Stepping down, but not slowing down
Early on in her career, LaDonna Boyd was asked to promote the use of electricity. The more kilowatt usage, the better. Oh, how times change.
Forty one years later, Boyd is in her last week of work at Dakota Electric Association in Farmington. She's been with DEA since 1968, when she left her job with Northern States Power and came to Dakota County Electric Cooperative. Somehow, she just never left.
Boyd was hired by NSP while she was still in college. She was hired as a home economist. It was her job to go out and teach people about the many benefits of electricity. She'd worked at NSP for a couple of years when she heard about Dakota Electric. Moving to Farmington, she continued her job in the home economist role, but it soon changed.
The company's name changed to Dakota Electric Association in 1969. A few years later, a new wave hit the electric industry - specifically, the microwave. It was Boyd's job to teach housewives and girls in school how to use it.
"I went around to schools and gave classes on how to use the microwave efficiently," Boyd said, laughing. "Just on how to use it. Think of that."
Things started changing in 1973, following the oil embargo. After that, the focus turned from using more electricity to using electricity more wisely, Boyd said. Where she had previously been urging the use of more kilowatts, she was suddenly talking about insulating the home and finding other cost-saving measures to cut down on the amount of electricity used in the household.
Over time, Boyd's job continued to evolve. She eventually moved from the home energy conservation arena into working with the commercial industry to help business owners find the energy solutions right for their companies. Before long, her outreach efforts took on a marketing tone, and she was out to tell the Dakota Electric Association story.
Her job changed from marketing to commercial development, then she took a few more classes and graduated from the University of Oklahoma with a master's degree in economic development. Her thesis was on partnerships.
"In order to build successful communities, you need to build partnerships and build collaboration," she said.
Her thesis wasn't just a thesis. Boyd's philosophy was also her state of mind and an example of the life she lived. It's a life of volunteering, of working in the community and, more importantly, giving time to build the partnerships that make a community - and a person - strong.
She can list many of her past involvements, but in trying to list them, realized she probably missed some, too. Boyd was president of Farmington's former Chamber of Commerce for many years, and continues to be a member of the Dakota County Regional Chambers of Commerce. She chaired the Farmington Dew Days committee for five years. She has served on the city's economic development commission. She's also participated in the Empire Township planning commission. She was a member of the Dakota Valley Arts Council and was instrumental in establishing the Depot Way Arts Park. And she's an active member of Church of the Advent.
And that's just in Farmington, where she works. She's got more civic involvement in Rosemount, where she lives, and in Dakota County, as well. She's a member of the Dakota Workforce Investment Board, she's on both the Dakota County Technical College advisory board and the Inver Hills Community College advisory board. She's a member of the Dakota County Historical Society, and, as she looks ahead to her retirement next week, she's part of a new Dakota County Arts Collaborative.
Boyd is retiring, but that doesn't mean she's going to be still. Her retirement will give her the opportunity to work on more volunteering, but she's got bigger plans, too.
"I'm looking forward to spending more time with my grandchildren," she said.
There wasn't one big factor in her decision to retire. It was just time.
"Everybody said, 'You'll just know,' and they were right," she said. "It's really time for me to start the next chapter in my life."
Boyd's last day with Dakota Electric Association is Friday, Feb. 17. When all of her co-workers go back to work next Monday, she'll already be at her property in Mesa, Ariz. She's got a cabin up north where she plans to spend summer days, and if a little travelling happens along the way, well, that's okay, too.