This week on Everything Co-op, National Conference on Black Co-op Agenda speakers discuss strategies to advance Black co-op economies


Tune in to WOL 1450 AM, 95.9 FM and WOL Live Stream on Thursday, May 18 at 10:30 am EDT for Everything Co-op, hosted by Vernon Oakes. This week, Vernon interviews LaKeisha Wolf, Executive Director of Ujamaa Collective; Keyona Hough, Food Susu at Black Yield Institute; Gary Hampton, Business Growth Development Consultant; and Tamah Yisrael, Chief Solutions Officer at TMH Financial Services LLC. The group will discuss the 2023 National Conference on Black Cooperative Agenda, sponsored by the Network for Developing Conscious Communities, taking place in Las Vegas, Nevada this week.

LaKeisha Wolf has developed her roots across the community, working at the intersection of arts and culture, social entrepreneurship, and community development and wellness for 20 years. She is a founding member of Ujamaa Collective, serving as Executive Director since 2013. In this role, Lakeisha focuses on the agency’s business affairs, including the cooperative development of emerging Africana women-owned craft industries, maintaining an artisans’ retail boutique in conjunction with creative community programming. Lakeisha is a cultural worker, creative entrepreneur, and teaching artist; founding a micro-enterprise called EnjoyourSelf, creating healing gemstone jewelry and producing E-Ma’s Natural Body and Hair Care line. Lakeisha is known for helping Africana women make healthy, informed choices around beauty product consumption combined with self and environmental awareness. Lakeisha holds a bachelor’s degree in communications from Penn State University.

Keyona Hough is a teacher, researcher and defender of Black liberation and sovereignty at all costs. Currently, she holds the position of Food Susu Organizer for a powerful Black-owned organization known as Black Yield Institute. Keyona is the President of the Cherry Hill Food Cooperative, one of the solutions to food apartheid in Baltimore, Maryland. She understands the dire need for our communities to learn how food affects our psyches, attitudes and behaviors. She graduated from Morgan State University with a bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences and has over 20 years of experience in maternal and infant health, community organizing and advocacy, and resource development.

Gary W. Hampton is a Business Growth Development Consultant who helps businesses and organizations to reach operational and capacity goals. He previously served as Deputy Director of Small Business Development for the State of West Virginia and worked for 17 years as an Information Technology professional. After a successful career in IT and strategic development across different industry sectors, Hampton advises, trains and coaches businesses on strategic development and growth strategies. He is also active in community based cooperative economic development, and a member owner of the Ajani Group Cooperative. Hampton received a bachelor’s degree from Marshall University in Management Information Systems. He currently sits on the boards of Create WV, Compensation Committee and the Association of Cooperative Educators.

Tamah Yisrael is Chief Solutions Officer of TMH Financial Services LLC, and a member of Resolve Financial Cooperative. She established her firm to provide business development, bookkeeping and management services to small businesses, nonprofits and social impact enterprises in the Greater New Orleans Area. She currently provides Outsourced Executive Director Services to Builders of the Highway Foundation (BOTH Foundation) a national nonprofit. Under her leadership BOTH Foundation has merged the Temple of Brothers of Sisters of Goodwill and Neo Jazz School of Music under its umbrella and has developed educational community centers in New Orleans, Miami and Orlando. She is also a partner of Yisrael Records Inc., an independent record label; and producer of jazz and contemporary music. Her community advocacy efforts are focused on cultural awareness, social justice and access to healthy foods. She is currently organizing a cooperative movement and is a project officer of Cooperation New Orleans Loan Fund. She is a graduate of the Foundation for Louisiana’s TOGETHER Initiative LEAD Community Training Program, UNO’s Community Development Finance program, and the Cooperation Works! Art and Science of Cooperative Development.

A weekly exploration of the impact and potential of the cooperative business model, Everything Co-op aims to generate interest in and support for the cooperative movement. Everything Co-op is hosted by Vernon Oaks, produced by Pat Thornton and sponsored by National Cooperative Bank.

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