Recipe for success
Clearwater-Polk Electric Cooperative’s Deanna Lefebvre has been chosen to lead as the next general manager.
Deanna Lefebvre baked up a reputation for herself over nearly six years at Clearwater-Polk Electric Cooperative. Besides her transparent, level-headed demeanor and her financial management prowess, she has a skill for crafting made-from-scratch pies so delicious, they will make you weep.
But the woman known as the Queen of Pies now has a new title: General Manager of Clearwater-Polk.
“When I accepted the job, I had a board member ask me that question – will you still be making pies? I said yes, as long as I’m here, I’ll be making pies for our members,” Lefebvre said with a warm smile. “I am still me.”
In March, Lefebvre took over the role of general manager with the retirement of long-time GM Bruce Bjerke. The cooperative first got a taste of her leadership in 2015, when she was hired in the member services department. The Waubun, Minn., native brought experience in office management from the Minnesota Extension Service and 16 years in member services from Wild Rice Electric Cooperative, a neighbor co-op member of the same Minnkota Power Cooperative system.
Lefebvre not only brought her little-bit-of-everything knowledge to Clearwater-Polk, but also her knack for member engagement. She started in August, and Member Appreciation Month was coming soon in October. When she asked what the co-op had planned, she was met with shrugs. So she decided to make pies.
That first year, Lefebvre’s spread of multiple homemade desserts (from strawberry rhubarb to coconut cream) brought 125 members through the co-op doors over three days. That number has grown every year as word of her talent spreads.
“They love it. Last year we weren’t able to do it because of COVID, so members were asking, ‘Can’t you just do drive-through pie?’” she said. “It’s not just for members – it’s for community members as well. Why not get them in and get them involved?”
From pies to pie charts, Lefebvre always had a soft spot for the business and accounting side of the industry, even helping to implement a new utility software system for finance and billing when Clearwater-Polk transitioned in 2018. Understanding that the co-op would soon have turnover in management due to retirements, Bjerke and others started molding Lefebvre to take over office manager responsibilities, which she did in 2019. She fell even more in love with her work, which made things difficult when more opportunity came knocking.
With the announcement of Bjerke’s impending retirement in March 2021, Lefebvre started hearing from fellow employees that they wanted her as their new leader. “That encouragement was what I needed to set me up for success,” she said. “When you have a great team supporting you, that’s huge.”
The board of directors agreed Lefebvre was the right person to step into the GM role. She knows that there are challenging times ahead in the industry, but she looks forward to working with other co-ops to keep electricity reliability high and kWh rates low.
“I want to help my co-op maintain, because I think that Clearwater-Polk Electric is already an amazing company with wonderful staff and employees and an amazing board of directors, as well as the members we serve,” she said.
She’s new to the GM role, but the Lefebvre family (including husband Scott, kids Kaylee, Kole and Kody, and five grandchildren) will tell you Deanna has always been the adaptable type. Her mantra is the same dreaming up new pies in the kitchen as it is developing new goals for the co-op: “If I haven’t made it, it doesn’t mean that I can’t.”
Main image: Deanna Lefebvre stops for a photo at her first meeting at Minnkota as Clearwater-Polk's new general manager. (Minnkota/Michael Hoeft)