CEO Communicator Award 2018

In 1992, CCA began giving its CEO Outstanding Communicator Award. The award recognizes the commitment of a cooperative chief executive officer to open communications as an integral part of an effective management style.

MFA Oil CEO named CCA’s Outstanding Communicator

By Allan Reetz, CCA Board Member

Since 1953, the Cooperative Communicators Association has fostered superior communications at co-ops in nearly every sector of the North American economy. As we gather June 2–5 in Fort Worth, Texas, for CCA’s Institute, we can each play a role in furthering that legacy. Every session on the multi-day agenda is designed to help us connect, create and achieve for the good of our cooperatives and careers.


Mark Fenner, CEO of MFA Oil Company, will be on hand to receive his award at the CCA Institute in Fort Worth.

On the final evening, we will learn the names of this year’s CCA Graznak and Klinefelter award recipients. We will also recognize and applaud the exemplary service and leadership of our association’s latest outstanding CEO Communicator – a distinction made public in advance of the Institute.

For 2018, the award will go to Mark Fenner of MFA Oil Company, a farmer-owned cooperative serving its 40,000 members with fuels, propane, oils and lubricants.

Like the 23 CEO honorees who preceded him in receiving this CCA accolade, Mark is widely recognized for his far-reaching communication efforts and sincere desire to hear from his cooperative’s employees and members. The nomination materials supporting his consideration detailed how “Mark makes excellent use of … communications to create a sense of community and trust with employees. [He has] prioritized communications and been supportive of providing the necessary
financial and staff resources.”

Fenner’s traits were certainly evident to our blue-ribbon panel of judges. His nomination packet was filled with ample evidence, answering any question that might have come up during their review work.

Yet, all that evidence doesn’t mean those judges had an easy time in the selection process. Mark Fenner was not the only nominee. Each candidate packet demonstrated robust support of communications by visionary leaders at today’s cooperatives.

Acting as chair of the awards sub-committee, I am grateful for the extra effort each CCA member-judge gave to the process. To a person, they noted that all nominees exhibited leadership styles worthy of praise. Their comments are based on hours of work spent reviewing materials, then considering the impact each CEO has on successful communications at their co-op.

In the end, our panel reached consensus and named Mark Fenner as CCA’s next Outstanding CEO Communicator.

Winner’s work inspires

The seventh cooperative principle — and especially the DNA of CCA — means Mark’s successful methods can serve as inspiration for your CEO. How? It begins with you. Get started on the trail to greater learning by earning your spurs at our June Institute in Fort Worth. There you’ll have an opportunity to connect with Adam Buckallew, senior media relations and communications specialist at MFA Oil. Adam nominated Mark and can share creative details of how his CEO stays in touch with MFA’s vast network of members and employees. Learn and draw upon such examples as Mark’s weekly monthly podcast, his regular Face Time with Fenner events and his warm, down-to-earth style of speaking with stakeholders.

As indicated above, this year’s selection process was very competitive among those nominated. Each nominee had to also “compete” with the award selection criteria and the high-bar qualities set by past honorees. This is to say, that even if we had only one nomination, CCA’s board, our judges and I agreed that being deemed a CCA outstanding CEO communicator requires clear evidence. Lacking such, no award need be presented. Fortunately, in 2018, we had great nominations featuring plenty of supporting evidence.

Changes in program

Now, regarding any unsuccessful nomination: Starting this year, on occasions when we
have more than one candidate, any remaining nominations may be held over for consideration the following two years. Those persons completing the original nomination process must confirm in writing (email) their interest in having their candidate remain in the running each of the following two years by the annual nomination deadline. If they so choose, nominators may also provide supplemental evidence in support of their CEO by the deadline of each subsequent year.

CCA is an impressive organization that gains strength from the leaders around us and the active participation of its diverse membership. Can you commit more time to CCA? Even if you have just a little time, please follow the lead of other members by connecting, creating and achieving more by increasing your involvement with CCA. You will be the ultimate beneficiary by doing so.

I extend my sincere thanks to the long-time members who led by example to serve as judges. Working cooperatively, we were able to achieve more than any of us could alone. See you in Fort Worth!