(NASHVILLE, TENN.) — Olivia Velasquez, spokesperson for the national Youth Leadership Council (YLC) and a high school senior in North Baltimore, Ohio, today addressed more than 8,500 electric cooperative leaders from across the country at the 2014 Annual Meeting of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). In 2013, Velasquez was chosen by Ohio’s Youth Tour participants to serve as a delegate to the Youth Leadership Council. At the YLC Leadership Conference, her fellow delegates selected her to serve as national spokesperson for the 42-member council. Standing before the co-op leaders, Velazquez offered the following reflection on her Youth Tour experience in Washington, D.C.:
… [T]he lessons that I and my new friends learned will last a lifetime … I finally figured out my own response to that familiar question: “Are we there yet?” Youth Tour showed me that we will never finally be there; instead, we must continually ask ourselves questions, listen to others, and make adjustments in the directions to get us all there together. But in the end, progress is our destination.
Each state attending the Youth Tour selects a representative for the NRECA Youth Leadership Council. The YLC delegates attend a weeklong summer Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. A national spokesperson is selected during the conference to address both the NRECA Annual Meeting and the Youth Tour delegates the following summer. The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national service organization that represents the nation’s more than 900 private, not-for-profit, consumer-owned electric cooperatives, which provide service to 42 million people in 47 states. More than 8,500 representatives from cooperative electric utilities across the nation are attending the NRECA Annual Meeting March 2-5, during which they will set NRECA’s legislative and organizational agenda for 2014. In addition to considering and acting upon policy resolutions, delegates receive reports from NRECA officials, hear addresses by key public figures and business experts, and attend educational forums on major issues affecting electric cooperatives and their consumer-owners.