The Board of Directors of the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is pleased to announce the election of Erbin Crowell, Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association (NFCA) and 1st Vice Chair of NCBA CLUSA’s Board of Directors, as the association’s new Board Chair, effective June 19.
“I am honored to have this opportunity to serve in this new role at such an important time for our association and the wider cooperative community,” Crowell said.
Crowell succeeds Andrew Jacob, who served two terms as Chair of NCBA CLUSA’s Board of Directors. Jacob is Chief Regulatory, Legislative and Compliance Officer at CoBank.
“On behalf of the leadership and staff of NCBA CLUSA, I want to thank Andrew for his leadership, years of service and deep dedication to the continued success of our association,” said Doug O’Brien, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA. “As we turn to new leadership, we congratulate Erbin on his appointment and are looking forward to working with him to fulfill our mission and vision that places cooperatives at the heart of a robust and inclusive economy.”
Crowell has served on the board since he was appointed in 2007; he was first elected by the membership 2010 and most recently reelected in May as 1st Vice Chair. During that time, NCBA CLUSA celebrated its centenary, recruited new executive leadership and embarked on a visioning process to guide the association into its next 100 years.
During that process, Crowell was instrumental in a series of strategic discussions designed to identify how co-ops and credit unions could be a more powerful force for good—socially, economically and environmentally. That process led the board to formally position NCBA CLUSA as an advocate for, collaborative partner in, and driver of an inclusive economy, as outlined by the Rockefeller Foundation.
“With this vision in place, we now have a strong platform to help us communicate what co-ops offer to the task of building a more inclusive economy that works for everyone,” he said.
Crowell began his cooperative career at Equal Exchange, a worker co-op and pioneer in fair trade, and has worked with the Cooperative Development Institute, the Cooperative Fund of New England, the Valley Alliance of Worker Co-ops, and as an independent consultant. In 2010 he was hired to incorporate and lead the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, a secondary cooperative of food co-ops that supports the growth, innovation, and shared success of its members.
Crowell holds a Master of Management: Co-operatives & Credit Unions from Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia and is an adjunct lecturer with the Department of Economics at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, where he teaches on the cooperative movement. He also serves on the Board of Directors of the New England Farmers Union.
In his new role, Crowell is eager for NCBA CLUSA to more deeply engage co-ops and credit unions and their federations and associations in new areas of opportunity, impact, and influence.
“If we are going to grow cooperative enterprise, take advantage of new spaces in the economy that beg for our approach to doing business, and meet the needs of more people at this critical moment, we must do it together,” he said.
“If we are going to grow cooperative enterprise, take advantage of new spaces in the economy that beg for our approach to doing business, and meet the needs of more people at this critical moment, we must do it together.” – Erbin Crowell
That means deepening and broadening NCBA CLUSA’s membership base and taking literally the 6th Cooperative Principle—Cooperation among Cooperatives—by using the power of association to “leverage our shared resources, knowledge and innovations for shared success and impact.”
Crowell would also like to see NCBA CLUSA lean into its mission to develop, advance and protect cooperative enterprise. “One of our most important assets is the cooperative identity or brand,” he said. “Moving forward, we will need to be proactive in our defense of the co-op name and take a leadership role in the stewardship of cooperative legal statutes as we seek new opportunities for growth and development.”