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National Award Presented To BREMCO’s CEO

Jo Ann Emerson, right, chief executive officer of NRECA, presents the national CEO Communication Leadership Award to Doug Johnson, CEO of Blue Ridge Electric.
Jo Ann Emerson, right, chief executive officer of NRECA, presents the national CEO Communication Leadership Award to Doug Johnson, CEO of Blue Ridge Electric.

Jan. 12, 2015. Doug Johnson, chief executive officer of Blue Ridge Electric Membership Corporation, was awarded the 2015 J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award through the electric cooperative industry’s Spotlight on Excellence Awards program.

Johnson was honored today during CEO Close-Up, a leadership conference for chief executives in the electric cooperative industry held by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). The award, presented by NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson, recognizes an electric co-op CEO who advances communication in the electric cooperative industry.

Emerson noted that “Doug Johnson has turned Blue Ridge Electric into one of the top co-ops in the country with strong member satisfaction through a well-planned and executed communication plan.  Blue Ridge Electric now ranks in the top one percent of all electric utilities for customer satisfaction and electric service reliability. I commend Doug for his commitment to communication and his energy and willingness to take risks in the service of accountability to the co-op members,” commented Emerson.

Johnson, who has been at Blue Ridge Electric for more than two decades, adopted a Balanced Scorecard approach, which is a strategic planning and management system that is used extensively worldwide to align business activities to the vision and strategy of the organization.

“We can gauge the health of democratically governed co-ops by how many member-owners vote in board elections, and by this measure Blue Ridge Electric, under Doug’s leadership, is very, very healthy,” she added.  Under Johnson’s leadership, he increased member participation from 800 to 7,000 by changing the election process at his co-op’s annual meeting to include mail-in and online ballots.

As one judge summarized Johnson’s approach, “the cooperative principles shine brightly at this cooperative.  He has a “very organized system of strategic planning happening at this cooperative, with targeted approaches to key groups.”  In addition, in its home state of North Carolina, Blue Ridge Electric was named one of the top “Best Employers in N.C.” by Business North Carolina.

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.

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.

Blue Ridge Electric serves some 74,000 members in the northwest North Carolina counties of Caldwell, Watauga, Ashe, Alleghany, Avery, Wilkes and Alexander counties. Learn more at www.BlueRidgeEMC.com.