More than 500 cooperators representing hundreds of co-ops from around the country came together for networking, learning and collaboration at the 58th annual Consumer Cooperatives Management Association’s (CCMA) annual conference held in picturesque Madison, Wisconsin from June 12 to 14, 2014.
This year’s theme “Forward!” was taken from the Wisconsin state motto, and set a superhero tone for the various breakout sessions and keynote address. The meeting kicked off with various tours of local cooperatives, with a great mix of cooperatives in the community, partnering co-ops, and a history tour of host and sponsor Willy Street Co-op.
Attendees had the opportunity to participate in 58 concurrent breakout sessions, which took place over the three-day conference. These sessions provided insight and training on various topics of management, engagement, business practices and collaboration.
On the last day of the conference Mike Beall of NCBA CLUSA and Ben Kuzma of the Boise Food Co-op announced that Boise, Idaho would be the much-anticipated location of next years CCMA conference.
On Saturday afternoon, Mike Beall facilitated a panel discussion on Principle 6 in Wisconsin. Panelists included Holly Fearing from Willy Street Co-op, Sarah Lloyd from WI Food Hub Co-op, Jerry McGeorge from Organic Valley and Peter Murphy from Riverwest Cooperative Alliance.
A highlight of the conference was the awarding of the Cooperative Service Award to Ann Hoyt, who has for the past 25-plus years managed the CCMA conference and has been responsible for its establishment and growth. NCBA CLUSA congratulates Ann Hoyt for her many years of dedicated service and powerful influence in the cooperative community. NCBA CLUSA will assume the management of the CCMA conference immediately following this year’s event and was on hand participating, listening and absorbing the various elements of this highly regarded conference.
“As NCBA CLUSA looks to the future, the vision is for the conference to grow deeper in content and wider in opportunity,” said Ann Hoyt, retiring conference director and NCBA CLUSA board member. “The CCMA partnership with NCBA CLUSA will provide the needed support and infrastructure to make that happen.”
Through two well-attended breakout sessions, facilitated by NCBA CLUSA, attendees were encouraged to share past experiences with the conference and offer suggestions on next year’s agenda and direction.
And this engagement will continue over the next year, as NCBA CLUSA focuses on engaging attendees through surveys, focus groups, and open discussions with stakeholders, using its recognized role as cooperative convener to expand the future of the CCMA conference.
“This partnership taps into the vast cross sectorial reach NCBA CLUSA has into the cooperative community throughout the nation,” said Jerry McGeorge, Chairman of NCBA CLUSA’s Board of Directors. “We will move forward in a collaborative way, being sure to enhance communication between conference organizers and stakeholders, to ensure the conference continues to fulfill its purpose.”
Without compromising the culture of the conference, NCBA CLUSA is looking to enhance communication between co-ops and expand the current footprint of this conference, providing greater opportunities for networking and co-op to co-op collaboration.
A committee will be convened to work through plans for the 2015 conference. The committee will outline the activities leading up to the next conference, which will include activities that will be targeted to better understand what conference attendees will find valuable.
“CCMA is a fantastic conference that deserves to play an expanded role in the cooperative community,” said Mike Beall, president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA. “We take seriously the trust that has been placed in our organization to enhance this conference and take it to the next level of greatness.”