Four outstanding cooperative leaders will receive the cooperative community’s most prestigious honor on October 6, 2022, when they are inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.
The inductees are: Allan Gallant, former Blooming Prairie Foundation and Food Co-op Initiative Board Member; Paul Hazen, Executive Director, U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council; Gary Oakland, retired President and CEO, BECU; Dan Waddle, Senior Vice President, NRECA International.
“This year’s inductees embody cooperative values and a vision for an inclusive economy that spans across cooperative sectors and international borders,” said Rich Larochelle, Chair of the Cooperative Development Foundation board.
Former Blooming Prairie Foundation and Food Co-op Initiative Board Member
Lauded as a charismatic cooperative visionary, Allan Gallant, former Blooming Prairie Foundation and Food Co-op Initiative Board Member, was a galvanizing leader in food cooperatives for more than 40 years. Allan, who was a “wholesaler from birth,” served as CEO of the Alaska Commercial Company, secured the future of the Food Co-op Initiative, fought for equitable economic opportunities, and was a leader whose impact continues after his passing.
After graduating from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 1955, Allan worked for B. Green and Company, his family’s business in Baltimore, MD. Deeply influenced by the civil rights movement and the riots after the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Allan merged ethical business strategies with community development at the Ford Foundation and launched the National Council for Equal Business Opportunities. Allan later created the Responsive Management Group to work with organizations and cooperatives in the food industry.
Allan joined the Alaska Commercial Company (ACC) in 1977 in Seattle, WA. It was in Seattle where Allan became a powerhouse in organic food distribution and mentored young people passionate about agriculture and food co-ops. He became a consultant for Puget Consumer Cooperative, now PPC Community Markets, where he was instrumental in the acquisition of NutraSource. The eventual sale of NutraSource helped fund the Twin Pines Cooperative Foundation, which serves the education and development needs of cooperatives.
It was through his work with PCC that Allan got involved with the Blooming Prairie Warehouse in Iowa City, IA and its subsequent sale that provided $3 million to establish the Blooming Prairie Foundation for cooperative development. With Allan’s help and guidance as an influential member of the Food Co-op 500 Task Force, the Blooming Prairie Foundation became a primary funder of the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI), where Allan served as founding director. Since FCI began its work in 2006, over 150 new food cooperatives have opened their doors, contributing over $180 million annually to the economy and supporting more than 1,600 jobs.
In 2019, Allan was awarded the Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s Cooperative Service Award. This award is given in recognition of dedicated leadership and exemplary service to a cooperative or cooperatives. Allan, who passed away at age 87 on July 24, 2021, will always be remembered for his commitment to food cooperatives and the communities they serve.
Executive Director, U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council
Paul Hazen has devoted his career to elevating the cooperative voice domestically and internationally. From advancing the cooperative identity, directing investments toward cooperative research, organizing communities for collective purchasing power, and measurably benefitting international cooperative development, Paul’s leadership has touched and strengthened every part of the cooperative ecosystem.
Though Paul grew up in Western Wisconsin, where co-ops are a way of life, it wasn’t until he worked for Representative Al Baldus (WI) that Paul first engaged with cooperatives. After leaving his legislative post, he started his work with cooperatives as Executive Director of Kickapoo Valley Association, a shared services cooperative of nine municipalities. He went on to work as Executive Director of Rural Housing Inc. in Madison, WI where he developed co-ops and affordable housing projects in rural communities.
In 1987, Paul joined the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) where he raised the profile of cooperatives through advancing domestic co-op policy and programs and greatly expanding funding for international cooperative development, more than tripling its portfolio from $8 million to over $30 million. His public policy wins include securing the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant program, funding for research on the scope and impact of cooperatives in the U.S. and fending off many attempts to degrade the cooperative model and tax status.
With the advancement of digital technology and communication platforms, Paul recognized the need for cooperatives to be able to express their identity as member-owned businesses on the internet. He spearheaded an effort to obtain a top-level domain for cooperatives – dotCoop – a valuable platform for raising public awareness about the cooperative identity and advantage.
In 2012, Paul became the Executive Director of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC) where he created the International Cooperative Research Group, which has helped to measure the impact of and increase funding for international co-op development. Since joining OCDC, Paul has led the effort that has resulted in a 50% increase in Congressional funding to $18.5 million for the Cooperative Development Program. At OCDC, Paul has fostered more collaboration among international cooperative developers, including networks of cooperatives in Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Europe.
Paul’s commitment to cooperatives is connected to all aspects of his life. He saw an opportunity to help his local community increase their buying power through a cooperative, forming the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) with 12 congregations in Washington, DC. The success of CPA led to more institutional members in Massachusetts, Connecticut, Cleveland, OH and Chicago, IL. In 2020, CPA secured over $18.7 million in contracts. Their commitment to supporting marginalized communities has resulted in an investment of $13 million in DC-based small businesses owned by people of color.
Known throughout the cooperative community, Paul shares his cooperative expertise and leadership as a member of various boards, including currently with Rochdale Capital Corporation and the Community Purchasing Alliance Cooperative, and previously with National Cooperative Bank, Capital Impact Partners,International Co-operative Alliance, Consumer Federation of America, Cooperative Development Foundationand Cooperative Business International. He is a past recipient of the CEO Communicator of the Year award from the Cooperative Communicators Association.
Retired President and CEO, BECU
A humble and passionate leader, Gary Oakland believed that what is best for individual credit union members was best for BECU. By advocating for member-centric services, empowering employees, increasing access to financial services in marginalized communities, and elevating the cooperative model through advocacy, Gary helped grow Washington-based BECU to the fourth largest credit union in the country, with 700,000 members and $10 billion in assets when he retired as CEO in 2012.
After earning a degree in economics from Washington State University in 1975, Gary started his cooperative journey as a teller at Seattle Telco Federal Credit Union. He went on to work for BECU in 1980 where he began his 32-year tenure, first as Director of Finance and then as CEO in 1986.
While Gary led BECU to unprecedented growth, it was his commitment to improving the financial lives of members and serving the needs of communities and other cooperatives that make him a true cooperator. He helped found two low-income-designated credit unions to help ensure people in those communities had access to safe and affordable financial services. He located the funds to keep more than a dozen low-income credit unions afloat during times of hardship and created a credit union service organization that provides mortgage solutions to approximately 600 credit unions.
Gary’s members-first approach to financial services helped define the culture of BECU. Throughout his career, Gary created and identified new and innovative ways to support individual members during strikes and crises. Early on, he understood the importance of financial literacy, creating a Financial Counseling and Education department with financial education programs designed to help members and their families take control of their finances to achieve their financial goals.
Though financial education was a critical component of his members-first approach, Gary deeply appreciated the role that his college education played in his successful career. With an initial $1 million endowment from BECU, the BECU Foundation was created to recognize and support student-members who believed in the power of “people helping people.” Since 1995, the BECU Foundation has recognized over 1,250 student-members with more than $3.3 million in scholarships.
Gary’s commitment to financial education, and education in general, was not limited to BECU’s membership. Gary raised the first $500,000 to fund the PBS syndicated show Biz Kid$ and encouraged a coalition of credit unions to bring $2.6 million to support the program. This Emmy Award-winning television program, and now popular website, teaches financial literacy and entrepreneurship to middle school and high school aged children.
The impact of Gary’s work is felt well beyond BECU and its members and communities. A dedicated and loyal credit union leader, his generosity and selflessness were recognized when he was awarded the Herb Wegner Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2013. He’s been an inspiration to others as he continually and passionately exemplified the most basic and fundamental part of cooperative identity – people helping people.
Senior Vice President, NRECA International
For more than 40 years, Dan Waddle’s professional focus and personal passion has been to support rural communities to improve living conditions and stimulate income growth by supporting community-owned, affordable, and sustainable energy solutions. Understanding the power of the cooperative business model in developing countries, Dan has drawn on his academic background and experience to evaluate the viability of rural utilities, to contribute to design of infrastructure, and to train community members to form and operate cooperative electric utilities. These rural enterprises are designed to provide power for irrigation, dairy and grain processing, water supply, as well as health, education, and public security.
Early in his academic career, Dan was drawn to understand engineering applications in agricultural production and biomass energy conversion processes. He earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in agricultural engineering at Virginia Tech and later, a Doctor of Engineering degree at Texas A&M University, all focused on developing advanced engineering skills in small-scale power generation. This academic focus proved extremely useful later when he began to work in developing economies where the majority of energy use is derived from agricultural waste and byproducts.
After working in agricultural extension at the conclusion of his M.S. degree, Dan had his first opportunity to work overseas. He was hired on his first international professional assignment in 1980 by Virginia Tech as a Research Associate and Lecturer at Egerton College in Njoro, Kenya where he taught engineering to agricultural extension specialists. At the completion of this assignment, he accepted a project management position for a USAID-financed project in the Philippines in 1983 that gave him his first taste of designing and implementing sustainable electrification solutions for remote communities using renewable energy solutions. After completing his doctorate degree at Texas A&M in 1987, he accepted a position at Oak Ridge National Laboratory where he managed a series of renewable energy electrification projects in Latin America and Southeast Asia. It was during these years that Dan encountered the power of the cooperative business model through a series of projects in Bolivia and Costa Rica, leading to his work at NRECA International.
Dan joined NRECA International in 1991 after completing the design of a new electrification program for NRECA in Bolivia, where he led a team of NRECA electrification specialists. The experience of working with the cooperative leaders in Bolivia was eye-opening; seeing the unique role that cooperatives can play with local agricultural and commercial enterprises, the collaboration with health and educational institutions, and the dedication to improving the quality of life of members brought a realization of how cooperatives are uniquely positioned to serve communities like no other business model. In the intervening years, Dan has led many electrification projects and programs all of which have focused on building improved energy services to support quality of life and income generation in rural communities. In his present role as Senior Vice President of NRECA International, he not only leads NRECA contributions to global electrification expansion, but continues to lead projects in Latin America, Africa, and Asia with his trusted colleagues.
Under Dan’s leadership, NRECA International has implemented successful, sustainable, scalable rural electrification programs that improve education, health care, safety, and economic opportunities in communities across the world. These cooperative ventures provide electric power to support agriculture, small and medium community enterprises, improved lighting and telecommunications for schools and health facilities, and for other public facilities including security lighting in village streets and common areas. Working with collaborating partners at federal, state and local levels in multiple countries that include Bangladesh, the Philippines, Costa Rica, Bolivia, Afghanistan, Uganda, Yemen, South Sudan, Colombia, and many others, Dan and his colleagues have steadfastly focused on the needs of beneficiary communities by introducing the benefits and fruits of the cooperative model as a means of organizing and sustaining electric service to support community growth and well-being.
Dan’s effective leadership comes from a commitment to listening to consumers, understanding local economic conditions and “building human capacity.” By focusing on supporting local community self-determination and trusting in the capacity of each community to understand its needs, Dan has focused his knowledge and skills to support poverty reduction through creation of vibrant and sustaining power solutions to meet all energy needs of client communities.
Introducing Unsung Heroes
The vision for an inclusive economy that the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees and the cooperative community embrace should also honor those cooperators of the past whose critical role in cooperative history was overlooked or unrecognized. To help us honor the past while keeping an eye toward a more inclusive future, this year we will start to induct Unsung heroes as part of the Cooperative Hall of Fame.
Unsung heroes will include individuals whose contributions to cooperatives were made primarily before the Cooperative Hall of Fame began in 1974 and who come from groups of people whose work and achievements have historically been unrecognized or even suppressed, particularly women and BIPOC individuals. The Cooperative Development Foundation will award annual research grants for students to identify and document the achievements of historically overlooked cooperators to help us elevate and recognize them as part of the Cooperative Hall of Fame.
Keep an eye out for the 2022 Unsung Cooperative Hero, who will be announced in the Spring.