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“Find something you believe in and enjoy and give everything you have to it. Find your calling. Be dependable; your drive, determination and commitment will pay off.” – Jennifer Meason


From Part-time Help to CEO


Jennifer Meason was born and raised in Lawton, Oklahoma. She gradu- ated from MacArthur High School where she played tennis and was active in band and fl ag corps. She received academic scholarships to attend college at Cameron University, where she earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree with an emphasis in marketing and a minor in public relations. During her senior year at Cameron, Meason learned about a part- time job at Cotton Electric Cooperative based in Walters, Oklahoma. The job entailed working on classifi eds and display advertisements for the co- op’s monthly newspaper, The Current. Meason started working at the co-op part time in October 1999. As she approached graduation in May of 2000, she had already had a few job interviews, but Cotton Electric offered her a full-time position as marketing representative. She graduated on a Saturday and on Monday went to work for Cotton Electric. In 2001, Meason went back to school to pursue a Master of Arts degree in communications from the University of Oklahoma. She married her college sweetheart, Clint, in 2003. Meason’s career at Cotton Electric has evolved through the years. From marketing representative she was promoted to marketing & member services coordinator, to manager of member services and eventually to executive assistant. In this role, Meason was charged with working on special projects with a co-op business focus. It was then that her eyes were opened to the general manager position at the co-op. “When I started in the executive assistant position, I decided I wanted to manage a co-op. It became my goal,” Meason says. “Early on, I knew the cooperative family was where I wanted to be. I expressed this leadership interest to two CEOs I worked with—Mark Stubbs and Warren Langford.”


Jennifer Meason, Cotton Electric Cooperative CEO.


Meason began pursuing professional development opportunities to better equip herself for the CEO role. She was promoted to director of marketing and administration in 2005 and to vice president of marketing & chief op- erating offi cer for the cooperative’s subsidiary Cotton Electric Services, Inc., a high voltage test lab, in 2008. Her hard work paid off when in 2015 she was named “CEO in waiting”; she took the reins as co-op general manager in January of 2016 at 38 years of age. The greatest lesson of her career has been to observe and learn from those around her.


“I tried to set a goal and really be a sponge, sit back and listen, learning from the experiences of those I met along the way,” Meason says. “I learned to look back at our history and apply it to life today. I tried to learn about all aspects of a co-op, ask a lot of questions and learn from my mentors. I believe my generation is a bridge between the past and the future, between those who have been in the co-op for decades and those who are entering.” Meason believes the future of electric cooperatives will continue to evolve with technology. According to her, co-op leaders will continue to be chal- lenged to make wise decisions with fi nite resources on behalf of the mem- bership, balancing reliability improvements with affordability. Managing this time of transition is both a challenge and opportunity, as the coopera- tive works to attract and retain highly qualifi ed individuals who are com- mitted to the cooperative model. “Our members are at the core of everything we do,” Meason says. “This service philosophy is what makes us different. We’re here to take care of our members with the best possible service, so rural Oklahoma can continue to grow and be a great place to prosper and raise families.”


Photo by Bailey Lefthand/Central Electric Co-op OCTOBER 2018 19


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