Making a Connection
In the summer of 1994, Mona Neeley showed up to a job interview. She had responded to a blind job listing in the newspaper — “Help wanted, advertising coordinator.”
When she got to the interview, saw CREA’s sign on the door and realized the position was at an electric cooperative association, she knew right away there was a connection.
Mona landed the job. Her degree from the University of Minnesota’s School of Journalism quickly garnered her more responsibilities with editorial and design. After publishing 342 issues, the ad coordinator-turned-editor, publisher and face of Colorado Country Life magazine is now retiring her red pen.
“Rural America is a Big Part of Who I Am”
Raised in a rural Iowa town, Mona’s father worked at Cedar Valley Electric Cooperative for 39 years, so she was deeply accustomed to electric cooperatives’ principles.
Mona and her husband Robert Clifford moved to Denver in 1990 and welcomed their daughter, Jade, to the family in 1991; their son, Zach, joined the clan in 1996.
“This was an amazing job to get to learn this state and to make Colorado my home,” Mona says. She learned a lot about the state’s history, its numerous offerings and the people who live here.
Mona was often seen at events across Colorado such as the State Fair Junior Livestock Sale; electric co-op annual meetings; community events and fairs; conferences; and board meetings.
The needs of Colorado’s electric co-op communities and the issues that could affect them was always her focus. She viewed the magazine’s readers and their electric co-ops as the lifeblood of CCL’s success over the years. Readers wrote in, she digested it. Positive or negative, if it was well-founded and she thought it would start a conversation, you likely found it in the magazine’s Letters to the Editor.
And somehow, even in the midst of all the events and the rigorous production cycles, Mona made time to use her journalism expertise to write about topics readers could relate to: wildfires, utility drones, philanthropic work in Guatemala, electric industry innovations and, of course, Barbie.
She made many connections during her tenure — with consumer-members, with the CCL and CREA staff and with the countless national and statewide cooperative groups she was involved with.
Mona says, “They’re a big part of my life and I’m going to miss that.” In every sense of the word, electric co-ops are “family” for Mona. She says, “I had so many people who invited me into their homes and shared their lives and their story with me. That’s just such a privilege.”
Read more about Mona Neeley in this month’s Viewpoint column.