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Editorial: August 2016

Continuing the legacy of NDAREC



Josh Kramer, NDAREC executive vice president and general manager
Josh Kramer

You may have noticed something different about this editorial. After 30 years of writing this editorial and managing this organization, Dennis Hill has retired. Please join me in thanking Dennis for his many years of dedication to the cooperative family. I, like many of you, have appreciated the leadership Dennis has provided to the electric industry, cooperatives, the members we serve and his contributions to rural America — as well as the mentorship and knowledge he so willingly shared with the next generation of co-op leaders.

On July 1, I assumed the role of executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives (NDAREC).

I have a profound respect and admiration for this organization, its history, its impact, and the leadership it has provided through some of the most consequential times that our members and rural people have faced. To me, NDAREC has been on the right side of the issues that are most important.

Throughout my career, I have been able to advocate on behalf of agriculture, serve in the military, and work for a trade association dedicated to farmers, ranchers and cooperatives. Most recently, I served in a leadership role with USDA Rural Development, an organization dedicated to improving the quality of life in rural America.

The importance of cooperatives, their principles and the RECs are in my DNA. I grew up on a dairy farm in Emmons County, served by KEM Electric Cooperative and BEK Communications Cooperative. I have many memories of tagging along to annual meetings with my grandparents and learning about the value of our cooperatives. Today, my wife, Sarah, and our five children live north of Bismarck, and Capital Electric Cooperative serves our family. 

It was my experience with cooperatives that inspired me to pursue a career dedicated to service, and I plan to continue that commitment with the RECs. NDAREC and our member-cooperatives work every day to provide services and bring economic opportunities to our members, which is important to the continued success of our state. 

There have been and will be changes within our cooperatives. The people are changing, technology is changing, and our members and their needs are also changing. Yet, cooperatives are best positioned to meet the changes, challenges and opportunities of the future. 

I received some great advice from a friend as I began this new role. He said being successful with cooperatives is simple. “Keep grounded in the cooperative values, live the cooperative principles, and listen and be transparent with the membership … and you will be just fine.” Well folks, that is exactly what we, at NDAREC, intend to do — and that is our commitment to you, the member. 

Josh Kramer, editor-in-chief of North Dakota Living, is executive vice president and general manager of the North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. Comments can be mailed to Josh Kramer, NDAREC, P.O. Box 727, Mandan, ND 58554-0727 or by email