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Meet the candidates running for election to the 2024 NCBA CLUSA Board of Directors

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NCBA CLUSA is pleased to announce the candidates running to fill five seats on the 2024 Board of Directors: Jeff Braun, Sylandi Brown, Carla Decker, Isa Fernandez, Heriberto Martínez, Tracy McIntyre, LaDonna Sanders Redmond and Michelle Schry. 

The online election will open on March 11 and close on April 10; during this period, eligible NCBA CLUSA members will be able to cast their votes. Eligible voters are Cooperative Members that have joined or renewed their 2024 memberships. Lifetime members are also eligible to vote. Current members are available to view on this list. To confirm your membership eligibility status, send a message with the subject line ‚ÄúVoting Member Eligibility‚ÄĚ to membership@ncba.coop.

Each eligible cooperative and associate member can designate one staff member to serve as the voting member for their organization. NCBA CLUSA has sent several requests to update this contact in member messaging over the past year. If this form has not been filled out, the official voting member defaults to the CEO/GM or the invoice billing contact.

Update your voting contact here

Election results will be announced at NCBA CLUSA’s Annual Membership Meeting & Virtual Town Hall, scheduled for May 7, 2024 in Washington, D.C. Your participation helps us set the strategic vision for the organization, ensuring that NCBA CLUSA remains a dynamic voice in the cooperative space.

Keep reading to meet this year’s candidates.

 

Jeff Bruan

Chief Executive Officer
Primera

As Chief Executive Officer of Primera, a green industry cooperative, Jeff leads with a strategic vision honed over a career marked by unwavering dedication, exceptional leadership and a passion for excellence. However, his journey to this pinnacle of success began humbly in a small town in central Connecticut. Jeff’s early years were characterized by a drive for leadership and excellence. His leadership qualities emerged early on, as seen in establishing a Leadership Corp program during middle school. Throughout high school, Jeff excelled as a sports team captain and achieved the prestigious rank of Eagle Scout, demonstrating his commitment to leadership and service.

After graduating from Farmington High School in 1992, he ventured to Middle Tennessee State University to pursue a degree in Communications and joined the nationally-ranked Blue Raiders football team as a placekicker. Despite a setback due to a knee injury, Jeff persevered, ultimately completing his bachelor’s degree at Towson University.

Jeff’s professional journey began with an internship with DEWALT Industrial Power Tools, which evolved into a 22-year tenure encompassing diverse roles in operations, marketing and sales. Rising through the ranks, he became one of the youngest Vice Presidents at Stanley Black & Decker, leading to his appointment as Vice President of Field Sales for the U.S. Commercial Division. Under his leadership, Jeff propelled his team to unprecedented success, launching a new go-to-market strategy while achieving record growth and sales exceeding $950 million.

Driven by a passion for transformation and growth, Jeff’s strategic vision and ability to cultivate a positive culture of accountability, teamwork and trust were instrumental in navigating challenges and driving long-term success. His departure from DEWALT in 2019 marked the beginning of a new chapter. He opened the Jeff Braun Company as a business consultant and keynote speaker and joined The Jon Gordon Company as a certified speaker and trainer before assuming the CEO role at Primera in 2020. At Primera, Jeff continues to leverage his wealth of experience and leadership prowess to propel the cooperative to new heights. He aims to transform Primera into a world-class organization through strategic initiatives and a steadfast commitment to excellence, empowering its members and supplier partners to thrive in the competitive market landscape.

Beyond his professional endeavors, Jeff‚ÄĒalong with his wife Lisa, their daughters Taylor and Michelle, Michelle’s husband Gardner, and their granddaughter Ravyn‚ÄĒcherish moments of adventure and relaxation. They enjoy traveling, competitive mini golf, visiting Walt Disney World, soaking in the beauty of the ocean and creating cherished memories that endure a lifetime.

Jeff’s story exemplifies the power of determination, leadership and a relentless pursuit of excellence. As he continues to chart new paths and inspire others, his legacy of leadership and impact will undoubtedly leave an indelible mark on Primera and beyond.

Read Jeff’s Candidate Statement

 

Sylandi Brown

Communications Manager
U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council

Sylandi Brown is the Communications Manager of the U.S. Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC). In her role, she manages the strategic communication activities of OCDC’s research and learning arm, the International Cooperative Research Group, and supports the dissemination of knowledge products designed to increase the impact and uptake of cooperatives around the world.

Sylandi’s introduction to cooperatives began when she was selected to represent Middle Georgia EMC, a member-owned electric membership cooperative, as a delegate on the Washington Youth Tour in 2016. She was subsequently elected the Georgia Youth Leadership Council representative and was later selected the 2017 National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) Youth Leadership Council Spokesperson where she served as a national ambassador for electric cooperatives.

Her professional career began with Middle Georgia EMC in 2020 and, in 2021, she was featured in the International Cooperative Alliance’s 25 Voices campaign that recognized emerging leaders of the cooperative movement who were under the age of 25. Sylandi’s experience at the local, statewide, national and international level fueled a dual passion for communications and cooperatives that has led her to speak about the impact of the cooperative business model in several countries, including France, Kenya and South Korea.

In addition to her role at OCDC, Sylandi serves as Chairwoman of the Hawkinsville-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Middle Georgia Regional Commission Council, and member of the Pulaski County Board of Education. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Communication from Valdosta State University and a master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational Psychology from the University of Georgia.

Read Sylandi’s Candidate Statement

 

Carla Decker

President and CEO
SkyPoint Federal Credit Union

Carla Decker is President and CEO of SkyPoint Federal Credit Union, a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) serving more than 13,000 members with over $200 million in assets in the Washington, DC metro area.

Carla’s executive leadership roles include leading digital innovation and banking as Chief Operating Officer of the $780 million IDB Global Federal Credit Union; and directing the transformation and growth of DC Credit Union into a nationally recognized best practice model for CDFI credit unions and service to the Hispanic community.

An avid cooperator and advocate, she has served in numerous credit union association boards. Most notably, she was the organizing chair for the Credit Union Advisory Committee to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Designated as an International Credit Union Development Educator (I-CUDE), she has facilitated and designed curriculum for the Caribbean and Canadian Credit Union Development Education programs.

Carla is the immediate past chair of the board of the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA). She represents NCBA CLUSA and the U.S. cooperative movement to the Americas’ Region of the International Cooperative Alliance.

Carla is originally from Per√ļ. Her immigrant experience informs and energizes her commitment to address and advocate for the financial well-being of the Hispanic community. She was twice named to the list of the 100 Most Influential People to the Hispanic Community by ‚ÄúEl Tiempo Latino‚ÄĚ‚ÄĒthe principal Spanish-language news publication in DC‚Äôs metropolitan area. In 2023, Carla was inducted into the African American Credit Union Coalition‚Äôs Hall of Fame for her body of work in financial inclusion.

Carla holds a master’s degree in International Commerce and Policy from George Mason University in Virginia, and a number of executive education certificates.

Read Carla’s Candidate Statement

 

Isa Fernandez

Certified Small Business Advisor
University of Texas at San Antonio, Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Institute for Economic Development

Isa Fern√°ndez is a Certified Small Business Advisor with the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Institute for Economic Development. She has worked with and for small businesses for more than 10 years regionally and nationally.

Born in Corpus Christi, Texas, Isa was first introduced to small business by her late father, Nicol√°s V. Fern√°ndez, PE who had two businesses‚ÄĒan engineering consulting firm, and a school for electricians called A-Plus Education Services, which offered courses approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and helped thousands of students get their electrician licenses. He learned about small business from his father and grandfather, immigrants from Guanajuato, Mexico, who formed construction and building businesses. Today, Isa‚Äôs two sisters are proud business owners in the fields of art, culinary art and professional development.

Isa has made small business development her profession, wanting to help people like her family and the community at large. She actively promotes access and opportunities to the underrepresented. She was recognized as Women’s Business Champion of the Year in 2016 by the San Antonio District Office of the U.S. Small Business Administration for her dedication to working with and for minority, women and disabled-owned businesses. In 2021 Isa coordinated a joint organization webinar for SBDC clients featuring the National Cooperatives Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) and Project Equity and has since continued workshops that are offered nearly every month (alongside business attorney Rebecca Smith) to teach small business owners about the underutilized but highly beneficial cooperative business model. Isa received the 2021 UTSA SBDC Innovation Award through selection from her colleagues for her work promoting business cooperatives to clients. In 2023, she was named co-chair of America’s Small Business Development Center (ASBDC) where she leads quarterly meetings and annual conference sessions on business cooperative development and business transitions.

Isa has previous board experience with the South-Central Texas Regional Certification Agency, where she served for four years; and Take Back Your Time, a now-defunct national nonprofit promoting work-life balance, paid vacation and other people-first initiatives. In 2016 she was elected to serve the City of San Antonio as Board Chair of the Community Action Advisory Board, a federally-mandated tripartite representing low-income individuals and families for three years. Other experience includes serving as an advisor for the national nonprofit And Beauty for All, promoting restoration of the natural landscape and community revitalization, ad hoc work with the Alamo Council of the Blind, and as a contributing writer for the San Antonio Westside Latino-owned newspaper, La Prensa Texas.

Additional professional skills include project management, grant writing and administration, strategic planning, and economic and equitable neighborhood development. Her love of working for the community stems from her educational background, lived family experience and love of serving the minority, older adult and disabled community. Additional strengths include neurodiversity, attention to detail and a love of learning. Isa holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s degree in public administration. In her free time, she enjoys research, writing, photography, art and spending time with family and pets.

Read Isa’s Candidate Statement

 

Heriberto Martínez-Otero

Executive President
Liga de Cooperativas de Puerto Rico

Heriberto Martínez Otero was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico. He obtained a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Economics, and a Juris Doctor at the University of Puerto Rico.

Martínez Otero started his professional career as a mathematics teacher in CIMATEC, a model school for academically talented students in science, mathematics and technology. In 2013, he continued to develop professionally as an economist and consultant on public policy issues. In 2019, he was selected as President of the Association of Economists of Puerto Rico and became the only Puerto Rican economist to have participated as a speaker in a public hearing of the Natural Resources Committee of the House of Representatives of the Federal Congress.

As of 2021, Martínez Otero directed the Ways and Means Committee of the House of Representatives of Puerto Rico. Since 2023, he has served as the Executive President of the League of Cooperatives of Puerto Rico. Martínez Otero has become one of the most renowned and sought after economists in the country, with frequent appearances in news media and dissertations on politics, public policy and economics.

Read Heriberto’s Candidate Statement

 

Tracy McIntyre

Executive Director
Montana Cooperative Development Center

A native of Eureka, Montana, Tracy McIntyre has dedicated her career to fostering economic development and empowering rural communities across Montana. With more than 12 years of experience as an Economic Developer for Northwest Montana, she spearheaded the creation and growth of the Tobacco Valley Business Incubator and Industrial Park. Notably, McIntyre’s work was funded and managed by two utility cooperatives, demonstrating her expertise in collaborative partnership development.

In 2016, McIntyre embarked on a new chapter, establishing her own consulting company to extend her expertise in community leadership, project development and strategic planning to rural areas and businesses beyond her immediate region.

Her journey into cooperative development began in 2009 when she joined the Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) as a Cooperative Development Specialist. By 2019, her dedication and vision propelled her into the role of Executive Director at MCDC, where she also serves as the Administrator of the Montana Council of Cooperatives. In this capacity, McIntyre oversees a wide range of cooperative projects and initiatives, including housing, childcare, agriculture sustainability, shared services, cooperative education and broadband adoption. Her tenure at MCDC has been marked by remarkable growth, expanding the organization’s capacity, and showcasing the transformative power of cooperatives across the state.

A passionate advocate for rural America and the vast landscapes of Montana, McIntyre’s primary goal is to leverage the cooperative business model to sustain vibrant small towns and preserve the rural lifestyle she cherishes.

In addition to her professional commitments, McIntyre remains actively engaged in various regional and statewide organizations. She has served as President of the Montana Economic Developers Association for two terms and was appointed by Governor Bullock to serve on the Equal Pay Equal Work Task Force and as a Montana State Ambassador. McIntyre continues to volunteer her time in her local community as a board member of the Great Falls Community Foundation and in various events like the Rotary Electric‚Äôs Tardigras fundraiser for local kids. Outside of work, McIntyre enjoys pursuing her hobbies, including kayaking Montana’s pristine streams, spending quality time with her nieces and nephews, and exploring rural communities with her boyfriend and friends.

With a steadfast commitment to rural development and a deep-rooted passion for cooperative principles, McIntyre embodies the spirit of community empowerment and cooperation.

Read Tracy’s Candidate Statement

 

LaDonna Sanders Redmond

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Consultant
Columinate

LaDonna Sanders Redmond is the former Diversity and Community Engagement Manager of Seward Co-op. LaDonna led the co-op’s diversity and engagement initiatives that contribute positively to organizational culture, marketplace competitiveness and social responsibility.

LaDonna is a community activist who worked on several public health issues throughout her career such as substance abuse, violence and food justice. LaDonna successfully worked to get Chicago Public Schools to eliminate junk food, launched urban agriculture projects, started a community grocery store and worked on federal farm policies to expand access to healthy food in communities of color. LaDonna is a 2003 WK Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow. In 2009, Redmond was one of 25 citizen and business leaders named a Responsibility Pioneer by Time Magazine. LaDonna has a popular Tedx
talk, Food + Justice = Democracy.

Currently, LaDonna is a Qualified Administrator (QA) of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI) and Intercultural Organizational Development Consultant and Executive Coach. LaDonna consults with cooperatives, universities, non-profit organization, philanthropic organization and a variety of small businesses.

LaDonna is a member consultant of Columinate, a cooperative of consultants that are catalysts for the common good.

Read LaDonna’s Candidate Statement

 

Michelle Schry

Director of Retail Support, Central U.S. Region
National Co+op Grocers

Michelle Schry is Director of Retail Support for the Central U.S. Region of the National Co-op Grocers (NCG).

Prior to joining NCG in 2015, Schry spent 20 years in cooperative retail management in CEO-level positions. Schry has been active in service to the larger co-op community serving as a board member of Cooperative Development Services, Ralph K. Morris Foundation, National Co+op Grocers and the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA).

Schry is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, which awarded her the 2006 Rada Distinguished Alumni Award. Schry was honored with the Cooperative Development Fund’s Howard Bowers Cooperative Service Award in 2006 and Cooperative Excellence Award in 2015.

Read Michelle’s Candidate Statement

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