Lee to retire, EMPOWER names new CEO

Published 8:00 am Sunday, February 18, 2024

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EMPOWER Broadband announced on Monday that CEO John C. Lee Jr. plans to retire as of June 30, closing out a career with the Cooperative that spanned 16 years. Lee, who also runs EMPOWER’s sister company Mecklenburg Electric, said it was a tough choice. 

“This has been one of the most difficult career decisions I have ever made,” said Lee. “The highlight of my career will always be my great years at Mecklenburg, and I will never forget my time at both MEC and EMPOWER. I have so much respect for MEC’s and EMPOWER’s missions, and the very capable boards of directors that serve them both, and I really love the folks employed there … they are awesome employees and really great people and they’ve made coming to work every day a real joy.”


During his tenure, Lee guided the 86-year-old Cooperative through many hurdles and improvements, from hardening an aging distribution system, to fostering a positive work environment in tumultuous times during the COVID-19 pandemic, to deploying technology to improve reliability and service, to the organizational restructuring of the cooperative following the retirement of a significant percentage of tenured employees.

His forward thinking and roll-your-sleeves-up work ethic is perhaps most evident in the establishment of EMPOWER Broadband, MEC’s wholly owned subsidiary, which was formed in 2018 under Lee’s leadership, ushering in the digital age for the rural communities served by MEC. That telecommunications company is now bridging the digital divide and bringing world-class, fast and affordable internet service to rural Southside Virginia, with over 5,000 homes and businesses connected and more being added every day. 

Lee was also instrumental in EMPOWER’s acquisition of Buggs Island Telephone Cooperative, an action that streamlined services for their joint customers and accelerated the broadband buildout for all. He also co-founded the SVCC Power Line Worker Training School at Ft. Barfoot and continues to serve on that school’s advisory board.

“It has been an incredible honor to be a part of this organization and to work alongside the fantastic team of talented employees and the visionary board of directors, both of whom have always put the best interests of their Member-owners first,” Lee said. “I leave the cooperative proudly knowing that it is in very capable hands, that the lights and fiber will stay lit, and that these two organizations will continue to make a positive impact on the quality of life in our region.”

David Jones, chairman of MEC’s board of directors, expressed his gratitude for Lee’s dedication and contributions saying, “Under John’s leadership our organizations are recognized leaders … and the best around. This Cooperative has enjoyed many accomplishments during his 16-year tenure; he has been an extraordinary leader both here and in our sister organizations at the VMDAEC and ODEC, where he is recognized for his vision, his sound decision-making, his willingness to take a difficult position or challenge, and the ability to build consensus. We will miss him greatly but are confident that the baton is being passed to another very capable leader.”


Also on Monday, the MEC and EMPOWER boards of directors appointed MEC and EMPOWER Chief Operating Officer Casey Logan as the incoming president and CEO, effective July 1.

“Casey will continue our strong legacy of leadership and move our organizations forward in the same aggressive manner in which we have moved during John’s tenure, and with the same great success,” Jones said. 

Logan joined the Cooperative in May 2023, and has extensive cooperative and broadband experience. He served as president and CEO of Prince George Electric Cooperative for eight years and led that cooperative’s fiber buildout as founding executive for PGEC’s subsidiary, RURALBAND. He serves on the boards of directors for ODEC, Southeastern Federal Power Customers and Arrowhead Gun Club, as well as the VMDABC as its current chairman, and also serves on the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s Region #1 Nominating Committee.

“MEC is a very special place, and I knew that before coming here and being on the outside looking in,” said Logan. “When the opportunity arose for me to come here, I was excited and proud to become a part of such a top-notch organization. John Lee has created a high standard for us to live up to, and I look forward to working with the board, Members and employees and continuing the Cooperative’s long tradition of excellence and service and doing what MEC does best … keeping the lights on.”

Logan will step into his new role on July 1.


Lee will immediately take over as President and CEO of Old Dominion Electric Cooperative

(ODEC), MEC’s power supplier. ODEC provides power to cooperatives in the states of Virginia, Maryland, and Delaware and features a diverse power portfolio that includes solar and wind generation. ODEC owns over $2 billion in assets including power stations in Virginia and

Maryland. Lee has been serving as interim CEO there since September 2023, a period in which he served as CEO of four organizations including MEC, EMPOWER Broadband, EMPOWER Telecom, and ODEC.

“ODEC is facing a number of potential industry-changing developments that must be aggressively addressed. These issues will impact MEC and its members, and I was asked by the ODEC board to help guide that organization through these challenges,” said Lee of his move to the generation and transmission cooperative, headquartered in Glen Allen. “I have done a great deal of soul-searching about my career, and strategically, ODEC is where I can best continue to serve cooperative members in Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, including those at MEC. I’m honored to have been asked by the ODEC board to lead the G & T cooperative through some tumultuous times and I’ll do my best to mitigate the impact these challenges will have on cooperatives in our three-state area.”

Lee began his 32-year cooperative career in 1992 as ODEC’s Community Relations Specialist during the construction of the Clover Power Station, and during his 16-year stint there he served as Director of Economic Development, Manager of Administration, and Vice President of Member and External Relations.