In 1959, CCA instituted an award as a memorial to H.E. Klinefelter, a charter member of the organization. It is given to cooperative communicator members whose work is considered by their peers to be outstanding.
A bright and shiny Penny is 60th Klinefelter recipient
By Robin Conover, Klinefelter Award Committee Chair
It’s easy to borrow from the 2018 Institute’s theme to describe the cooperative communications career of Penny Storms, CCA’s 60th H.E. Klinefelter Award recipient. She has earned her cooperative communicator spurs, chaps, saddle and horse, for that matter, since 1975. As communications manager for Ozarks Electric Cooperative, she epitomizes the dedication and professionalism that the Klinefelter Award, CCA’s highest honor, is all about.
Fresh out of college, Penny joined the cooperative world for a few short years before leaving for “greener pastures.” Thirteen years later, the prodigal employee returned to Ozarks Electric and has remained there for three decades.
As years passed, she became a seasoned communicator, always willing to lead and always willing to help. Penny is well known to many CCA members because of her dedicated work for the association. This Klinefelter winner is all in, all the time, whether it’s at work, at home, with CCA or with numerous hometown organizations.
Penny is described affectionately by co-workers as a trailblazer, leader, communicator, teacher, historian and friend. “Penny puts everyone before herself,” says a co-worker. “She is the glue that holds us together.”
In an emergency or time of crisis, it’s said that she can wrangle the media with ease, delivering difficult and complex information confidently and accurately. With years of knowledge and experience, she can put even the most hardened critic or irate member at ease.
A wise communicator
Family, friends and co-workers say Penny is the person they turn to when something needs to be done with care, passion and attention to detail.
“She possesses sound judgment and wisdom in tackling challenges with a calm and collected demeanor,” said a nominator. “She is precise with her words, wise in her comments and puts forth exceptional work on behalf of her cooperative.”
Another colleague close to this year’s winner shares this impression: “Penny has always put her job first before all else and definitely has Ozarks Electric Cooperative and its members’ best interests at heart. She is a true exemplar of our purpose and our mission statement.”
But Penny isn’t perfect. Word has it that this year’s winner is known to operate well within the chaos that is known as her office and car. More often than not, these spaces look like they were hit by a mighty tornado. But to the astonishment of those who work closest with Penny, she has the innate ability to know where everything is in her own personal, elaborate organizational system.
This is a system of which I’m sure her husband, Pat, and sons Jarrod, Rob and wife Hattie, and Daniel and wife Andrea, are all too familiar. Daniel and Andrea are the parents to Penny and Pat’s grandson, Simon, who is still too young yet to grasp the inner Martha Stewart lurking just beneath the surface in his grandmother.
With a last name befitting a crisis communicator and her calm demeanor consistently easing those surrounding her, you might say Penny is looked up to as being the “calm within the storm.”