By Kent Singer, CREA Executive Director
Read the March issue of Colorado Country Life magazine’s Focus On section and you’ll find an article about Mona Neeley, the outgoing and long-serving magazine publisher and editor.
In the column, Mona talks about her career with CREA and her upcoming retirement. She says that you, the readers of CCL, have always been the most important part of her work and that the connections she has made with so many of you have sustained her throughout the years.
But Mona is too modest to say exactly how much she has meant to this association and to Colorado’s electric co-ops.
The simple truth is that Mona dedicated nearly her entire professional life to the viability and success of CREA and CCL, a magazine that has twice been recognized as the best statewide electric co-op magazine in the country.
Mona began her career at CCL in 1994 and she took over a publication that was struggling to survive. She was hired by my predecessor at CREA and given an ultimatum: make the magazine financially sustainable or find another job.
Through her incredible work ethic and her tremendous talents as an editor and writer, Mona did exactly that. She increased the circulation and ad revenues of the magazine and made it a profit center for CREA for many years.
She was able to do that by focusing on the quality of the content of the magazine as well as the format.
But the financial success of CCL only reflects a small part of Mona’s contributions to CREA. As the director of communications for CREA, Mona’s role in the organization went far beyond her role as publisher and editor of CCL.
As a communicator, Mona is not just a long-serving magazine publisher — she played a critical role in every CREA messaging effort on legislative and other matters. This includes our epic battles against retail wheeling in the late 1990s, our efforts to emphasize the importance of safe workplace practices and our ongoing work to message the co-op principles in the ever-changing energy environment.
Her dedication to the success of our legislative, safety and education programs was just as ferocious as her dedication to the success of CCL.
In addition to supporting CREA’s communication efforts with legislators and other groups, our long-serving magazine publisher and her team also provide support for the communications programs for many of our electric co-op members.
Over the years, many of our members have added communications experts and staff to develop specific messages for each their communities, but the veteran magazine publisher has supported those efforts and provided tremendous value to each co-op member of CREA.
Finally, let me tell you a little about Mona as a colleague and co-worker. When I was considering applying for CREA’s executive director position 14 years ago, I did so with the knowledge that CREA had tremendous employees.
I had worked with Mona and others at CREA as the association’s attorney, and I knew how dedicated they were to the co-op program. I knew that CCL was in great hands, and that it was edited and published by someone who cared deeply about the quality of the magazine and the value it provides to tens of thousands of co-op consumer-members across Colorado.
Turns out, I only knew the half of it.
By that I mean, until I came to work at CREA full time, I had no idea what it takes to publish a 32-page magazine, every month, year in and year out, without fail. Meeting printing deadlines, working with contract writers, making sure each co-op has the copy for its individual pages, soliciting advertisers, and, of course, gently reminding the executive director that his monthly column is overdue.
But Mona handled those responsibilities not only with great professionalism, but also with good humor, patience and incredible energy.
Mona has been a key leader of the CREA team, a tremendous voice for the Colorado electric co-op program and, most importantly, a loving and supportive wife, mother and grandmother.
Mona, we’ll miss you, we thank you, and we wish you the very best in your well-deserved retirement. Happy trails!
Kent Singer is the executive director of CREA and offers a statewide perspective on issues affecting electric cooperatives. CREA is the trade association for 21 Colorado electric distribution co-ops and one power supply co-op.