Harlowe honored with electric co-op leadership award

By Madeline Otten, Correspondent

Hard work and dedication has paid off for Fluvanna resident Roberta Harlowe, who was awarded the 2018 Electric Cooperative Leadership Award from the Virginia, Maryland & Delaware Association of Electric Cooperatives (VMDAEC) on July 23 in Hot Springs. The recipient of this award is recognized as an outstanding co-op leader within the three-state region.

“I was breathless and speechless when I received the award,” said Harlowe. “It was a complete surprise. I feel incredibly honored for the recognition and deeply appreciate the many kind words and accolades from all across the family of electric cooperatives.”

Harlowe was the second woman to receive this award and was honored for her devoted service and leadership. She was praised for her time as chair of the VMD Education Scholarship committee, which provided more than $500,000 in scholarship assistance to over 500 high school seniors, and her service as chair of the association’s Educational Services Committee.

“Her leadership as chair of the scholarship fund has moved that foundation to a success that few people could have imagined,” wrote Jackson E. Reasor, retired CEO of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative.

Harlowe’s time with Central Virginia Electric Cooperative (CVEC) began 35 years ago when she was the first woman elected to the Board of Directors. Harlowe got started with CVEC through an invitation to consider a new opening position on the board. After her visit, she realized that serving on the board was going to be a great way to help members in Fluvanna County and throughout the entire CVEC service area.

The challenges of educating herself with the work of the co-op, the needs of the community, and the different facets of the electrical business and the membership did not hold Harlowe back.

“Roberta has been an integral part of our cooperative’s success,” said Gary Wood, CEO and president of CVEC. “She is recognized by many to be a dedicated and effective leader. Roberta is someone that you want in the room when important matters are on the table.”

During her time with CVEC, Harlowe took advantage of the opportunities and leadership roles within the company. Her first step was in 1995 when she was elected vice chair. Overall she has served as vice chair for three terms, chair for two terms, board secretary, and currently as board treasurer. She has also been active on several committees with CVEC and VMDAEC.

“It really is an incredible experience. I love working with the board members from different parts of the CVEC service area and talking about the needs of the members and communities. When we come together as board members, we come to make one decision for the entire membership,” said Harlowe.

In addition to being held in high esteem by her peers on the CVEC Board of Directors, her work through the statewide association has impacted many more people in the three-state region. Harlowe’s efforts drew the attention of leaders outside of CVEC who wrote letters of recommendation for her to receive the leadership award. Del. Rob Bell (R-Albemarle) of the 58th District wrote, “Mrs. Harlowe has modeled servant leadership for her community and fellow board members for over 35 years.”

Before joining CVEC, Harlowe helped her husband, Bill, found Harlowe Auction, which enabled them to travel around the world through their clients. She also served as choir director for Beaver Dam Baptist Church and regional representative for the Christian Woman’s Club.

Harlowe grew up in Charlottesville but relocated to Fluvanna County 55 years ago. She and her husband have two children, who have also made homes in Fluvanna County, and four grandchildren. When Harlowe is not serving on the board, she can be found reading or cooking, especially trying out new recipes.

CVEC serves more than 36,000 homes, farms and businesses in the rural portions of 14 counties, including Fluvanna, Albemarle, Amherst, Appomattox, Augusta, Buckingham, Campbell, Cumberland, Goochland, Greene, Louisa, Nelson, Orange and Prince Edward. It was formed in 1937 and is a member-owned, not-for-profit electric utility company.

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