Kirkley Thomas has been named as the vice president of governmental affairs for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI). He replaces Carmie Henry, who will retire effective Jan. 31 after more than 17 years with the cooperatives.
“After a nationwide search involving hundreds of candidates, Kirkley Thomas has been named vice president of governmental affairs for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas,” Duane Highley, president/CEO for the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, said in a statement. “Kirkley has served as the manager of economic development and in government affairs functions for the past 16 years for the cooperatives. He is an asset to the cooperative movement.”
Thomas, a graduate of Arkansas State University in Jonesboro with a degree in journalism/public relations, joined the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas as manager of community and economic development in 1998. A native of Lepanto, he is also a graduate of the Economic Development Institute of the University of Oklahoma.
Thomas has held leadership positions in state and regional economic development organizations and serves on the boards of the Arkansas Waterways Association, Accelerate Arkansas, Connect Arkansas and the Arkansas Steering Committee for the Johnny Cash Boyhood Home Project.
“I am honored to be able to continue to serve electric cooperative members throughout Arkansas in this new role,” Thomas said. “As a native of a rural Arkansas community, and having worked with towns across the state in community and economic development, I am very familiar with the opportunities and challenges our members face. I look forward to working with our elected officials to advance the cooperatives’ mission of ensuring a safe, affordable and reliable power supply.”
The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas comprise 17 electric distribution cooperatives; Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based cooperative that provides services to the distribution cooperatives; and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), a generation and transmission cooperative. The distribution cooperatives provide electricity to approximately 500,000 homes, farms and businesses in Arkansas and surrounding states.