Rural Missouri Magazine

Building better boards

by Barry Hart

by Barry Hart

At most electric cooperatives, the only qualification for being a director is to be a member in good standing. The bylaws don’t say directors have to be an expert on the complexities of power supply, or know anything at all about financing, environmental issues, workers compensation, the cooperative movement or setting electricity rates.

Yet these issues and many, many more are all part of the electric cooperative director’s job. At any given board meeting, your directors find themselves faced with a bewildering array of challenges the typical rural person would never be expected to comprehend.

Fortunately electric cooperatives do not exist in a vacuum. From the early days they understood that to survive in a difficult business climate they had to cooperate. By pooling their meager resources the cooperatives established the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

Both organizations work with local systems to provide training and other resources so that directors can learn the many skills required of them to be quality directors.

I’m proud to report Missouri’s directors take their job of overseeing these multi-million dollar businesses seriously. In 2005 our national association decided to honor the states with the most directors achieving Credentialed Cooper-ative Director status. This distinction comes only after completing a lengthy and difficult set of director training courses.

Missouri not only led its region in the number of certified directors, it was also the top state in the nation. It was a proud day when Carl Lowrance, a director from Laclede Electric in Lebanon and president of the statewide association, accepted the honor on behalf of Missouri’s directors.

With their director certifications in hand, many of these directors wasted no time in working on a new distinction. In time they can receive the Board Leadership certificate.

Being a director is not an easy job. The issues these men and women must deal with require putting their own best interests aside and acting instead for the greater good of the entire membership. Electric cooperative directors get the unwelcome job of, on occasion, raising their own rates. What other business has directors who do this? There are times when their own business suffers because of more pressing duties at the cooperative.

This summer as you attend your electric cooperative’s annual meeting, take a moment to thank the directors who represent you on the board. They are a tremendous bunch of leaders who carry out their heavy responsibilities because they know they are representing their friends and neighbors who elect them.

Affordable and reliable electricity and high customer satisfaction ratings in rural Missouri are good indicators that your directors are dedicated and their commitment is paying off.

Hart is executive vice president of the Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives.

E-mail Barry Hart


Rural Missouri | June 2020 Issue

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Association of Missouri Electric Cooperatives

Rural Missouri
2722 E. McCarty Street
P.O. Box 1645 • Jefferson City, Mo. 65102

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