Kermit Pearson, Lake Region Electric Association’s board president, has been recognized for his contributions to the advancement and advocacy of electric cooperatives throughout the state of South Dakota and beyond. This distinguished award highlights outstanding cooperative leaders who lend their talents, time, expertise, and passion toward improving the quality of their cooperative organizations and their communities. Legacy of Leadership award winners routinely demonstrate their dedication and commitment to serving the collective interests of others above their own.
In addition to his involvement at Lake Region Electric, Kermit currently holds leadership positions on the South Dakota Rural Electric Association, East River Electric Power Cooperative and Basin Electric Power Cooperative boards of directors. He is dedicated to the cooperative cause and has held leadership positions on various cooperative organization boards at the local and regional levels for over
Kermit has served on Lake Region Electric Cooperative’s board of directors since 1981 where he currently serves as board president. In 1989 Lake Region’s board of directors voted for him to represent the local co-op on East River Electric’s board of directors, where he continues to serve as one of its longest-tenured board members. In 1997 he became East River Electric’s representative on the Basin Electric Power Cooperative’s board of directors where he continues to serve as Basin’s board vice president. With Basin, he has served on subsidiary boards including Prairie Winds, Dakota Coal Company/Montana Limestone, and Dakota Gasification Company boards.
Throughout his tenure, Kermit has been a champion for innovation and service to members of rural communities. He continues to be a voice that moves the cooperatives forward while ensuring that decisions made at the Basin Electric level are in the best interest of the East River Electric regional membership and the Lake Region Electric local membership.
Timothy McIntyre, manager of Lake Region Electric, said of Kermit, “It has been a pleasure to be the manager at Lake Region Electric under Kermit’s oversight and governance that he provides as president of the board of directors. He continually and consistently governs using the seven Cooperative Principles as a guide. Kermit’s strong sense of responsibility to the membership is reflected in the stability that our cooperative has been able to maintain, even with the adversity that we have been facing over the past couple of years.”
Over the last 42 years of serving the region’s electric cooperatives, Kermit has been a decision-maker and voice offering guidance as technological advancement has molded the industry and provided benefits to local members. Kermit was instrumental in the conversion to automatic meter reading. Prior to its introduction, members were responsible for tracking their electrical usage and calculating their bills for payment. The conversion was transformative for members, improving their experience and quality of life.
Through his service on the Basin Electric Board of Directors, Kermit has provided strategic direction that has benefitted electric cooperative members across Basin’s 9-state footprint.
He has ensured that consumers across the region have reaped the benefits of reliable, affordable generation and transmission services. During his time on Basin’s board, the cooperative has successfully integrated into a regional transmission organization, modernized its financing options, and added new renewable energy generation while maintaining and updating its traditional generation resources. Basin Electric has grown considerably during Kermit’s time on the board, and he has played a pivotal role in ensuring that this growth was accomplished in the most cost-effective manner possible. Kermit’s accomplishments at Lake Region, East River Electric, and Basin Electric have earned a well-deserved reputation as one of the nation’s foremost cooperative leaders. “As a community leadership advocate and mentor, Kermit encourages others to get involved in their co-ops and dedicate their time, voice, and experience to the cooperative mission,” said East River Electric Power Cooperative board of directors and management staff . He views membership as an opportunity to be a representative and influence policy and direction as well as contribute to the cooperative culture. He knows that individuals stepping forward and making a commitment to serve is what it takes to ensure members continue to receive reliable and affordable energy, and he shares this sentiment with others whenever he can. He truly believes in the work he does, and he inspires others with the example he demonstrates.
Fellow Lake Region board member Andrea Kilker believes in the legacy of leadership that Kermit demonstrates. “Kermit listens: he listens to all voices. He listens to learn and understand, truly seeking everyone’s perspective. Kermit asks powerful questions with a goal of seeking information to help him make decisions. I am very grateful for the wisdom and leadership Kermit provides.”
Kermit has been an active participant in the agricultural community throughout his lifetime, devoting countless hours to improving life in his local community as well as across the state and region. In September 2018, Kermit was inducted into the South Dakota Co-op Hall of Fame. His legacy of leadership and infl uence is quite astounding. He is proud yet humble to have been nominated and honored with such an award.