Along with linemen, one of the most visible positions at an electric co-op is the member services representative. Miami-Cass REMC would like to spotlight our member service representatives — Karen Chester and Michelle Hays.
Karen Chester started her career at the REMC in October 1988. Prior to that, she worked at the Miami County Courthouse. Chester wasn’t looking for a new job at the time, but when the REMC called her (based on the recommendation of a couple of local attorneys) about the cashier’s position she accepted.
As a member service specialist, Chester is responsible for collections, outage management, month-end reporting and other customer service responsibilities. She enjoys her position and the opportunities it provides her to interact with members when they come into the office.
During her over 30 years with the REMC, Chester has seen many changes. The biggest change occurred last year with the acquisition of Broadway Broadband. Until that time, the REMC only provided electricity-related services.
Chester shared that her proudest moment at the REMC was when she completed the Rural Electric Leaders in Training Exchange (RELITE) program, a two-year leadership program offered by Indiana Electric Cooperatives. The program is designed to foster a network of leaders within Indiana’s electric cooperatives.
Chester is a native of Peru and a graduate of Peru High school. After high school, she attended John Herron Art Institute for a period of time, and she still enjoys drawing and painting. Chester also enjoys spending time with family and friends. She has a grown daughter, a 12-year-old granddaughter and an 8-year-old grandson. Her bucket list includes taking her family on a trip to Hawaii along with traveling to Paris or Ireland.
Michelle Hays has been with Miami-Cass REMC for six years. In her position, she assists new members with setting up service, works as cashier and helps members who call or visit the office. Prior to working at the REMC, Hays had worked with people with disabilities at Peak Community Services for 19 years.
She had driven by the REMC almost daily and felt led to stop in one day to see if there were any job openings. Hay’s current position was available, so she applied.
She really enjoys the relationships she has fostered with the members and enjoys getting to hear their stories. Hays considers each day a success if she has done her job to the best of her ability and has maybe changed a life along the way.
Hays was born in England and at nine months of age was adopted by a U.S. military couple who were stationed there. The family moved back to the U.S. when she three years old, then moved to Peru when she was around 7 or 8 years old. Hays became a U.S. citizen at 16 and graduated from Maconaquah High School a couple of years later.
She married her husband Doug, who serves in the military, 21 years ago, and together they have four children. The couple have seven grandchildren ranging in age from 2 to 22. Hays loves being home, cooking and spending time with her family. When Hays was growing up, she didn’t dream of a fancy career but always wanted to be a homemaker and mom.
We at Miami-Cass are thankful to have both Chester and Hays as part of the REMC family. We are fortunate to have them on our team.