Chief Executive Officer
Steve 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 over the years. 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, prior to that.
Steve served six years on the Touchstone Energy Board of Directors (two as Chairman), 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, a past member of the Southeastern Data Cooperative (SEDC) Board of Directors, has served as Chairman of the Rural Electric Management Development Council (REMDC), and serves on the Executive Committee of the Okaloosa County Economic Development Council. He is a past member of the All Sports Association in Fort Walton Beach, Florida, serves on the Northwest Florida State College Foundation Board of Directors 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. He received the Distinguished Service Award from Touchstone Energy in 2023 for his many years of service and leadership with the national brand.
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. Steve has two grown children (Samantha and Nick), two grandchildren (Charlotte and Evelyn), and lives in Niceville, Florida, with his wife, Tami.
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 previously served as Chairman of the Association of Large Distribution Cooperatives (ALDC) engineering & operations group and was a past member of the National Rural Telecommunications Cooperative (NRTC) smart grid advisory board. Matthew engages in the local community. He is an active member of Crosspoint Church and serves as Chairman of the Administrative Board. He is a board member and serves as Treasurer for the Walton County Economic Development Alliance. He is a past board member of the Emerald Coast United Way. He is a Past-President of 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 the past Chairman of Mentoring Emerald Coast (formerly BUILD), a community-wide mentorship program. Matthew is also a member of the Emerald Coast Military Affairs Committee and served as an Honorary Commander with the 16th Electronic Warfare Squadron, 53rd Wing, Eglin AFB.
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 States 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 lives in Bluewater Bay with his wife, Jamie, and their two children.
Vice President of Member Services and External Affairs
Emily Cowan currently serves as the Vice President of Member Services and External Affairs 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.
She 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.
Under Emily’s leadership at CHELCO, the communications team has won three Touchstone Energy Spotlight on Excellence awards. Emily also serves on the national Cooperative Performance and Research committee for Touchstone.
Emily currently serves on the Walton Area Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors and the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity of Walton County. 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 provides 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 currently serves as the Vice President of Administration at Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CHELCO). The Administration division comprises Safety and Environmental Compliance, Human Resources and Training, Information Technology, and Corporate Services. The latter encompasses Administrative Support, Facilities, Vehicle Shop, and Commercial Loss Control.
Scott’s professional background includes working in the textile manufacturing industry as well as with a power distribution equipment repair, sales and decommission company. Having specialized in employment law compliance, employee relations, recruiting, hiring, benefits administration, safety compliance, property/casualty insurance administration, and environmental compliance.
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 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 is currently the Chair of CareerSource Okaloosa Walton, serves on the NWFSC Business and Management Advisory Committee and is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management.
Vice President of Finance
Robin Shaw currently serves as the Vice President of Finance at Choctawhatchee Electric Cooperative, Inc. (CHELCO).
She was promoted to this role in March 2020 after having served as CHELCO’s Manager of Accounting for six years. Robin began her career as an auditor and later served in a financial leadership role with a private equity firm that managed multiple transformer repair facilities.
Robin has a Bachelor of Science in both Accounting and Finance from Florida State University. She has been a licensed Certified Public Accountant in the State of Florida since 2002.
Robin currently serves as Treasurer of the Walton County Education Foundation. She is a board member and audit committee member of the Okaloosa Walton United Way. Robin is a board member and Treasurer of Southland Utility Services. She previously served as a mentor with Take Stock in Children for six years and sat on the Northwest Florida State College Foundation Board for three years.
At CHELCO, Robin is responsible for the oversight of the Accounting, Billing and Revenue, Purchasing, and Meter Services functions of the Cooperative.