Bradley P. Beecher, President and Chief Executive Officer,
joined The Empire District Electric Company in 1988 as a Staff Engineer at the Riverton Power Plant. He was elected Vice President – Energy Supply in 2001 and Vice President and COO – Electric in 2006. He was elected Executive Vice President in February 2010 and became President and CEO on June 1, 2011.
A native of northwest Kansas, Mr. Beecher graduated from Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Kansas.
Mr. Beecher serves on the boards of the Joplin Chamber of Commerce, the Boys and Girls Club of Southwest Missouri, and the Kiwanis Club of Joplin. He is also on the boards of Connect2Culture, Joplin Regional Prosperity Initiative, and the Citizens Advisory Recovery Team for the Joplin tornado. He is a graduate of Leadership Missouri.
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Laurie A. Delano, Vice President - Finance and Chief Financial Officer,
first joined the Company in 1979 and served as director of internal auditing from 1983 to 1991. After an eleven-year separation from Empire District, Ms. Delano re-joined the Company in 2002 as director of financial services and assistant controller. She was named to the position of controller, assistant secretary, and assistant treasurer in July 2005. Ms. Delano was named to her current position in July 2011.
During the separation in employment, she was an accounting lecturer at Pittsburg State University and held accounting management positions with TAMKO Building Products, Inc. and Lozier Corporation.
A native of southwest Missouri, Ms. Delano received an Associate of Arts from Crowder College and a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Missouri Southern State University. She also holds a Master of Business Administration from Missouri State University. Ms. Delano is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Management Accountant. She is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Institute of Management Accountants.
Ms. Delano serves on the board of the Joplin Redevelopment Corporation (JRC) and the Missouri Southern State University School of Business Advisory Council. She has also been active with United Way organizations and agencies, and is a past president of the board of directors of the United Way of Southwest Missouri and the Lafayette House. She currently serves on the Endowment Committee for the Lafayette House. She is a member of the Joplin Daybreak Rotary.
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Kelly S. Walters, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer – Electric,
was elected to her current position in 2011. After joining the Company in 1988 as a Fuel Accountant, she held various accounting and management positions before being named Director of Auditing in 1997. During a four-year separation she served as the Director of Financial Services for Crowder College in Neosho. She returned to the Company in 2001 as Director of Planning and Regulatory and was later named General Manager of Regulatory and General Services. In 2006 Ms. Walters was elected Vice President – Regulatory and General Services.
A native of Southwest Missouri, Ms. Walters holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Pittsburg State University and a Masters degree in Human Resource Management from Webster University, St. Louis, Missouri.
Ms. Walters serves on the Missouri Workforce Investment Board, United Way of Southwest Missouri and Southeast Kansas Board, and is the Treasurer of the Crowder College Foundation Board. She is a former board member of the American Red Cross Southwest Missouri Chapter and Joe Newman Innovation Center board. She is a graduate of Leadership Missouri.
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Ronald F. Gatz, Vice President and Chief Operating Officer – Gas,
joined The Empire District Electric Company as General Manager of Nonregulated Services in 2001 and was elected to Vice President in April of that year. He was elected to his present position effective June 2006.
Mr. Gatz is a native of Newton, Kansas, and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Economics from Kansas State University and a graduate degree in banking from the University of Delaware. Gatz was in the banking industry for 28 years, with 12 of those years at Mercantile Bank of Joplin as Executive Vice President, Senior Credit Officer, and Chief Financial Officer. Prior to coming to Empire, he was Chief Administrative Officer for Hook Up, Inc. of Joplin.
Mr. Gatz serves on the Board of Joplin R8 School Foundation, is Chairman of Joplin Industrial Development Authority, is a member of the Joplin Tax Increment Finance Commission and the Joplin Rotary Club.
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Blake A. Mertens, Vice President – Energy Supply,
joined the Company in 2001 as Staff Engineer in Energy Supply. Positions he has held include Planning Engineer, Combustion Turbine Construction Project Manager, Manager of Strategic Projects, and Associate Director of Strategic Projects. He was named Director of Strategic Projects, Safety, and Environmental Services in January of 2010 prior to accepting the position of General Manager – Energy Supply in November of 2010 and elected to his current position in May 2011. Prior to his employment with Empire, Mr. Mertens was an energy consultant for Black & Veatch of Overland Park, Kansas.
A native of the Wichita, Kansas area, Mr. Mertens received a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering at Kansas State University and a Masters in Business Administration at Missouri State University. He is a registered professional engineer in the State of Kansas.
Mr. Mertens serves on the board of the Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center, currently as vice-chairman, and is a member of the Joseph Newman Innovation Center board.
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Martin O. Penning, Vice President – Commercial Operations,
began his career at Empire District as an engineer in 1980. He has held numerous engineering positions including Director of Engineering and Line Services, as well as Director of Strategic Planning, Director of Planning and Regulatory, Director of Commercial Operations-Eastern, and Director of Commercial Operations-Western. He was elected to his current position in 2011.
Mr. Penning, a native of St. Louis, Missouri, earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Missouri University of Science and Technology (MS&T) and is a member of the MS&T Corporate Development Council. He is also a member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers and has served on various Southwest Power Pool committees and task forces.
Mr. Penning is a member of Joplin Regional Economic Development Association and the Republic Business & Industrial Development Association. He is also a graduate of Leadership Missouri and is a member of the Webb City/Carl Junction Rotary Club.
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Janet S. Watson, Secretary-Treasurer,
joined The Empire District Electric Company in 1994 as Accounting Staff Specialist and was elected to her present position in 1995. Prior to joining Empire, Watson was Accounting Superintendent with Missouri-American Water Company. She was also formerly employed by Freeman Hospital in Joplin as a Cost Analyst and with Teledyne Neosho as a Senior Administrative Accountant.
A native of Southwest Missouri, Ms. Watson graduated Summa Cum Laude from Missouri Southern State University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting with special emphasis in Computer Science.
Ms. Watson is a member of the Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals, the National Investor Relations Institute, and the Risk and Insurance Management Society, Inc.
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Robert W. Sager, Controller, Assistant Secretary and Assistant Treasurer,
joined the staff at Empire in 2006 as director of financial services. He was named to his current position in July 2011. Prior to employment with Empire, Mr. Sager held the position of senior manager—auditing and consulting with BKD LLP in Joplin.
A native of Hays, Kansas, Mr. Sager received a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration—Accounting from Pittsburg State University and is a Certified Public Accountant. He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and serves on the Accounting Services Committee of the Edison Electric Institute.
Mr. Sager serves on the board of the Community Clinic of Joplin, as an elder at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, and as a volunteer youth sports coach. Mr. Sager has previously served as a board member of the United Way of Crawford County and the Pittsburg State University Accounting Advisory Council.
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Vice President, Finance and Chief Financial Officer
Texas Industries, Inc.
(Age 56, Director since 2005)
President and CEO
The Empire District Electric Company
(Age 48, Director since 2011)
Retired President and CEO
The Empire District Electric Company
Shell Knob, Missouri
(Age 57, Director since 2002)
Co-Founder and Director
Teton Village, Wyoming
(Age 66, Director since 1988)
Chairman of the Board of Directors
The Empire District Electric Company
(Age 59, Director since 2003)
Senior Vice President, Chief Financial Officer, and Treasurer
Neenah Paper Inc.
(Age 55, Director since 2009)
Founder, President, and CEO
SALOV North America Corporation
Montclair, New Jersey
(Age 66, Director since 2003)
Retired President and COO of Black Hills
Corporation’s Non-Regulated Energy Group
Fort Collins, Colorado
(Age 62, Director since 2011)
Dr. Paul Portney
Professor of Economics and former Dean
Eller College of Management
University of Arizona
(Age 68, Director since 2009)
Retired Executive Vice President, Con-way Inc. and
President, Con-way Truckload
(Age 58, Director since 2010)
Sullivan Group LLC
(Age 67, Director since 2010)
Committees of the Board
Audit Committee – Allen2, Hartley, Lind2, Mueller2 (Chair)
Compensation Committee – Allen, Laney, Ohlmacher (Chair), Portney, Schmidt
Nominating/Corporate Governance Committee – Allen, Hartley (Chair), Laney, Lind, Sullivan
Retirement Committee – Gipson, Lind (Chair), Mueller, Ohlmacher, Sullivan
Strategic Projects Committee – Gipson, Ohlmacher, Portney (Chair), Schmidt, Sullivan
Executive Committee – Beecher (Chair), Gipson, Laney, Mueller, Schmidt
Risk Oversight Committee – Hartley, Laney (Chair), Mueller, Ohlmacher, Portney
1 Ages shown as of March 1, 2014.
2 Audit Committee Financial Expert.