top of page
Microphone Close-Up


Leading an Industry Association with Sue Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Public Power Association (APPA)


Welcome to Episode 18. I am joined by Sue Kelly, President and Chief Executive Officer of the American Public Power Association (APPA) in her office in Washington, DC. Our past 17 episodes have presented CEOs across a wide spectrum of company settings including publicly-traded, privately-held, and not-for-profits. This episode presents a CEO’s leadership over a unique type of organization – the industry association. Industry associations perform many complex roles for their membership including: as advocate for an industry’s position on political, legislative, and regulatory issues; as information source on current and emerging issues from an informed frontline position; as promoter of the industry, its people and their accomplishments; and as educator for the professionalism of its membership.


The American Public Power Association serves its membership, which is comprised of about 1,400 public power utilities, in 49 states, excluding Hawaii, and including the territories of American Samoa, Guam, northern Mariana, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico. Sue Kelly has served as APPA's CEO since 2014.  


Like public schools and libraries, public power utilities are owned by the community and run as a division of local government. Governance is typically provided by a local city council or an elected or appointed board.

Informative and Helpful Links






Program Guide Episode 18

Industry Association Leadership and the American Public Power Association

An Interview with Sue Kelly President and Chief Executive Officer of APPA


0:00: Introduction to Episode 18

1:44: Introduction to Sue Kelly, President and CEO of APPA

2:44: Associations, democracy, and Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America

3:30: An association’s general role and function

4:30: APPA’s service role and function

5:30: Sue Kelly’s foundational experience leading to CEO of APPA

6:33: Policy areas of focus in Sue Kelly’s foundational experience

7:39: Break 1

7:55: Well intended policies – unintended consequences: enter joint action agencies and the autobiography of long time APPA CEO Alex Radin - Public Power - Private Life

10:40: Break 2

10:56: The influence of Alex Radin on public power

12:10: Franklin Delano Roosevelt and public power as the birch rod and historical look at FDR’s influence on public power.  Speech of Franklin Delano Roosevelt a Campaign Address in Portland, Oregon on Sept 21st 1932

15:14: Break 3

15:32: Story-worthy moments for Sue Kelly as CEO of APPA

19:46: Break 4

20:05: Technology’s role at APPA as enabler

25:13: The dark side of technology – cybersecurity risk

27:54: (Final) Break 5

28:15: APPA and mutual aid and assistance

32:32: Closing comments

Biographies of Guests


Ms. Sue Kelly


Sue is president and CEO of the American Public Power Association — the first woman to hold the position in the Association’s 76-year history. Under her leadership, the Association has advocated to protect tax exemption for municipal bonds and preserve public power’s right to self supply in wholesale electricity markets. She has helped strengthen cybersecurity awareness and resources and raise the profile of public power. Sue was designated 2017 Woman of the Year by the Women’s Council on Energy and Environment. In 2015, she was named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women by Washingtonian magazine. She has been in the energy field for 35 years, spending much of her career as an energy lawyer.

Program Disclaimer

The only purpose of the podcasts is to educate, inform and entertain. The information shared is based on the collection of experiences of each of the guests interviewed and should not be considered or substituted for professional advice. Guests who speak in this podcast express their own opinions, experience and conclusions, and neither The Leadership Lyceum LLC nor any company providing financial support endorses or opposes any particular content, recommendation or methodology discussed in this podcast.


This podcast Leadership Lyceum: A CEO’s Virtual Mentor has been a production of The Leadership Lyceum LLC. Copyright 2018. All rights reserved.

bottom of page