Board President’s Message – December 2020

By the Members, for the Members

Stearns Electric Association is a democratically-controlled business, which means the Cooperative is governed by local people and elected by you, the member-consumers. Our board takes this role of governance seriously. We pride ourselves in leading the Cooperative, and we work hard to make decisions that are in the best interest of our members and our local communities.

The Cooperative’s board consists of nine member-consumers, one to represent each of the Co-op’s nine districts. Every year, in conjunction with the Annual Meeting, Stearns Electric holds an election in three of the nine districts to elect members to the Cooperative’s board. Board members serve three-year terms.


As elected members and representatives, we serve as fiduciaries for the Co-op and are required to make informed decisions that are in the best interest of the Cooperative and our fellow members.

There are many hours of behind the scenes work that our Co-op board completes. Every month, we prepare for our monthly board meetings by reviewing reports compiled from employees from every Cooperative department and the Cooperative’s legal counsel.

Industry knowledge is extremely important to be effective. We are all encouraged to participate in training programs offered by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) to better understand how boards operate, and how to make strong financial and strategic planning decisions.

Additionally, we undertake special projects annually. For example, over the last year, we have worked to approve the Cooperative’s budget, review the articles of incorporation and bylaws, update a portion of the Cooperative’s policies and procedures, examine the long-term equity management plan and more.

We are responsible for setting the policies and guidelines for Cooperative management and advocating for our fellow members in Cooperative operations. Therefore, it is important that we continue to do our part to meet the needs of our members.


In 2020, the members elected to adopt our recommended changes to the Cooperative’s Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws, which adjusted the way Stearns Electric facilitates the annual director nominations process. Additionally, the members voted to remove term limits for directors. With these changes, our board decided that in order to continue serving the Cooperative and our fellow members most effectively, we wanted to implement an annual self and peer review process.

This director-led initiative, which is facilitated by Great River Energy, will allow us to understand our personal strengths and weaknesses when it comes to our responsibilities as directors. The peer review process will also help us clarify our expectations and responsibilities as directors, and identify opportunities for additional training and education that would be necessary or helpful.

The project development process began in September when we brainstormed the reasons and purpose for the peer review process and outlined our board’s top requirements for serving our members. Once the basis was established, we drafted and approved peer review questions. In December, we will complete the assessment and in early 2021, we will analyze the results and take any action as needed.

The anonymous self and peer assessment will collect feedback from each director and allow us to rate ourselves and each other on important board functions such as decision making, industry knowledge, member relations, meeting preparation and participation, and strategic thinking.

We are committed to serving Stearns Electric and our fellow members to the best of our abilities. Our current board is very strong and works well together, but we can always do better. Our new peer review process will help us improve both individually and as an overall board. It will assist us in leading the Cooperative and representing you, our member-consumers, now and into the future.


Randy Rothstein
Board President