Paul Wesslund is a writer and communications strategist with more than 40 years experience in daily newspapers and electric co-op communication.
He owns, operates, and does business as Highway 61 Communications, LLC, formed in 2016 to write about energy and other subjects, consult on communications strategy, and to advocate for the profession of co-op communications. He writes a monthly feature story on energy news for Straight Talk, a consumer news service of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association. From January through June 2016 he served as Interim Communications Department Manager for PowerSouth Energy Cooperative in Andalusia, Alabama.
Paul retired in the summer of 2015 as vice president for communications and editor of Kentucky Living with the Kentucky Association of Electric Cooperatives in Louisville, a position he held since September 1995.
During his 20 years with KAEC, Kentucky Living increased in circulation from 400,000 to more than 500,000 and annual advertising income rose from $750,000 to more than $1 million.
Before that he spent 16 years with the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association in Washington, D.C., as Washington Correspondent for statewide rural electric publications, then later as an associate communications director overseeing a variety of programs including the Rural Electric Youth Tour, the national identity program, a community involvement initiative, and development of an electronic bulletin board and a satellite TV news service.
He served as president of the Cooperative Communicators Association in 1987-88 and received that organization’s Graznak Award for young communicators in 1987. In 2008 he received the Cooperative Communicators Association Klinefelter Award for outstanding career accomplishment in co-op communications. While he was editor of Kentucky Living, the magazine received NRECA’s Haggard Award for outstanding statewide publication in 2010 and again in 2015.
From 1975 to 1979 he worked as a reporter and copy editor at The Minot Daily News and The Fargo Forum, daily newspapers in North Dakota. He was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, and graduated with a B.A. in communications from Macalester College in St. Paul.
He married the former Debbie Thomas in 1986, who works as a public education advocate, and they have a daughter, Emma, who is Coordinator of Institutional Giving in the Development Department of the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. Paul also spends time attending events of the Louisville arts scene, adding to his eclectic music collection, working out at the YMCA, and walking their beagle, Bentley.
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