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Cooperating

You’ve heard the old expression “Behind every good man there’s a good woman”? Maybe we ought to change it to “Behind every good woman there might be a good man, if we are so fortunate.”

Better yet, in either case, how about “alongside” instead of “behind”?

During the last days of March, with the jonquils of spring breaking out all over, I was invited to give a talk to the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives Secretaries and Administrative Professionals Association. Hadn’t heard about these folks? I hadn’t. But I’ll tell you this, I was impressed.

And after I arrived back on Plum Lick, I had a conversation with self. I said, “Self, shouldn’t I change my title as president of Plum Lick Publishing to vice president? I’d make the current vice president (my ‘alongside’ wife) the new president.”

Know what she said? “Only if you will do all the work of the current vice president.”

I got her drift.

In the 26 electric cooperatives, there are 26 CEOs (including two females) and a whole host of men and women working alongside for common good.

Gender is not an issue, although some user-owners of electric cooperatives may debate this assertion. (How come no female Presidents of the United States? How come only one female Governor of the Commonwealth of Kentucky?)

Well now, we’ll move on from here.

There are groups of accountants, engineering and operations, material management, member services, and human resources—men and women with their own associations working cooperatively together to bring electricity to homes and companies who might otherwise be on the disadvantaged end of things.

The purpose of these groups is to give recognition and cohesion to relatively unsung employees. I picked up the telephone and talked with some of the administrative assistants.

Kenergy Corp. Executive Assistant Debbie Hayden, immediate past president of the executive assistants group, knows the ins and outs of stick-to-itiveness.

“I’ve spent 21 years” in the electric cooperative industry.

“What is the importance of the Secretaries and Administrative Professionals Association?”

“It’s important because it’s an opportunity to network with other assistants and all associations—human relations, accounting, and purchasing.”

My next call was to Administrative Assistant Kathy Brown of Salt River Electric Cooperative: “What is the importance of the Association of Secretaries and Administrative Assistants?”

“Getting to know colleagues and keeping up relationships. Sharing answers to problems. Working with vice presidents for operations, vice presidents for community and economic development, vice presidents for safety and training.”

Next call to Executive Secretary Assistant Allison Coffey of Nolin RECC:

“I try to keep everything organized, get messages to the right person. I’m happy to help out and move forward.”

Grayson RECC’s Executive Assistant Bonita Gearhart says their group provides “a great program for sharing a wealth of information.”

Executive Assistant Carmen Spurlin at Pennyrile Electric is the newly elected president of the association of executive assistants.

“How many years have you served at Pennyrile?”

“A total of 25 at Pennyrile, eight years as executive assistant. I assist the CEO, I’m his right hand in day-to-day operations. I interact with board members and get to know them better. It’s an opportunity to learn about the business. There are a lot of women in management with a lot to contribute. I love my job and what I do. I’m thankful every day I have a job.”

This might illustrate an important point in a time of economic doldrums. There’s work to be had, but it demands preparation and a healthy dose of patience.

Hats off to all those men and women who work together!

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