate Communications department as a Communications Representative in 2016 and was promoted to Senior Communications Specialist in 2017.

“Working in Communications, I truly enjoy the opportunity to share the SECO Energy story with our members, our employees and the public,” said Amanda.

When not at work, she and her husband love to spend time with their two sons enjoying Florida’s natural sights and family parks. She is also an avid reader.

Amanda’s first position at SECO Energy was in customer service. She also worked in Engineering and Reliability before transferring to Corporate Communications after earning a B.S. in Business Management in 2014. “My varied work experience across the cooperative was invaluable during my CCC study process. Successfully completing the CCC portfolio, the exam and earning my certification is a highlight in my career,” said Amanda.

Laralynn S. Sullivan

Manager of Marketing and Member Services, Henry County REMC, New Castle, Ind.

With her electric cooperative for 12 years, Laralynn has been in the role of Manager of Marketing and Member Services for about eight years. Before that, she worked at the REMC as an Administrative Assistant. “What I enjoy most about my current position is the opportunity to demonstrate the cooperative difference every day. Working with our membership and the community is a privilege,” said Laralynn.

She lives on a grain farm. “My family and the farm are my life. I love the outdoors and enjoy camping next to river that runs along our farm. I love to garden and paint,” said Laralynn.

Laralynn has Bachelor’s in Business Administration from Northwood University. “I do believe that opened the necessary doors to get where I am today. It also took hard work and dedication and a love and understanding for the co-op world,” said Laralynn.

Katie Thomson

Supervisor, Corporate Communications, Dairyland Power Cooperative, La Crosse, Wis.

Katie has been with Dairyland Power Cooperative since 2001. Her role at the co-op has changed as Communications and Marketing functions have evolved at Dairyland and within the industry in general. Now, there is much more emphasis on digital and 24/7 communications with all stakeholders (employees, membership, media, public).

“I am fortunate to be part of a wonderfully effective team at Dairyland; all of us bring a unique set of skills to our communicator roles,” said Katie.

Her favorite part of the job is sharing how Dairyland and its employees support local communities, whether it be through donations, volunteerism, sustainable planning, or in other areas. “Impactful initiatives and marvelous co-op and community members really do make a difference in our region,” said Katie.

Katie likes spending free time with her family, which includes her husband, two children in middle school, and their Shih Tzu, Bucky. She also loves being outdoors (hiking, biking, watersports), reading, cooking, movies and happy hour with friends!