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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.

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.

 

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.

 

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. Sandra has 30 years of experience in the field of utility regulation, having previously served as Chairman, Commissioner and Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Service Commission for eight and a half years. Prior to that, Sandra worked as assistant general counsel for Centerpoint Energy for 12 years and also as an associate with the Mitchell Law Firm.  She earned her Juris Doctorate from Washington University in 1985 and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas in 1982.

 

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.

 

 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.

 

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.

 

Andrew Lachowsky


Andrew Lachowsky is vice president of planning, rates and market operations for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC). He joined AECC as assistant planning engineer in 1990 and held several related positions prior to his present role. A resident of Little Rock, he holds a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering from the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

 
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. Sandra has 30 years of experience in the field of utility regulation, having previously served as Chairman, Commissioner and Executive Director of the Arkansas Public Service Commission for eight and a half years. Prior to that, Sandra worked as assistant general counsel for Centerpoint Energy for 12 years and also as an associate with the Mitchell Law Firm.  She earned her Juris Doctorate from Washington University in 1985 and her bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas in 1982.