For more than three decades, Martin Lowery has been a forceful advocate for the cooperative business model, with an unshakable conviction that enabling people to empower themselves represents the best was to improve the quality of their lives. He began with the NRECA in 1982, and since then has taken a lead role on many projects, including forming and promoting new cooperatives such as the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative - the first electric co-op in Hawaii. Lowery also played an important role in drawing together disparate groups during the creation of Touchstone Energy Cooperatives, a brand formed in 1998 to bring individual co-ops from around the country under one banner for the first time. He currently oversees NRECA's Cooperative Research Network (CRN), which has resulted in groups of cooperatives coming together in large research projects such as a $33.9 million Department of Energy grant for smart grid technologies. Lowery has also taken lead roles in numerous safety, education, and international arenas.