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Executive Bios

Duane D. Highley


Duane D. Highley is president and chief executive officer of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI). He assumed the position in November 2011.

A veteran in the utility industry, Highley served as director of power production at Associated Electric Cooperative in Springfield, Mo. before assuming his current position. He is a registered professional engineer with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology) and has completed the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program.

 

Robert M. Lyford


Robert M. Lyford is executive vice president and general counsel of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI). Previously, he served as vice president and general counsel and as staff attorney for the cooperatives. Lyford received a bachelor's degree in history and political science from Hendrix College, a juris doctorate degree from Vanderbilt University, and a diploma in criminology from the University of Cambridge.

 

Michael W. Henderson


Michael W. Henderson is executive vice president and chief financial officer of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI). Previously, he served as manager of treasury for AECC. He has been employed by AECC since 1984. Before joining AECC, he worked for Associated Natural Gas Co. and the Arkansas Public Service Commission. He earned a bachelor's degree in accounting from Arkansas State University in 1981. He is a certified public accountant.

Kirkley Thomas


Kirkley Thomas is vice president of governmental affairs for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI). Thomas began his career with the cooperatives in January of 1998 as manager of community and economic development. Before joining AECI he worked for the Arkansas Economic Development Commission and
as a professional staff member in the United States Senate. He received a bachelor’s degree in journalism/public relations from Arkansas State University
and is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma.

 

Pat McClafferty


Pat McClafferty has been vice president of the Utility Sales and Services Division of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc., (AECI) since October 1994. Prior
to assuming this position, McClafferty was sales manager of the Diversified
Electric Supply Co. He received a bachelor's degree in social science from Harding
University in 1975 and has 20 years experience in the electric utility industry.

 

Robert H. McClanahan


Robert H. McClanahan is vice president of information technology and chief technology officer for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc.,
(AECI). Prior to his promotion, McClanahan was manager of technical information
systems for AECC. He has been employed by AECC since 1981. He has a bachelor's
degree in physics and computer science from Henderson State University.

 

Ricky R. Bittle


Ricky R. Bittle is vice president of planning, rates and dispatching for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC). Since 1974 he has served in various positions
in the planning area, most recently as director of the former planning, rates and
dispatching department of AECC. Bittle received his bachelor's degree in
electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas in 1971 and is a registered professional engineer.

 

Jonathan Oliver


Jonathan Oliver is vice president of power production and delivery for Arkansas
Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC). Oliver, a resident of Little Rock, joined AECC
in 1995 and served in a variety of engineering and construction roles prior to being
named vice president in the fall of 2008. Oliver has a master’s degree in electrical
engineering from the University of Missouri-Rolla and a bachelor’s degree in
electrical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. He is a
professional engineer, master electrician, project management professional and
active member of many industry associations.

 

Sandra Byrd


Sandra Byrd joined Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC) in August 2007.
She serves as vice president of public affairs and member services for AECC and AECI.
She came to AECC from the Arkansas Public Service Commission where she
had served as chairman and as a member for eight and a half years. She has
more than 22 years in the field of utility regulation, beginning her career as an
associate with the Mitchell Law Firm in Little Rock. Next, she served 12 years as
assistant general counsel for Arkla, Inc., now Centerpoint Energy. She served as
executive director of the Arkansas Public Service Commission prior to being
named chairman of the commission.

 Maria Smedley


Maria Smedley is vice president of human resources for AECC and AECI. She
joined the cooperatives in November 2010. Prior to joining AECC/AECI, Smedley
was employed by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) as
the director of employee relations and benefits. She has more than 19 years of
human resources experience in a variety of sectors. Smedley is a graduate of
George Mason University, School of Law, holds a Masters of Business
Administration from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and earned a
bachelor’s of science degree in business administration from Southern Illinois
University at Edwardsville.