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LEADERSHIP TEAM

Brian Heithoff Headshot
Brian Heithoff
Chief Executive Officer & General Manager

Brian Heithoff has been Trico Electric Cooperative’s CEO/General Manager since April 2021.

Mr. Heithoff has worked for electric cooperatives for more than three decades, including 23 years as a CEO. Prior to Trico, he has served for 10 years as the CEO and General Manager of High West Energy, Inc., which serves members in southeast Wyoming, western Nebraska, and northern Colorado, including the Warren Air Force Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Prior to his service at High West Energy, Heithoff served in numerous positions in the electric co-op industry, including:

  • CEO/General Manager at Consumers Energy in Marshalltown, Iowa.
  • CFO at United Power in Brighton, Colorado.
  • CFO at Morgan County REA in Ft. Morgan, Colorado.
  • CFO at Clay-Union Electric in Vermillion, South Dakota.

Brian has four children ages 26 and 22 – he has two sets of twins.  He has also been actively involved in the communities where he has lived serving on the governing boards of local chambers, hospitals, economic development organizations, Rotary clubs, a local bank and several non-profit organizations. 

Brian is a proven CEO and General Manager adept at leading innovative and team-oriented cooperative organizations. He has demonstrated leadership collaborating with employees, members, communities, and public officials.

“Trico has a reputation for having a strong culture of service, trust, and accountability; these will continue to be our focus. Our members deserve the best service possible, and I feel honored to help navigate the future of our cooperative,” said Mr. Heithoff.

Eric Hawkins Headshot
Eric Hawkins
Chief Operations Officer & General Counsel

Eric Hawkins is the COO and General Counsel at Trico.  Eric’s duties include oversight of the Power Supply, Marketing and Communications, IT, Environmental, Land Use, Legal, Regulatory, and Corporate Planning sections at Trico. Most recently he acted as the project manager for Trico’s new Chirreon Solar (10MW) and Battery Storage (15MW/30MWh) Facility. Eric served as Trico’s Board Counsel for five years before joining Trico in 2020.

He earned his bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctorate at the University of Arizona. He represents Trico on the Cooperative Performance & Research Committee at Touchstone Energy, and has presented at multiple conferences on utility scale renewable energy projects.

Eric is a lifelong resident of Southern Arizona and serves on the Audit & Ethics Committee for the United Way of Southern Arizona and on the Board of Trustees at the Tucson Museum of Art.  

James Freeman Headshot
James Freeman
Chief Financial Officer

James Freeman assumed the Chief Financial Officer role at Trico Electric Cooperative in November 2022.  Prior to Trico, he had served in several financial roles at electric utilities, Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative and Omaha Public Power District.  James came to Trico bringing more than 35 years of finance, information systems and consulting experience.  He is charged with responsibility for all financial functions, and oversees budgets, capital expenditures, investments, strategic financial planning, and is the primary financial liaison with regulatory agencies, external tax and audit entities.

James is a certified project management professional (PMP).  James received a Strategic Master of Business Administration from Bellevue University, Bellevue, Nebraska and a bachelor’s degree of science in business administration in accounting from University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Nebraska. 

In community service, James previously served as Vice Chair of New Community Development Corporation (NCDC) a non-profit, economic development focused organization.  James also is retired from an extensive career of military service with the National Guard, U.S. Army and Reserves.

Justin Banales Headshot
Justin Banales
System Operations Manager

Justin Banales is the System Operations Manager at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2002. Justin currently oversees the management of outages, overview and control of system resources related to substations, line devices, and renewables; along with system switching, GIS/mapping, AMI metering and infrastructure.

One of the first summer interns at Trico, Justin went to school for Electro-Mechanical Drafting before returning to Trico in 2002. With over two decades of experience at Trico, Justin has gained knowledge in the areas of design, GIS, metering, new service/construction, work order/ service order processes, construction and plant asset accounting, software implementation and management, strategic planning, and supervisory and management skills. 

Justin loves music and the connection it creates with people. Since 2014 he has been serving as an Audio Technician at his church in NW Tucson. Justin is part of the Greater Tucson Leadership Class of 2023 and is an NISC Operations Software advisory member, one of eight elected out of several hundred Electric Cooperatives.

Charlie Gourdin Headshot
Charlie Gourdin
Utility Services Manager

Charlie Gourdin is the Manager of Utility Services at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2015. Charlie’s responsibilities include the oversight of Trico’s procurement department, warehouse operation, fleet department, and Facilities.

Prior to becoming the Manager of Utility Services, Charlie served as Trico’s Supervisor of Procurement & Warehouse from 2015 through 2021. Before joining Trico, Charlie served as the Director of Procurement, Warehousing, and Facilities for the Muscular Dystrophy Association, where he spent 24 years in multiple capacities. In addition to his director role, Charlie also served for several years as the Assistant Coordinator of the MDA Jerry Lewis Labor Day Telethon.

Charlie is a lifelong resident of southern Arizona, and his family has been a Member of Trico Electric for over 30 years. Charlie was a collegiate baseball player, and both his daughters were collegiate athletes while earning their master’s degrees. Charlie served his community for several years as an Arizona Game & Fish Department hunter safety instructor and Marana Little League softball coach. Currently, Charlie serves as the Chairman of the Grand Canyon State Electrical Cooperative Purchasing Group Committee.

Laree St. Once Headshot
Laree St. Onge
Member & Energy Services Manager

Laree St. Onge is the Manager of Member and Energy Services at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2010. Laree manages the areas of Member Services, Billing, Economic Development, Strategic and Commercial Accounts, and Trico’s Sustainable Energy programs.

Laree has a Bachelor of Science degree in Finance from the University of Arizona and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix.  Laree came to Trico from Tucson Electric Power where she was a Project Manager, and has over 16 years of experience in the utility industry.  

Laree serves on the Board of the Peak Load Management Association.  She enjoys spending time with her husband and two dogs in her free time, as well as watching NASCAR and drag racing. 

Sandra Mendez Headshot
Sandra Nelson-Mendez
Executive Assistant/Records Management Supervisor

Sandra Nelson-Mendez is the Executive Assistant/Records Management Supervisor at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 1993. Sandra is the Executive Assistant to the CEO and Board of Directors; as well as oversees and manages Trico’s corporate records section. 

Sandra is a member of AZARMA, ARMA International and the National Notary Association. She has served on the GCSECA Education and Professional Development Committee approximately 25 years, with 6 of those years as the Committee Chair. 

MANAGEMENT TEAM

Rachel Chester Headshot
Rachel Chester
Member Service Supervisor

Rachel is the Supervisor of Member Accounts at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2022. Rachel oversees the Member Services Department, which is the primary point of contact for Trico members needing to establish or transfer service, ask account or billing questions, establish a new account, make payments, and more.  

Prior to coming to Trico, Rachel spent 15 years in emergency services and served in leadership roles in 911 dispatch for law enforcement, fire, and emergency medical services.

Rachel is an avid equestrian, training and competing in Eventing, a discipline which comprises dressage, show jumping, and cross country. She is also a professional dog trainer and serves as a volunteer trainer and foster for an Arizona-based Great Dane rescue. 

Robert Duke Headshot
Robert Duke
Information Systems Supervisor

Robert Duke is the Information Systems Supervisor at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2009. Robert is responsible for the smooth operation of the Information Technology and SCADA sections of the cooperative.

Robert has been working in IT since 2001 when he took his first job his junior year of high school as IT support, and never looked back.

When not working, Robert and his family are avid fish-keepers, with five tanks, over 100 fish, and more planned. 

Gene Lapete Headshot
Gene Lapete
Billing Supervisor

Gene Lapete is the Billing Supervisor at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 1998. Gene’s duties include ensuring accurate billing, adjusting Member bills, processing service orders, payments, third party collections, monthly write-offs, and refunds. 

Before coming to Trico, Gene worked in the electric utility industry for seven years as a meter reader and customer service representative for the largest public utility in New Hampshire.    

In his spare time, Gene likes to escape the Tucson heat and head to his cabin in Pinetop for some well-deserved relaxation. 

Megan Litwicki Headshot
Megan Litwicki
Digital Marketing Director

Megan Litwicki is the Director of Digital Marketing at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2022. She is responsible for overseeing and implementing the digital marketing efforts of Trico and works to ensure a vibrant, cohesive digital communications program. Key areas she manages includes Trico’s website, social media accounts, and digital content creation/videos.

As a native to southern Arizona, Megan attended the University of Arizona for her BA degree in Film & Television and MS degree in Marketing Management. Since 2017, she has worked in marketing for several industries including local film, tourism and entertainment, and philanthropy. Megan was selected to represent Trico and serve as a committee member for Touchstone Energy Cooperatives’ National Brand Standards Committee. 

Megan enjoys watching films, reading, and crafting in her spare time, and supports her community by volunteering on grant committees benefitting Southern Arizona. 

Rohan Pease Headshot
Rohan Pease
Corporate Planning Supervisor

Rohan Pease is the Supervisor of Corporate Planning at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with Trico since 2018. He manages the various planning functions within the cooperative, which includes Load Forecasting, Power Supply, Rates Administration, and Financial Planning.

Prior to joining Trico, Rohan worked for Arizona Electric Power Cooperative for 11 years, serving as Treasury Services Manager.

Rohan has a passion for cars, both vintage and racing. Outside of work he enjoys volunteering at the Gospel Rescue Mission. 

Loren Shelton Headshot
Loren Shelton
Metering Supervisor

Loren Shelton is the Metering Supervisor at Trico Electric Cooperative and has been with the co-op since 2012. Loren supervises the metering team and all metering duties/functions. He was a journeyman meter tech for 15 years and has worked in the utility industry for 25 years. 

An avid hiker, Loren has hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon and to all the highest peaks in Arizona. 

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