NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Mel Coleman, CEO of North Arkansas Electric Cooperative, Inc., and Mike Guidry, former CEO of South Louisiana Electric Cooperative Association, today received the Clyde T. Ellis Award, the highest honor given to an individual by America’s electric cooperatives. The award was presented by Phil Carson, president of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and Tri-County Electric Cooperative director, during the NRECA annual meeting.
“As past NRECA presidents, Mel and Mike helped lead our association with distinction,” Carson said. “They remain two of our industry’s top leaders, and it is a great privilege to work alongside them. I’m honored to have this opportunity to thank them for their many years of outstanding service to the cooperative family.”
Coleman has served at North Arkansas Electric Cooperative since 1988. He has been an NRECA director since 2004 and served as president from 2015-2016. His cooperative regularly leverages their annual meeting to engage with thousands of co-op members. During his tenure as NRECA president, the association’s CEO suffered an unexpected medical emergency. Coleman provided significant leadership during the vacancy, by spearheading the replacement search effort, and guiding the new CEO’s transition.
“I couldn’t be more pleased to accept this award from my exceptional colleagues on NRECA’s board,” Coleman said. “As not-for-profit businesses, electric cooperatives are driven by a desire to exceed their member expectations. I look forward to watching that focus continue to shape the electric cooperative movement in the coming decades.”
Guidry was Louisiana’s representative to the NRECA board for 14 years and served as president from 2011-2012. He worked to reinvent and streamline NRECA’s resolutions process in response to conversations with co-op leaders across the country. His efforts helped the association become a more member-driven organization, with ongoing participation by the membership. His devotion to electric cooperatives dates back to the beginning of his cooperative career in 1978, with service spanning 34 years as a staff member, CEO and board member.
“It is an honor to have played a small part in shaping the electric cooperative movement over the past three decades,” Guidry said. “The co-op movement is driven by a grassroots, member-first focus. As the 21st century energy industry evolves, I’m excited to watch the next generation of leaders guide co-ops to power local economies and lead the energy future.”
The Clyde T. Ellis Award memorializes NRECA’s first general manager. NRECA’s board of directors confers the award to honor individuals for exemplary contributions that promote the principles and progress of rural electrification and the development and use of national resources.
More than 6,000 representatives from electric co-ops across the nation are attending NRECA’s annual meeting, which runs from Feb. 25-28 in Nashville and sets NRECA’s organizational and legislative agenda for 2018. Co-op representatives also hear from NRECA officials, key public figures and business experts about issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer members. The annual meeting is held in conjunction with TechAdvantage, a technology learning event and expo that features more than 300 exhibitors showcasing their state-of-the-art technologies, equipment and services.
The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states.