Chief Executive Officer
Stephen Rhodes currently serves as Chief Executive Officer of Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CHELCO).
Steve began his electric cooperative career in 1988 and has served at several cooperatives during his career. Prior to his arrival at CHELCO in 2013, he held the position of President and CEO at Kosciusko Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (KREMC) in Warsaw, Indiana, for ten years. At Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassopolis, Michigan, he served as Vice-President, Marketing and Customer Services, and as President-Chief Executive Officer of Western Michigan Electric Cooperative in Scottville, Michigan.
Steve recently served as Chairman of the Touchstone Energy Board of Directors, a national brand representing over 500 electric cooperatives, is a member of the PowerSouth Board of Trustees and the Southeastern Data Cooperative (SEDC) Board of Directors, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. He also is an active member of the All Sports Association in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, and the Mid-Bay Bridge Rotary Club in Bluewater Bay, Florida.
Steve received his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from The University of Toledo Graduate School of Business and his Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from The University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio.
J. Matthew Avery, P.E.
Senior Vice President of Engineering and Operations
J. Matthew Avery currently serves as the Senior Vice President of Engineering & Operations for Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CHELCO).
Matthew started with CHELCO in 2003 and was previously the vice president of engineering. Prior to joining CHELCO, Matthew worked in the utility industry since 1996 with another electric cooperative, an investor owned utility and a fiber optic company. Matthew also worked in the residential and commercial construction industry.
Matthew received his master’s degree in business administration (MBA) from the University of West Florida and his bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from Auburn University. Matthew is a registered professional engineer in the State of Florida and Alabama. He is also a graduate of the Robert I. Kabat Management Internship Program through The University of Wisconsin School of Business and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.
Matthew is involved in the community. He is an active member of Crosspoint United Methodist Church and serves on the Board of Trustees. He is a board member for the Walton County Economic Development Alliance. He is a board member of the Okaloosa/Walton United Way. He is a Past-President for the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce. He is a member of the All Sports Association and Past-President of the Niceville-Valparaiso Kiwanis Club. He is past Chairman of Mentoring Emerald Coast (formerly BUILD), a community-wide mentorship program. Matthew was also an Honorary Commander with the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron, 53rd Wing, Eglin AFB.
Matthew lives in Bluewater Bay with his wife, Jamie and their two children.
Vice President of Member Services
Emily Cowan is the Vice President of Member Services at Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative (CHELCO) in DeFuniak Springs, FL.
Cowan manages the member services, area offices, call center, marketing, communications and community relations. She previously worked at Kosciusko Rural Electric Membership Cooperative in Warsaw, Indiana as the Manager of Marketing and Member Services.
In her role at Kosciusko, she managed the member services, marketing, and communications functions. While at KREMC, she also delivered a comprehensive energy marketing program that includes residential, commercial and industrial, energy services, and key account management. She also managed a wide-ranging external and internal communications and public relations program designed to involve and inform the community, members, employees and directors.
Vice President of Administration
Scott Seay joined CHELCO in January of 2012 as Vice President of Administration. He is an experienced manager who has specialized in recruiting, hiring, benefits administration, property/casualty insurance administration, and legal/environmental compliance. His background includes employment with a power distribution equipment repair, sales and decommission company, and in the textile manufacturing industry.
Scott holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration from Troy State University at Dothan and a Master of Science degree in Human Resource Management from Troy University. He received the distinguished award of 2008 Outstanding Graduate Student in Human Resource Management at Troy University (Dothan Campus). He completed NRECA's Management Internship Program and has earned certificates in Employee Relations Law, Occupational Safety and Health and in the Interviewing and Selection Process.
Scott has extensive training in leadership, presentation skills and communications, to include working effectively with news media and Toastmasters Competent Communicator designation. He is on the board of directors of CareerSource Okaloosa Walton, has served as Chair of the Walton County United Way Funds Distribution Committee and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Chief Financial Officer
Wayne’s work experience includes extensive managerial and accounting experience in the hospitality industry, where he served internationally as an Internal Auditor and domestically as a General Manager. He then worked in governmental accounting as the city clerk/comptroller for the City of DeFuniak Springs, Florida.
For the last 30 years, Wayne has managed the Financial Services Division at Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative (CHELCO), in DeFuniak Springs, where he currently serves as Chief Financial Officer.
He currently serves on the board of directors for Southland Utility Services, Inc. where he is the Treasurer.
Wayne holds a B. A. degree in Accounting from the University of West Florida and has completed the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association Management Internship Program.