East River Electric Power Cooperative’s Chief Member and Public Relations Officer Chris Studer has been named the 2022 Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives Distinguished Service Award recipient. Touchstone Energy Board President Deb Mirasola presented Studer with the award during the Touchstone Energy general session at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s (NRECA) annual membership meeting in Nashville, Tenn., Tuesday, March 8.
Studer was honored for his dedication and service promoting the cooperative difference and helping Touchstone Energy evolve into the strong brand and national network it is today with more than 650 members in 46 states.
“Chris exemplifies the values of our brand and provides unwavering support to his member systems and local community,” said President Mirasola. “On the local, regional and national levels, Chris has showcased that working at a cooperative is about much more than selling electricity. He deeply understands the Cooperative Difference and lives out that difference each day.”
In thanking the Touchstone Energy Board of Directors for the honor, Studer said, “I’m so fortunate and proud to work with such great cooperative leaders who continue to build and enhance the brand that is so important to cooperatives across the country. Your leadership and commitment are unmatched, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to work alongside you.”
As Chief Member and Public Relations officer for East River Electric, Studer leads the organization’s communications, marketing and government relations efforts. He also serves as one of Touchstone Energy’s Regional Members (RMs), which he previously chaired. In his role as RM, Studer works closely with other RMs to ensure the national brand network increases value and engagement to members across the nation.
Studer also thanked the East River Electric board of directors, leadership and staff, noting he was fortunate to work every day with talented people who live the Touchstone Energy values and use the brand to help communicate the Cooperative Difference. He also recognized and thanked the Touchstone Energy national staff and said the network was fortunate to have such impressive people working on its behalf.
“The Touchstone Energy brand creates a powerful link in the minds of cooperative consumers across the country,” concluded Studer. “It’s such an important piece of our business – helping to educate and engage our members to strengthen relationships and we use the brand and its core values to strengthen our collective reputation – because we are all stronger together.”
The Touchstone Energy Cooperatives Distinguished Service Award is the organization’s highest honor, presented annually to a cooperative leader who has made outstanding contributions to building the brand on the national stage.
East River welcomes the public to support the 58th annual LifeScape Fundraiser on Wednesday, March 23. It will be a virtual event instead of an oyster feed this year. “The Employees’ Committee knows the importance of supporting non-profits in our area, such as LifeScape,” said Erica Fitzhugh, East River Employees’ Committee chairperson. “We are selling raffle tickets for a Polaris Ranger and holding an online auction with items generously donated by businesses in our community.”
Proceeds from the online auction will benefit LifeScape, formerly Children’s Care Hospital and School and SD Achieve, whose mission it is to empower people to live their best lives. With more than $335,000 contributed to LifeScape over the years, East River’s annual fundraisers have helped provide for the very best in medical care, therapy, education and other services for the children at LifeScape.
“The support from the fundraiser helps nearly 1,400 children within the East River Electric Cooperative footprint and the community of Madison. We are grateful for their decades of support,” said Jessica Wells, LifeScape Foundation president. “East River Electric has created a legacy that spans generations improving people’s lives. This year’s event will support the Journey of Hope capital campaign to build a new children’s specialty hospital, specialty school, children’s residential facilities and outpatient center in Sioux Falls. The facility will support children from across the region bringing technology-based solutions, leading research in innovative treatment options and bringing care closer to home. East River Electric employees and the Madison community help children and adults live their best lives!”
For more information on the event, visit www.eastriverforlifescape.org.
East River Electric Power Cooperative General Manager and CEO Tom Boyko has announced his retirement. After 36 years in the electric industry and just over 8 years as the CEO at East River, Boyko informed the board of directors of his intention to retire once a new general manager is named.
“I’m grateful to the board of directors for giving me the opportunity to finish my career at such a great organization,” Boyko said. “The East River employees are an extremely talented and committed group of people who are focused every day on providing reliable and affordable electricity to our member distribution systems that power the lives of hundreds of thousands of cooperative consumers in our region. It will be difficult to say goodbye, but East River’s future is bright because of a fantastic workforce.”
The East River board of directors has hired a firm to begin a national search for a new general manager and CEO. Boyko will serve until a replacement is named, likely sometime in the late spring or early summer.
“Tom has been an incredible leader over the past 8 years at East River,” said East River Board President Jim Ryken. “We’re happy for him and his family but we’re sad to see him go. He’s overseen an incredible amount of growth in electric sales over the past 8 years, implemented an aggressive transmission system upgrade plan and helped us navigate the twists and turns of the pandemic and he’s done it all with a steady hand. On behalf of the entire East River board, I want to wish Tom and his family all the best in the future.”