Things have changed since Brenda Mansfield joined her Community Electric Cooperative family in 1979, including more women in leadership roles. She followed the lead of her mother, who previously worked for the co-op. Her mother’s dedication and love for the co-op family attracted Mansfield to the business.
“I did find out when I got here that I didn’t know as much about the co-op as I thought I did,” Mansfield admits. “It’s so much bigger than just this building here at 52 West Windsor Boulevard. It’s working cooperatively with local, national, regional … so that we can do more for our members. We’re much bigger and better collectively.”
Mansfield’s first role was secretary to the general manager of the co-op. Her hard work and dependability paid off. She was later promoted to member services supervisor and continues to serve in that role today.
The office environment has evolved over the years. Early in her career, Mansfield recalls recording meeting minutes and being one of only two women in the board room. “Currently, one-third of our board [including the chair] is made up of very engaged women,” she says. “And that’s indicative of the entire co-op world.” Women now serve in roles of line technicians, engineers, department heads, general managers and CEOs.
A typical day for Mansfield includes assisting members with items from understanding a bill to finding creative ways to help them better manage their accounts. “They’re our members; they own this co-op,” she says. “We want to provide them the service they deserve.”
Mansfield points out how technology has also evolved throughout her co-op career. She jokes about some of the older electronic typewriters even having a memory function when she first started. “Today, technology is something you hold in the palm of your hand and has much more information and can do many more things than that typewriter with memory could do,” she says.
Mansfield encourages young people entering the workforce or others looking to make a change in their careers to consider the wide variety of opportunities available at a member-owned electric cooperative.