Darnell Adams is a dynamic leadership coach, facilitator and business strategist, who has over two decades of experience working with nonprofit, for profit and cooperative businesses. She develops and facilitates strategic plans, special projects, and workshops, providing expertise and training on an array of topics including implicit bias, power and equity. Darnell has presented to government officials, university administrators, and industry leaders to create social and economic change. Darnell has a Master of Education from Harvard University and is a Certified Leadership Coach.
A food cooperative manager for nearly 23 years, Dan has served five food cooperatives in four states ranging from a start-up to large, multi-store organizations. He has also served on multiple boards across North America, including two primary food co-ops and National Co-op Grocers. Dan holds a Master of Management – Cooperatives and Credit Unions degree and has served as adjunct professor of cooperative business for Presidio Graduate School. Currently, Dan is General Manager of Chicago Market, a start-up food co-op in Uptown, Chicago, Illinois. He also serves as Treasurer of Fairtrade America and as a freelance consultant for food cooperatives.
Kenya Baker was born in Detroit, Michigan. She spent most of her childhood and adult life in Dayton, Ohio. She always possessed a strong love for education. Ms. Baker holds a Bachelor of Science from Wilberforce University and a Master of Science in Education from the University of Dayton. Baker was a teacher for over 17 years before becoming a full-time community activist and organizer. Her greatest work was serving as one of the leaders in the movement of all movements dubbed, “Gem City Market, the Movement”. The Gem City Market erected a 5.2 million dollar building and now furnishes high quality healthy foods to residents in West Dayton and abroad. Gem City Market went from small focus groups in 2015 to now over 5000 members. She is currently spearheading multiple initiatives to institute a Community Land Trust called, “Unified Power” This effort is aimed to counteract the possibility of gentrification that would displace massive numbers of predominantly Black inner city residents in the wake of opening Gem City Market.
Jade Barker has been a professional trainer, facilitator, and mediator since 2003, and is a former Co-director of The Mediation & Training Collaborative, a program of Community Action. A member-owner of Columinate, an award-winning co-operative of consultants, she currently consults nationally with mission-driven organizations on Board development and antiracism. A former board president of River Valley Co-op, Jade won a Consumer Cooperative Management Association award in 2014 for her cooperative board leadership.
Dave is the National Co-op Grocers Senior Director of Store Development. He has worked with food co-ops for over 30 years. For the past 10 years he has led a store development team supporting over 100 co-op expansions and start-ups. His career has been dedicated to helping bring to fruition more co-ops serving more people in more communities. Dave is also treasurer on the board of Community Co-op Market in Tallahassee, FL.
Erica Blair is an Extension Specialist with K-State Research and Extension and a Program Manager for both the Rural Grocery Initiative and Kansas Healthy Food Initiative. In this role, she supports healthy food retail across the state and nation by providing technical assistance on a range of topics, including grocery ownership models, financial resources, and e-commerce, and more.
Joel is a Consulting Technologist specializing in retail technology and solutions. Founding member of the Tech Support Cooperative, a worker co-op dedicated to equity and empowerment through technology.
Jess Buttimer has been an Owner of, and volunteer for, Prairie Food Co-op since 2015. She is currently serving her second term on their board of directors and was instrumental in planning and executing their capital campaign which raised $1.66M in 16 intensive weeks. With the help of her business partner, Katie Novak, Jess developed CoApp – the first cross-platform tool for owner and campaign tracking optimized for co-ops.
Randolph Carr III
Randolph Carr III is field director for the National Black Food and Justice Alliance. He is an organizer who comes to this work with a deep belief that we need to build organizations and our collective leadership capacity to move work of consequence.
Vicky Chaput administers CDS’s charitable contributions program, currently working with about 20 clients overseeing donations, reimbursements, registrations, and multi-state charitable registrations. She has been Office Manager for Cooperative Development Services for the past 21 years overseeing key areas of HR, office coordination, meeting planning and the Senior Housing Cooperative (SHC) Program. Vicky comes from a farming background and has worked within the cooperative system including Land O’Lakes, CHS, senior housing co-ops and grocery co-ops.
Olivia Chatman is a Program Associate for Food Initiatives at Reinvestment Fund, based in their Atlanta office. In her role as Program Associate, Olivia supports the design and implementation of national and local food program initiatives, assisting in the management of Reinvestment Fund’s national USDA Healthy Food Financing Initiative Targeted Small Grants Program, as well as other programs and partnerships working to strengthen food systems to improve access to healthy food and economic opportunity in the food sector for underserved communities. Olivia’s professional background includes work in community development, managing locally and state funded arts & culture grants in southern Louisiana, in addition to providing research assistance in Georgia Tech’s Healthy Places Lab, where she has participated in multiple projects highlighting the connections between the built environment and public health. Olivia holds a Bachelor’s degree from University of Louisiana at Lafayette in Anthropology, and a Master’s degree in City & Regional Planning from Georgia Tech.
R.L. Condra is the Senior Vice President of Government Relations for the National Cooperative Bank (NCB), a national lender headquartered in Washington, DC. In this capacity, he is responsible for advocating for issues that directly impact NCB’s customer segments and the cooperative business sector. R.L serves on the board, and as the advocacy chair for Cooperationworks!, a national network of organizations focused on co-op development.
Brian Dahlk, CPA is a senior manager at Wegner CPAs in Madison, Wisconsin. For the past fifteen years, he has provided audits, financial reviews, tax returns, and consulting services for hundreds of cooperative organizations all across the country. Brian received his master’s degree in business in 1992 and his Certified Public Accountant designation in 2006. Prior to joining Wegner CPAs, he owned a business and worked as a financial manager for several nonprofits and cooperatives in Wisconsin and California. Brian helped develop Regent Market Co-op, a food co-op in Madison.
Rachel DB is passionate about what it takes to build transformational co-ops from the ground up. Originally from Michigan, Rachel moved to Portland Ore. during a bicycling boom. With Rachel as Founding Operations Manager, she and five mechanics opened their worker-owned retail + repair shop, A Better Cycle in 2007. Her five years with the co-op forged a strong foundation in collective visioning, radical customer service, and harmonizing personal responsibility with collective needs. After moving to Dayton Ohio, Rachel employed her creative process in support of the multi-stakeholder co-op Gem City Market — an emergent community response toward food sovereignty and creating spaces of belonging. During her years as an integral organizer with the co-op, she has deepened her expertise in communications and membership development. Rachel has her ear to the ground, actively listening for an emerging space to build with others who value her creative process and co-op experience to connect the pieces and amplify collective vision, hope and mission.
Kevin Edberg has worked with cooperatives in multiple sectors for over 20 years. In the 1990s, he saw the expansion of farmer-owned ethanol co-ops to add value to corn, and created new programs at the MN Dept. of Agriculture to add value to other agricultural commodities. After coming to Cooperative Development Services as Executive Director in 2000, he and CDS colleagues developed approaches that have resulted in the success of over 100 new consumer-owned grocery co-ops nationwide. He is currently working with new applications of the co-op model to address issues of rural community vitality and employee ownership. Kevin has a passion for governance, with 29 years of elected local government experience. He holds BS degrees from the University of Minnesota in agricultural economics, horticulture and secondary science education, and graduate work in plant breeding and plant physiology.
Dr. Reginald Flynn
Dr. Reginald Flynn grew up in Flint, Michigan and is the former paster and also served as the senior pastor of the historic Foss Avenue Baptist Church in Flint, MI. Dr. Flynn is an entrepreneur and author. He is founder and president of North Flint Reinvestment Corporation. In 2009, he founded Brothers Battling Bloodshed, an anti-gang, anti-crime prevention program for structurally unemployed boys in Flint. In 2014, Dr. Flynn purchased the former Urban League building in northwest Flint and invested $1.5 million to renovate the facility, which is the home of Eagle’s Nest Academy. In 2015, as a direct response to the Flint water crisis and departure of two major grocery store chains in north Flint, Dr. Flynn mobilized residents to establish the North Flint Food Market.
Because he LOVES to eat, Rusty is interested in getting local food from the fields to the table quickly and organically. What’s important is to do this is a cost-effective way that makes prices competitive with larger chain grocery stores. McHenry County, Illinois is rich with local farmers raising foods without pesticides – safe, organically healthy, and delicious. Many local restaurants are already serving these foods – Rusty believes we need to offer them to everyone in our Up & Coming Food Shed Co-op grocery store! Rusty is a retired Information Technology consultant that now spends his time volunteering with non-profits both actively and in board member roles.
Brenda Haines currently serves as Board President of the Oshkosh Food Co-op, a start-up food co-op that opened in July 2021. Haines has served on the Oshkosh Food Co-op Board of Directors since its founding in 2013. During the co-op’s formation phase, Brenda worked on Membership Recruitment & Communications, Capital Campaign and Site Teams. In “real life,” Brenda co-owns Blue Door Consulting, LLC, a marketing consulting firm based in Oshkosh, WI, that serves clients nationwide.
JQ Hannah is the Assistant Director of the Food Co-op Initiative and specializes in the development of trainings and content to empower startup food co-op organizers to lead in their communities. A deep believer in the power of peer idea sharing and the best innovations coming from those leading in the trenches of the movement, Jacqueline has headed up the vast expansion of FCI’s peer learning opportunities, from the FCI peer remote learning groups that over five dozen startups across the country participate in, to the FCI regional DeepDive trainings, to the FCI Live video series. Jacqueline served as the General Manager of Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, IL from 2006-2015, leading them through two store expansions and five years of being the fastest growing food co-op in the nation.
Cassia Herron is a proud Kentuckian who has spent the past two decades working to transition Kentucky’s agricultural and energy economies from extractive industries to democratized, community-owned, cooperative economies that advance equity and justice. Cassia is a co-founder of the Louisville Association for Community Economics and has been leading efforts to open the Louisville Community Grocery. She is the Immediate Past Chair of Kentuckians For The Commonwealth where she was introduced to rural electric co-ops and the just transition framework. Cassia works as a consultant in cooperative development, planning and strategy development and as a freelance writer. As a writer, she has published work in the Courier-Journal, Lexington Herald Leader, and Louisville Magazine. Cassia is a graduate of the University of Louisville and holds a Masters of Urban Planning from the University of Michigan.
Allanah Hines is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a double major in Economics and Spanish. As an employee of Weaver Street Market for fourteen years, Allanah has held various roles from customer service to data coordination. Currently, Allanah is as Weaver Street Market’s first DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) Coordinator, is a founding member of the Weaver Street Market E.Q.U.I.T.Y. (Empowering Quality Unification & Inverting the Tribulations of Yesteryear) Alliance, and is Chair of the Weaver Street Market Board of Directors. In her daily work, Allanah functions as a relationship manager to overcome structural obstacles in the regulatory system by creating pathways for active, voluntary participation in the food supply chain. She oversees organizing brands, growers, and outreach partners to create sustainable systems of food security that grow communities through working exclusively through BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) members of the community. Both her personal and professional aspirations are to mobilize food justice through cooperative food economics and diversifying the food supply chain. In her spare time, Allanah enjoys cooking, traveling, and spending time with friends and family. Her everyday motto is: “What’s the best that can happen?”
Born with a rare eye disease, Nikki became legally blind at the age of 10 and was quickly immersed in the social justice world. By 5th grade, she found herself speaking to state legislators to advocate for her right to receive accommodations and remain in mainstream school. She has received many awards and accolades for her time spent on multiple accessibility advisory boards at institutions of higher learning. With a bachelor’s degree in Food and Nutrition, she has a strong passion for supporting local agriculture and independent business owners. Her goal is to be a positive disruptor in any arena she is invited into and to help your company take strides in becoming inclusive to the disabled community. As an accessibility advocate, Nikki believes that when you know better, you do better.
Jillian Jason is Board President of Wild Onion Market in Chicago, IL, a late stage 2B start-up co-op. In the past 3 years, Wild Onion has experienced explosive Owner growth, invigorated volunteers, and renewed community interest and support. Jillian attributes much of this success to harnessing the power of effective messaging across multiple communication channels. With a background in startup businesses in the food and agriculture space, Jillian works with start-ups to effectively communicate their message and values. She is also a freelance writer. When not working, Jillian is slowly renovating a hundred-year-old condo in a classic Chicago courtyard building. She is always looking for new sources of vintage fixtures.
For over two decades, Kaye has built startups and nonprofits around the globe, serving in project management or operational roles with both new and established companies in the tech, cooperative, and nonprofit sectors. In the co-op sector, she has assembled and led teams working on feasibility assessment, store design and operational programming planning for startup food co-ops. Kaye has direct startup food co-op experience as a Project Manager charged with ownership growth and raising capital, as well as Interim General Manager experience with two start up co-ops. Kaye has served as a board member and chair on several boards including the North Dakota Organic Advisory Group, and Northern Plains Sustainable Agricultural Society. She is a co-founder of HealthStore Foundation which provides healthcare in East Africa through an innovative micro-franchise model and has served on their board for over 20 years.
Nicole is a lifelong cooperator, a store planner, interior designer and equipment pro who has devoted her career to co-ops and natural food stores. She began in tore development for UNFI, and worked for many years with UNIF and CDS Consulting Co-op, developing hundreds of store projects along the way. She holds a BA in community development + facility design, an MSL in interior design, an MBA in Marketing and passion for nachos.
Joel Kopischke of seven roots has worked with co-ops for over 20 years. He served as Board President with Outpost Natural Foods then spent 9 years with CDS Consulting Co-op (now Columinate), before joining seven roots. Joel works in board development, cooperative governance, facilitation, strategic leadership, and executive coaching. (Governance nerd alert! Joel was even trained in Policy Governance at the Policy Governance® Academy by the Carvers – aka inventors of PG.) He is seven roots’ operations manager, helping to facilitate their work with co-ops in store design, site feasibility, marketing + branding, prepared foods, and operations. seven roots is a worker-owned co-op. When not working to make co-ops stronger, Joel is also a professional actor and singer and a certified facilitator with the Mankind Project. He leads experiential trainings focused on personal development, including JEDI work addressing power, privilege and difference.
Karla’s unique combination of wild creativity merged with the practical expertise that comes from over 30 years of designing exclusively for food co-ops, independent grocers and supermarkets offers a full spectrum solution to the many layered puzzle of putting together a happy, successful, and thriving food co-op. She tackles the unique challenges that co-op design and development offers with her and her team’s inventive space planning and interior décor designs, their broad equipment specification and mechanical knowledge, their ongoing drive to find efficiencies in store operations and their deep passion for building sustainable, resilient, and fair food systems to build nutrition security throughout the world. Karla is a partner/owner at Retail PlanIt, a women owned business, and when she isn’t working on stores, she can be found in the woods and on the edges, foraging for wild foods and mushrooms. She also is a knitwear designer, an artist, and a certified herbalist.
Rich Larochelle is a founding director of the Fredericksburg Food Co-op which opened in April 2021. He has been deeply involved in the essential aspects of helping to make the Co-op a reality for Fredericksburg – from raising funds to recruiting new members to planning events and representing the Co-op before numerous community groups. Rich worked for cooperatives for 40 years prior to moving to Fredericksburg in 2014 with his wife Linda who is an accomplished artist and retired art teacher. Rich was Senior Vice President at the Cooperative Finance Corporation until retiring in 2013, and Legislative Director at the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association where he worked for 12 years. He currently serves as Board Chair of the Cooperative Development Foundation and in 2021, joined the board of the Food Co-op Initiative. Rich was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2017. Rich is active in volunteer activities and has been an Adjunct instructor on Cooperative Business at the University of Mary Washington.
Kate LaTour is the Director of Government Relations for the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International. Prior to joining NCBA CLUSA, Kate served as a Legislative Aide in the U.S. Senate working on economic policy issues. She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Heather works in co-op development through marketing, branding and interior design. After working in house co-ops through the day to day, as well as in expansions and store openings, she joined seven roots in 2018. seven roots partners with co-ops providing design and operational support through an operational lens. Heather is passionate about mission-forward business, community, and integrated branding. Off hours, she’s probably eating.
Bruce Mayer is a Partner with Wegner CPAs in Madison, Wisconsin. He and his firm work with over 200 cooperatives from coast to coast providing tax, accounting and financial statement services. He has worked with dozens of co-op start-ups and conversions. He specializes in food, worker, and purchasing coops. He also works with non-profits, employee benefit plans, and commercial businesses.
Sam McCormick is the General Manager at Assabet Co-op Market in Maynard, MA. They were born and raised in Philadelphia and have worn many different hats over the years. In addition to the years managing Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philly, they have spent time in co-op education, green construction, and business management and consulting in a variety of sectors. They are passionate about food sovereignty, anti-racism, and social equity work, and have tried to center these values in all of their pursuits. Sam is thrilled to be back working in the co-op sector and has relocated to Massachusetts with their partner for this work. Sam is bringing their wealth of experience in co-op management and green construction to the challenge of securing a site and opening Assabet’s store. Sam believes that community support is vital for a thriving consumer-owned co-op, and has already begun the work of deepening and strengthening Assabet’s connections with various groups and organizations in and around Maynard.
Erin Dale McClellan
Erin Dale McClellan (she/her) is the executive director of The Partnership Funds, a c3/c4 funder collaborative that has defined the practice of grantmaking to advance independent political power. Erin brings over 21 years of experience in successful coalition work on campaigns including increasing the minimum wage, public financing of judicial campaigns and same-day voter registration. She is a mother, community activist, political strategist and cultural worker in Raleigh, North Carolina. She was raised in a military family with roots in Tennessee and Texas. erin dale is on the board of State Voices and a member of the Southern Partners Fund. Erin is a founding member and the President of the Fertile Ground Food Cooperative in Southeast Raleigh. Fertile Ground has over 800 members and is working diligently to build a grocery store and solidarity economy.
Patti McKenna, owner of CG Consulting has been a professional fundraiser for over 27 years. Most recently Patti served as the Campaign Manager for Assabet Co-op Market which raised $2 million during the capital campaign. Patti is also involved in Assabet’s Sustainability Campaign which hopes to raise $2 million additional dollars to provide more green construction to the project. Patti served as a Campaign Consultant for Prairie Food Co-op in Lombard, IL in 2020. Currently, Patti is serving as Campaign Consultant for Wild Onion Market. The goal is $1.6 million and the campaign launches in March. Patti raises funds for Bridge Boston Charters School in Roxbury, MA as well as Jamaica Plain Main Streets. She provides guidance in all areas of fundraising from prospect management, data management, board development and grant writing to meeting with major donors as a representative of the organization. Patti lives in the Boston area with her husband, Larry McKenna who serves as the Data Guru for CG Consulting.
Jamila Medley leverages her background in organizational development to move organizations towards transformational change. She supports organizations with board governance, resource mobilization, leadership development, strategic planning, project management, as well as diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts. From 2012-2021, Jamila served in governance roles and then as executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA). There, she partnered with cooperators, elected officials, movement organizers, and funders to position cooperatively-owned enterprises as a robust and equitable economic development solution to economic and racial injustice in the Philadelphia region. Jamila was introduced to co-ops a decade ago as a staff collective member at Mariposa Food Co-op. She serves on the boards of directors for the Independence Public Media Foundation, Movement Alliance Project, Food Co-op Initiative, and All Together Now PA. Jamila is also an independent consultant with Columinate.
Siobain Mitchell was one of the first people recruited to work on establishing a food co-op in Maynard, MA. She became President of the founding Board of Directors in 2013, and served in this role for many years. Siobain has a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and worked for ten years in mortgage banking as a Loan Underwriter before taking some time off to raise her family. Since then, she has completed a certificate program in Financial Planning at Boston University. Now that her home co-op is getting ready to open, Siobain has started consulting, offering GM Transition training, with plans to add additional services over the next year.
Don provides support on financial feasibility for start-up co-ops. His services include pro forma financials and financial literacy, expansion and business planning, assistance with lease negotiations and general development assistance. He’s worked in natural foods retail since 1981 when he started as a clerk at the original Whole Foods Market. Over 18 years there he served as a store manager, VP – Store Development, and Regional President for Whole Foods Market. As Project Manager he helped open the Durham Co-op Market in Durham, NC. He started working with Bill Gessner on financial feasibility assessments in 2016. He holds a professional B.Architecture (University of Texas, Austin) and an MBA (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill). Don lives in Durham, NC, with his partner, daughter, dog and cat.
Kathy Nash is co-founder of Prairie Food Co-op (PFC) and current Chair. PFC was founded by Kathy and her husband Jerry in 2012 after their experience as volunteers and Owners of Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, IL. Kathy serves as PFC’s Project Manager to ensure the project continues to move forward and follows best practices. She is very proud that PFC has received FCI’s seed grant in addition to UCUR’s “Cooperator of the Year” and “Innovator of the Year” awards. Kathy is just a small part of PFC’s success. She is grateful for the hard work and dedication that the Board and dozens of Co-op volunteers have contributed so much of their own time and money over the past 9+ years to open their store. PFC is a powerful example of what can be accomplished when people work together towards a common goal. Prairie Food Co-op is expected to open in 2023 in Lombard, Illinois and currently has over 1600 Owners who’ve invested $1.7 million into their future store.
Katie Novak has helped co-ops raise over $9,000,000 since she been providing coaching (aka consulting) to start-up grocery co-ops in 2017. Katie began her consulting career after record breaking success chairing Green Top Grocery Co-op’s Capital Campaign. Katie specializes in capital campaigns as well as owner growth and engagement. In addition, Katie has co-founded a sister company called CoApp with her business partner Jess Buttimer. CoApp is a cloud-based owner tracking and fundraising system designed especially for co-ops. CoApp supports cooperation among cooperatives, resulting in data-driven insights including trends, tips & best practices and is the perfect complement to Katie’s coaching services.
Keith is one of the founders, past Board Chair, and is now the current General Manager of the Sitka Food Co-op. For the past eleven years he has been totally dedicated to establishing a viable food cooperative in his hometown of Sitka, Alaska. His desire to bring “good food and community together” and his passion for problem solving has helped what was once a small buying club evolve into an established food cooperative that has grown to be a substantial supplier of healthy foods and organic produce in his community. Ever the optimist, Keith strongly believes that cooperatives can be a positive force in any community and that, when people come together to solve a common problem, good things can and do happen.
Kevin is a lifelong hospitality professional with a culinary degree and a BS from Cornell University. In addition, to his association with Seven Roots worker co-op he is also the Operations Manager at Hunger Mountain co-op in Montpelier Vermont.
Dami Odetola is Vice President at National Cooperative Bank and responsible for providing banking solutions for food cooperatives, independent grocery retailers and purchasing cooperatives on the East Coast. Since joining the bank in 2008, Dami has served in various positions, including relationship manager for NCB’s business cooperatives, credit analyst in the corporate banking department and asset manager in NCB’s risk management department. Dami is an avid promoter of cooperatives and has advised state and national governments on the impact and importance of the cooperative business model. He is also an active volunteer, a passionate photographer and serves on the boards of The ICA Group, Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF) and Partners for Development (PfD).
Dave has worked with retail food co-ops for over twenty years, focusing on change management, organizational structure and capacity, productivity, and growth and competitive readiness. Dave believes all co-ops have the potential to be vital and enduring community institutions, and at NCG he leads a team of retail wizards and co-op true believers to help co-ops reach that potential. They help co-ops achieve operational and financial goals and stay competitive so that co-ops have the resources they need to serve their local communities and have long-term positive impact. In addition to talking co-ops, Dave would be happy to geek out with you about food, music, science fiction and the highs and (occasional) lows of parenting an incredibly outgoing kid.
Dr. Jasmine Ratliff is an applied food systems research and policy-based specialist. She partners with academic research teams, anchor institutions, philanthropic foundations, and community-based organizations to identify root causes of and develop innovative solutions to food system challenges. Dr. Jas received her master’s degree in Community Planning from Auburn University and Ph.D. in Integrative Public Policy and Development from Tuskegee University. As a New Orleans native and farmer, she has developed a unique perspective when it comes to food and the effects that it has on communities. Dr. Jas believes that your zip code should not determine your life expectancy, and building relationships are essential to creating a sustainable and just food system.
Stuart Reid is the Executive Director of Food Co-op Initiative, a non-profit foundation providing technical assistance, information and resources to groups organizing new retail food co-ops across the United States. Previously, he served as the Food Co-op Development Specialist for Food Co-op 500, the pilot project that grew into FCI. Stuart has an extensive background working with retail food cooperatives, co-op wholesalers, and support organizations.
Carol is an accomplished, award-winning Professional Speaker, Fundraising Strategist, Featured Writer, and Small Business & Non-Profit Consultant. Carol’s unique strategies have been her speaking topic for over 1/2 million educational, non-profit, and small business leaders nationwide. Additionally, she has raised millions of dollars for Lehigh Valley non-profits and most recently she and her team have raised over 3 million dollars for the Bethlehem Food Co-op. Carol previously served as the President of the National Speakers Association Philadelphia. In 2003 she was elected as President of the Pennsylvania PTA overseeing over 500 schools in PA. She also served as Board Chair for St. Lukes University Hospital Hospice. Carol currently serves as Board Chair for Bethlehem Food Co-op. NSA Philadelphia awarded her Pennsylvania’s Speaker of the Year as well as Most likely to Succeed in the Speaking Business. Her most recent recognition was receiving the Good Scout award given by the Mini Trail Boy Scout Council. Carol volunteers for the Bethlehem Food Co-op and looks forward to opening a community-owned grocery store in downtown Bethlehem in 2023.
Chris has spent the last 19 years working for food co-ops around the country, including opening three “start-up” food co-ops, most recently, the Fredericksburg Food Co-op. Along with being a food co-op nerd, Chris enjoys cooking, local cider, hard work, baseball and kittens. Chris’ beautiful, long-term plan is to retire at 72 after working 50 years in cooperatives.
Ben Sandel has been participating in co-ops for decades, and has assisted many startups and established co-ops with raising millions of dollars for new store, expansions and other needs. He also is part of Columinate’s Cooperative Board Leadership Development (CBLD) program and works with startup co-ops on process and strategy. He has participated in Up and Coming since he was the board leader of Friendly City Food Co-op in Harrisonburg VA, a startup he helped open in 2011.
LaDonna Sanders Redmond
LaDonna is a Qualified Administrator (QA) of the Intercultural Development Inventory (IDI), Intercultural Organizational Development Consultant and Coach with Columinate. LaDonna serves as Board President of Seward Community Co-op in Minneapolis and is a Board Member of National Cooperative Business Association. 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.
Amaha Sellassie is director of the Center for Applied Social Issues and an assistant professor of Sociology at Sinclair Community College. A lifelong community organizer, Amaha currently serves as president of the Gem City Market Board, co-founder of West Dayton Strong, a STEAM based summer and afterschool program in public housing. He is also a community based participatory researcher focused on health equity and bringing the marginalized voice to the center of public policy.
Schry is the National Co-op Grocers Director of Retail Support for the Central U.S. Prior to joining NCG she spent 20 years as a general manager. Known for her ‘radical candor’, she has dedicated her career to growing the impact and relevance of cooperative grocery while providing both technical and emotional support to her GM and board peers and colleagues. Schry was the recipient of the Cooperative Service Award at CCMA in 2006, and her co-op, People’s Food Co-op of LaCrosse/Rochester, was awarded the Cooperative Excellence Award in 2015. She was also recognized as a Distinguished Alumna at her alma mater, University of Wisconsin – LaCrosse.
Brendon Smith is the Communications Director at Willy Street Co-op. He has been with the Co-op for 18 years and was a prime organizer of the opening promotions for two of their three stores. He leads a department of five who are responsible for promotion of their cooperative.
Jon Steinman is the author of Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants (New Society Publishers 2019). Following the book’s release, he completed an extensive book tour that took him to 125 food co-ops and 23 startups. In 2021, and in partnership with the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI), Jon published THIS COULD BE OURS – a PHOTO ALBUM to inspire your food co-op dream. Jon was an elected director from 2006-2016 of the Kootenay Co-op – Canada’s largest natural foods food co-op, serving as Board President from 2014-2016. Jon maintains a close eye on the sector and in 2021 began publishing a quarterly report through LinkedIn – the WHO OWNS YOUR GROCERY STORE report. He was the producer and host of the internationally syndicated radio show and podcast Deconstructing Dinner, once ranked as the most-listened-to food podcast in Canada, and is the writer and host of Deconstructing Dinner: Reconstructing our Food System – a television and web series available online. www.grocerystory.coop | www.deconstructingdinner.com
Andrew Zitcer is an associate professor of Urban Strategy at Drexel University. He studies cooperative social and economic practices as well as the arts as a vehicle for community transformation. He is also the co-founder of the Rotunda, a community arts venue, and Kol Tzedek Synagogue, a progressive Jewish congregation.