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Springfield employees receive Associated Electric Cooperative's Excel awards

SPRINGFIELD, MO – Nineteen area Associated Electric Cooperative employees were among those honored at the cooperative’s recent virtual 27th annual employee recognition ceremony hosted at its headquarters in Springfield.

The Excel awards are peer-nominated recognitions of employees who have excelled in their careers, leadership, mentoring, innovation, community services, teamwork or made other exceptional contributions.

Stacy Bussard, manager, human resources services, is the recipient of the Excel Award for Excellence in Leadership. She was recognized for her proven leadership over her 23-year career.

“Stacy is a natural leader, even before she was officially a leader. She doesn’t shy away from difficult conversations, has amazing outside-the-box thinking and is the foundation behind her team’s success. She always keeps her team’s best interest in mind and ensures we have stretch goals, receive feedback along the way, supports and stands up for us when needed,” the nominator said.

This is Bussard’s third Excel award, having received the 2005 Employee of the Year in an Administrative Field and 2007 Employee of the Year in a Professional Field awards.

Bussard began her career at Associated as a Parkview High School senior answering telephone calls at the front desk of the cooperative’s headquarters. After she became a full-time employee, Stacy used the cooperative’s educational assistance program to pursue her bachelor’s degree in business management and then master’s degree in HR management at Drury University and Webster University, respectively.

The nominator also praised Bussard for her leadership in the implementation of the Workday software platform in 2020, stating, “She spent many hours ensuring our workforce had communication regarding the implementation and clearly outlined the impacts to our employees to ensure a successful rollout.”

Bussard credited her HR mentors for their guidance through the years and praised her team, saying, “I’ve got such an amazing team. We challenge each other and constantly raise the bar. … They are committed to the job and engaged in what they’re doing. … A lot of what the team does directly supports Associated’s core values.                                                              

Karen Patti is the recipient of the Employee of the Year at Headquarters. She was recognized for her service on Associated’s Pandemic Task Force where she created many of the cooperative’s new pandemic-related protocols.

“She has been instrumental in countless initiatives over the past nine months. Her actions have had massive impacts on the safety of our employees and the reliability of our operations. Karen is a subject matter expert who has added value to so many aspects of the pandemic response,” the nominator said.

Patti applied her 25 years of HR and global security experience at the world headquarters of Walmart to the task of putting on paper the rules and guidance for keeping employees safe and power flowing to member cooperative systems. These included protocols for pandemic positive response, internal contact tracing and protection of employee-protected information; oversight of the occupational nursing staff; research and interpretation of Centers for Disease guidelines; and training for leaders.

Throughout the pandemic, Patti and her team kept paychecks and benefits flowing and encouraged employees to take advantage of the cooperative’s mental health resources. “I could not have won this award without my team,” she said.

 Nineteen employees on the Pandemic Task Force are the recipients of the Outstanding Team of the Year award. They were honored for their attention to employee safety, business continuity and staying focused on the pandemic response plan.

Area recipients by city of residence are:

Branson – Karen Patti, supervisor, benefits & wellness.

Billings – Rob Kramar, supervisor, energy risk management.

Long Lane – Warren Sharp, supervisor, physical security.

Niangua – Renee Doremus, buyer III.

Nixa – Ryan Ziegler, supervisor, system operations.

Ozark – Rick Armfield, senior manager, gas plant operations; Brad Austin, managing director, procurement.

Springfield - Alicia Baumhoer, corporate attorney; Alesia Caccamisi, occupational health nurse; Robin Harrison, senior corporate communicator; Dave White, managing director, security operations; Mark Viguet, senior manager, corporate communications; Brent Ross, managing director, environmental, health and safety.

Sparta – Caleb Daughhetee, manager, organizational development.

Serving on a task force, they were honored for their attention to employee safety, business continuity and staying focused on the pandemic response plan.

“In addition to their day jobs, this team met daily and then twice a week … to discuss COVID-19, ways to keep employees safe, health care personnel coverage, return-to-normal operations, pay guidelines and many other tasks needed as a critical infrastructure employer,” said the nominator

Task force members were carefully selected for their expertise and ability to stay the course. “We recognized these leaders were already really, really busy. But they became responsible for delegating so much work to so many people to make things happen,” said Dave White, the task force leader.

He added, “With Associated’s key mission and values as a foundation, the group was able to come up with effective solutions or products to allow the cooperative to fulfill its role as part of the bulk electric system.”

Albert Tranchilla, cybersecurity specialist, is the recipient of the Excel Award for Innovative Action. He was recognized for helping one of Associated’s owner generation and transmission cooperatives in Jefferson City implement software that ensures compliance with certain standards of the federal North American Electric Reliability Corp., covering the bulk electric system.

Tranchilla, who works on Associated’s grid security operations team, applied his technical skills and knowledge of the NERC standards to help the G&T’s information technology staff implement the new program. The nominator said, “This required custom configuration, scripting and creative solutions for the collection, formatting and reporting of information required to meet CIP compliance controls.”

He and the G&T team completed the project on time and gained new respect for each in the process and created a new level of partnership.

Rosalinda Weatherly, application analyst, is the recipient of the Community Advocate award. She was recognized for her ongoing efforts to feed Springfield’s homeless and support other organizations meeting the needs of the under-served.

“When it involves her community and people in need, Rosalinda Weatherly always goes the extra mile to do the right thing. She is a firm believer in serving others. Her commitment to serving others isn’t just a recent endeavor but a calling in her heart that she has answered and committed to for years,” the nominator said.

In 2020 alone and despite COVID-19, Weatherly:

  • Organized and led a group of volunteers quarterly to provide meals and feed 50-80 people living in Harmony House, a domestic violence shelter.
  • Served as a member of the Harmony House Auxiliary Committee.
  • Collected donations for Gathering Friends (not-for-profit volunteer network) and Connecting Grounds (a church), which both provide items to the homeless.
  • Organized donations for Sammy’s Window, which provides free resources to youth in foster care.
  • Played an active role in helping children with arthrogryposis.
  • Led Associated employees who helped feed 150-200 homeless at the Veteran’s Coming Home Center numerous times, while also volunteering and supporting other internal initiatives such as the Christmas Family Fund and an annual golf tournament benefiting the Springfield Workshop.

“My hope is that my recognition of this award will encourage others to step up. We’re all too busy. But at the end of the day if somebody doesn’t have a home, doesn’t have security or enough to eat, the reality is … it’s our duty to help people who need the help,” she said.

In addition to the award, Associated donates $500 to the nonprofit organization of Weatherly's choice.

Ryan Ziegler, supervisor, system operations, is the recipient of the Rising Star award. He was honored for exceeding expectations in every position and project he has undertaken. Those include serving as reliability compliance specialist, senior reliability compliance specialist and now supervisor, systems operations. He also volunteered to lead a document alignment initiative.

“He has an innate ability to understand complex issues and then relay them in ‘layman’s terms’ without making the receiver of the information feel foolish or unintelligent, yet he remains humble and ‘down to earth’ when assessing himself,” one nominator said.

In reliability compliance, Ziegler assisted with successful regulatory audits and standards review process and addressed internal risk control.

In system operations, which balances power generation with demand in three states, Ziegler tackled the need of transmission cooperatives to have more access to the lines, switching systems and substations they maintain. He also helped facilitate changes to how system operators work together.

Ziegler also led an initiative to make the cooperative’s many divisional policies, procedures, guidelines and programs similar in structure and content.

“I’ve found in life there are things other people are not willing to do and don’t want to do, and that’s where value can be added. … I just try to find places where I can apply myself to help other people be successful,” he said.                                   


Associated Electric Cooperative Inc. is owned by and provides wholesale power to six regional and 51 local electric cooperative systems in Missouri, southeast Iowa and northeast Oklahoma that serve 910,000 members. Associated’s mission is to provide an economical and reliable power supply and support services to its members. Associated is a Touchstone Energy Cooperative.

Photos available upon request.

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