2020 Cooperative IMPACT Conference sessions

This year’s IMPACT Track will amplify how cooperatives are addressing their obligations to create diverse, equitable and inclusive workplaces and boards, and how co-ops can better meet the needs of communities that have been excluded from economic participation and advancement. Check out some of the sessions we’re working to bring you this fall below, and register today to join hundreds of co-op developers, financers, community and city leaders, innovators, economists and policymakers in October!

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Achieving Health Equity: Group Health Cooperative Plan

Health equity is a major challenge and Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin (GHC SCW) is working on a plan to address it using five steps identified by the Institute for Health Care Improvement “Achieving Health Equity: A Guide for Health Care Organizations.” Of particular significance is the GHC commitment to reduce the infant mortality rate among black women in Dane County, Wisconsin.

Panelist: Dr. Mark Huth, President and CEO, Group Health Cooperative
Panelist: Carrie O’Dell, Chief HR Officer, Group Health Cooperative
Panelist: Ann Hoyt, Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison 


Actions Speak Louder than Intentions

During this session, Michele Padilla and Lisa Cavanaugh will explore what it means (and doesn’t mean) to have privilege and how privilege can be turned into allyship that moves us from intention to action regardless of the type of privilege experienced or discrimination faced. The session will include an activity on recognizing privilege without judgment and resources for those who wish to shift from observers to allies of targets of discrimination and unearned disadvantage.

Speaker: Lisa Cavanaugh, Vice President of Leadership Development Experiences, FCC Services
Speaker: Michele Padilla, Director & Senior Leadership Consultant, FCC Services


Advancing DEI in the Global Cooperative Movement through International Volunteering

Members of the U.S. cooperative sector are invited to learn about the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)-funded Farmer-to-Farmer program and its mission-driven volunteers dedicated to fostering diversity, equity and inclusion among cooperatives globally.

This moderated panel will present on four case studies that will take you to Moldova, Georgia, Ecuador and Guatemala, where you will learn about the challenges cooperatives encounter abroad—many of which may resonate with U.S. cooperators—and the actions taken to strengthen cooperatives and, in turn, the communities they employ and support. There will be opportunities for Q&A to learn about the Farmer-to-Farmer program and how you can volunteer to support the global cooperative movement.

Moderator: Evania Robles, Farmer-to-Farmer Program Analyst, USAID Bureau for Resilience and Food Security
Moderator: Megan Wall, Farmer-to-Farmer Program Director, NCBA CLUSA
Panelist: Francisco Donoso, Farmer-to-Farmer Country Director, Ecuador, NCBA CLUSA
Panelist: Nadejda Mocanu, Farmer-to-Farmer Country Director, Moldova, Cultivating New Frontiers in Agriculture
Panelist: Kellen Parrish, Senior Program Officer, Economic Development and Health Unit, Partners of the Americas
Panelist: Thelonious Trimmel, Program Director and Agribusiness Advisor, ACDI/VOCA


Analyzing, Naming and Shifting Power Dynamics in Your Team

Often, our cooperatives are formed as a response or alternative to the destructive power dynamics in the mainstream hyper-capitalist and oppressive systems. However, it often takes some unlearning and new structures to help us create the workspaces that we dream of. Sometimes, we even experience harmful power dynamics and uncomfortable situations in our teams that we’re trying to replace. Through presentation and simulation, you’ll learn how to analyze the power (harmful and generative) dynamics in your team. There will be time for cooperative leaders and employees to dive into the dynamics that they’ve experienced and how to make sense of it and make changes. Participants will learn some simple, yet powerful tools and frameworks for making incremental change in their coops as well as strengthening their democratic decision-making and communication processes. In sum, we’ll share our organizational analysis of power (the Power Matrix), discuss how power affects every facet of our work lives and, most importantly, consider what we can concretely do every day to use collaborative power through comprehensive communications and democratic decision-making practices.

Moderator: Rebecca Fisher-McGinty, Communications Wizard, Round Sky Solutions
Panelist: Daniel Little, Co-Founder and Leadership Coach, Round Sky Solutions


Beneficial Electrification: Help America, Protect the Climate and Grow Economic Opportunities

Beneficial electrification means replacing direct fossil fuel use (gasoline, propane, etc.) in homes with electricity in a way that both reduces emissions and cuts costs for the homeowner. This panel brings together leaders in beneficial electrification and will highlight how electric cooperatives have pioneered this work. Panelists will describe how beneficial electrification works, how they incorporate equity into its financing, and the empowerment it brings to those facing the highest financial burdens and highest barriers to opportunity. Low and moderate-income communities, communities of color and rural Americans are leading and benefitting from this work; panelists will describe how they and their partners will make further progress. Growing interest in social justice and financial risks from the COVID-19 pandemic make the case for beneficial electrification even stronger. This work will help us build the more energy efficient, climate friendly, opportunity-generating and just economy we need.

Moderator: Kate LaTour, Director of Government Relations, NCBA CLUSA
Panelist: John Michael Cross, On-Bill Financing Project Manager, Environmental and Energy Study Institute
Panelist: Curtis Wynn, President and CEO, Roanoke Electric Cooperative 


Bringing the Cooperative Model to Equitable Scale

If this last year has taught us anything, it is that we are stronger together. Our systems are broken and inequality has seeped into all of them. As a result, our systems are failing working families and communities across our country. People want change. They want to see their governments, institutions and the private sector commit to helping us create an economy that is resilient in the face of an economic depression, natural disaster or a global pandemic. They want an economy where equity, resilience and inclusion are rooted in the workforce. Whether it is in response to the hollowing out of a manufacturing base in England in 1844, or Lewiston, Maine in the 2000s, preserving our agricultural economy during and after the Great Depression, or providing electricity to rural America, the cooperative model has proven time and again to be the economic model that is both deliberative and flexible in responding to community needs and underserved populations. The time is now to take the model to scale. What will it take? This panel will highlight how the focused combination of federal, state and private support can create place-based, multi-sector cooperative ecosystems, building a more equitable economy addressing the needs of underserved communities. This session will feature panelists from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, private philanthropy, state government and cooperative developers who are harnessing these resources and coordinating targeted cooperative development projects to meet the community needs of underserved communities.

Moderator: Alex Stone, Executive Director, CooperationWorks!
Panelist: Arthur Sabiti, Cooperative Developer, Cooperative Development Institute
Panelist: Lauress Lawrence, Community and Equity Learning Partner, Elmina B. Sewall Foundation
Panelist: Jason Weiner, Principal, Jason Weiner | p.c. 


Building an Equitable and Inclusive Local Co-op Ecosystem in Washington, DC

Washington, DC (like many other urban geographies) faces multiple issues including gentrification, displacement, the closure of small businesses, food access, lack of affordable housing and ongoing geographic segregation. The COVID-19 pandemic is exacerbating many of these trends, as small businesses rapidly close and potential evictions loom. Historically marginalized communities—particularly Black communities in Wards 7 and 8—have been disproportionately and negatively impacted. The District has a long history of food, worker and housing cooperatives. It is from these that public officials, NGOs, activists and funders are increasingly looking for lessons, solutions and inspiration. They aim to build an integrated co-op ecosystem centered on social justice and racial equity. They are reviving the co-op movement in the District to help meet pressing needs for employment, services, food and housing. These diverse actors are also building on the recent momentum generated by local advocates of limited equity housing and the recent growth of area purchasing co-ops. Accordingly, panelists will highlight the progress of the DC Limited Equity Housing Task Force, multiple initiatives and grants that promote common goals of building food and worker cooperative ecosystems, and finally they will lift up purchasing cooperatives and detail how these co-ops are helping black-owned businesses grow. Finally, panelists will raise co-op conversion as an effective strategy to preserve existing minority-owned businesses that service long-term residents and are part of the social fabric of their neighborhoods.

Moderator: Alison Powers, Manager, Cooperative and Community Development, Capital Impact Partners
Panelist: Jennifer Bryant, Program Manager for Community Wealth Building Initiatives, Washington Area Community Investment Fund
Panelist: Paul Hazen, Executive Director, Overseas Cooperative Development Council
Panelist: Dominic Hosack, Worker-Owner, Earthbound Building Cooperative


Cooperatives Can Advance DEI: Lessons, Issues and Ways Forward

Leaders from multiple cooperative sectors gather to discuss the state of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in our country and in our cooperative movement. This panel will follow an IMPACT DEI town hall session, during which conference attendees will engage through an interactive platform to share their own thoughts and experiences on the following: “Why is it so hard to talk about race, racism and racial justice in this country today?” “What barriers to DEI have they or their organizations encountered?” and “What steps should NCBA CLUSA and the co-op community take to advance DEI?” Panelist will discuss how they advance DEI within their sectors and how they raise awareness, stimulate conversations and forge actionable practices. What panelists share ultimately will paint a vivid picture of the concrete steps needed to advance diversity, equity and inclusion in our cooperative movement.

Moderator: John Holdsclaw IV, Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs, National Cooperative Bank
Moderator: Doug O’Brien, President and CEO, NCBA CLUSA
Panelist: Monica Davy, Director, Office of Minority and Women Inclusion, National Credit Union Administration
Panelist: Maurice Smith, CEO, Local Government Federal Credit Union
Panelist: Faye Tate, Vice President of Diversity and Inclusion, CoBank
Panelist: Gina Schaefer: Founder and CEO, A Few Cool Hardware Stores


Creating an Intentionally Inclusive Economy for All Women Cooperators

The U.S. is about to become a minority-majority nation. And yet, representation of this change among our female thought leaders across the country does not reflect the transforming demographics of our nation. In August 2020 we celebrated the centennial of passing the 19th Amendment, and the stories of suffragettes of color are being told for the first time.

The 7 Cooperative Principles drive an expectation of inclusivity, yet the action plan on how to increase organizational diversity has not been discovered. We need a new approach to connect our present and future to our history.

In this session, we will discuss the inclusive history of women in the cooperative movement and how to connect their untold (or under-told) legacy and leadership excellence to how we can shape our conception of the cooperators of the future. We change the story, we change the definition, we change the norms, we change the world. That’s how we make an equitable and inclusive economy for all women cooperators.

Moderator: Angela Russell, Vice President of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, CUNA Mutual Group
Panelist: Lindsey Gaskins, President, CCA Member Solutions, CCA Global Partners
Panelist: Jill Nowacki, Founder, Humanidei
Panelist: Renée Sattiewhite, President and CEO, African-American Credit Union Coalition


Decolonizing the U.S. Co-op Movement: Lessons Learned from the African American Cooperative Movement

People of African descent in the U.S. have a long and vibrant but largely hidden experience of cooperative ownership since at least the 1700s and have had a quiet presence at times in the U.S. mainstream cooperative movement. What can we learn from this history and these experiences especially for diversity, equity and inclusion in the U.S. cooperative movement? This workshop will highlight examples of both white supremacist sabotage against Black co-ops, and white micro-aggressions and institutional racism that have limited and discouraged Black and Brown participation in U.S. cooperatives and the cooperative movement. On the flip side, we will also examine how African American cooperators and their co-ops continued to survive and prevail; and the pivotal role of African American women in this movement. We will explore understanding how subaltern populations use cooperative and solidarity economics to address marginalization, discrimination and poverty; the importance of solidarity and trust in the sustainability of co-ops and how cultural, racial and ethnic sensitivities or insensitivities build or destroy trust; and the importance of organizational leadership and support at the local and national levels. African American cooperatives continue to struggle against racism, patriarchy, classism, cultural misunderstandings and the racist micro-aggressions of fellow cooperators, so-called allies, and funders and policymakers. We will examine existing and develop new strategies to mitigate and reduce, if not eliminate, these aggressions and barriers with the goal of building true equity and inclusion.

Moderator: Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
Panelist: Renee Hatcher, Assistant Professor of Law, UIC John Marshall School of Law 


Educating in Diverse Ways with Common Standards for Cooperative Management

Education for all those involved in cooperative enterprises happens in many different environments. From on-the-job training to workforce development to the university and everything in between. We want cooperative owners to be smart and effective at all they aim to do. While our economy is changing so fast, lifelong learning will forever be a truism for managing change in our cooperatives and the world of work. This interactive workshop will feature a range of educators describing what they deliver and how. We will explore the common standards and values we promote through each venue. We will reference principles of adult education and professional development for how they apply in our learning environments using both face-to-face instruction and web-based styles. We will reveal what lessons are being put forth at the university level, in business schools as part of executive training, and in communities where styles of popular education are used for workforce education and through joint labor-management initiatives. We will aim to solicit from one another what works when attempting to reach a diverse workforce, what can be enhanced and what there is to share, replicate and expound. Participants should leave with a sense of the possible for the different points of access for worker-owner education with some clear, common and declared standards we can all uphold and celebrate.

Moderator: Rebecca Lurie, Community and Worker Ownership Project Coordinator, CUNY School of Labor and Urban Studies
Panelist: Rebecca Bauen, Program Director, Democracy at Work Institute
Panelist: FĂ©lix E. GardĂłn, The Training Collective, NYCNoWC and Caracol Language Co-op
Panelist: Omar Freilla, Founder, Green Worker Cooperatives
Panelist: Neil Gladstein, Former Director of Strategic Resources, International Association of Machinists & Aerospace Workers
Panelist: Erin Hancock, Program Manager, International Centre for Co-operative Management, Saint Mary’s University
Panelist: Stacey Sutton, Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago


Emerging Credit Union Leaders Creating Impact

Featuring some of the most compelling young credit union leaders and CUDEℱ Program graduates, this panel will discuss how their credit unions are providing young people pathways to create impact. Panelists will explore the credit union commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion, and how the cooperative business model is central to the work of creating an inclusive economy. Finally, this session will explore how credit unions are serving their members and addressing development issues in their communities, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has amplified that role.

Moderator: Chad Helminak, Director of DE & Cooperative Culture, National Credit Union Foundation
Panelist: Sedric Brinson, Assistant Vice President of Member Solutions and Brand Ambassador, Statewide Federal Credit Union
Panelist: Jazmine Kilpatrick, Membership Development Manager, Local Government Federal Credit Union 
Panelist: Hazelmae Overturf, Senior Manager of Learning and Development HR, BECU
Panelist: Mario Vega, Risk and Audit Manager, Guadalupe Credit Union 


Hall of Fame Inductees Discussion

Description coming soon!

Moderator: Doug O’Brien, President and CEO, NCBA CLUSA 
Panelist: Ben Burkett, State Coordinator, Mississippi Association of Cooperatives
Panelist: Everett M. Dobrinski, Former Board Director, CoBank 
Panelist: Carmen Huertas-Noble, Professor, CUNY School of Law
Panelist, Michael Mercer, Former CEO, Georgia Credit Union Affiliates 


How Coffee Farmers Built a Global Cooperative from Seed-to-Cup

Pachamama Coffee Cooperative is the first “direct-to-consumer” coffee roaster in North America wholly owned and governed by thousands of smallholder farmers in Africa and Latin America, connecting coffee producers directly to end-consumers. Twenty years ago, producer cooperatives in Latin America began organizing themselves on a global scale, with the goal of roasting, branding and brewing their best organic coffees for end-customers. This is their story.

Keynote speaker: Thaleon Tremain, CEO, Pachamama Coffee Cooperative


Origins, Consequences and Healing: Changing the Co-op Leadership Lens

Communities of color have always understood the significance and impact of cooperation for both survival and success. Still, oppression continues to negatively impact these communities, even within cooperative spaces. If you want to welcome those who’ve been historically marginalized or underrepresented, if you want to reach beyond your usual audience, and if you’re ready move from “intention to action,” this workshop is where you begin, where you practice and where you decide to shift. The lens we use to choose, decide, judge, evaluate, etc. is the same lens our Founding Fathers used to “design” America to benefit a specific subgroup of the population. We’ve been using that lens ever since despite its failure to firmly grasp and tell the story of our democracy. The cooperative democratic process, with our principles and values, offers a unique opportunity to demonstrate what is possible for all of America’s citizens when that shift is made. Participants in this interactive workshop will focus on how America’s founders created and shaped the current lens, what has happened as a result, and how we can all heal by shifting the lens through which we perceive “right,” “appropriate,” “just,” “fair,” etc. In looking at our co-op industry we will examine how—despite our principles and values—we’ve allowed ourselves to become a mere microcosm of the many American ills including biases, exclusion and inequity. When sincerely practiced, cooperative principles and values accept that difference is beneficial to the whole, and that equity and inclusion from boards to staff, membership and communities feeds and fills the needs of our nation. We will begin with a multimedia presentation designed to take us from the beginning to today through the current lens being used, and then engage in role play to demonstrate shifting the lens of leadership. After our role play exercise, attendees will break out into groups for a discussion on ways to approach shifting the lens to incorporate “walking the talk” of equity and inclusion in leadership development. Finally, we’ll report out on our findings and discuss tools for implementing what we’ve learned when we return home.

Speaker: Patrice Lockert Anthony, Founder and Principal Consultant, BLACK LABEL Consulting and Coaching 


Policy Strategies to Build a More Inclusive Economy

Federal, state and local policies enabled the formation and growth of cooperatives that turned the lights on in rural America, housed workers and their families in high cost urban areas and provided financing for agricultural producers and financial services for wage earners. This panel will look at what new policies could jump start cooperative development and expansion to address contemporary issues.

Moderator: Doug O’Brien, President and CEO, NCBA CLUSA 
Panelist: Diane Gasaway, Executive Director, Northwest Cooperative Development Center 
Panelist: Brett Theodos, Senior Fellow, Urban Institute 
Panelist: Monica Rainge, Director, Land Retention and Advocacy, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund


Promoting Enabling Environments

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) is more important today than it has ever been for the cooperative movement in the United States and globally. Although many argue that DEI is inherent in the cooperative principles, cooperatives are working hard just like other businesses to be more inclusive and promote diversity and equity in their policies, practices, and work. And if we take a step back, this intrinsic potential in the cooperative business model begins with creating an enabling environment with favorable legal and regulatory frameworks for cooperative businesses to grow, thrive, and provide economic opportunities for all people. In the United States, cooperative development faces numerous legal and regulatory obstacles, whether it’s personal guarantee requirements hindering cooperative businesses from accessing Small Business Administration loans, other issues with accessing capital and insurance, and even the inability to create certain types of cooperatives. NCBA CLUSA, together with its members and cooperative partners, work hard to advance and protect cooperative enterprise through its advocacy and programs, one example being the Policy Roundtables hosted across the country in 2019. In many countries, local rules and the way they are enforced are some of the biggest barriers for people and communities to implement cooperative solutions. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) also recognizes that cooperatives can’t reach their full potential when they don’t operate on a level playing field with other forms of business and seeks to tackle this challenge abroad through the congressionally earmarked Cooperative Development Program (CDP). This panel of cooperative developers, policy-makers and CDP implementers will discuss some of the common legislative and policy barriers faced by cooperatives in the US and around the world and share strategies, tools and lessons learned for promoting inclusive engagement of all types of cooperative stakeholders in these discussions and ensuring that analyses and recommendations for improvements intentionally address issues of diversity, equity and inclusion as a critical part of the enabling environment.

Moderator: Kate LaTour, Director of Government Relations, NCBA CLUSA 
Panelist: Terence Courtney, Director, Co-op Development and & Strategic Partnerships, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Panelist: Meegan Moriarty, Legal and Policy Analyst, USDA’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service
Panelist: Olga Oyier, Policy & Legislative Affairs Specialist, Global Communities


Saint Mary’s University Pre-Conference Course: Excellence in Member-Centric Governance and Management

Register for this engaging course on Excellence in Member-centric Governance and Management. Designed for seasoned decision-makers and emerging leaders from any sector or type of cooperative, all will benefit from this knowledge-rich course. Offered by the International Centre for Co-operative Management at Saint Mary’s University and hosted in conjunction with NCBA CLUSA’s Cooperative IMPACT Conference, this participatory education experience focuses on enhancing your knowledge and building your network. Discuss and debate the many facets of the membership aspect of cooperatives, including: people-centered management, ownership and control, and network governance. Grapple with the unique challenges inherent in leading and managing cooperatives while including voice, representation, participation and engagement of people at the core. This session will meet October 5 and 6 from 10 am-noon and 1-3 pm EDT.

Speaker: Karen Miner, Managing Director, International Center for Co-operative Management, Saint Mary’s University
Speaker: Sonja Novkovic, Professor of Economics and Academic Director, International Centre for Co-operative Management, Saint Mary’s University


State and Local Ecosystems

COVID-19 has reduced tax revenues and tightened the already challenging financial constraints of city and state budgets. Last Co-op IMPACT, we heard from elected officials supporting cooperative development investments in their communities. This panel will discuss what strategies co-op developers are using to strengthen their communities and discuss how these critical investments promote social and economic mobility through sustainable development.

Moderator: Kate LaTour, Director of Government Relations, NCBA CLUSA 
Panelist: Jamila Medley, Executive Director, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance 
Panelist: Tracy McIntyre, Executive Director, Montana Cooperative Development Center
Panelist: Charity Schmidt, Cooperative Development Specialist, University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives 
Panelist: Zen Trenholm, Program Manager, Democracy at Work Institute 


State of the Co-op Economy: Cooperatives, COVID-19 and Key Opportunities to Create a Better World

Join members of the Council of Cooperative Economists as they discuss how cooperatives across all sectors are working to respond to specific opportunities cooperatives have during the COVID-19 pandemic to make their communities more equitable, inclusive and generally just better places. This moderated panel will cover the experiences of diverse communities across the U.S. and beyond. Each researcher will present research to ground their analyses of the current solvable opportunities co-ops face, both generally and by specific sector. Our moderator, Tamela Blalock of NCBA CLUSA, will guide a group discussion of how we can harness co-ops to build a better, more equitable economy during the recovery from COVID-19. Finally, the panel will close with 15 minutes of audience Q&A.

Moderator: Tamela Blalock, Vice President of Cooperative Relations, NCBA CLUSA
Panelist: Camille Kerr, Founder and Principal, Upside Down Consulting
Panelist: Samira Salem, Senior Policy Analyst, Credit Union National Association
Panelist: Russell Tucker, Chief Economist, National Rural Electric Cooperative Association


The Challenge of Achieving Racial Equity

Co-ops can’t be racist, right? Our first principle is about open membership, and we believe in and practice democracy. But what happens when co-ops exist in racist societies? How do we recognize the ways that our co-ops perpetuate institutional racism and engage in racist micro-aggressions and exclusion? Co-op Hall of Fame 2016 inductee Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Ph.D., addresses these questions and discusses historic as well as current challenges to achieving racial equity in the U.S. co-op movement.

Keynote speaker: Jessica Gordon Nembhard, Professor, Community Justice and Social Economic Development, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, City University of New York


The People’s Pitch: Start.coop Graduation & Pitch Party

After a year filled with twists and turns that none of us expected, dual pandemics have left our country reeling and left many of us more committed than ever to crafting a new, more equitable economy. The graduates of this year’s Start.coop accelerator program are at the forefront of this movement and have spent the last six months building cooperatively-owned businesses all across the economy. Join us to hear the final graduation pitches from Start.coop’s 2020 cohort of six entrepreneur teams. During this interactive session, you’ll vote to determine which startups are awarded funds from the $10,000 graduation prize pool.

Moderator: Greg Brodsky, Co-Director, Start.coop
Moderator: Jessica Mason, Co-Director, Start.coop
Entrepreneur: Stephen Bediako, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Turning Basin Labs
Entrepreneur: Angela Dawson, President and CEO, Forty Acre Co-op
Entrepreneur: Nick Leiter, Co-Founder and CEO, UPROOT Homes
Entrepreneur: Austin Robey, Co-Founder, Ampled
Entrepreneur: Sarah Speare, Co-Founder and CEO, Tootie’s Tempeh, Inc.
Entrepreneur: Lewis Weil, Founder and Financial Planner, Money Positive