Missouri Congresswoman will head the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

Missouri Congresswoman will head the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson has served in Congress for 16 years.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association board of directors in December appointed U.S. Rep. Jo Ann Emerson (R-Mo.) as CEO, effective March 1. Emerson is retiring from Congress in February, and will become the fifth CEO in NRECA's 71-year history. She will officially join the organization on February 11.

"We conducted an exhaustive search to identify the very best individual to lead a great association," said NRECA board president Mike Guidry of Louisiana. "We found that person in Jo Ann Emerson. Her background as a member of Congress and a trade association executive — coupled with her extensive knowledge of the issues facing electric cooperatives and rural America — make her eminently qualified to lead NRECA and represent the interests of its members. The respect she has from both sides of the aisle and her proven ability to bridge political and policy divides and find common ground will serve us well."

First elected to the U.S. House in 1996 from Missouri's 8th Congressional District, Emerson most recently served on the House Appropriations Committee and chaired the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Subcommittee. She has taken a leadership role on agriculture, health care and government reform issues during her congressional career and won recognition for her work on energy, including being presented with the NRECA Distinguished Service Award in 2006.

Carolyn Herr Watts, retired senior vice president of the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives knew Emerson when they both worked in Washington. "Jo Ann Emerson has championed issues for rural America during her lengthy tenure in Congress," Watts said. "She knows how to cross party lines to reach a consensus to pass legislation."

Along with her committee posts, Emerson also serves as co-chairman of the Tuesday Group, a council of House GOP centrists; is a member of the NATO Parliamentary Assembly; and holds a position on the board of the Congressional Hunger Center. A graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University, she held executive roles in communications and government affairs with the National Restaurant Association and the American Insurance Association before being elected to the first of nine terms in Congress.

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