In one of the most notable inaugural speeches given, John F. Kennedy spoke his famous words, “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” His inspiring words urged Americans to take actions that benefited the greater good. In essence, Kennedy was saying our country thrives when we all contribute our talents to the common good.
On a smaller scale, I think the same can be said about electric cooperatives, specifically regarding board members. Board members are community-minded individuals with a variety of skill sets. Cooperative boards across Illinois consist of farmers, educators and business owners, etc. Co-ops rely on their many talents to help make informed decisions on long-term priorities and investments. The directors live right in the co-op’s service areas and are considered the eyes and ears of the community because they provide their perspective on important community issues.
It takes many people with different skills to create a well-rounded board that can represent the full spectrum of the community. That’s why when co-ops seek new directors, they want folks with diverse perspectives, experience, expertise and views – local community members who can apply their unique talents to benefit all their friends and neighbors. Above all else, they’re looking for folks who love the community and want to see it thrive now and in the future.
What does it mean to serve on the board?
Serving on an electric cooperative board means you’re making a difference locally, using your individual talents and perspective to guide big decisions about the co-op that in turn benefit the larger community. While day-to-day decisions are made by co-op staff, major decisions are made by the board, whose mission is to look out for the vitality of the co-op and the community it serves. Board members typically provide input and guidance on:
- co-op goals and direction
- co-op’s community/charitable contributions
- capital investments and upgrades in equipment and technology
- renewable investments and energy mix
- hiring and evaluating the co-op’s CEO
- co-op’s role and involvement in economic development
The energy industry is undergoing a major transition. Technology advancements and increased consumer preference for more renewable energy is driving change. Our co-ops face big decisions, and board members have an opportunity to help chart a course for the future. To best serve the community, they need input from a wide range of people that represent the broad spectrum of views within it.
Opportunity to serve
When your co-op seeks board nominations, consider what you can contribute.
While you don’t need to be an expert in electricity or business to run, you do need to have a passion for the community and a willingness to actively serve and learn. Your co-op looks for individuals who can represent the full gamut of the members they serve. Boards meet on a regular basis and offer specialized training opportunities to help board members make informed decisions. Board members gain a deeper understanding of the electric utility industry, the cooperative business model and local economic development efforts.
Ultimately, the board is the community pulse for the co-op and helps keep it on the right track. If you share the same commitment and want to contribute to the greater good in a tangible way, I hope you’ll consider running for a board position.
Contact your local electric cooperative to learn more about the director election process.