With decades of utility industry experience, our team of managers works together with a core set of values to drive culture and purpose within our cooperative. The goal is simple, provide our talented employees with the tools and resources needed to serve our members with the first-class service they deserve all while providing safe, reliable, and affordable power.
Chief Executive Officer
Steven O. Foss, CEO, has over 35 years of experience as an electric cooperative employee in Kansas, Minnesota, and North Dakota.
Foss was hired in 2008 as the general manager of Leavenworth-Jefferson Electric Cooperative (LJEC) and lead the consolidation to FreeState Electric Cooperative which consolidated LJEC and Kaw Valley Electric Cooperatives in 2017. Prior to coming to Kansas in 2008, Foss managed the business accounts sector for one of the largest electric cooperatives in the nation.
Steven Foss holds a Business Degree from Bethel University, as well as degrees in Electrical and Architecture from North Dakota State College of Science.
He is an NRECA Management Internship Program graduate, an NRECA Certified Key Accounts Manager, a Registered Master Electrician, a state-certified Residential and Commercial and Industrial Energy Auditor, and also a state-certified Home Inspector.
He serves on multiple industry boards and holds executive offices for Kansas Electric Power Cooperative (KEPCo), and KSI Engineering where he is the current board chairman. He also serves on the Kansas Electric Cooperatives (KEC) board and is the past chairman of the Kansas Electric Cooperative Managers Association.
Assistant General Manager
Chris Parr, Assistant General Manager, has 14 years of experience in the utility industry including investor-owned, municipalities, and cooperatives.
As the assistant general manager, he reports directly to the CEO and oversees accounting and financial management, human resources, corporate communications, and information technology. Parr is also lead on strategic planning, risk management, and leadership
development for the cooperative.
Parr holds an M.B.A from Baker University and B.B.A in Financial Management from Kansas State University. Parr is a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and Certified in Risk Management Assurance (CRMA) from the Institute of Internal Auditors. He is also a graduate of NRECA’s MIP program.
Ryan comes to FreeState with over 10 years of work-related experience in purchasing management, contract negotiations, supplier relationship management, and strategic sourcing. As a Regional Sales Manager, Ryan has experience working in the electric utility industry and partnering with electric cooperatives. Ryan has extensive knowledge of the utility industry, material supply/demand, and supplier performance.
Brent Edgecomb, Information Technology Manager, has 15 years of increasing levels of experience in the information technology industry. His understanding of the interplay between applications, systems, networks, and cloud services enable Brent to make smart, cost-effective, and highly impactful decisions that will help provide reliable services for both the Cooperative and its membership.
Prior to joining the Cooperative, Brent spent two years in information technology management roles in the higher education field. Brent has overseen many large multi-million dollar projects, most notably of these: construction and management of a state-of-the-art data center; numerous new construction or renovation projects involving the mass deployment of audio-visual, network, and security technology infrastructure.
Among his significant previous positions, Brent served as Senior Manager of Information Technology Operations for Ottawa University, headquartered in Ottawa, Kansas. In this role, Brent directed all information technology operations for the University’s nationwide footprint.
Brent holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Management Information Systems from Ottawa University. Brent is also an active member of the Kansas City VMware Users Group.
Human Resources Manager
Desiree LaForge, Human Resources Manager, and Executive Support graduated from Friends University with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Human Resources Management. She also holds a Master's of Business Administration from Friends University.
She holds the Professional in Human Resources (PHR) designation through the Human Resources Certification Institute.
She serves as the Membership Director for the Society for Human Resources Management – Topeka Chapter Board of Directors. Desiree began employment in August 2016 as the Cooperative’s Director of Human Resources.
In her current role, Desiree is responsible for overseeing the administration of human resources management activities, as well as the administration of board relations at the cooperative by managing and overseeing the governing documents of the cooperative, coordinating board activities, and assisting senior managers with measuring and executing the strategic direction of the cooperative.
Member Relations Manager
Jennifer Ping, Member Relations Manager, has over 20 years of administrative management experience in customer relations, account management, and financial and business management.
She has been with FreeState Electric Cooperative for ten years. As the member relations manager, she is responsible for member services, communications, customer care, and billing functions for the cooperative.
Jennifer Ping holds an associate degree in banking and finance management from Kansas City Kansas Community College and a B.A. in Leadership and Management from Ottawa University. She recently completed certification for Key Accounts Management through NRECA and is also a graduate of the MIP Select program.
Michelle Meyer, Accounting and Finance Manager, has over 20 years of cooperative experience. Eight of those years as manager of accounting and finance. Michelle has also worked as a member service representative, accounts payable clerk, and office assistant.
As the accounting manager, Michelle is responsible for preparing and presenting financial reports and managing cash flow.
Michelle Meyer has an associate of applied science in accounting. She is a member of the Kansas REC Accountant’s Club, and a holds an NRECA Supervisory Certificate.
Zach Sterling, Operations Manager, has more than 20 years of electric utility line experience. As the operations manager, Zach is responsible for planning, directing, coordinating, reviewing, and monitoring the activities of the line departments of both district offices, and Fort Leavenworth.
He began his career with Kaw Valley Electric Cooperative in Topeka in 1996 as an apprentice lineman, and in 2000 gained journeyman lineman status. His most recent management experience was as a line superintendent at the West District office until 2016 when he was promoted to operations manager.
Zach Sterling has a degree in Electrical Power and Distribution from Manhattan Area Technical College.
Jill Taggart, Finance Manager has more than 16 years of financial experience working specifically within the utility industry. Her experience includes financial analysis and long-term forecasting, modeling, and budget development. Jill has advanced her career leading and facilitating strategic business initiatives and presenting financial and business case recommendations in both the investor-owned and cooperative business environments.
At FreeState, Jill is responsible for developing and maintaining financial models that support strategic, financial, and risk management plans. She is also responsible for evaluating contracts and completing individual load forecasts for electric cooperatives throughout Kansas. She also establishes policies and procedures for equity management, risk management, and financial viability.
Jill holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance and Marketing, as well as a master’s degree in Business Administration, both from Washburn University in Topeka.
Eric Wylie, Engineering Manager, has more than 10years of experience in the design, planning, and operation of overhead and underground power distribution facilities ranging from 12,470 Volts to 34,500 Volts for both investor-owned and cooperative utilities.
As the Engineering Manager, he is responsible for value-added services, load management, revenue metering, mapping, construction standards, and engineering.
Eric Wylie holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from Mississippi State University. He is a Registered Professional Engineer with both the Kansas State Board of Technical Professions and the Arkansas State Board of Licensure for Professional Engineers and Professional Surveyors.