Kathleen Thacker, Kissimmee Utility Authority board chairman, has received the Spence Vanderlinden Public Official Award from the American Public Power Association, KUA announced Tuesday.

The award, given at Tuesday’s APPA annual conference and business meeting held virtually this year, began in 1984 to recognize personal service to APPA by elected and appointed officials.

It honors Spence Vanderlinden of Harlan, Iowa, first chair of the APPA Policy Makers Council.

Since joining the KUA board in 2010, Thacker has gone to great lengths to educate herself on the industry in order to be an effective leader and advocate for public power, the utility said. She regularly participates in industry conferences, state and national legislative rallies, and quarterly meetings of the Florida Municipal Power Agency’s Policy Makers Liaisons Committee, where she served as chair in 2019.

Thacker regularly meets with local, state and national policy makers, educating them on how decisions they make affect people through electricity rates.

She also helped guide KUA to expand its clean energy portfolio. Most recently, the utility joined 15 other municipal utilities to form the Florida Municipal Solar Project. Kissimmee will be the first Florida city to power its government facilities using 100 percent solar energy.

“We’re so pleased to see Kathleen recognized with this service award,” said Brian Horton, KUA president and general manager. “Her passion, commitment and do-it-right attitude has had an important role in us providing reliable and economical services to our customers. Even though she is retired from full-time work, Kathleen continues to care about the needs of others. We appreciate her willingness to serve our local community.”

Thacker is a retired 30-year employee of Orange County Public Schools, and has resided in Kissimmee for nearly 19 years. Her term on the KUA board expires September 30.

The American Public Power Association represents not-for-profit, community-owned electric utilities that power homes, businesses and streets in nearly 2,000 towns and cities, serving 49 million Americans.