Richard Larochelle, retired Senior Vice President, National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation
Dubbed a “black box where the best programs and services are incubated,” Rich Larochelle has spent his life championing the cooperative business model. During a 40-year electric cooperative career —including nearly a decade with the federal Rural Electrification Administration (REA) and later senior leadership posts with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation—he demonstrated his passion for helping cooperative consumers by fighting to improve the quality of rural life at every turn.
His achievements were many: encouraging Congress to create the Rural Economic Development Loan and Grant Program (REDL&G); securing passage of the REA Improvement Act of 1992; overcoming a presidential veto of the Cable Television Consumer Protection and Competition Act of 1992; establishing Kauai Island Utility Cooperative in Hawaii; and fashioning a fee structure for the USDA Guaranteed Underwriter Program that delivers sustainable funding for REDL&G. Drawing on his decades of cooperative financial expertise, he has also lent insights and guidance to dozens of seminal studies and offered technical assistance that helped electric cooperatives in the Philippines establish the Rural Electrification Finance Corporation.
In an always humble manner, Rich Larochelle has steadfastly encouraged cooperative leaders to actively listen to their members, noting that only then could cooperatives begin working WITH those they serve to properly address concerns and enhance communities. From such shared experiences and accomplishments, he believed, cooperatives can cement trust and loyalty, develop more engaged consumers, and find solutions that put members first.