Martin Lowery Enters Hall of FameBy Victoria A. Rocha | ECT Staff Writer Published: December 6th, 2013
It’s one thing to discuss who might receive a lifetime honor, but it’s another to hear your name called among those nominated. That’s just what happened to NRECA’s Martin Lowery.
He was at a meeting of the National Cooperative Business Association board of directors that was approving nominees for the Cooperative Hall of Fame. The board chairman read aloud each nominee, and then he got to the final name—Lowery’s.
“Of the four nominees, my name was conveniently held to last, so they had hidden it well,” said Lowery, who abstained from voting.
“It was a very closely held surprise that involved quite a few people. I am stunned and humbled,” said the NRECA executive vice president of member and association relations.
The Nov. 18 announcement came on the heels of his election to the board of the International Co-operative Alliance in early November.
A COOPERATIVE CAREER
Lowery was selected to the Hall of Fame for his career as “a forceful advocate for the cooperative business model, with an unshakable conviction that enabling people to empower themselves represents the best way to improve the quality of their lives,” said officials at the Cooperative Development Foundation, an NCBA affiliate.
While Lowery was surprised at his Hall of Fame selection, the national and international cooperative communities were not.
“Most electric cooperative managers and directors in the U.S. know Martin as the ‘go to’ person for addressing strategic issues, both involving the NRECA perspective, as well as local needs and issues,” said former NRECA education and training official Greg Boudreaux, who worked with Lowery at NRECA from 1984-2005. “But on top of this, Martin has been extremely active in the international cooperative movement. He has traveled extensively to build alliances with this international community. I don’t know how many speeches he has made around the world.”
Lowery, who holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from Duke University, began at NRECA in 1982 as assistant manager of the Computer Services Division. Since then, he’s been instrumental in forming major association initiatives that have advanced and strengthened cooperatives and programs supporting them, including NRECA’s Cooperative Research Network and the Rural Electric Safety Achievement Program.
In the 1990s, Lowery was involved in the start-up and promotion of the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative, the first electric co-op in Hawaii, and Touchstone Energy® Cooperatives, a brand that brought individual co-ops from around the country under one banner for the first time.
“NRECA is fortunate to have a leader like Martin carrying the cooperative banner, pursuing new opportunities for cooperatives in the 21st century, and representing our members and their model of doing business with the people they serve,” said NRECA CEO Jo Ann Emerson. “Best of all, Martin’s work is far from complete, and he will help take NRECA, our members and our industry to even greater heights in the years ahead of us.”
The induction ceremony will be next May. Lowery will join past NRECA inductees Clyde Ellis; Bob Partridge; Bob Bergland; Glenn English; Sam Bunker; Robert I. Kabat; and Erma Angevine.
As one of 15 new directors elected by the International Co-operative Alliance general assembly, Lowery will represent U.S. cooperatives for a four-year term.
“We have many things we can learn from one another, and it’s important for us to be there and be part of the dialogue,” said Lowery. “In many ways a lot of issues we’re talking about are issues that our members want to continue to improve on in … member participation and engagement, how we communicate the cooperative message, how we get greater visibility for co-ops and get better recognition.”