CCA instituted the Michael Graznak Award as a memorial to an outstanding member who met an untimely death. It honors members age 35 or under who have made superior contributions to cooperative communications and who give promise of having a brilliant and successful future.
Kelly Hester of Carroll Electric Membership Cooperative (EMC) awarded the Michael Graznak Award at the 2021 Institute.
CCA instituted the Michael Graznak Award in 1977 as a memorial to an outstanding member who met an untimely death. It honors members under the age of 36 who have made superior contributions to cooperative communications and who give promise of having a brilliant and prosperous future.
In 1977, CCA first awarded the Michael Graznak Award as a memorial to an outstanding member who met an untimely death. Each year the award goes to a young communicator under the age of 36, who symbolizes “accomplishments, contributions, competence, and promise.” To date, 43 CCA members have received the Graznak Award.
This year’s recipient definitely lives up to the Graznak legacy. Let’s start by reviewing some numbers. Kelly Hester:
- Began working in cooperative communications in 2009.
- Joined CCA in 2013.
- Earned the Master Cooperative Communicator designation after one year of membership.
- Won a first-place award in the first CCA communications contest entered plus several other awards since.
- And has served on multiple institute planning committees, even serving as a co-chair for one.
Perhaps more impressive are the details behind some of those stats.
Kelly literally helped found her cooperative’s Communications Department, and was immediately responsible for writing, designing, and editing both a monthly newsletter and bi-monthly bill stuffer. In addition, she wrote and edited press releases, letters and other communications while maintaining the company’s social media presence and updates to both the external and internal intranet. Since then, Kelly’s responsibilities grew to include video, crisis communications, and event coordination.
One nominator explained that Kelly was “instrumental in taking a newsletter-desktop-publishing role for the cooperative” and developing it into “a robust, integrated marketing department.”
Another nominator said Kelly “is an outstanding communicator. From member newsletters to social media,” she “has the ability to clearly and effectively communicate news, updates, policies and events to the public, key stakeholders, and our employees.”
A co-worker said Kelly “handles her duties with poise and grace. Her affinity for early planning and attention to detail make her a great resource and even better communicator.”
According to Carrol EMC Vice President of Communications & Economic Development Jay Gill, Kelly “is a machine” with a “natural ability for organization and implementation” that are resulting in the cooperative’s communications efforts “being recognized statewide and beyond.”
Susan Lester, Carroll EMC Vice President of Member & Community Affairs said “it’s a privilege to work with someone whose attention to detail and level of care is evident in all that she does.”
Perhaps Tim Martin, Carroll EMC CEO said it best, “Kelly Hester is a rock star!”
Clearly Kelly is not just an asset to Carroll EMC but also to the Cooperative Communicators Association. We are honored she has chosen to be a part of our CCA family.
Please join us in congratulating Kelly Hester as the 2021 Michael Graznak Award recipient!