Wynn wins

Published 10:02 am Tuesday, January 24, 2017

FORT LAUDERDALE, FL – Curtis Wynn, CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative, has won a national award for innovation and excellence in communication.

Wynn received the 2017 J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award through the electric cooperative industry’s Spotlight on Excellence Awards program. The award presentation was made Jan. 9 by Jim Matheson, CEO of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), during a leadership conference in Fort Lauderdale.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative CEO Curtis Wynn (right) accepts the J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award from Jim Matheson, CEO of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. | Contributed Photo

Roanoke Electric Cooperative CEO Curtis Wynn (right) accepts the J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award from Jim Matheson, CEO of National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. | Contributed Photo

“Leading an electric cooperative requires commitment to reaching out to all the members, meeting them where they are and urging them to become engaged,” said Matheson to the audience of co-op leaders. “Curtis Wynn is a leader and innovator committed to improving the lives of the people he serves. I applaud Curtis for his contributions to his co-op, to our industry and the larger community – in North Carolina and internationally.”

Under Wynn’s leadership, Roanoke Electric has embraced new technologies to enhance communication and reach more members, while at the same time, leading innovative projects to advance economic development and local opportunity.

“While my name is on the award, I’m quick to make it very clear upfront that if not for the grace of God himself, a supportive board of directors, and a team of dedicated and determined employees I would not be standing before you,” stated Wynn.

Wynn expanded Roanoke Electric’s communications channels to more than 30 to include the cooperative’s blog, e-newsletter, mobile app and various social media platforms. He initiated “Straight Talk” Forums – a series in the co-op’s seven-county region giving Wynn the opportunity for face-to-face dialogue with his member-owners.

One award judge praised Wynn for embracing “numerous platforms to reach the members and share the co-op message.” Another judge noted that “this CEO is ready to engage, both with members and employees.”

Knowing that broadband internet is critical to economic growth, the CEO traveled his northeastern North Carolina service territory speaking with local government officials and school administrators to promote Roanoke EC’s fiber project, “Roanoke Connect,” a 200-mile fiber build-out enabling Roanoke EC to use more state-of-the-art technology to maintain its electrical system. Unused fiber will be available to internet service providers to boost the availability of high-speed internet access in the region.

Like all electric cooperatives, Roanoke Electric is owned and governed by its member-owners. Helping members understand that role is an important part of Wynn’s work.

“Stressing the member-owner connection is so important,” wrote one of the judges. “It’s the heart of what makes the co-op model work.”

In recent years, Roanoke Electric Cooperative has also pioneered an on-bill financing program that enables co-op members to make energy-efficiency upgrades to their homes at no upfront cost.

Under Wynn’s leadership, Roanoke Electric Cooperative was voted area’s best electric company by readers of Roanoke-Chowan News Herald and was named Business of the Month (June 2016) by the Gates County Chamber of Commerce.

Wynn has served as CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative since 1997, and he has represented North Carolina on the NRECA board of directors since 2007.

In 2016 he traveled to Bolivia with the NRECA International Foundation, which works to bring electricity to developing nations.

The J.C. Brown award memorializes the late J.C. Brown, who – as editor and publisher of NRECA’s RE Magazine –is best remembered for his dedication to communication as a vital link connecting electric cooperatives with each other as well as with their consumer-owners.  The panel of five judges consisted of communication and management experts in academia, business and industry, including electric co-ops.

North Carolina’s 26 electric cooperatives serve more than 2.5 million people in 93 of the state’s 100 counties. Each cooperative is private, not-for-profit and governed by a board of directors, which is elected by the membership.

Roanoke Electric Cooperative provides service to more than 14,000 homes and businesses in seven northeastern North Carolina counties.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is 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.