Conference Speakers

Bill Cherrier

President & CEO, Central Iowa Power Cooperative

Bill Cherrier was named Central Iowa Power Cooperative’s (CIPCO) Executive Vice President and CEO in October 2017. He joined the organization with 35 years of experience in the utility industry, most recently serving as Chief Planning and Finance Officer for Colorado Springs Utilities. Prior positions include Manager of Finance and Development at Alliant Energy Generation, and General Manager, Generation Business Operations, at IES Industries, both located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. 

Mike Steffes

 President & Chief Executive Officer, ACES

Mike Steffes has served as ACES’ President and Chief Executive Officer since May 2013. ACES is a cooperative owned energy risk management service company that provides comprehensive commodity services for its Members and Customers.  In his role, Mr. Steffes leads the development and execution of the company’s long-term strategy and assures that ACES is able to fulfill its mission of helping its Members and Customers manage their energy risk.

Jim Robo

Chairman and CEO, NextEra Energy, Inc.

Jim Robo is chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy, Inc. (NYSE: NEE), a leading clean energy company. He was named president and CEO in July 2012 and became chairman of the board of directors in December 2013. Mr. Robo is also chairman of the company’s rate-regulated electric utility Florida Power & Light Company as well as chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy Partners, LP (NYSE: NEP), a growth-oriented limited partnership formed by NextEra Energy to acquire, manage and own contracted clean energy projects.
In December 2006, Mr. Robo was named president and chief operating officer of NextEra Energy. Prior to that, he had served as president of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC. He joined NextEra Energy as vice president of corporate development and strategy in March 2002.

Curtis Wynn

President and CEO, SECO Energy

Curtis Wynn is the newly appointed CEO of SECO Energy.   SECO Energy provides electric service to 220,000+ homes and businesses across seven counties in Central Florida. 

He has over 40 years’ experience in the electric utility industry.  He formerly served as president and CEO of Roanoke Electric Cooperative.  Under Wynn’s over 24 years of leadership, the cooperative advanced operationally and technologically to increase its system’s efficiency and resilience while improving service to its member-owners. 

Leah Smith

Vice President of External Affairs

Leah Smith is Vice President of External Affairs at ACES in Carmel, Indiana. Leah joined ACES in March 2000 as an Administrative Assistant. From 2005 to 2010, Leah worked in ACES’ Accounting department as a Staff Accountant,  and transitioned to Administration and Procurement, leading that team until 2013. Leah joined the newly-formed External Affairs team in 2013, and took over leadership of the department shortly thereafter. The External Affairs department is performs a number of functions, including ensuring the Company’s work product distributed to our Members and Customers is high quality and professional, maintaining ACES’ public website and social media accounts, developing ACES’ annual report, developing the company’s newsletters and press releases, among other functions.

Liza Reed

Research Manager, The Niskanen Center

Liza Reed is the research manager for low carbon technology policy at the Niskanen Center. She is an expert in High Voltage Direct Current, electricity transmission, and technology innovation. Before joining the Niskanen Center, she worked on energy funding at the Great Lakes Energy Institute at Case Western Reserve University, wireless communication technology development at inmobly, and business analysis at Capital One Finance.

She holds a PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in Engineering and Public Policy and a master’s degree and a bachelor’s degree in Electrical and Computer Engineering from The Ohio State University.

Roger Tutterow

Professor of Economics, Kennesaw State University

Roger Tutterow is Professor of Economics at Kennesaw State University where he holds the Henssler Financial Endowed Chair.

Dr. Tutterow has served as a consultant on financial economics and statistical modeling for corporate clients ranging from Fortune 500 companies to closely held businesses. He has provided expert testimony on economic, financial and statistical matters in state and federal court, before the Georgia General Assembly and before the Georgia Public Service Commission. Dr. Tutterow has given several hundred speeches to professional groups in over 40 states and Canada on topics in the economic, business and political arenas.

Jim Robb

President and CEO, North American Electric Reliability Corporation

James B. Robb assumed the role of NERC’s president and chief executive officer in April 2018. Robb oversees NERC’s mission of assuring the reliability and security of the North American bulk power system. As president and CEO, Robb leads the Electric Reliability Organization (ERO) responsible for key programs affecting approximately 1,400 bulk power system users, owners, and operators, including those programs focused on development of mandatory NERC Reliability Standards, the Compliance Monitoring and Enforcement Program, situational awareness, event and risk analysis, reliability assessments and forecasting, and cyber and physical security. He is also responsible for the performance of the Electricity Information Sharing and Analysis Center (E-ISAC) and key government partnerships.

John Bear


John Bear has more than 25 years of executive leadership in the utility industry. As Chief Executive Officer of MISO since January 2009, he leads MISO’s continuous efforts to work collaboratively and transparently with its members to reliably deliver low-cost energy through efficient, innovative operations and planning. John is also a member of the Governance Board of the Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana Chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation and served as vice-chair of the Indiana Regional Board. He was recently appointed to the board of the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a non-profit which focuses on energy and environmental research. John graduated from Southern Methodist University with a Master of Business Administration degree and a Bachelor of Business Administration degree. He attended the INSEAD Advanced Management Program for Senior Executives.

Joe Slater


Joe Slater has 40-years’ experience as an executive in the electric cooperative industry, retiring March 2020 following 18-years as President and CEO of the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative.  He formerly served as VP for Education and Training at NRECA, and as General Manager of Tideland EMC in eastern North Carolina.  Slater has served as a Board Member and Chairman of the Board of ACES and was a founding Member and Secretary of the National Renewables Cooperative Organization.

Slater is presently Board Chairman of a publicly traded $2-billion community bank that operates in Maryland and Virginia, a member of the Board of Governors of Shepherd University, Board Member and Treasurer for the Shepherd University Foundation, an instructor in NRECA’s Director Education curriculum, is a US Park Service Battlefield Ambassador at the Antietam National Battlefield and is an active member of the Shepherdstown Rotary Club.


Marcus Harris

President & CEO, Old Dominion Electric Cooperative

Marcus Harris is President and Chief Executive Officer for Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.  He assumed this position in April of 2018.  At ODEC, Marcus directs the staff and operations of the generation and transmission electric cooperative serving eleven distribution cooperatives in Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware.  ODEC provides electricity to approximately 600,000 meters serving approximately 1.5 million people.

Prior to joining ODEC, Marcus served as the CEO of Kansas Electric Power Cooperative, headquartered in Topeka, Kansas, and he enjoyed a 23-year career with South Carolina Electric & Gas Company in Columbia, South Carolina.     

Patrick O'Loughlin

President & CEO, Buckeye Power, Inc. and Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives

Patrick O’Loughlin serves as President and Chief Executive Officer of Buckeye Power and Ohio Rural Electric Cooperatives since 2015. Pat has been with Buckeye Power since 2002 initially as Vice President, Engineering and Power Supply, adding the additional responsibilities of Chief Operating Officer in 2007. Prior to joining Buckeye Power he worked for Dayton Power & Light for approximately 19 years in various management positions with responsibility for the wholesale power business, and both power and natural gas system operations. Pat is a graduate of Miami University in Oxford, Ohio holding both a Master of
Environmental Sciences degree and a BS in Engineering Physics. 

Kari hollandsworth

President & CEO, Golden Spread Electric Cooperative

Kari Hollandsworth is President and CEO at Golden Spread Electric Cooperative in Amarillo, Texas. Kari joined Golden Spread in 2009 as an Energy Analyst. She gained broad experience serving in multiple roles, including Resource Planning Administrator, Electric Trading Manager and Director of Finance, Forecasting and Risk. Most recently, she was Vice President of Commercial and Asset Operations with responsibility for market operations and power supply activities, ensuring that initiatives and operations are aligned with the strategic direction provided by the Golden Spread Board of Directors. Prior to joining Golden Spread, Ms. Hollandsworth worked at Xcel Energy for 11 years. She holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and business management from Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. 

Andy Whitesitt

Senior Vice President and Chief Business Development Officer, ACES

As part of the ACES Senior Management team, Andy Whitesitt leads ACES’ Business Development function. Mr. Whitesitt joined ACES in July 2003 and has held various positions in power, natural gas, and business development, most recently as Vice President of Business Development. Mr. Whitesitt and his team are responsible for the development of new Member and Customer business for ACES. He and his team also help identify trends in the market around which ACES can create new services or expand existing services to meet its Members’ and Customers’ needs.