2006 Worker Cooperative Conference Presenters
Hilary Abell is Executive Director of WAGES (WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Action to Gain Economic Security), a non-profit organization that has created three successful eco-friendly housecleaning cooperatives in the San Francisco Bay Area Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Natural Home Cleaning, EmmaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s, and Eco-Care. These coops provide good incomes with benefits, leadership opportunities, and healthy working conditions for the Latina immigrant women who own them.
Before coming to WAGES, Hilary worked on a range of social justice issues including Fair Trade, environmental health, and immigrant rights. Her visits to farmer coops in El Salvador, Peru, and Colombia inspired her commitment to cooperative development and taught her the tremendous value of democratic organizations, sustainable agriculture, and all projects that give us space to dream and enhance our ability to work together toward the greater good.
At WAGES, Hilary especially enjoys supporting the personal development of individual women in their role as worker-owners, and she identifies with their struggles around self-confidence and fear of stepping into a leadership role. Through her own experience in cooperatives and other progressive organizations, she has become very interested in her own and othersÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ conflicting feelings about leadership and how that relates to internalized oppression. Our experiences of oppression or Ã¢â‚¬Å“outsider-nessÃ¢â‚¬Â Ã¢â‚¬â€œ as women, immigrants, even as people with a radical vision Ã¢â‚¬â€œ sometimes hold us back from manifesting the fullness of our abilities and from finding a sustainable balance between contributing to our communities and caring for ourselves. Yet these same experiences can also be the source of our strength. Hilary strongly believes that well-run organizations and cooperatives can bring out the best in us and provide opportunities for overcoming internalized oppression.
John Abrams is cofounder and CEO of South Mountain Company, a thirty-year-old employee owned green design and building company on the island of MarthaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Vineyard, Massachusetts. His book THE COMPANY WE KEEP: Reinventing Small Business for People, Community, and Place was published by Chelsea Green Publishing in 2005. Business Ethics magazine awarded South Mountain its 2005 National Award for Workplace Democracy. In his work with several island organizations, he concentrates on solving the local affordable housing crisis and inventing a positive future. His family lives in a cohousing neighborhood that was designed and built by his company.
Sue Bob has worked with Community Builders Cooperative, a construction cooperative in the Boston area, for over twenty-five years. In 2005, Sue received her Masters degree from Southern New Hampshire University in Community Economic Development with a specialization in community building and organizing. Sue is co-facilitator on the Eastern Coordinating Council for the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy.
Soledad Bordegaray joins us from the MTD La Matanza (Unemployed Worker Movement of La Matanza, Buenos Aires, Argentina) Their movement includes the following worker co-ops: Screen Printing (Serografia), Adult education "Yes I Can", which includes highschool/GED-type education for adults and literacy classes for adults (Yo Si Puedo, programa de educ permanente: secudario por adultos, alfabetizaciÃƒÂ³n de adultos), Sewing Workshop including Fair Trade relationships in Japan and elsewhere (costura - comercio justo), Co-op Run Kindergarden/Pre-school (JardÃƒÂn de Infantes), Bakery (panaderÃƒÂa), Book Publishing (editorial), "Democratization of Information Technology" Computer Co-op (democritaciÃƒÂ³n de informÃƒÂ¡tica - computaciÃƒÂ³n), Artisans/Handicrafts including paper recycling and many others (artesanales/manualidades, curso de 60 personas reciclaje de papel y otros), and a barter network (una feria de trueque).
AdriÃƒÂ¡n conducts outreach and bilingual popular education for the Tax Fairness Initiative at United for a Fair Economy. He also works with the Education Team, adapting and designing workshops for our various programs, and networking with Spanish-speaking, grassroots, and immigrant groups. He helps develop UFE's global analysis and facilitates points of convergence between global economic justice and our other focus areas and programs.
Prior to joining UFE, AdriÃƒÂ¡n worked nationally and internationally at the service of various organizations on issues that include Latin America solidarity; immigrant, indigenous and human rights; racism and white supremacy deconstruction; and social, economic, and environmental justice.
As an activist, AdriÃƒÂ¡n supports non-hierarchal, horizontal, bottom-up models for social and economic development and movement building and aims to establish political relationships that "humanize" us in our struggle, not ones that turn us into political commodities. "Para vivir una cultura diferente," to live a different culture, he believes we must continue to actively shift away from paradigms of classist, racist, sexist and vanguardist oppression still entrenched in large sectors of our movement, to those of revolutionary love, reciprocal respect, collectivism, accountability and radical trust that will bind us closer together as social beings and enable us to better sustain the struggle "For Humanity And Against Neoliberalism".
Christina A. Clamp
Chris Clamp is considered one of the most knowledgeable researchers about the Mondragon cooperatives. She first visited the Mondragon cooperatives in 1982. She was there for three months and interviewed managers in a fourth of the cooperatives. During that time, she developed ties to younger members in the community and has maintained those friendships. She was also there during the time when they were organized in regional groups and when they strove to keep firms small enough for meaningful democratic governance. This has given her an appreciation of how the group has changed as it grew in size and complexity.
In 1991, she joined a short tour of the co-ops and a seminar about the reorganization. She returned again in 1998 for six weeks to re-interview managers still in the co-ops as well as some individuals who have been active in pro-labor roles in the group. Many of the people that she had interviewed in 1982 had risen to prominent roles in the MCC. This has given her a unique perspective and access to the cooperatives. In 2002, she took a group of women from CooperationWorks! on a tour of the cooperatives and the Basque Federation of Worker Cooperatives. In 2003, she conducted interviews at Eroski on their model for economic and political participation in the stores outside of the Basque region. In 2005, she returned to attend a conference and an MCC seminar on the cooperatives. The Mondragon experiences have provided her with important perspective on the emergence of worker cooperatives in the US. She is a cooperative specialist on the faculty of the School of Community Economic Development at Southern New Hampshire University.
CECOSESOLA cooperative in Venezuela
Terry Daniels, Executive Director, Long Island Home Enterprise, combines entrepreneurial leadership skills practiced and honed as owner/operator of several businesses with particular interest and experience in community-based economics. Developed and expanded first business venture at age 19; expanded, and increased profitability of family business at age 29; developed a worker cooperative at age 36. Terry's long term goal is to develop a business incubator as a launching point for entrepreneurial ventures that lack resources or experience to get proper financing, professional guidance, and other support essential to start-up businesses.
Aaron Dawson holds the elected position of "Worker-Owner Coordinator" for Equal Exchange, a Massachusetts worker co-op with approximately 100 employees, 70 co-op members and a 20 year history of growth and democratic practice. As Coordinator his responsibilities include: leading the Worker Owner Cabinet; setting co-op meeting agendas; facilitating 6 co-op meetings per year; and representing the worker-owners on the Management Council and nominating committee for outside board members. Aaron has been at Equal Exchange for three years, where he is a Customer Service Manager. Involvement in worker co-ops runs in Aaron's family. His father, Stephen Dawson, is a co-founder of the ICA Co-op Loan Fund and helped to set up Cooperative Home Care Associates in New York City. Email: adawson AT equalexchange DOT coop
Richard Dines is Program Manager for Cooperative Development with the National Cooperative Bank. In this capacity, Richard coordinates cooperative development and advocacy activities for NCBÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Mission Banking initiative. This includes managing the Food Co-op 500 program, an effort to accelerate the start-up of retail grocery cooperatives with the goal of increasing the number of food co-ops from the current 300 to 500 by 2015. Before starting with NCB in September 2005, Richard worked for more than 11 years at the National Cooperative Business Association. He has a MasterÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s degree in city planning and a law degree.
Omar was raised and continues to live in the South Bronx. He is the founder and executive director of Green Worker Cooperatives (GWC), a new organization that supports the creation of worker-owned, environmentally friendly manufacturing cooperatives in the South Bronx. He is committed to constructing alternatives to capitalism, as well as local economies committed to the principles of environmental justice and the rights of workers. Omar previously served as Program Director of Sustainable South Bronx and as the Transportation Justice campaign director for the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance. In addition to laying the seeds for the Future Independent Green Republic of the South Bronx, Omar is also a member of the Dominican-Haitian folkloric percussion group Pa'lo Monte.
Jenny Glazer (aka Jenny Schmenny) tends to be meddlesome, so she's spent most of her nine years at Rainbow Grocery on various committees, as well as working in the cheese department.Ã‚ She spent five years working on the Buddy System, which is designed to pair new workers with senior workers who help usher them toward membership.
Jessica joined Equal Exchange in August, 2003, and works as a Liaison in the co-opÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s unique Interfaith program that engages in sales, Fair Trade education, and outreach to thousands of places of worship nationwide.From the start Jessica has been active in the co-op and has chaired the Education Committee since 2004, overseeing Equal ExchangeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s member education, training, mentoring, and the in-house library. Last year she reorganized the committee to create positions to specifically oversee different support roles within the co-op, and to empower co-workers to get more involved and take on more leadership. Jessica has a BS from Virginia Tech in Environmental Policy and Planning (concentration: WomenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Leadership, minor: Public and Urban Affairs). She is lso currently pursuing a MS through the Community Economic Development program at Southern New Hampshire University. Her thesis focuses on increasing education and participation for remote office employees in worker-owned cooperatives.
As a member of the technical assistance cooperative of the Association of Arizmendi Cooperatives (AAC), Tim helps launch new cooperatives and support established Association cooperatives. He also performs organizational development and legal work for worker cooperatives unaffiliated with the AAC.
Emily Kawano is an economist and director of the Center for Popular Economics, a non-profit collective of economists that works to advance economic justice and sustainability by providing training/resources that demystify the economy and by bridging the academic-activist divide in order to strategize and mobilize for change. Emily's areas of interest include globalization, economic alternatives and community economic development.
Josh Lerner (The New School for Social Research) has been researching and organizing around participatory democracy in North and South America for several years. He facilitates an international participatory budgeting network (ParticipatoryBudgeting.org), is on the Steering Committee of Planners Network, and teaches urban planning at the Brooklyn Center for the Urban Environment. His research has focused on participatory budgeting and planning, youth participation, social forums, and community councils, in Canada, the US, Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.
Audrey Malan is the Executive Director of CooperationWorks! A national organization of 21 development centers serving communities in 43 states, CooperationWorks! helps its members work together to revitalize communities through effective cooperative enterprise development. Members provide expertise across all aspects of cooperative development, including feasibility analysis, business plan development, training and education.
Kirsten Marshall, a longtime cooperative organizer, works at Rainbow Grocery Cooperative where she is a member of the Dry Goods Department, Conflict Resolution Team, Effective Meetings Committee and Coop Committee.
John is a member-owner at Union Cab of Madison Cooperative in Madison WI. He has been with Union Cab for 18 years (serving 8 years on its Board of Directors and 4 years as president). He has served on Union CabÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Strategic Planning Committee for 5 years and works as the Accounts Manager for the cooperative. John is enrolled in the fourth wave of St. MaryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s UniversityÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s long-distance learning program: Masters of Management: Cooperatives and Credit Unions.
Andrew is the staff coordinator for the Western Worker Cooperative Conference and has worked with the Northwest Cooperative Development Center since 2004. He specializes in organizational development and education about cooperatives, and provides technical assistance for start-ups. He has been involved with co-ops for 14 years.
James D. Megson
Jim Megson is the Executive Director the Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF), a financial institution that provides debt and equity financing for worker owned businesses and community based enterprises. From 1987-2002 Mr. Megson served as the Executive Director of the ICA Group, a 25 year-old non-profit organization that develops and provides technical assistance to worker-cooperatives.
During the last seventeen years, Mr. Megson has advised over 70 clients on the creation and implementation of employee ownership through employee cooperatives, Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOP), or other mechanisms. He serves on the Board of Directors of serveral community based enterprises and cooperatives including WorkSource Staffing Partnership in Boston and Enterprising Staffing Solutions in Washington, DC.
Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO)
Jessica Gordon Nembhard
Jessica Gordon Nembhard is Assistant Professor and political economist in the African American Studies Department at the University of Maryland. She is also co-founder of The Democracy Collaborative and an editor with Grassroots Economic Organizing. Newsletter. The Democracy Collaborative promotes engaged scholarship around issues of community building and democratic civic participation using university resources and connecting scholars with practitioners. GEO Newsletter advocates for alternative economic solutions and highlights examples of the Ã¢â‚¬Å“solidarity economyÃ¢â‚¬Â around the world.
Jessica is a member of the Eastern Coordinating Committee of the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy (a regional founding member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives) as well as an individual member of the U.S.F.W.C. She was one of the co-hosts of the first eastern conference for workplace democracy at the University of Maryland, College Park in 2002. She is also a member of the board of Enterprising Staffing Solutions in Washington, DC (a community-owned temporary services agency in transition to worker ownership), and a member of the ONE DC Equitable Development Initiative.
Jessica has traveled to New Orleans twice since Hurricane Katrina hit, to work with the People's Hurricane Relief and Oversight Coalition on a "People's Revitalization Plan." Her article, Ã¢â‚¬Å“Principles and Strategies for Reconstruction: Models of African American Community-Based Cooperative Economic Development,Ã¢â‚¬Â appears in the Summer 2006 special issue on the aftermath of Katrina of the Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, and she and Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo wrote a shorter piece on the subject for the joint Dollars&Sense/GEO July/August 2006 issue.
Jessica specializes in economic development policy and Black political economy. Her research focuses on democratic community-based economic development, cooperative economics and worker ownership, alternative urban economic and educational development strategies, racial wealth inequality and wealth accumulation in communities of color, and popular economic literacy.
Jessica earned a Ph.D. and an M.A. in economics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst (1992 and 1989, respectively). She is the proud mother of Stephen and Susan and grandmother of Stephon Nembhard.
Rodney North is a Board Director and The Answer Man for Equal Exchange, one of the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s most successful worker co-ops with over 70 members and a 20 year history of growth and democratic practice. Equal Exchange sells fairly traded organic coffee, tea and chocolate from small-farmer cooperatives all over the world. Equal Exchange also has extensive ties with worker co-ops in other countries, co-op banks, as well as with hundreds of food co-ops nationwide.
Email: rnorth AT equalexchange DOT coop
I have been involved with organized labor for over 40 years, as steward, bargaining committee member, local union president, staff representative and both assistant director and director of American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) AFL-CIO District Council 48 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. During those years, I was also responsible for lobbying and political activity for AFSCME. During my time with AFSCME, I developed a keen interest in the health insurance industry and healthcare delivery system. I acquired a significant amount of knowledge about healthcare delivery systems and health insurance during my participation on the Board of Directors of two Wisconsin healthcare cooperatives, Family Health Plan Cooperative and Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin. I also was on the Board of Directors of Family Health Systems, which was the management company owned in part by Family Health Plan which managed the two health plans.
Approximately 10 years ago, I left AFSCME to start John Parr Associates, providing consulting services to Unions on health insurance benefits including assistance at the bargaining table. I also was the manager of a multi-employer health insurance trust for workers employed by county government in Wisconsin, for five years.
In June 2001, I joined the Wisconsin Professional Police Association and provided assistance at the bargaining table to the WPPA bargaining agents on all matters related to health, dental and vision benefits for approximately 12,000 WPPA members covered by 438 labor contracts in Wisconsin.
I became involved with the development of teacher cooperative/teacher professional practices, in early 2000. A number of parents approached a group of teachers, at a Milwaukee Public School, elementary level, about providing an educational program that was built on the concept of individually guided education. One of the teachers was my daughter. During the summer of 2000 eight teachers and ten parents developed a petition to become an instrumentality charter school of Milwaukee Public Schools. Three teachers, one who was my daughter, and I visited Minnesota New Country School in Henderson, Minnesota. This school was operated and staffed by a teacher cooperative. Based on my discussions with Minnesota New Country my daughter and I drafted the framework for the articles of incorporation and bylaws of a teacher cooperative run school. In the fall of 2001 a new K-8 elementary school, in which my daughter would teach, and a new high school were opened as charters of Milwaukee Public Schools.
In January 2005 Education Evolving, a joint venture of the Center for Policy Studies and Hamline University in St. Paul Minnesota, provided funding for me to help unionized public school teachers develop teacher professional practices. The concept was to use the Ã¢â‚¬Å“Milwaukee ModelÃ¢â‚¬Â in developing worker cooperatives as the governance model though.
Focused on building a sustainable and accountable democratic economy, Tom became involved in worker cooperative education and development six years ago. During his term on the Board, Tom has served as an International Liaison and hopes to continue learning about how worker cooperatives can play an integral role in transforming the global economy. Tom's current cooperative interests also include: how cooperatives might respond to privatization through diverse public-private partnerships, the role of trade union-cooperative collaboration, and how worker cooperatives could be supported to create dynamic job creation and business retention programs in the U.S.
Vincent Purdy is the chef at Renel Pujol Restaurant Cooperative in New York City and one of the founding members of the cooperative.
CECOSESOLA cooperative in Venezuela
Tim Simons is a collective member of Inkworks Press in Berkeley, CA where he works as a digital prepress technician. He graduated the Evergreen State College with a focus in Political Economy in 2004 and got his start in the Bay Area co-op movement during an internship at the Design Action collective. He organizes with Indymedia and coordinates the production of the Bay Area Independent Media Center's newsmagazine Fault Lines. Tim is also a collective member of Station 40, a cooperative living space and venue for radical organizing and events in San Francsico. He enjoys designing propaganda and educational materials for movements and organizations fighting for social change (including the logo for the USFWC), and organizing various street demonstrations and mass mobilizations. Tim also has an unhealthy obsession with fonts.
Steve Strimer has been a worker-owner at Collective Copies in Amherst and Florence, Mass. since 1997. He co-founded the worker cooperative Common Wealth Printing in 1977 and worked there for twenty years. In 1988 he helped establish the National Progressive Printers Network of worker-owned printing companies. In 1989, he was appointed to the Massachusetts Office of Employee Involvement and Ownership Advisory Board.
He is interested in replication models for worker-cooperatives and in 2000 worked on the committee that started a Collective Copies satellite shop in Florence, Mass. He is currently excited about the nascent Valley Alliance of Worker Cooperatives (Mid-Connecticut River region of Vermont and Massachusetts).
Martin Van Den Borre
La Siembra Cooperative, Canada
John Zippert is the Director of Program Operations for the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund at their Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, Alabama. He has 40 years experience in community organizing, cooperative and credit union development, community-based economic development and rural development among Black farmers, and in aiding distressed communities. Prior to working for the Federation, he was a fieldworker for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Louisiana. He has a BA degree in history from the City College of New York, and has participated in numerous training sessions and courses to enhance his skills in rural development.
John serves on the boards of many national, regional, state, and local organizations to support rural development activities. Among these boards are: The Rural Coalition, Association for Community Based Education, Rural Development Leadership Network, Alabama Black Belt Action Commission, Alabama Council on Human Relations, Alabama Organizing Project, Alabama New South Coalition, Greene County Industrial Board, Greene County Hospital and Nursing Home, and Greene-Sumter Enterprise Community.
John and his wife Carol are co-publishers of the Greene County Democrat, the weekly newspaper in their home rural community. They have published the newspaper since a community group acquired it in December 1984 by a community group. The Zipperts have three children and eight grandchildren.