Jim Matheson, Chief Executive Officer
Jim Matheson is chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states. Jim joined NRECA in July 2016 following distinguished careers in both the public and private sectors
Prior to joining NRECA, Jim served as principal, public policy practice for the international law firm Squire Patton Boggs based in Washington, D.C.
From 2001 to 2015, Jim was elected to serve as a U.S. Representative from Utah for seven terms. During his tenure on Capitol Hill, Jim was known as a legislator who was able to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle.
He was chief deputy whip for the House Democratic Caucus and served as co-chairman of the Blue Dog Coalition. Jim also was a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, as well as the Financial Services, Transportation and Infrastructure, and Science Committees.
Prior to entering government service, Jim worked in the energy industry for several years.
Jim was born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Government from Harvard University and an MBA in Finance and Accounting from UCLA. Jim’s wife, Amy, is a pediatrician, and they have two sons, William and Harris.
Jeffrey Connor serves as NRECA’s chief operating officer. With a background in public policy, communication, politics and coalition building, he brings 14 years of experience on Capitol Hill to NRECA.
In Congress, Jeffrey served as communications director and chief of staff to U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) from 2003 to 2013, when he joined NRECA. Previously, he worked as communications director for U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.).
Jeffrey was also an associate staff member of the House Committee on Appropriations, where he guided the work of the Subcommittee on Financial Services for Chairwoman Emerson following the 2008 U.S. financial crisis. He also helped expand the reach of several non-partisan policy caucuses in the U.S. House of Representatives.
He is a native Nebraskan and a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. Jeffrey resides in Northern Virginia with his wife, Emily, and their two children.
Martin Lowery is NRECA’s executive vice president for member and association. Martin ensures that the association excels in serving the needs of its 1,000 members and helps to direct the implementation of the NRECA’s strategic plan.
Prior to being named executive vice president, Martin was manager of NRECA’s Consulting, Training and Market Research Division. Previous experience includes five years as manager of the Engineering and Technical Services Division for a Washington-based management consulting firm.
In May 2014, Martin was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed on those who have made major contributions to the cooperative community.
Martin serves on the boards of the National Cooperative Business Association, the National Cooperative Bank and the Consumer Federation of America. He was elected in 2013 as the U.S. representative to the board of the International Cooperative Alliance.
Martin has a B.A. from DePaul University and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University.
Peter Baxter is senior vice president of insurance and financial services. He has overall responsibility for the multiple-employer defined benefit, defined contribution and health and wellness programs offered to member cooperatives representing more than $12 billion in qualified plan assets. Peter has more than 30 years of experience in the employee benefits, group insurance and financial services industries.
Prior to joining NRECA, he held a variety of leadership positions in not-for-profit, privately held and public firms, including Mutual of America Life Insurance Company, Financial Institutions Retirement Fund, American Century Investments and EDS. He has also worked for leading employee benefit consulting firms Buck Consultants and Towers Perrin. At these firms, Peter’s responsibilities included executive leadership, market strategy, product design and development, administrative operations, vendor management and service delivery. He also has extensive experience in the use of technology and industry best practices to enhance business processes, customer service and program administration.
Peter is a graduate of the University of Arizona in Tucson. He is a member of the Board of Trustees of the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) and the Policy Advisory Board of the American Benefits Council (ABC) in Washington, D.C.
Kirk Johnson is senior vice president of government relations. He is responsible for formulating legislative and regulatory positions on issues important to cooperatives and developing and implementing strategies to advocate those positions before Congress and federal agencies.
Prior to joining NRECA in 2001, Kirk worked for U.S. Senator Kent Conrad for nine years, serving as the senator’s energy, environment, and natural resources advisor. Kirk has spent more than two decades working on energy and environmental issues in Washington, D.C.
In 2000, Kirk received the Lignite Energy Council’s “Public Service Award” for his efforts on behalf of energy development in his home state of North Dakota. That same year, Kirk was named a “Commodore” in North Dakota’s Mythical Navy by former Governor Ed Schafer (R-N.D.) for his work to develop North Dakota’s water resources and protect its communities from flooding.
Kirk received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and attended graduate school at the University of Minnesota. He is married to Janet Woodka and is an avid golfer who also loves fishing, sailing, traveling, and playing with the family dogs, Dakota and Gumbo.
Steven Kaszynski is CEO of Homestead Funds Inc. and RE Advisers Corporation. He has broad responsibility for shaping the strategic vision and directing the business activities of the NRECA-created mutual fund company, Homestead Funds, and its related money management entity, RE Advisers.
He is an industry veteran with more than 35 years in the asset management business.
Prior to joining RE Advisers, Steve held senior portfolio management and management roles at Eaton Vance, Credit Suisse Asset Management as head of U.S. equities, and INVESCO Capital Management where he was lead portfolio manager for value equities. He was also a co-founder and principal of D.A. Capital Management LLC.
He is a graduate of Knox College, where he received a Bachelor’s degree in Economics with honors. Steve received his MBA in Finance from the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Throughout his education and career, Steve has been fortunate to live and work in many different regions of the U.S., and rural electric co-ops have been part of his family’s experience and history.
Veneicia Lockhart is senior vice president of finance at NRECA. She leads the development and implementation of sound fiscal policies and procedures to ensure accurate financial reporting and the safeguarding of NRECA assets. She oversees the financial reporting, analysis, forecasting, treasury, accounting , strategic sourcing, and procurement operations for NRECA, its wholly owned subsidiaries, affiliated nonprofit entities and the three multiple-employer plans for which NRECA is both the plan sponsor and administrator.
Prior to assuming her current position in 2006, Veneicia was the director of finance and administration for NRECA International for nine years. Her responsibilities included overseeing the International’s financial reporting; home and field office accounting operations; domestic and foreign tax compliance; and government grant and contract administration and compliance.
Before joining NRECA, Veneicia was the director of internal audit at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, D.C. She also has 10 years of public accounting experience.
Veneicia has a B.S. in business administration with a concentration in accounting from Concord University in Athens, West Virginia. She is a certified Public Accountant and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.
Mary McLaury is the chief operating officer of Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, the national branding alliance of the nation’s electric cooperatives. She has more than 30 years of experience working for electric cooperatives in communications, education, marketing and economic development.
She was previously the vice president of Education & Training for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Before joining NRECA in 2001 as the director of communications for Touchstone Energy, Mary was the director of communications for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives and the director of economic development for Corn Belt Power Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative in north central Iowa. Mary also headed up the Iowa Marketing Group and worked for a cooperative economic development organization called the Iowa Area Development Group. She is a former president of the National Rural Economic Developers Association and a former board member of the Cooperative Development Foundation.
An Iowa native, Mary is a graduate of Iowa State University with a Bachelor’s of Science in Communications. She is an avid traveler, reader and theatre fan and dabbles in both golf and tennis.
As NRECA’s chief legal officer, Rich Meyer manages a 44-person staff focused on the legal aspects of all association business, governance, compliance, risk management and internal audit functions, related litigation, and management of outside law firms. He has been with NRECA since 1998.
From 1988 to 1997, Rich was regulatory and corporate counsel for the Dallas-based energy subsidiaries of USX Corporation. From 1979-1988, he was as an attorney at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where he served as senior legal adviser to two consecutive FERC chairmen. He is past president of the Energy Bar Association, the Bar Association’s charitable foundation, and the Foundation of the Energy Law Journal. He is the first person to serve as president of all three organizations, and currently serves on the Bar Association’s board and several board committees.
Rich has an LL.M from George Washington University, a J.D. from St. Mary’s University and a B.A. from New York University. He is certified as a commercial mediator by George Mason University’s Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution.
Rich resides in Manassas, Virginia, with his wife, Ann. He has two sons and two granddaughters.
In her role as vice president of administration, Mary Pat Paris heads up building operations, meeting and event planning and membership. She has more than 30 years of experience in a variety of trade associations and professional societies.
Mary Pat led NRECA’s membership department for nine years before leaving to become the CEO of the International Registration Plan, a non-profit that supports the trucking industry. In 2013, she returned to NRECA to head up the Membership Department and soon assumed the duties of building operations and meeting & event planning. In addition, Mary Pat supports NRECA’s Member Engagement and Service Excellence strategic initiatives.
Mary Pat is a graduate of Washington Adventist University with a degree in organizational development and is a member of the American Society of Association Executives.
As senior vice president of communications, Scott Peterson is responsible for the overall direction of NRECA’s public relations and branding, national media outreach, publications, audio visual, annual and regional meetings and special services.
Before joining NRECA, Scott was senior vice president for communications at the Nuclear Energy Institute and part of its executive leadership team from 2001-2016. He led the development of the industry’s communications and advocacy strategy, significantly improving the perception of nuclear energy among federal and state policymakers and opinion leaders.
In 2011, Scott directed an award-winning rapid response and sustained crisis communication strategy after the reactor accident in Fukushima, Japan. NEI received the Global SABRE Award for best global association public relations campaign and the Public Relations Society of America’s Silver Anvil for best crisis communications strategy in recognition of this work.
Before NEI, Scott was the communications manager at the American Nuclear Energy Council and handled media relations at Illinois Power. He also was a journalist for seven years at newspapers in three states.
Scott has a B.A. in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed the Reactor Technology Program for Utility Executives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Michele Rinn is NRECA’s senior vice president of human resources. She leads the development and implementation of talent management and rewards programs to ensure NRECA attracts, develops and retains top talent to achieve the association’s strategic priorities and serve the nation’s electric cooperatives. Those responsibilities include recruitment, training and development, employee relations, compensation and benefits, and member workforce programs.
Michele has more than 25 years of experience in human resources and started her career at the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation (CFC). Prior to joining NRECA, Michele has led human resources departments at several national trade associations and professional societies. She also has headed other corporate services functions, including IT, facilities, creative services and general membership.
Michele has a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and an MBA from Marymount University. She has earned professional certifications from the Society for Human Resources and the American Society of Association Executives and is a Senior Professional in Human Resources.
Monica Schmidt leads NRECA’s National Consulting Group in delivering value to our membership in the areas of governance, strategic planning, utilities management, executive search, safety and human resources.
Monica has more than 20 years of broad-based strategic leadership experience in the electric utility industry, specializing in corporate and non-profit governance and the emerging trends likely to impact cooperatives.
Monica has worked extensively with cooperative boards and officers and has comprehensive knowledge of the governance issues facing both distribution and G&T cooperatives. She has trained under John and Miriam Carver at the Policy Governance Academy and holds a certificate in Corporate Governance from Tulane University Law School. She is a member of the International Policy Governance Association, BoardSource and the National Association of Corporate Directors.
Monica earned her M.S. from the University of Baltimore and her B.S. from Towson State University.
For more than 25 years, Jim Spiers’ energy sector experience has spanned operations, planning, rate setting, regulation, restructuring, technology and business strategy.
Before joining NRECA in 2014 as vice president of technology, engineering and economic analysis, Jim served as senior vice president of business strategy and chief technology officer at Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. He directed high-profile research initiatives: carbon dioxide mitigation through inducement prize development (XPRIZE); development of an R&D test center at a coal-fired power facility; and formation of an international network of researchers focused on converting carbon emissions into an asset.
Prior to his tenure at Tri-State, Jim was an independent energy consultant. From 1986 to 1991, he was director of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. He has a law degree from the University of Colorado School of Law and a B.A. from Mesa College in Grand Junction, Colorado.
Tom Stangroom is NRECA’s senior vice president and chief information officer. He has overall responsibility for the association’s information technology department, which plays a strategic role in enabling NRECA to fulfill its mission of delivering programs for member cooperatives. Tom has more than 35 years of experience in information technology and joined NRECA in 1997.
Prior to joining NRECA, Tom held a variety of leadership positions in the not-for-profit and public sector, including the American Red Cross, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).
Tom earned a B.S. degree in Information Systems and Operations Management from the George Mason University School of Business. In 2009, the school recognized Tom as one of 30 distinguished alumni over the past 30 years for their professional experiences and contributions to community.
Tom received national recognition in 2005 as a Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leader, and in 2008 the IT Department received the CIO 100 Innovation Award for IT innovation driving business value.
For 14 years, NRECA has been nationally ranked by Computerworld as one the “100 Best Places to Work in IT.”
Tracey Steiner is NRECA’s senior vice president of education and training. She oversees the development of the association’s annual and regional meetings, national conferences, board of directors training, executive and staff-level education, and credentialing programs.
Before assuming her current position in March 2012, Tracey served as one of NRECA’s senior attorneys in the government relations department for 15 years. She assisted electric cooperatives with matters related to general cooperative law; corporate governance; intellectual property; federal marketing and consumer protection; federal telecommunications policy; data privacy and security; records management practices; and e-commerce. She also served as a writer and editor for NRECA’s monthly Legal Reporting Service and as a frequent instructor at NRECA conferences. Before and while earning her law degree, Tracey worked in communications and marketing roles for NRECA.
Prior to coming to NRECA in 1992, Tracey worked for the principal of a small economic consulting firm in Washington, D.C.
She earned a B.S. in Journalism from the University of Maryland and her J.D. from George Washington University. She is a member of the Maryland State Bar, American Bar Association, and the American Society of Association Executives.
Dan Waddle is senior vice president of NRECA International, the NRECA affiliate that promotes cooperative development and designs programs that offer access to modern electric service in developing countries. He directs programs in Latin America, sub-Saharan Africa and Central and South Asia. The programs focus on low-cost electric service expansion through establishing and strengthening rural electric utilities using conventional and off-grid solutions.
With more than 30 years of experience, Dan is an expert in electric power supply and demand-side efficiency and in the design and implementation of renewable energy projects. He has hands-on experience in designing small and micro-hydro projects; biomass combustion and gasification for power applications; solar photovoltaic applications; and wind-diesel hybrid projects. He has managed numerous projects for the U.S. Agency for International Development; U.S. Dept. of Energy; the World Bank, Inter-American Development Bank and Asian Development Bank.
Dan has a B.S. and M.S. in agricultural engineering and a Ph.D., from Texas A&M University.