Time for a Change
During my career with electric cooperatives, one of my roles has been to lead generational change in our workforce. We began by describing the differences between the Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials and the vastly different life experience of each group. Baby Boomers, of which I am one, were much younger then, and many traditionalists were still in the workforce.
Our efforts raised the level of understanding among all generations converging in the workplace so they could better tolerate what was thought to be laziness, lack of dedication, or just plain antiquated practices. At first, the changing of generations was slow, but steady. Recently it’s been a mass exodus of the old guard and entrance of new Gen X leadership and energetic millennials challenging the status quo.
Now, I am that “Boomer” that is retiring. By the time you read this commentary I will be sitting on my deck watching the song birds enjoy their favorite seeds in my feeders. And at the right time of day a young fawn will sneak up and have a few licks as well.
Indeed I will miss all of my friends in the electric cooperative family and the notes, emails and phone calls from readers of this column. I will still be following the electric co-op legislative issues and industry innovations—some things you just can’t get out of your head. I will also still be a member of the electric co-op family at my local co-op in Iowa, Butler County REC. But there comes a time in life when it’s time to pass the leadership torch onto another.
WECA Board Chairman Robert Gadwill announced in June that Stephen Freese of Dodgeville has been selected as the new Wisconsin Electric Cooperative Association (WECA) statewide manager and Cooperative Network vice president. The appointment took effect July 1 and after a brief overlap I will be stepping aside. I hope you will enjoy getting to know Steve as much as I have.
Freese served most recently as chief administrative officer of the Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation. Before holding that position, he was executive director of the Circus World Museum Foundation. Prior to his museum foundation tenure, Freese served 16 years in the Wisconsin Legislature representing an Iowa County-based Assembly District. He was Speaker Pro Tempore of the Assembly from 1995 through 2006.
“Steve brings with him the cooperative management skills and extensive legislative experience required for his leadership position with WECA and Cooperative Network,” Gadwill said. “The WECA Board of Directors looks forward to working with Steve in supporting the rural electric cooperatives of Wisconsin.”
You can look forward to learning more about Steve in the next issues of the Wisconsin Energy Cooperative News. Who knows, he may even have a circus story or two!