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 10 years. At Midwest Energy Cooperative in Cassopolis, Michigan, he served as Vice President of Marketing and Customer Services, and President and Chief Executive Officer of Western Michigan Electric Cooperative in Scottville, Michigan.
Steve served as Chairman of the Touchstone Energy Board of Directors, a national brand representing over 700 electric cooperatives; is a member of the PowerSouth Board of Trustees; the National Cooperative Services Corporation (NCSC) Board of Directors; and serves on the Executive Committee of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. He has been a member of the All Sports Association in Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, and is active in the Mid-Bay Bridge Rotary Club in Bluewater Bay, Florida. In 2018, Steve was awarded the NRECA International Award for his work in support of rural electrification efforts overseas.
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, Inc. (CHELCO).
Emily received a Bachelor of Science in Business from Indiana University in Fort Wayne and a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Indiana Wesleyan. She also completed the MIP (Manager Internship Program) from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. Emily previously worked at Kosciusko Rural Electric Membership Cooperative (KREMC) for 11 years in Warsaw, IN, on the executive team as the manager of marketing and member services. Under her leadership, KREMC won four national Touchstone Energy Spotlight on Excellence awards. Emily brings with her experience in managing member services, marketing, and communications functions, which includes a comprehensive energy marketing program.
Emily has previously been extensively involved with a number of organizations and served in several leadership positions. She served on the following board of directors: Kosciusko Chamber of Commerce (Past Chairperson), Kosciusko Visitor’s Center (Past Chairperson), The Watershed Foundation
(BOD President), Kosciusko Economic Development marketing committee, Kosciusko Youth Leadership Academy (Past Chair).
At CHELCO, Emily will provide strategic direction and leadership to the cooperative, specifically in the areas of member services, member credit and collections, marketing, communications, community relations, legislative activity and economic development.
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.