Senior Leaders

NRECA's leadership team

Jim Matheson, Chief Executive Officer

NRECA staff portraits -- NRECA's newly announced CEO Jim Matheson outside the NRECA headquarters building in Arlington, Va., June 13, 2016.

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

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.

Jana Adams

As executive director of Touchstone Energy ® Cooperatives, Jana Adams focuses on providing strategic leadership and enhancing brand equity for the organization. Jana is dedicated to building upon the brand’s strong relationships with the more than 700 cooperative members to promote and expand the Best in Class service that their consumer-members expect.
With more than 20 years of nonprofit management experience, Jana has led membership, marketing and conference development for associations representing wind energy, cosmetics, and public power utilities as well as serving on the communications staff at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Jana is a graduate of Clemson University with a bachelor’s degree in international trade and George Mason University with a Master of Public Administration concentrating on nonprofit management.

Peter BaxterPeter 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 $20 billion in qualified plan assets and covering over 100,000 employees and their dependents across the country. Peter has more than 35 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 Co., 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 Executive and Policy Advisory Boards of the American Benefits Council (ABC) in Washington, D.C. He is also president of the Electric Cooperative Life Insurance Co. (ELCO), Cooperative Benefit Administrators Inc. (CBA) and Cooperating Insurance Services Inc. (CIS).

Louis FinkelLouis Finkel is NRECA’s senior vice president of government relations. He leads the association’s advocacy and public policy programs, including legislative and regulatory affairs, grassroots mobilization and political engagement.

Louis has more than 25 years of experience in policy and public affairs strategy in government and in the private sector. Before joining NRECA, he held leadership roles in government and public affairs as an executive at CVS Health Corporation, the American Petroleum Institute and the Grocery Manufacturers Association. He also has represented corporate and not-for-profit interests in Congress and executive branch agencies as a government relations consultant.

Louis served as chief of staff for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Technology and as legislative director to former Rep. Bart Gordon. D-Tenn.

He is a graduate of The George Washington University and lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Stacey, and their two sons.

Veneicia LockhartVeneicia 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.

Wayne McGurkWayne F. McGurk serves as NRECA’s chief information officer and senior vice president of information technology. As NRECA’s CIO, he is responsible for shaping the association’s technology vision and leadership as he oversees NRECA’s enterprise-wide information technology program.

Before joining NRECA, McGurk was executive vice president and CIO at MoneyGram International. Prior to MoneyGram, McGurk held various IT leadership and management roles in global retail, software, financial services and IT consulting companies. He has more than 15 years of IT experience and is a graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point with a bachelor of science in engineering.

Rich MeyerRich Meyer is NRECA’s chief legal officer, responsible for all legal aspects of association business, governance, compliance, risk management, internal audit, and court litigation, and administration of the 800-member Electric Cooperative Bar Association. He has been with NRECA since 1998.

While at NRECA, Rich has also served as president of the nation’s 2,500-member Energy Bar Association; president of the Charitable Foundation of the Energy Bar Association, which makes energy-related grants worldwide; and president of the Foundation of the Energy Law Journal, which has been cited by state and federal courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.

From 1988 to 1997, Rich was regulatory and corporate counsel for 10 energy subsidiaries of USX, a Fortune 50 company. From 1979 to 1988, he was as an attorney at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where he served as senior legal adviser to two FERC chairmen and a member of the FERC Enforcement team that successfully obtained the first felony and misdemeanor convictions for criminal violations of statutes under FERC jurisdiction.

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 is board president of the Manassas Ballet Theater.

Mary Pat ParisIn 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 business development. 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.

Dan WaddleAs 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 to 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.

Mark Santero is President and CEO of NRECA’s investment management subsidiary, RE Advisers. He also was elected CEO of Homestead Funds, the mutual fund company created by NRECA, by the investment vehicle’s board of directors.

Santero brings more than 30 years of experience in investment management to RE Advisers. Most recently, he was the CEO at Dreyfus Corporation, a subsidiary of BNY Mellon Investment Management. He was Chief Operating Officer of BNY, where he oversaw the legal, administration and technology departments and a staff of more than 500 professionals in intermediary sales, institutional sales, operations and investments.

He also served as Head of Distribution Operations at OppenheimerFunds, where he was responsible for strategic planning and budgeting, client service, sales operations, distribution technology, event planning and sales data science capabilities. Before that, he oversaw the Global Investment Division of Ivy Asset Management.

In her role as Chief Risk and Compliance Officer, Danielle Sieverling currently oversees compliance for both the Homestead Funds, Inc. (a registered investment management company), and for the multiple-employer retirement, health, and welfare programs that the Association offers to member cooperatives. Additionally, she is responsible for leading the Association’s risk management strategy.

Danielle has more than 20 years of experience in the areas of audit, risk management and compliance. She is an ASPPA Qualified 401(k) Administrator (QKA) and an NRS Investment Adviser Certified Compliance Professional® (IACCP). She holds the FINRA Series 6, 26, and 63 securities licenses.

Before joining NRECA in 2000, Danielle served as Assistant Vice President and Risk Officer at State Street Bank in Kansas City, focusing on mutual fund and insurance clients. During her tenure at the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, she was responsible for training and developing the audit programs for state insurance departments. Danielle received her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Kansas State University and her Master of Business Administration with an emphasis in Finance from Rockhurst University.​

Jim SpiersFor 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 rate and resource planning, forecasting and modeling tool development, information technologies and enterprise risk management and research initiatives, including 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.

Tracey SteinerTracey 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 WaddleDan 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.