Meet Hollee McCormick Allamakee-Clayton REC names next GM

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Meet Hollee McCormick Allamakee-Clayton REC names next GM
Hollee McCormick was recently named to succeed Paul Foxwell as General Manager at the Allamakee-Clayton Rural Electric Cooperative when Foxwell retires next year.

By Pam Reinig
Register Editor

A familiar face will take over as general manager at Allamakee-Clayton Rural Electric Cooperative when current GM and Executive Vice President Paul Foxwell retires. The ACREC Board named Hollee McCormick to the post earlier this fall. She has been with the REC for four years as its manager of economic development and community relations.

Foxwell had high praise for the board’s decision, noting that during McCormick’s time with the REC, staff, members and Northeast Iowans in general have all benefited from McCormick’s efforts.

“We are also more actively engaged in the legislative processes because of her work,” he said. “I think that her experience, both here and in her previous roles, provides a great platform from which she can take on the responsibilities of the general manager’s position.”
McCormick will have a comfortable amount of time to work through her learning curve: Foxwell will not retire until May 31, 2019.

McCormick is an Allamakee County native. After graduating from Waukon High School and Luther College, she worked as an after-school coordinator at Waterville Elementary. She spent three years at the school before taking the position of Director of the NICC Waukon Center.
“While there, I quickly realized that I was doing much more of an administrative/business/public relations role than I anticipated and I loved it,” McCormick said. “That realization helped me decide to pursue my master’s degree in Organizational Management with a focus in Leadership.”
McCormick is married to her high school sweetheart, Mike, who farms near Harpers Ferry. They have three youngsters, Reese, 11; Tade, 9; and Olivia, 5.

The Register recently had an opportunity to talk with McCormick about her new role. Our questions and her answers follow:

What drew you to the economic development position at ACREC?

While at NICC, a big piece of my role was to interact with the local schools, businesses and industry and to try to promote the growth of NICC and our region as a whole. When I read the job description for Manager of Economic Development and Community Relations, I thought, “Well, I do already have experience doing many of the things they’re looking for, I think I’ll throw my hat in the ring!” Additionally, I’ve been a co-op member for many years and I’ve always been intrigued and impressed by the work they do.  So, I viewed it as an opportunity to continue doing work I love, but to acquire a whole new set of knowledge too.

What have been your primary responsibilities in the position?

I work closely with our commercial and industrial accounts, as well as the communities within our footprint.  I am the point person for all of our USDA loan and grant programs. I handle all of our community relations, as well as our legislative affairs.  

How did the position prepare you to be the next general manager?

Locally, and throughout the state, I’ve made some great connections and relationships.  Using those connections to pull from will be extremely helpful moving forward. Knowing who to ask and where to look is critical to solving problems and being strategic.
Also, in my Economic Development/Community Relations role, I’ve had the opportunity to work with every department here at the co-op.  Being able to see all the pieces in action separately, really has helped me understand the unique and important role each department plays in our overall mission.  

Our current General Manager, Paul Foxwell, has been fantastic about pulling me into a variety of scenarios and decision-making processes.  That experience has been valuable and eye-opening.  

Additionally, our board of directors has been generous and supportive in allowing me to partake in course called Management Internship Program, which was a pretty intensive six week course at the University of Wisconsin that helps prepare those looking into CEO roles at electric cooperatives. That was a very meaningful experience.  

What most excites you about the new position?

We have very talented and dedicated staff here, so that in itself is very exciting! Our industry is poised for a lot of changes in the near future; renewables, battery storage, electric vehicles, the increased importance of connectivity and the list could go on.  I’m passionate about rural Iowa. A rural electric cooperative really exemplifies a business model that understands, values, promotes and grows rural areas and I’m eager to see how the upcoming changes align with our mission and principles here. Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative has been providing excellent service to our members and contributing positively to our corner of the state for nearly 81 years and I’m thrilled to carry on that tradition.

What will you miss about your current position?

Without a doubt, the daily interaction with our members.  I will also miss the direct involvement with economic development projects and committees. Its reassuring to know I’ll still be involved, just from a different vantage point.

What do you think will be the challenges of heading the REC?

Navigating the previously mentioned changes that lie ahead for our industry may be tricky at times.  Also, we will be faced with a fair number of retirements within the next decade.  Replacing that knowledge, experience and commitment will certainly be a challenge.

Iowa RECs have a good record for appointing women to the GM position. However, it’s still unusual across the Midwest. So, you’re still a “trailblazer.” How do you feel about that?

I believe the real trailblazers are the many courageous, risk-taking, often-criticized women who came long before me!  I am forever grateful for their grit and determination.  It’s an exciting time for our society, man or woman, to be able to really pursue any career you’re inclined. With the right mix of hard work and a willingness to learn, you can set out to do about anything.  

Being one of four women (out of 35) to lead RECs in Iowa and the first to lead Allamakee-Clayton Electric Cooperative is something I’m very excited about and proud of. I do know this, regardless of gender, respect must be earned and hard work must be put in; I intend to do both.

Since nobody is “all work and no fun,” what do you enjoy doing away from the job?

I love to be with my family. My kids are at amazing ages where they are getting more independent, but still think mom and dad are cool and want to be around us!  I’m told that may change sooner than later! I hope not, but I’m a realist too, so I’ll treasure this era!
 I’m an avid reader and sports fan. I love to be out on the Mississippi with friends in the summer. I like to see new places and learn new things.  

Anything else you’d like to add?

I am very grateful for the opportunity to succeed Paul as the General Manger. I appreciate the many kind words and supportive messages I’ve received.  We really do live in a special place!  

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