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The Retirement of a Distinguished Leader — and His Column

The Retirement of a Distinguished Leader —
and His Column

Looking ahead, with a bow to the past

June 2021

Richard G. Johnstone Jr., Executive Editor

I hope everyone had a chance to read Richard Johnstone’s Viewpoint column in the May issue of Cooperative Living. His literary skills have been on display throughout the past 36 years through this medium, but his final column was one of his best. Richard always wrote from the heart with his sincerity, wit and passion for the topic coming through in every article, paragraph, sentence and word. His grace and style can be imitated, but never duplicated.

Thus, in honor of his commitment to Cooperative Living and, in particular, this column, we are going to have “ViewPoint” follow Richard into retirement.

Richard has been instrumental in the growth and quality of Cooperative Living. It is the largest print publication in Virginia and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, reaching more than 1.5 million readers with award winning articles and features. We have an experienced staff in place that produces 13 different versions of the magazine, representing our various cooperative members.

To complement the magazine, we continue to grow our co-opliving.com website, Facebook and Instagram pages that feature videos, interviews and some glimpses behind the scenes of top articles. In the months ahead, we’ll be adding even more timely and informative presentations to our digital footprint.

It is my honor to follow in Richard’s footsteps as president and CEO of the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives. I was fortunate to have worked with Richard for the last eight years at the Association, after working the previous 18 years with two distribution cooperatives. I am blessed with a wonderful wife and three children, who have certainly made life exciting.

The cooperative model hooked me into this career in 1994. The thought of working with an organization owned by those it serves, based on a not-for-profit business model that returns margins to its members, just seemed right for me.

Once I worked my first storm, just a few months after I started my cooperative career, I quickly realized I was part of the team that focused on one mission — to get the lights back on for our members. It happened to be an ice storm, and it was amazing to see the conditions the lineworkers had to overcome and processes they had in place to make sure everyone worked safely.

I was inspired by the determination of the entire team that included dispatchers, warehousemen, customer service representatives, management (titles don’t matter in an outage situation) to support the lineworkers in the field.

I am excited about the opportunity to be the sixth president and CEO of the Association, which was founded in 1944 to represent and to provide services and support for our electric cooperative members across Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. That continues to be our mission today. Cooperative Living started in 1946 as a newspaper and is still the cornerstone of the Association, reaching co-op members from the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean. Our team of 30 employees works together to provide valuable services for the electric cooperatives that serve you.

In the issues ahead, we will use this space in a variety of ways that include why it’s cool to be part of a cooperative and an occasional column from me updating you on the cooperative family.

From the entire Association staff, we wish Richard Johnstone a happy retirement enjoying time with his wonderful family. He has touched all of our lives and has been an incredible mentor for me, personally.