John C. Lee, Jr, Announced as ODEC CEO 

The Board of Directors of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC) has selected John C. Lee, Jr., as the cooperative’s next president and chief executive officer.

John C. Lee, Jr.

“After a nationwide search, the Board unanimously selected John to be the cooperative’s next CEO and we are delighted he has accepted the position,” said Steven A. Harmon, chairman of the ODEC Board of Directors. “As we face numerous and rapidly changing challenges, we are confident in John’s ability to guide ODEC both strategically and operationally. John’s experience working at ODEC, coupled with his service as CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative for the past 16 years, will provide ODEC with the best possible leadership going forward.” 

Lee has served as ODEC’s interim president and CEO since September 8, 2023, and is also currently president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and EMPOWER Broadband. He has stepped down from ODEC’s Board of Directors and will be retiring as the CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and EMPOWER Broadband to focus his full-time attention leading ODEC. 

“I am honored to be selected as the CEO of one of the nation’s premier generation and transmission cooperatives and will work diligently to maintain ODEC’s powerful legacy of outstanding service to its members,” said Lee. “ODEC and its dedicated Board of Directors are focused squarely on the needs of those we serve, and it will be a privilege to work alongside the outstanding team of employees at ODEC as we tackle imposing issues that face our industry, while keeping the electrons reliably flowing to our 11 member electric cooperatives.” 

Lee brings more than 30 years’ worth of cooperative leadership experience to ODEC. He became CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative in January 2008, and has been a member of ODEC’s Board during that same time period. He served as chairman of ODEC’s Board from 2020-2023. He also provided the vision and leadership to launch EMPOWER Broadband, which has successfully been bringing high-speed internet to southside Virginia since its founding in 2018. Prior to his time at Mecklenburg, Lee held a variety of roles at ODEC beginning in 1992 focusing on community and external relations, economic development, and member relations. 

Lee also serves on or has served on numerous electric cooperative boards including the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, National Cooperative Services Corporation, ACES Power Marketing, and National Renewables Cooperative Organization. He has been a civic leader in his community, serving on the boards of the Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation and Virginia Commonwealth University Community Memorial Hospital Regional Healthcare Center. He holds a bachelor’s of Science Degree in Business from Mississippi State University. 

“John has served as ODEC’s Interim CEO extremely well over the past five months, and the Board is completely confident that this continued transition to his full-time service will proceed without the cooperative missing a beat,” said Harmon. “We are extremely optimistic about the future of the organization due to John’s leadership and ODEC’s talented staff.” 

ODEC utilized the expertise of CarterBaldwin Executive Search in its recruitment and selection process. The firm provided significant assistance to ODEC’s Board, including coordination of a far-reaching, national search and extensive analysis and assessment of dozens of qualified candidates. 

– Kirby Jordan, Director of Communications, ODEC

John C. Lee, Jr, to Retire as Chief Executive of MEC; New CEO Announced

John C. Lee, Jr, president and CEO of Mecklenburg Electric Cooperative and EMPOWER Broadband, will retire from his duties at both effective June 30, closing out a career with the cooperative that spanned 16 years, including six years at EMPOWER. The MEC and EMPOWER boards of directors have appointed MEC and EMPOWER Chief Operating Officer Casey Logan as the incoming president and CEO, effective July 1.

“This has been one of the most difficult career decisions I have ever made,” said Lee. “The highlight of my career will always be my great years at Mecklenburg, and I will never forget my time at both MEC and EMPOWER. I have so much respect for MEC’s and EMPOWER’s missions, and the very capable boards of directors that serve them both, and I really love the folks employed there … they are awesome employees and really great people, and they’ve made coming to work every day a real joy.”

The cooperative earned numerous accomplishments and awards with Lee manning the helm, and he helped navigate the organization through the many challenges of the complex and ever-changing energy environment. Under his leadership, MEC is today recognized as one of the most respected electric cooperatives in the nation, and is noted as a valuable corporate partner in the areas it serves and as a premier place to work.

During his tenure, Lee guided the 86-year-old cooperative through many hurdles and improvements, from hardening an aging distribution system, to fostering a positive work environment in tumultuous times during the COVID-19 pandemic, to deploying technology to improve reliability and service, to the organizational restructuring of the cooperative following the retirement of a significant percentage of tenured employees.

His forward thinking and roll-your-sleeves-up work ethic is perhaps most evident in the establishment of EMPOWER Broadband, MEC’s wholly owned subsidiary, which was formed in 2018 under Lee’s leadership, ushering in the digital age for the rural communities served by MEC. That telecommunications company is now bridging the digital divide and bringing world-class, fast and affordable internet service to rural Southside Virginia, with over 5,000 homes and businesses connected and more being added every day. Lee was also instrumental in EMPOWER’s acquisition of Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative, an action that streamlined services for their joint customers and accelerated the broadband buildout for all.

As the leader of the cooperative, Lee’s core values have always been topped by the safety of its employees and membership, followed closely by reliability and exceptional service. His concern and desire to serve was not exclusive to the communities that MEC serves, but included service on state and national stages as well and has been an important aspect of Lee’s character. This overriding sense of duty has driven him to serve on numerous committees and boards of directors, eventually chairing most, both in the electric industry and civic world.

To name just a few, Lee has served and held leadership positions on the boards of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative, the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives, the National Cooperative Services Corporation, the  National Renewables Cooperative Organization, ACES Power Marketing, the National Rural Electric Cooperatives Association, the Virginia Commonwealth University Community Memorial Hospital – Regional Healthcare Center, and Southern Virginia Higher Education Foundation. He also co-founded the SVCC Power Line Worker Training School at Ft. Barfoot and continues to serve on that school’s advisory board.

His endeavors, hard work, and commitment to service have won the respect of the Cooperative’s membership, as well as those in the utility industry throughout the state and nation.

Lee emphasized “It has been an incredible honor to be a part of this organization and to work alongside the fantastic team of talented employees and the visionary Board of Directors, both of whom have always put the best interests of their member-owners first. I leave the cooperative proudly knowing that it is in very capable hands, that the lights and fiber will stay lit, and that these two organizations will continue to make a positive impact on the quality of life in our region.”

David Jones, chairman of MEC’s Board of Directors, expressed his gratitude for Lee’s dedication and contributions, while welcoming Logan to his new leadership role, saying, “Under John’s leadership our organizations are recognized leaders … and the best around. This cooperative has enjoyed many accomplishments during his 16-year tenure; he has been an extraordinary leader both here and in our sister organizations at the VMDAEC and ODEC, where he is recognized for his vision, his sound decision-making, his willingness to take a difficult position or challenge, and the ability to build consensus. We will miss him greatly, but are confident that the baton is being passed to another very capable leader. Casey will continue our strong legacy of leadership and move our organizations forward in the same aggressive manner in which we have moved during John’s tenure, and with the same great success.”

Logan joined the cooperative in May 2023, and has extensive cooperative and broadband experience. He served as president and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative for four years and led that cooperative’s fiber buildout as founding executive for PGEC’s subsidiary, RURALBAND. He serves on the boards of directors for ODEC, Southeastern Federal Power Customers, and Arrowhead Gun Club, as well as the VMDABC as its current chairman, and also serves on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Region #1 Nominating Committee.

“MEC is a very special place, and I knew that before coming here and being on the outside looking in,” said Logan. “When the opportunity arose for me to come here, I was excited and proud to become a part of such a top-notch organization. John Lee has created a high standard for us to live up to, and I look forward to working with the board,members and employees and continuing the cooperative’s long tradition of excellence and service and doing what MEC does best … keeping the lights on.”

Logan will step into his new role on July 1.

Lee will immediately take over as president and CEO of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative (ODEC), MEC’s power supplier. ODEC provides power to cooperatives in the states of Virginia, Maryland & Delaware, and features a diverse power portfolio that includes solar and wind generation. ODEC owns over $2 billion in assets including power stations in Virginia and Maryland. Lee has been serving as interim CEO there since September 2023, a period in which he served as CEO of four organizations including MEC, EMPOWER Broadband, EMPOWER Telecom, and ODEC.

“ODEC is facing a number of potential industry-changing developments that must be aggressively addressed. These issues will impact MEC and its members, and I was asked by the ODEC board to help guide that organization through these challenges,” said Lee of his move to the generation and transmission cooperative, headquartered in Glen Allen. “I have done a great deal of soul-searching about my career, and strategically, ODEC is where I can best continue to serve cooperative members in Virginia, Maryland & Delaware, including those at MEC. I’m honored to have been asked by the ODEC board to lead the G&T cooperative through some tumultuous times and I’ll do my best to mitigate the impact these challenges will have on cooperatives in our three-state area.”

Lee began his 32-year cooperative career in 1992 as ODEC’s community relations specialist during the construction of the Clover Power Station, and during his 16-year stint there he served as director of economic development, manager of administration, and vice president of member and external relations.