Break out sessions by Track

* sessions that will be offered to virtual participants

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Track 1: The Foundations of Grocery Greatness

Why Food Co-ops? *

Jon Steinman, Author, Grocery Story: The Promise of Food Co-ops in the Age of Grocery Giants

A single interaction at the checkout can dramatically alter the trajectory of an existing or future member’s perception of your food co-op. On the retail floor, at the checkout, or at the dinner table, staff and boards have a tremendous opportunity to motivate new and fresh ways to understand why food co-ops are so important and so different from any other grocer. More than ever before, consumers are asking themselves important questions when shopping for groceries (“How was this produced?”, “Where is it from?”, “What company is behind the label?”). This is great! But how do we best encourage shoppers to also consider the ripple effects of; “Where am I purchasing this product?”. The session offers effective talking points to spread the ‘co-op difference’ message.

Who should attend: Board members


Lead with meat – (Re-) Positioning Meat to a place of prominence

Greg Johnson, Meat, Seafood and Food Safety Programming Manager, National Co+op Grocers
Molly Baeverstad, Marketing Services Manager, National Co+op Grocers

Competitors put meat and seafood at the heart of their images and advertising. The front page of nearly every competitor’s sales flyers feature proteins and center-of-plate options. Incredible attention goes into product selection, brand curation, merchandising, margin and pricing strategy and promotions for proteins. Competitors do this because they know proteins create customer excitement and loyalty. They know that giving proteins a place of prominence in their stores grows sales not only for meat products, but of the basket overall. For co-ops, giving more prominence to proteins is even more critical since it can significantly impact customer perceptions of freshness and pricing and affords a great opportunity to leverage local sourcing.

This session will focus on how to elevate proteins in retailing, making meat and seafood the center around which customer baskets are built. It will provide attendees with tips on product selection, margin and pricing, merchandising, competitive positioning, vender partnerships and in store message. Whether your retail space is small or large and your meat and seafood department is self-service or full-service, this session will help you get the most out of this important category. We will also focus on how to make the most out of protein promotions to drive sales and attract new shoppers. Finally, meatless protein and meat alternatives are important and still on trend, but co-ops may need to position and merchandise these offerings slightly differently than competitors. This session will cover how we might handle meat alternatives differently to meet the unique needs of most co-op shoppers. This session is geared not just to operational staff – department and store managers – but also marketing staff and general managers interested in improving the co-op’s market position.

Who should attend: General Managers or Department Managers, Store Department Staff – grocery, wellness, deli, meat, etc.


Retail Readiness Store Walks: A retailer’s most important tool

Dave Olson, Senior Director of Retail Support, National Co+op Grocers

A Retail Readiness Store Walk (also sometimes called a store conditioning walk) is an essential tool of retailing; a thorough and conscientious tour through the retail space twice a day to ensure a store is ready to meet customer needs. It defines the organizational standard for how things should look and feel to a customer. Done consistently and it will develop a “whole store” perspective among staff, keep employee attention focused on customer service and ultimately empower your co-op and staff to better serve shoppers. And yet, implementing and acculturating Retail Readiness Walks can be really challenging, and often ends up happening only when “time permits” (it rarely does), or done only as a remedy for known customer experience problems, rather than a daily retailing activity. This session will be entirely dedicated to implementing and sustaining Retail Readiness Store Walks. We will share ideas on how to introduce (or reintroduce) this essential strategy in your co-op, reducing employee resistance and making it a normal part of daily business. We will provide resources to help managers conduct Retail Readiness Walks, ensure that they are handled in a consistent way when delegated to other staff, and build organization alignment around the concept and the value the practice brings. We will talk about the potential of Retail Readiness Store Walks to help support employee development, maintain or even improve your co-op’s brand image regarding freshness and quality, and break down departmental silos within a store. Finally, we will talk about how to set goals and measure improvements that result from consistent Retail Readiness Walks. This session is ideal for managers of co-ops that face stiff competition, supervise promising but still inexperienced department managers, or just want continually improve the store experience for shoppers.

Who should attend: General Managers, Department Managers, Store/Operations Managers


DEI in Practice – Building an Equity Alliance*

LaDonna Sanders Redmond, Consultant, Redmond Consulting/Columinate Consulting
Allanah Hines, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Manager, Weaver Street Cooperative

This workshop will present a case study of the Weaver Street Co-op diversity, equity, and inclusion work. Specifically, the workshop will focus on an initiative to increase the number of Black vendors in the co-op supply chain. The project was conceived and implemented by a small group of Black workers who challenged the leadership of the cooperative to take a bold step towards building a more inclusive and equitable cooperative. This workshop will describe that journey and offer cooperators in attendance a framework for creating their own equity alliance within their stores.

Who should attend: General Managers or Department Managers, Store Department Staff – grocery, wellness, deli, meat, etc.


Peer-to-peer Audits 2.0: Metrics that truly matter

Swan Ray, Supply Chain Development Specialist, Regional Sustainable Development Partnerships

In 2019-2020, a coalition of five food co-ops and economic development organizations in Central Minnesota partnered to co-design and create a peer-to-peer audit form and audit process. This audit re-design includes a curated selection of traditional audit metrics including store conditions, customer service, and merchandising. The Peer-to-peer Audits 2.0 incorporate additional metrics that reflect a deeper commitment toward social responsibility, environmental stewardship, and community wealth-building—key areas that consumer cooperatives can leverage as points of differentiation from traditional and chain grocery stores. Examples of additional metrics include: culturally-diverse merchandising that reflects changing community demographics, assessment of disparities between community demographics vs. the demographic of co-op members, accessibility of the store by walking and bicycle, accessibility of store hours to the area work force, and utilization of renewable energy.

Peer-to-peer Audits 2.0 are designed to be peer-directed without leadership from an external consultant, and the audit team can include a diversity of stakeholders such as store management, invested board members, city council members, and community development personnel. Attendees will come away from the session with the tools and knowledge of how to conduct their own peer-to-peer audits, and a broader understanding of how audits can be leveraged to deepen co-op principles and strengthen co-op commitment to diversity, inclusion, and meeting the broader needs of their community.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers

Track 2: Being a Great Employer

The Amazing Oryana Experience

Steve Nance, General Manager, Oryana Community Co-op
Colleen Valko, Board Treasurer, Oryana Community Co-op

Over the last ten years, co-op leadership has been driven by the vision of Oryana Imagined, 2030. One key facet of that vision is The Amazing Oryana Experience which is anchored in a commitment to excellent customer service, setting the standard for shopping in the region, staff engagement, and using technology to enhance the customer experience. In order to achieve these goals, Oryana’s leadership and Human Development department (rather than Human Resources) provide a suite of programs to ensure that Oryana has an exceptional staff of committed, energized, fun, and experienced people who are proud to work at Oryana. These programs include: Oryana University with classes on leadership, supervision, and open book training; Oryana Passport Program which provides 24 hours of cross training in every department at the co-op; and computer and financial training. In this session, Steve Nance and Colleen Valko, will highlight the vision and implementation of these programs, as well as, how the board as part of setting the Ends for the co-op is a key partner for staff excellence.

Is every BODY welcome?: Lettuce Uproot Disabling Norms*

Nikki Jackson, Disability and Accessibility Advocate, tenRhu consulting

When asked if diversity and inclusion are a high priority, 90% of companies worldwide answer “Yes!” Yet only 4% of those same companies consider disabilities when it comes to inclusion despite the fact that Disabled people make up 24% of the population and have a spending power of more than $5 trillion. Join Nikki, a disabled Accessibility Advocate, to learn about simple ways to make your co-op truly inclusive to all. Our discussion will include a brief disability etiquette lesson, the benefits (to your co-op) of being accessible, and practical steps you can take to be more inclusive. In her presentation, Nikki  covers relevant  topics such as ableism, tokenism and intersectionality of marginalized identities in a relatable and eye opening way. Come prepared to laugh and to ask yourself some hard questions.

Who should attend: General Managers or Department Managers, Administrative Department Staff – marketing, human resources, finance, IT, etc.


Menomonie Market: When Two Become One

Crystal Halvorson, General Manager, Menomonie Market Food Co-op

In September 2021, the merger of Just Local Food Co-op and Menomonie Market Food Co-op passed with both ownerships voting 95% in favor. In this session, General Manager, Crystal Halvorson, will share the story of the merger itself: two years of cooperation, planning, work, and communication to bring these two co-ops together in the Chippewa Valley. Halvorson will highlight the work the co-op is doing to support employees. How do you bring together two staffs, cultures, and various systems into one cohesive, member serving team? Attendees will hear lessons learned and strategies for success in supporting employees through a merger.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


The Road to Employee Benefits: A Timeline for Small to Medium Co-ops

Patrick Sayler, General Manager, Sioux Falls Food Co+op

South Dakota consistently has one of the lowest unemployment rates in the country, making the labor crunch a real challenge and retention a priority. Over the past four years, Sioux Falls Food Co+op has taken an incremental approach to increasing employee benefits by introducing one to two new benefits every year to minimize the financial impact to the co-op. Slowly, the co-op has built up to a competitive benefit package that offers healthcare, health savings account, vision and dental, 401k option with employer match, and two to three weeks paid time off. In this session, Patrick will walk attendees through their timeline for this work, how they researched and evaluated potential benefits, a close look at how it financially impacted the co-op, and finally what it means for attracting and retaining employees.

Who should attend:  Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


Striving to be a Better Employer*

Nicole Cowlin, Director of Human Resources, River Valley Co-op
Naya Flanzala, HR Manager, Belfast Community Co-op
Laura King, HR Manager, Middlebury Food Co-op
Rachel Watrous, Store Manager, Fiddleheads Food Co-op

In this time of uncertainty, hardship, and change, one thing has become certain: our Co-ops are increasingly looked to as places of stability, security and optimism within our communities, including in our role as employers. As our co-ops have faced challenges beyond anything we imagined, the needs of our employees have also shifted dramatically. Many are also looking for work with meaning and that makes a difference in our communities and the world around us.  This raises some critical questions:  How can we use our Co-operative Identity to differentiate ourselves as employers?  How can we effectively leverage our Values and Principles to become better employers today than yesterday? And how can we do so in a way that is genuine, relevant, and provides a greater sense of stability, purpose, and fulfillment for our staff, supporting the success of the organization?

In this panel discussion, members of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association will share inspiring stories of their co-ops who, in the face of various challenges, are working to improve their policies, practices and programs through strong leadership, innovation, and pragmatic solutions, and how they’re doing so through the lens of the Co-operative Identity, supporting higher employee morale and a greater sense of purpose and stability. We’ll touch on topics such as recruitment strategies, compensation, staff engagement, employee membership and participation, servant leadership, and approaches to addressing diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Who should attend: General Managers or Department Managers, Administrative Department Staff – marketing, human resources, finance, IT, etc.

Track 3: Members: The Roots of the Co-op

Co-ops Vote: Why Co-ops Can and Should Lead Civic Engagement

Kate LaTour, Director, Government Relations, NCBA CLUSA
Leann Paradise, Senior Associate, Grassroots Advocacy, NRECA – America’s Electric Cooperatives

In a well-functioning cooperative, membership actively participates and shapes the mission and decisions of the organization, which translates into broader civic and political involvement.  Studies show that the more a community is civically engaged, the more influence its citizens have when it comes to having a voice with elected officials. This is important to ensure that communities have the resources they need to thrive as they evolve. With deep roots in their communities, cooperatives are well-positioned to lead voter registration and turnout, especially reaching historically disenfranchised voters, to help shape their democracy. Co-ops are motivated to engage in these efforts to uphold their co-op identity and practice the values of Principle Five: Education, Training and Information. This session will help attendees understand the importance of voting to ensure strong and healthy communities. Voter engagement is NOT scary! It’s not partisan or political. Co-ops Vote is a non-partisan program of America’s Electric Cooperatives. It has achieved wide success amongst its membership by maintaining the non-partisan approach to asking member-owners to engage in one of their most basic rights to ensure their voices are heard with elected officials on the local, state and federal level.  We will also tie in the partnership with National Voter Registration Day, and help attendees understand that voter registration is easy and fun.

Co-op Voters can be an active, trusted voice in their communities, while promoting the democratic system of governance. They use their voice to vote for candidates to ensure that the co-op way of life is preserved and embraced, to build more inclusive communities. Co-op Voters will defend the co-op and educate others on the importance of its existence. Attendees will leave the session Co-op Voters!

Who should attend: General Managers or Department Managers, Administrative Department Staff – marketing, human resources, finance, IT, etc


Building a Board-Member Linkage Plan*

Marta Ceroni, Board Member and chair of the Ends Committee, Hanover Food Co-op
Jessica Giordani, Board Member and Chair of Member Linkage Committee, Hanover Food Co-op
April Harkness, Governance & Community Engagement Specialist, Hanover Food Co-op
Emily Rogers, Education Manager, Hanover Food Co-op

As a governing board operating through policy and making decisions on behalf of its members, it’s incumbent upon the board to seek avenues to consistently, systematically, and in an unbiased way solicit feedback from the diverse voices of its broad membership. For years, the Hanover Co-op Food Store’s board had been operating without a strategic plan to gather ownership feedback. How can the board make broad policy decisions and set ends policies (long-term goals) for the co-op without the board engaging the membership and better understanding the values and priorities of its members? With this question in mind the board created a rolling 3-year Board–Member Linkage Plan with a mission to achieve a clear understanding of the diverse viewpoints that are representative of the ownership of the Hanover Consumer Cooperative Society in order to best inform the board’s policy decisions.

The Hanover Team will share the story of guiding the board through this strategic plan development—including going back to the basic premise of the need to listen to its constituency rather than talk to its constituency. Attendees will learn how the Member Link Committee developed the strategic, rolling 3-year Member Linkage Plan, and discuss why it was important to the board to leverage collaboration and tap into ongoing engagement programs and services to not only increase board visibility but to better understand the membership. Participants will leave with information to help support the work at their own co-op and with ideas on how to develop their own member linkage plans.

Who should attend: Board Members, Admin Staff, GMs, Member Services & Outreach Staff


Do we really understand the co-op enterprise model? Your business model is your best friend*

Erbin Crowell, Executive Director, Neighboring Food Co-op Association
Patty Smith, Operations Manager, Willimantic Food Co-op
Learner Limbach, General Manager, Orcas Food Co-op
Erin Hancock, Education Manager, International Centre for Co-operative Management, Saint Mary’s University

Our co-operative identity is our competitive advantage. Most of us do not learn about co-ops in business school and so we approach our work with gaps in our knowledge. Join this session to learn the essentials. We’ll explore a collection of case studies with these panelists, as they share about their journey into more deeply understanding the unique business model of a co-operative enterprise and implementing changes in their co-op as they go. When we comprehend the co-op enterprise model fully, we understand and approach our work differently and we see new ways to address emerging issues. Our people-centered, member-centered business model allows us to organize to serve members and the wider community through our work in food supply/access/justice. Capital serves our people-centered goals, but is not the driving force of our business model.

You will hear from students and graduates of the Master of Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions program (Saint Mary’s University) about how their deeper learning has transformed their everyday and their bigger vision for their work.

We will explore many specific examples, including:

  • Employee empowerment in relation to member owners
  • Member education approaches
  • Navigating the important dynamic between the key players in the co-op (GM/board chair/members)
  • Scorecards embedding the co-operative principles
  • Rethinking co-operative accounting practices

Being fluent in our enterprise model and our co-op identity is the keystone to optimizing our co-operative difference. And that difference should be felt for members, employees and the wider community. Co-operatives have a complex purpose and the co-op identity is our tool for growth, stability, loyalty, legitimacy and social currency. Serving many ends is not as simple as serving one economic bottom line, but the co-operative way of doing business is an opportunity to run businesses that live out the co-operative identity in terms of building values chains and partnerships, as well as operationalizing the co-operative principles and values in all aspects of our work. Being a co-op is not something we do off the side of running a ‘traditional business’, but rather informs and optimizes the whole enterprise.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


Co-op Cafe 2022 At CCMA!

Thane Joyal, Governance Consultant, Columinate
Molly Snell-Larch, Board and Governance Consultant, Columinate

This session offers an opportunity to connect and converse with fellow cooperators both in person and remotely.  We propose to facilitate a hybrid online/live session of Columinate’s 2022 Co-op Cafe Series, sponsored by NCG, which provides a forum for cooperators to connect, engage and learn together.  While we’re still in design for this year’s series, here’s a sneak preview!  Last year we mapped what we imagined as the path through the pandemic, capturing successes and challenges past and foreseen.  This track is perfect for us!  We imagined our co-ops as trees, rooted in the co-op principles and values and the things we do for our communities that make us essential, standing tall amidst strong “winds”–forces internal and external that have arisen in the last 18 months–and sprouting new leaves, or strategies to help respond to those forces.  Our starting place for this year’s cafe series is the roots of last year’s trees–specifically the cooperative principles.  The conversations about an 8th cooperative principle that’s going on within the credit union sector have inspired our design, and this year’s cafe will be constructed around each of the 7 Cooperative principles and the proposed 8th.  The Cooperative Principles are a powerful tool for member engagement and dialogue.

Who should attend: Board members.

Track 4: Growing Resilient Boards

River Valley Co-op: Building a Strong Board/GM Relationship*

Jade Barker, Governance and Leadership Consultant, Columinate
Carolee Colter, Human Resources consultant, Columinate
Dorian Gregory, Former Board President, River Valley Co-op
Abby Skillicorn, Board President, River Valley Co-op
Rochelle Prunty, General Manager, River Valley Co-op

What’s one formula sure to maximize your impact in your community? A strong Board plus a strong GM = a strong Board/GM relationship. In this panel presentation, we’ll focus on the experiences of River Valley Co-op to learn more about how to maximize the impact of this crucial co-op relationship.

Startling the food co-op world before it even opened, River Valley Co-op earned a remarkable $1 million dollar owners in member-owner investments before opening its doors. After numerous setbacks, finally opening in the Great Recession of 2008 (at that time the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression), River Valley Co-op exceeded its sales expectations annually, going on to win CCMA’s Retailer of the Year award in 2014. Two subsequent owner loan campaigns exceeded $2 million and $5 million dollars in owner investments. River Valley successfully opened its second store last year in the midst of a global pandemic, has over 13,000 owners, and is poised to exceed $43 million in annual sales this fiscal year.

To get to where it is today, River Valley Co-op had to successfully overcome significant challenges, including losing over $1 million dollars its in first year. How do they do it? A strong Board/GM relationship has been foundational to River Valley Co-op’s success. Facilitated by Jade Barker, a former River Valley Co-op Board President, this panel will include current GM Rochelle Prunty, previous long-serving President Dorian Gregory, Human Resources consultant Carolee Colter, and possibly the current president, Abby Skillicorn. Great relationships are not accidental, they require conscious effort from everyone involved. Prunty will share, from the perspective of a GM, the wisdom she’s gained about building and nurturing a successful Board/GM relationship. Past long-term Board President Dorian Gregory and current Board President Abby Skillicorn will share their thoughts from the perspective of the Board. Co-op consultants Jade Barker and Carolee Colter will also share their perspectives on what works and what doesn’t in the Board/GM relationship based on work with dozens of food co-ops over the years. There will be ample time allowed for panelists to respond to participants’ questions.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


Simplify Your Board Processes for Greater Impact*

Thane Joyal, Governance Consultant, Columinate
Valerie Smith, Quality Assurance Specialist & Board President, La Montañita

Board systems and policies evolve over time.  If not regularly curated, the complexity of governance systems can exceed their value to the cooperative.  In this workshop we will share ideas and tips for streamlining and simplifying board systems and policies. We’ll consider what it would look like we eliminated every process, every practice, effort or even word that does not add value to the co-op.  Simple board systems are simple and fun to use.  We’ll invite participants to bring documents from their own board to simplify during the workshop using our tips and tricks.  Presenters, a Quality Assurance Specialist/Board President and a Cooperative Governance Consultant, will use their experiences and insights to inspire participants to explore ways their co-op might benefit from simplified governance systems.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


All About Financial Statement Audits:  What, When, Where, How, and What Else?!

Audrey Griffin, Consultant, Columinate
Leslie Watson, Consultant, Columinate

Audits are  a common, and commonly misunderstood, tool used by co-ops and other organizations for financial oversight. Audits are also a major investment of money and time and don’t always accomplish the intended goals of the organization.  In this session, we will explore what an audit of the financial statement is and is not, the range of other options, and when each might be appropriate. We will cover the specific roles and responsibilities of the board, management and the external accountant in the process.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


The State of Cooperative Governance in Food Co-ops

Courtney Berner, Executive Director, UW Center for Cooperatives

Last fall, the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives invited more than 4,400 U.S. cooperatives, credit unions, and mutual insurers to be a part of an ambitious new study to examine governance practices across sectors and over time. This session will provide a deep dive into the first wave of the Cooperative Governance Research Initiative’s findings. Courtney Berner, the Center’s executive director, will share key takeaways for food co-ops from the 2021 survey and follow-up interviews and lead an interactive discussion about using CGRI data to develop practical tools to help food cooperatives advance their governance practices.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


Our Board Should Look Like Our Community, But How Do We Get There?

Stacie Larkin, Marketing Manager, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op
Manny Leon, Board Chair, Board Nominations Committee, Sacramento Natural Foods Co-op

In this session, we will review our 2021 process for board recruitment. In 2020 our board received numerous comments about the slate of candidates put forth that year for election, called out the board for lack of diversity and lack of diversity in candidates. Our community called for action in making our board more diverse. The nominations committee was charged with recruiting candidates to diversify our board and putting forth a slate of candidates in 2021 that would fulfill that mission. The committee worked on a progressive strategy and together with the marketing department crafted a campaign that ultimately was successful.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, Administrative Department Staff – marketing, human resources, finance, IT, etc.

Track 5: Strategies to Compete

Surfing the Third Wave: Non-traditional Financing for Co-ops of the Future

Jeremy DeChario, General Manager, Syracuse Cooperative Market
LeAnna Nieratko, CEO/GM, Erie Food Co-op
Vivian McCullum, Store Manager, Erie Food Co-op

In this session we will share two experiences where Co-op’s worked with developers to secure financing and aid to open grocery stores in underserved communities. Both Syracuse and Erie are rust belt cities who experienced a hollowing out of their downtowns over the last several decades, these two projects brought fresh food, jobs and cooperative economy into urban food deserts, and made communities more walkable.

Both Co-ops leveraged non-traditional funding sources to reduce risks and expand access.   Syracuse worked with a non-profit developer and a family foundation for favorable lease terms, build-out funding and a simple exit provision. Additionally, the Co-op worked to secure funding for food affordability programs, including Double Up Food Bucks, and grants for design work. Erie Food Co-op worked with a non-profit developer to secure funding for equipment and negotiated a risk-averse rent agreement.  They also secured several grants; including a grant designated to help low-income shoppers afford membership.

Who should attend: Board of Directors, General Managers or Department Managers


Financing Growth*

Patrick Sayler, General Manager, Sioux Falls Food Co+op
Rochelle Prunty, General manager, River Valley Co-op|
Dorian Gregory, Deputy Director, Cooperative Fund of the North East
Christina Jennings, Executive Director, Shared Capital Cooperative

As you plan for the expansion of your co-op, there are many challenges you will face. One of the primary challenges is lining up the financing that can make it possible. Whether you are planning to expand in your current location, move to a new location or add an additional location, you will be working to put together the right financing package. In this session, co-op managers and lenders will share their experiences from two recent, successful expansions — Sioux Falls Food Co-op in 2020 and River Valley Co-op in 2021.

In 2020, Sioux Falls Food Co-op launched an expansion of its store in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. To make the $2.5 million project a reality, the co-op assembled financing from  equity (preferred shares), a local credit union backed by a USDA guarantee, and Shared Capital Cooperative, a cooperative CDFI loan fund.

In 2021, River Valley Co-op in Northampton, Massachusetts, opened a second store in Easthampton MA. Building funds began in 2018,with a co-op owner loan campaign that raised $2.8 million by year’s end. By 2019, the co-op exceeded their $5 million fundraising goal for the Easthampton project, incorporating $16mm in New Market Tax Credits into the capital stack. In the end, this expansion was a $20mm project.

Who should attend: Co-op managers, co-op board members and consultants interested in learning about successful growth financing strategies


Innovations Sprint! CCMA Lightning Talks

This fast-paced session features seven cooperators from across the country sharing a glimpse of innovation at their co-op…in just 7 minutes! There will be a few discussion breaks for attendees to ask questions, share their opinions, generate new innovations to implement, etc.

  • Implementing Self-Checkouts – Laura Marsh, Outreach Manager, The Merc Co+op
  • Refill NOT Landfill – Emily Rogers, Member Education Manager, Hanover Co-op Food Stores
  • Slinging Sandwiches at St Peter’s Co-op – Erik Larson and Shyama O’Brien, St. Peter’s Food Co-op
  • Owner Rewards Points – Andre Bessette, River Market Food Co-op
  • Redefining Local – by Watershed – Mike McCary, BriarPatch Food Co-op
  • California, Philly, or Spicy Tuna: Bringing Sushi to the Co-op – Sarah Christensen, GreenTree Community Co-op

Who should attend: General managers, Store and operations managers, department managers.


Marquette: Scaling Up without Jeopardizing the Mothership*

Matt Gougeon, General Manager, Marquette Food Co-op
Mary Moe, Operations Manager, Marquette Food Co-op
Michelle Augustyn, Director, Marquette Food Co-op

While the grocery industry is an uneven playing field skewed to favor large corporate players, cooperatives can compete through leveraging their community connections, increasing community-owned assets, and serving community needs beyond the traditional co-op. Now is the time for food co-op boards to think deeply about their communities and for cooperative management to identify and recognize community needs and fill holes where those holes appear. In this session, Marquette Food Co-op leaders will share their strategy to grow the co-op through diversified, measured, and feasible investments that are responsive to community needs. Over the past three years, Marquette Food Co-op has explored “bite-sized” investments including the acquisition of a small artisanal local bakery, the development of a convenience store where a long-time neighborhood grocer once stood and investing time and expertise in a struggling but popular cooperatively owned brewery positioning it for acquisition. Attendees will learn how their entrepreneurial spirit is driving this diversification, how they determine viability of projects, and how these business ventures will differ and complement (and not jeopardize) the traditional co-op storefront.

Who should attend: General managers, Store and operations managers, directors.


Mondragon Management

Ibon Zugasti Gorostidi, International Project Manager, Mondragon

Mondragon Cooperatives comprise the largest ecosystem of worker cooperatives in the world. Over the last 60 years, Mondragon has grown to be the leading business group in Basque Country and tenth in Spain. In this session, you’ll delve into the building blocks of Mondragon’s Corporate Management Model to explore how you can put your co-operative’s values into practice. You’ll learn about the Mondragon model’s principles, indicators, application, and results. In the process, you’ll gain guidance on how to successfully translate co-op management from concept to reality in a competitive market context.

Who should attend: GMs, store directors, board members.