Just a few weeks before Christmas, on a mandatory conference call, Ryan Barrack learned that the bank he had worked at for more than a decade was being sold. “What does tomorrow hold for my family?” he thought.

Later, as he and his wife pulled into a retail parking lot, they saw a truck in front of the store entrance with a trailer loaded with bicycles. Barrack looked at his wife and said, “That would be where you’d want to work. Look at the commitment to the community there.” The truck belonged to Northern Neck Electric Cooperative.

Community is important to Barrack, who has served the Upper Lancaster Volunteer Fire Department in Lively, Va., for 18 years and as a deacon for Rappahannock Church of Christ in Warsaw for four years. “I am there to serve themembership in any way I can.”

CHANGING CAREER DIRECTIONS
Barrack received a job offer from the co-op in 2017 as an information technology specialist; he’s now manager of information technology. He admits, though, “It was like drinking from a fire hose. It took months to catch on to some things; however, other things came pretty quick. The co-op was patient and understanding, and they supported me all the way.”

Similar to serving the fire department, “you’re always on,” Barrack says. When crews respond to a power outage in the middle of the night, or on a weekend or holiday, Barrack must be ready to resolve technical issues with mobile devices used in the field. Additionally, he resolves help-desk tickets, maintains servers and ensures connectivity to the co-op network, especially with more employees working from home during the pandemic.

Barrack led the effort to move to a remote setting, allowing employees to use a virtual machine from home with just an internet connection and co-op laptop. His role became even more interesting with new vulnerabilities to hacks and cyberattacks. Increased security measures help keep the co-op and members safe.

As a fourth-generation member of Northern Neck Electric Cooperative, Barrack was well aware of its impact on the community. “I’ve had multiple family members retire from here,” he says. “One of them was 40 years and the other one was 27 years. The co-op’s a big deal in our community, a big deal.”