The path Kyle Martinez took to become the newest (and youngest) board member at Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) began before he was in grade school.

That was at a dirt race track near his family’s home in Olathe, Colorado where he and his brother earned two bucks a week picking up trash under the bleachers. As a job perk, the boss told the boys they could keep any money they found.

That is, until they found a $100 bill – only to find out the boss wanted a cut, too. The experience taught Martinez two life lessons:

(1.) Hard work does pay off.  (2.) Always keep your word.

Now completing his first year on the board, Martinez, 27, said those two lessons underpin nearly everything he does and every decision he makes in representing the DMEA membership.

When asked which of the cooperative values is most important to him, Martinez didn’t hesitate in his answer. “Number Seven. Concern for Community. Taking member concerns and needs into consideration with any and all decisions concerning the co-op. I got into this because I wanted to do my part to help the community. This is a good way to pursue that.”

Even before considering a run for the board, Martinez was familiar with cooperative values. Those he began learning as a high-schooler while sweeping sheds and hosing down tractors and equipment on a neighboring farm.

Becoming a trusted farm-hand, he discovered the role of ag producer co-ops and became keenly aware of DMEA as a co-op – particularly because of the cost of electricity in every phase of bringing in crops from sorting onions to making ice for sweet corn handling.

Farming paid his way through University of Colorado, where he got a degree in political science. “It was an intense way to go to school,” he said, explaining that his education depended on successful harvests from the acreage he leased while also borrowing money for seed and fertilizer.

Martinez continues to farm, but his main job is managing about 150 employees of the family business, Touch of Care, a home health care service, which operates in ten southwestern Colorado counties. He is also pursuing a master’s degree in health care administration.

His duties on DMEA’s board draw on what he loves most. “What I’ve known about myself since I was a boy is I thrive on hard work. Doesn’t matter if it’s a job, school or learning new things. If you are not constantly challenging yourself, you are not growing, not striving to reach your potential. That’s what we are here for.”

Following are some of Martinez’s observations about becoming a board member.

Biggest surprise: “I had a general idea of what board members did. I didn’t know how much background information you need to make any those decisions. I read everything I can possibly read and know as much as I can before I make any vote.”

What keeps you awake at night? “DMEA has a very aggressive business strategy on many fronts. We are starting a fiber optic service. We are also going through some Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) issues. What keeps me awake is what I am doing at the moment.”

On working with other board members: “What I have that is great is all nine of us on the board have different perspectives because we are individuals with different experiences, talents and expertise. You are accountable to those who elected you and you are also accountable to those other board members.”

On director education and obtaining a CCD: “Those classes were valuable. I am not stopping by any means. But just as valuable is learning from other directors. You talk to someone about an issue — even if they are from another state — and you discover they’ve already solved your problem. They are more than willing to help or send you information.”


Interested in reading more about Millenial Board Members?  Try these articles:

  • The Millennial generation cares about the state of the world and wants to get involved—so why do so few boards have young members? Click here.
  • Ten tips for finding millennials for your board. Click here.