Vice President – Human Resources & Strategy, Arkansas Electric Cooperatives
About Arkansas Electric Cooperatives:
Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), based in Little Rock, is proud to provide wholesale bulk power for more than 600,000 members of Arkansas’ 17 electric distribution cooperatives. AECC was created in 1949 to provide Arkansas’ electric distribution cooperatives with a reliable and affordable power supply. AECC is one of the largest generation and transmission (G&T) cooperatives in the United States. Affiliate, Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI) provides administrative and maintenance services to the electric distribution cooperatives. The distribution utilities serve more than 60% of Arkansas. AECC and AECI, along with the state’s 17 electric distribution cooperatives, are known as the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas. AECC’s ample power supply (4,269 MW) includes ownership interests in various generating facilities, long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) and market purchases. The G&T continues to reduce reliance on coal-fired generation and has entered into numerous renewable energy purchases (898 MWs) which represented 18% of the energy mix in 2020 (including hydropower PPA).
Maria Bunting Smedley is the vice president of human resources and corporate strategy for Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation and Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. and has more than 15 years of electric utility industry experience. Maria is responsible for human resource policy, organizational development, talent management, employee relations and total rewards strategies and programs. She also leads corporate-wide strategy development and implementation. Maria is licensed to practice law in Arkansas and Virginia with degrees from George Mason School of Law (JD), the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga (MBA) and Southern Illinois University in Edwardsville (BSBA). Maria is also a graduate and class speaker of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program (AMP196); and is a graduate of Leadership Greater Little Rock (Class XVIII).
In 2020, Maria was recognized by Arkansas Money & Politics Magazine as an AMP Power Woman. In 2018, Maria was recognized nationally as a Chief Human Resource Officer Leader of Distinction at the North American HRO Today Forum and as a top Chief Human Resources Officer in HR Today’s Magazine. Smedley is one of the founders and current president of Arkansas Women in Power, the president of the Arkansas Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy and serves on the boards of the National Industry Liaison Group, Center for Energy Workforce Development, the Arkansas Foodbank and the School of Business Advisory Board of Philander Smith College and also serves on the Human Resources Committee of the Southwest Power Pool Board of Directors. In 2019, Honorable Frank Scott, Jr., Mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas appointed Maria to the inaugural Citizens Review Board where she serves as parliamentarian.
Maria resides in Little Rock, Arkansas and has a son, Jayden. Maria is a strategic change agent committed to effectively navigating the transformation of the electric utility industry.