I recently had the opportunity to sit down with former Congresswomen from my home state of Missouri, Jo Ann Emerson. She currently calls Washington, D.C. home where she holds the title of first female CEO for the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
“I am very excited to be selected by the Board of Directors of the NRECA to serve as their leader. But I consider myself more than a leader, I’m a listener. It’s what I did in my job on Capitol Hill. When you represent 42 million Americans, it’s really important to listen and meet the concerns of those members who are you bosses. And we can never forget that.”
The term ‘telling our story’ is nothing new in the agriculture community and Jo Ann agrees whole-heartedly. “We are concerned about our communities, we believe we have to be involved, engaged in economic and community development opportunities. It’s critical our communities are there for our children and we want to make them vibrant and strong.” Jo Ann said another goal of her’s is to meet the people where they are. In her short time at NRECA she has visited all but four states and also believes social media plays a big role in connecting to a younger demographic.
I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t ask Jo Ann about rural broadband internet access since it is a very important topic that impacts my career. She said a lot of our rural cooperatives are working to provide high-speed broadband internet and the best thing about having that access is the ability to communicate. She feels strongly about empowering the stay-at-home mom to write a blog or the entrepreneur to strike out on their own. Rural internet is where those start. “The big companies like AT&T and Verizon are not going to come to our small, tiny rural communities. We have a good opportunity here that will change peoples lives once we do it.”
Listen to my complete interview with Jo Ann to learn more about what local coops are doing to provide cost-effective internet to their rural communities. Interview with Jo Ann Emerson, CEO NRECA