By Erin Campbell
Roger Solomonson is no stranger to serving on cooperative boards. His family jokes that they will one day inscribe his tombstone with the phrase, “He’s at a meeting.” He began his cooperative board service long ago at the age of 21 when he served as a director for a local grain elevator and hasn’t slowed down since.
History of advocating for cooperatives
As a retired grain and livestock farmer near Lake Mills in Winnebago County, Solomonson is a longtime advocate of the cooperative business model. He has served as a director for Heartland Power Cooperative for 27 years and is serving his fifth year as a director for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives (IAEC), most recently serving as the board secretary and treasurer before becoming president in December.
Solomonson previously served as vice president and treasurer of the board for Dairyland Power Cooperative, which supplies electricity to Heartland Power Cooperative. As a big believer in education and training, he has earned his Credentialed Cooperative Director designation, the Board Leadership Certificate and the Director Gold designation.
Heart for community service
Many in north-central Iowa know Solomonson from his extensive community service work. Over the years, he has served in leadership roles at the local bank, grain elevator, church boards, township council, extension council, Winnebago Farm Bureau and pork, corn and soybean commodity organizations. Solomonson has also committed his time as Iowa State Membership Coordinator and North Iowa Regional Director for Gideons International.
“I’ve lived in this community my whole life, and I’m passionate about giving back,” he humbly shares.
Vision for board leadership in 2022
As the incoming board president for IAEC, Solomonson hopes to connect with all directors at Iowa’s local electric cooperatives so he can best represent their needs. “My goal this first year is to attend one board meeting at each electric cooperative so I can get to know my fellow co-op directors on their own turf,” he shares.
Solomonson’s priorities as a leader include open communication. “With three new directors on the statewide board, the dynamics have changed a bit,” he shares. “We’re bringing a new perspective as we look at issues like cybersecurity and political engagement.”
When reflecting on challenges facing the electric industry, Solomonson says, “I think there are two issues that will challenge Iowa’s electric cooperatives in the years ahead. How are we going to maintain reliable electricity as we rely more on intermittent energy sources like solar and wind? And also, how will we deal with increased regulations that are changing the way we supply energy? The goal is to safely supply reliable, affordable energy every time our consumers flip the switch.”
Solomonson looks forward to serving Iowa’s electric cooperatives in this new leadership role. His industry knowledge, leadership track record and passion to serve will be valuable assets. And if you’re trying to track him down, he’s probably at a meeting.
Erin Campbell is the director of communications for the Iowa Association of Electric Cooperatives.