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Kentucky Living honored for forthright mission 

“It’s not acceptable to say we didn’t see this coming.” 

Delivering a blunt assessment of America’s looming electric reliability crisis, Jim Matheson, chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, implored electric cooperative leaders to challenge the public policy decisions that are creating the problem. 

“It’s a simple test, but a good one for any policy coming out of Washington. We ask, ‘If we do this, will the lights stay on?’ And if the answer is no, then do we really want to do it?” Matheson said to thousands of co-op leaders from across the country, including more than 100 from Kentucky, meeting last month in San Antonio. 

“We’re the only ones with the political courage to ask this one tough question and answer it honestly,” Matheson continued. “We’re the only ones taking it to the Hill and the administration and the media. We’re the only ones sticking up for the people who pay the bills, our members, our owners who expect us to perform this simple but incredibly important job for them.” 

The need to clearly and honestly communicate the facts of such challenges underscored Matheson’s comments when he presented Kentucky Living Editor Shannon Brock with the 2023 George W. Haggard Memorial Journalism Award, the NRECA’s top honor for electric cooperative publications. 

Kentucky Living has for many years put a strong emphasis on the principals that the Haggard celebrates: forthrightness, clarity and balance in advancing the objectives of electric co-ops,” Matheson said. “The team raised the bar in 2023, producing a magazine that is not only visually stunning and personally relevant to readers, but that also takes on complex and sometimes controversial topics, is not afraid to share different ideas and viewpoints, and makes the most important issues in our industry today both accessible and understandable.” 

Brock accepted the award on behalf of the Kentucky Electric Cooperatives communications staff. 

“Our team knows its primary responsibility is not to make a magazine, but to serve our co-ops,” Brock says. “We strive to provide tools and resources that help co-ops effectively communicate with their members. That said, we believe one of the best tools co-ops can use to reach their members is Kentucky Living. Our readers enjoy the magazine, spend a lot of time with it each month and feel more connected to their cooperative because of it. We prioritize telling the co-op story, and we are thankful our member co-ops trust us to do it well.” 

“Receiving the Haggard Award and being recognized among our peer publications is a tremendous honor, and I am incredibly grateful.” 

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