2018 CCMA Conference Recognizes Outstanding Leadership and Innovation at Food Co-ops


Five winners of the 2018 Cooperative Excellence awards were announced June 2 at the Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA) Conference, the premier annual conference for food cooperatives. The annual awards recognize outstanding leadership and innovation at food cooperatives.

Barry Smith, General Manager of Flatbush Food Co-op in Brooklyn, NY received the award for Cooperative Service. The Cooperative Service award recognizes dedicated leadership and exemplary service by an individual to a cooperative or cooperatives.

“Our co-op has been Barry’s life’s mission,” said Sheila Lieberman, Flatbush board president, who nominated Smith for the award. “He has been equally devoted to the greater co-op world for the last 45 years.”

Durham Co-op Market in Durham, NC received the Cooperative Innovation and Achievement Award, given in recognition of the innovative application of the cooperative business structure or an innovative program or service.

“The Durham Co-op Market is committed to reshaping the traditional image and impact of a cooperative grocery store,” said Steve Saltzman, director of Food System Finance at Self-Help Credit Union. Saltzman nominated Durham for the award.

Two nominees won the award for Cooperative Board Service: Alan Weisberg, board member and chair emeritus of BriarPatch Food Cooperative in Grass Valley, CA; and Laura Miklowitz, board director of Hendersonville Community Co-op in Hendersonville, NC.

The Cooperative Board Service award recognizes outstanding dedication and leadership by a board member. Weisberg, who joined the BriarPatch board in 2004, is credited with helping to build a cooperative business that is now projecting sales of $33 million dollars with nearly 10,000 members and over 17,000 weekly transactions. Miklowitz, a co-op member-owner for 24 years, was honored for joining the Hendersonville board during a time of turmoil and providing leadership skills that transformed it into a strong, cohesive governing body.

BriarPatch Food Co-op also received the Cooperative Excellence Award, made in recognition of a retail cooperative that has made significant progress in meeting the needs of members through growth in net sales and earnings, initiation of new and innovative programs, and expansion of member services.

“As an employer, as a center of community, as a leader and supporter of local business and as a leader of co-ops nationally, BriarPatch deserves this award,” said Carolee Colter of¬†CDS Consulting Co-op, who nominated BriarPatch for the award.

The CCMA Conference is an annual opportunity for¬†food co-op¬†managers and board members nationwide to network, learn and collaborate. Next year’s conference will be held in Durham, NC.

Through the Howard Bowers Fund for food co-ops, the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) supports attendance at CCMA, providing $10,000 in scholarships for the conference. Since it was established in 1994, the Howard Bowers Fund has given close to half a million dollars in grants and scholarships for education and training programs for food co-ops.

CDF manages the CCMA Cooperative Excellence awards. Nominations for the awards open in February each year. The deadline for nominations is in March.

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