Join us For an Organizing and Strategic Planning Meeting in Binghamton

The New York Cooperative Network is having an Organizing and Strategic Planning Meeting, as part of the NYS Sustainable Business Conference.

Date: June 19th, 2014
Time: 10:30am-4:30pm
Location: Cornell Cooperative Extension - Broome County, in Binghamton.
Cost: FREE

Join us for strategic planning, and organizing the next steps, towards establishing a regional or statewide cooperative business association, coordinating with the National Cooperative Business Association, looking forward to another day-long Summit conference event in 2015, and determining how our resources and contacts can best be put to use in our goal of a solidarity social economy.

More about the event

Deborah Kenn, Syracuse University College of Law
Jason Hirata, Syracuse University College of Law

Professor Deborah Kenn is a Professor of Law and Associate Dean of Clinical and Experiential Education at Syracuse University College of Law. She is Director of the College of Law’s Office of Clinical Legal Education and directs the Community Development Law Clinic. Established in 1988, the clinic is one of the oldest law school clinics nationwide that provides students the opportunity to represent not-for-profit community organizations and for-profit entities involved in community economic development in low wealth neighborhoods. Before joining the College of Law faculty in 1989, Professor Kenn practiced environmental law and poverty law.

Jason Hirata is a third-year student at the Syracuse University College of Law, where he is a student attorney in the Community Development Law Clinic, working with not-for-profit and for-profit corporations. Both before and during law school, Jason has worked with in-house counsel at various not-for-profits, public agencies, and private land trusts in the areas of complex civil litigation, acquisitions and dispositions, commercial real estate development, and a variety of commercial and conservational leasing transactions.

Noemi Giszpenc, Cooperative Development Institute

Noemi Giszpenc, Executive Director of the Cooperative Development Institute (, manages the day-to-day activities of the organization. She began her career as an economics researcher at the World Bank, worked as an editor at the Nonprofit Quarterly, a magazine for nonprofit managers, and became a principal at Ownership Associates, Inc., a consulting firm in Cambridge, MA specializing in developing an ownership culture at employee-owned firms. As part of earning a Master’s in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University, she did a thesis on the creation of a cooperative economy in the Northeast, including the practical development of an interactive cooperative directory, which has now evolved into the Data Commons Cooperative ( She has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Stuart Reid, Food Cooperative Initiative

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.

The Eat to Live Food Cooperative is opening in September, right across the street from the Summit venue! Check out their brand new building, meet the board & staff, and hear about how this dedicated group of community organizers is working to promote health and prosperity in a low-income 'Food Desert' neighborhood.

Lisa Stolarski, National Cooperative Business Association

Lisa Stolarski is the Executive Director of the Co-ops USA Center at National Cooperative Business Association. The Co-ops USA Center is a technical education center serving cooperative organizations and development practitioners in the United States. Lisa’s expertise is in community economic development, cooperative development and cooperative education. She holds a Master’s of Science degree from Southern New Hampshire University’s School of Community Economic Development where she specialized in Cooperative Development. She is currently Chair of the Urban Circle of Cooperation Works, the professional association for cooperative development practitioners. The Urban Circle has co-written a bill that is currently before Congress entitled HR 3367, the National Cooperative Development Act of 2011. Before landing at NCBA Lisa was a cooperative development consultant with Keystone Development Center, a nonprofit cooperative development consulting firm serving Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware. At KDC she helped to develop consumer food co-ops and farm co-ops. Lisa is also the founder of Jane Street Housekeeping Cooperative Corporation, a worker-owned cooperative and is past Board President of the East End Food Co-op in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. At East End Food Co-op Lisa was the producing editor of A Discussion Course on Cooperatives, a manual for community self-directed education on cooperatives. A Discussion Course on Cooperatives won an ACE Award in 2008 from the Association of Cooperative Educators for “best new co-op curriculum.”

Joe Marraffino, Democracy at Work Network
Kim Pinkham, Pioneer Valley Photovoltaic

Joe Marraffino is a cooperative organizer and co-founder of the Democracy at Work Network. For 7 years Joe was a worker-owner at the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives in California, one of the nation's largest and most successful worker cooperative enterprises, with over 160 worker-members and a combined annual income of over $15 million, where he provided financial, organizational, and industry-specific assistance to an associated network of six worker-owned businesses.  Joe co-launched two new cooperative businesses in 2010, one of which was recognized by declaration of the Mayor of San Francisco as having positive benefits to workers and the community.  Arizmendi Association workplaces have also received awards from a local union for employee quality of life, from the city for environmental commitment, and from the press for quality of their products.  While on the board of the Arizmendi Association, Joe also served on the first elected board of the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives, with a membership of 40 businesses,  and on the board of the California Center for Cooperative Development.  Joe has hosted and facilitated workshops on worker cooperatives at a national level in California, New York, Louisiana, Wisconsin, and Maryland.  He runs a worker cooperative news sources at

Kim Pinkham is founding Worker Owner of Pioneer Valley PhotoVoltaics Cooperative, or PV Squared. PV Squared is a licensed electrical contractor specializing in renewable energy installations, particularly solar electric systems. Kim had never heard of worker cooperatives until she was conveniently unemployed when PV Squared was forming. She is a graduate of UMASS Amherst, with a degree in Plant Ecology and Horticulture and enjoys riding her Optibike whenever possible.

Brian Henehan

Brian Henehan retired in 2012 from his position as a Senior Extension Associate with the Department of Applied Economics and Management in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University, where his applied research focused on agribusiness management and marketing for over 25 years.  He served as program leader for the Cooperative Enterprise Program.  His primary outreach responsibility was developing and delivering an educational program for senior management, directors, members, and staff of cooperative businesses as well as conducting applied research on cooperative organizational behavior, marketing, governance, and decision making.  He also served as Executive Secretary of the Northeast Cooperative Council, a non-profit organization serving rural cooperatives in New York and New England.   He served as an alternate director on the board of the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives as well as on the founding board of directors of the Cooperative Development Institute.

Laura Biasillo, Cornell Cooperative Extension

Laura Biasillo is an Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Broome County, in Binghamton NY.  Laura has been in this position for 7 years, and her educational and program responsibilities focus on increasing marketing channels for farmers, creating education programs focused on new marketing skills and technologies, and facilitating farmland protection and agricultural development initiatives in the county. She has a Master’s Degree from Rutgers University in Public Policy and is a graduate of LEAD NY and has been recognized as a “20 in their 20’s” in Binghamton.

David Hardy, Organic Valley

Since 1999 David and Susan Hardy own and along with their oldest son, Aaron, operate a 100 cow certified organic dairy farm in Mohawk, NY. Dave has been involved in dairy farming since 1972. For the past 3 years Dave has been the Northeast Pool Manager working closely with all NY state Organic Valley farmers as well as prospective farmers interested in transitioning. He is a support to farmers with any issues, visiting over 140 dairies annually. Coinciding with the support system built within the co-op he runs multiple meetings presenting the in-house veterinarians, feed specialists, Producer meetings and other concerning topics farmers may have. He is an advocate for educating about organics and wears the many hats required to successfully maintain their dairy. 

Bob Proehl, Buffalo Street Books
Hannah Dobbz, The Big Idea Bookstore

Bob Proehl is the Director of Operations for Buffalo Street Books in Ithaca and is on the board of directors for the Buffalo Street Cooperative. In April of last year, he spearheaded the effort to convert Buffalo Street Books into a community-owned cooperative, organizing over 600 community members in a community buy out.

Hannah Dobbz has worked with the Big Idea Bookstore for over three years and has been a major player in the business' restructuring and transition into a formal cooperative. She also works with the International Year of Cooperatives Pittsburgh Organizing Committee (IYCPOC) to advocate, educate, and celebrate cooperatives in Western PA during the IYC. Hannah is the author of the forthcoming book Nine-Tenths of the Law: Property and Resistance in the United States on AK Press in Fall 2012, which in part examines cooperatives as an equitable ownership alternative.

Play an exciting and creative board game designed for the growing cooperative movement that is an innovative way for aspiring and existing cooperators, as well as other interested parties, to discover co-ops and practice cooperation.

Vanessa Bransburg, The Center for Family Life

Vanessa Bransburg, LCSW, is the Director of Cooperative Development at the Center for Family Life in Brooklyn, NY. Since February 2008 she has been providing technical assistance and consultation to Sunset Park, Brooklyn worker-owned cooperative businesses run by immigrants. In the last couple of years Vanessa has been at the forefront of creating and running the NYC Cooperative Development Initiative which provides year long support to community based organizations in NYC as they learn to become practitioners in cooperative development. Vanessa is also a founder of the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives ("Nick Nock") since its inception in December 2009.

Joe Marraffino, Democracy at Work Network

Joe Marraffino is a certified peer advisor with the Democracy at Work Network and curates a online collection of worker cooperative resources at  He became a member at worker-owned Arizmendi Bakery in San Francisco in 2003 and from 2007 to 2010 incubated two new bakery cooperatives with the Arizmendi Association of Cooperatives, a network of six worker-owned cooperatives.  He has sat on the boards of the Network of Bay Area Worker Cooperatives and the California Center for Cooperative Development.  Joe currently works as the Finance Manager at GreenStar Cooperative Market in Ithaca, and is a co-organizer of the New York Cooperative Summit.  

Address sponsored by Health Republic Insurance of New York

Brendan Martin is founder and director of the Working World, an cooperative financial institution and business incubator based in Argentina, Nicaragua, and the United States. Brendan originally moved to Argentina in 2004 to work with a group of Argentines looking to support the “recovered factory” phenomenon, and out of this was born the Working World financial institution and its methods of non-extractive finance and just-in-time “evergreen” credit. Despite dire predictions of investing in the chaotic groundswell that was the recovered factory movement, The Working World achieved a 98% return rate across over 715 loans, and all with repayments only from profit sharing and without guarantees. This experience both demonstrated both that grassroots cooperative movements can be economically viable and that finance can be non-extractive and subservient to people yet still be solvent. After this success, Brendan helped open a second branch in Nicaragua in 2009, and another in the United States in 2012. The same grassroots cooperative efforts and have proven effective and provocative in the context of the US, where The Working World has already funded six cooperatives, including New Era Windows, the manufacturing cooperative that emerged from the infamous Republic Windows and Doors in Chicago. Brendan is a 2009 Ashoka fellow, a two time Ashoka Globalizer, a nominated Prime Mover, and a frequent speaker on the solidarity and cooperative economy.

Ted De Barbieri, Urban Justice Center

Ted De Barbieri is a Senior Staff Attorney and former Equal Justice Works Fellow at the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center in New York City. His practice involves representing community-based nonprofit organizations and worker-owned cooperatives in business and transactional matters, advising community coalitions on land use matters, and negotiating community benefits agreements. He is a 2008 graduate of Brooklyn Law School, where he was an Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Fellow. He was a Fulbright Fellow to Ireland where he received an LL.M. (first class honors) from University College Cork in 2008. Prior to law school, he earned an M.A. in Religion with an ethics concentration from Yale Divinity School, and a B.A. in philosophy cum laude from Boston College.

Steve Dubb, The Democracy Collaborative

Steve Dubb is Research Director of The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland and has worked for the Collaborative since 2004. Dubb is the principal author of Linking Colleges to Communities: Engaging the University for Community Development (2007) and Building Wealth: The New Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems, published by The Aspen Institute in 2005. In 2010, Dubb coauthored a number of reports, including The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads (with Rita Axelroth) and Growing a Green Economy for All: From Green Jobs to Green Ownership(with Deborah Warren). Dubb also (with Ted Howard) conducted the initial strategic planning that led to the development of the Evergreen Cooperative initiative in Cleveland, Ohio and currently assists efforts to adopt that model to meet the needs of other cities.

Previously, Dubb was Executive Director of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit association that provides education and technical assistance to university and community-based housing and retail cooperatives. Dubb received his Masters and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego and his Bachelor's in Economics (with honors) and Spanish from the University of California, Berkeley.

Brian Henehan, Cornell Cooperative Enterprise Program

Brian Henehan is a senior extension associate and program leader of the Cooperative Enterprise Program at Cornell University. He is responsible for developing and delivering an educational program for senior management, directors, members, and staff of cooperative businesses. He conducts applied research on cooperative organizational behavior, marketing, and decision making.


He received national recognition in 1995 for his work in cooperative education from the National Committee for Cooperative Month. He serves as secretary of the Northeast Cooperative Council, a nonprofit organization serving rural cooperatives from across New York and New England. Over twenty cooperatives belong to the Council, including marketing, supply, credit, service, insurance, and utility cooperatives. His international experience includes work with USAID and Land O' Lakes International Division.

Address sponsored by The Gifford Foundation

Esteban Kelly recently joined the New Economics Institute as Director of Development. In addition to co-founding PACA (the Philadelphia Area Co-op Alliance), Esteban has been an important leader and creative force in food justice and co-op movements. He has served on many boards including the Democracy at Work Institute, the US Solidarity Economy Network, and Mariposa Food Co-op where he also worked for over eight years on the co-management team. From 2009-2011, Mr. Kelly was the Vice President of the U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops and is a previous Board President of NASCO (the North American Students of Cooperation) where he worked as the Director of Education from 2003–2005, and was a board member from 2005–2013. In recognition of “outstanding leadership,” Esteban was inducted into the NASCO Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2011, and was recently appointed to the boards of the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA). Due to his impassioned advocacy for food justice, Mr. Kelly was appointed to the Food Policy Advisory Council in the Philadelphia Mayor’s Office of Sustainability.

Esteban is also a dynamic educator and movement facilitator. He is a founder and core trainer with AORTA (the Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance), a worker co-op whose consulting supports organizations fighting for social justice and a solidarity economy. Esteban lives in the LCA community land trust, with his partner, and their very young daughter.

Ron Eherenreich, Cooperative Federal Credit Union
Travis Hance, Syracuse Real Foods Co-op
Naqia Edwards, Eat to Live Food Coop

Ron Ehrenreich is CEO of Cooperative Federal, a community development credit union serving Syracuse. He is responsible for financial management, strategic planning, policy development, and executive oversight. Ron is President of the CNY Chapter of the Credit Union Association and is engaged in community revitalization, business development, and social change. He teaches workshops on business topics.

Travis got his start in the cooperative sector in 1999, working at the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative, where he has served as General Manager for four years. In his career, Travis has had many opportunities to travel and see other co-ops in action, and he has been humbled to work with a great many helpful mentors, as well as being afforded the opportunity to help other co-op leaders grow and develop themselves. Travis is also a director aof the Cooperative Grocer's Information Network ( a non-profit 501(c)6 organization who's mission is: To strengthen all retail food cooperatives by creating community and facilitating the sharing and development of resources among members.

Naqia Edwards is a wife, mother of five (5), is the Board president of the Eat To Love Food Coop - currently preparing for ground breaking in April and planning to open the doors in October 2012. They are currently working on membership and marketing materials (ie, website and member packet).  Naqia is also the founder of Nappy Logic, Inc. established in 2003 as a grassroots community- based social enterprise devoted to empowering youth to be successful in society by providing opportunities to learn and earn. Nappy Logic provides direct services to many inner-city youth through programs, advocacy, and research.  Through Nappy Logic programs and projects, such as financial literacy and anger exploration; Naqia focuses on addressing the needs of participants by increasing public awareness of the obstacles and challenges our young people face, such as poverty, lack of education, crime, and drugs. Naqia makes educational excellence and economic empowerment key components for achieving success. Naqia has recently collaborated with B.O.S.S. (Building Opportunities for Self Sufficiency) to create Gang Green®, an urban cooperative ecology program that focuses on sustainable growth and development within inner-city neighborhoods.


Karl Graham, Alternatives Federal Credit Union

Karl Graham is the Director of Community Relations and Development for the Alternatives Federal Credit Union. Karl has worked at Alternatives for 28 years.  Alternatives Federal Credit Union is a Community Development Financial Institution, located in Ithaca, NY. Our mission is "to build wealth and create economic opportunity for underserved people and communities". Like all credit unions, we are a member-owned, not-for-profit financial cooperative that provides savings, loans, and other financial services to our members. Credit union membership is based on a common bond. Our field of membership includes GreenStar Cooperative Market, Handwork, the Alternatives Fund, and people who live or work in Tompkins and contiguous counties.

Melissa Marquez, Genesee Cooperative Federal Credit Union

Melissa Marquez is Chief Executive Officer of Genesee Co-op Federal Credit Union (GCFCU). Prior to joining the credit union in 2004, she served for 8 years as the General Manager of Progressive Neighborhood Federal Credit Union (Rochester, NY). Her formal education includes a BS in Political Science from Santa Clara University (1982) and an MS in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University (1991). With 20+ years’ experience in community organizing and development, including active service on the Board of Trustees for the Institute for Community Economics (1992 – 2002) and the Board of Directors of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (2000 – 2008), Ms. Marquez brings a broad perspective, keen insight and mission-driven focus to her work at GCFCU.

A long time credit union member and former Board member, Ms. Marquez joined the GCFCU staff as Senior Loan Officer in January 2004.  Since that time, she has displayed outstanding knowledge, resourcefulness and leadership ability.  As Co-Manager, starting in June 2005, her diligence and effort to mobilize the Board and Staff, and her capacity to leverage human, financial and social capital, brought the credit union back to strong ground after a period of significant financial losses and close scrutiny by the NCUA.  In 2006, Ms. Marquez accepted the position of CEO.  In the years since, the credit union has doubled in size from $6.8 million to $13.7 million in assets.  Along with all the other CU staff, Ms. Marquez became a certified financial counselor in 2012 (Credit Union National Association FiCEP).  She also volunteers as a tax preparer at the CU’s VITA site, which she helped to launch in 2007. With Ms. Marquez as CEO, Genesee Co-op FCU has achieved and maintained a level of stability and strong financial performance that was unprecedented in its 31 year history.

Sarah Ludwig, New Economy Project

Sarah Ludwig is founder and co-director of New Economy Project (formerly known as NEDAP). Since launching the organization in 1995, she has worked with hundreds of grassroots groups to organize and advocate for neighborhood equity and financial justice, and has spoken frequently at community forums and public hearings on a wide range of economic justice matters. In 2000, Sarah co-founded the coalition, New Yorkers for Responsible Lending, which has secured major state-level policy changes and now includes more than 160 organizational members.

Sarah received the 2000 Rockefeller Foundation's Next Generation Leadership fellowship; the 2002 Union Square Award; the Ford Foundation's 2004 Leadership for a Changing World award; New York Lawyers for the Public Interest's 2008 Felix A. Fishman Award; and Chhaya CDC's 2011 Architect of Change award. She served on the Federal Reserve Board's Consumer Advisory Council from 2006-2008, and serves on the boards of directors of the Center for Responsible Lending, Consumer Federation of America, and North Star Fund. Sarah received degrees in law and urban planning from NYU, and since 2003 has taught a course on community equity in NYU's urban planning program.

Started by Kevin Bott (PhD, applied and political theatre) in Syracuse, NY, during the long, cold winter of 2011, as a response to the increasingly woeful state of political discourse and the seeming impotence and voicelessness of "the people," the D.R.E.A.M. Freedom Revival is a secular, participatory tent revival dedicated to modeling the democracy and freedom it advocates for, and to creating and performing excellent original music as an invitation to deeper discussions and action about the local issues that affect people's lives.

Tom Decker, National Cooperative Business Association

A roundtable discussion for New York cooperatives interested in formalizing our network into an organization with greater capacity. 

Howie Hawkins, South Side Community Coalition
Elizabeth Friedrich, National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions

Howie Hawkins has lived on South Side since moving to Syracuse in 1991, where he has been active in the community on many issues. Howie was active in the campaigns to establish a Citizens Review Board in the 1990s and the Living Wage Ordinance in the 2000s. He was a supporter of the now much-missed South Side Newsstand. Currently a board member of the Southside Community Coalition, Howie also serves on the board of the Southside Food Cooperative, which is planning to open a consumer-owned grocery store on south Salina Street.

Elizabeth Friedrich is coordinator of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions' "Building a Cooperative City" efforts in New York City.  She has also been active with Occupy Wall Street and the Occupy the Financial System teach-in.

Brandon Kane, GreenStar Cooperative Market

Brandon Kane is General Manager for GreenStar Cooperative Market in Ithaca.  He has served in a management role in the natural foods industry for thirteen years. He oversaw operations of Hawaii's largest independent natural foods store, Mana Foods located in Maui, HI for three years. In 2004 he was hired as the Grocery Manager for GreenStar and was hired in 2011 as the General Manager. Brandon has played an important role in mobilizing GreenStar's Board of Directors and Management Team in supporting an aggressive growth and development policy.

Thane Joyal, Syracuse Real Food Co-op

Thane Joyal is the Board President of the Syracuse Real Food Co-op and advises start-up Co-ops across the country as a part of her consulting work through Cooperative Development Services Co-op.  Thane is committed to helping cooperative boards achieve excellence by improving relationships within the board, and between the board and the cooperative’s general manager, members, and external stakeholders. She is particularly interested in helping boards to create structures that support them in governing their cooperatives. She works with boards through all phases of their development, including Policy Governance training.

Address sponsored by Syracuse University

Richard D. Wolff is Professor of Economics Emeritus, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. He is currently a Visiting Professor at the New School University in New York. Wolff is the author of many books, including Democracy at Work: A Cure for Capitalism, Occupy the Economy: Challenging Capitalism, and Capitalism Hits the Fan: The Global Economic Meltdown and What to Do About It. He hosts the weekly hour-long radio program Economic Update on WBAI (Pacifica Radio) and fifteen other stations across the US. He writes regularly for The Guardian,, and the MRZine. His appearances include the Bill Moyers Show, Charlie Rose Show, Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera English, Thom Hartmann, RT-TV, and NPR. His work is available at and at Wolff lives in New York with his wife and frequent collaborator, Dr. Harriet Fraad.

 Howard Banker, Fair Mortgage Collaborative, ROC USA

Howard Banker is the Executive Director of the Fair Mortgage Collaborative with over 35 years’ experience in affordable lending and community development. FMC has developed and is implementing a national  single family coop loan product for ROC USA (Resident Owned Communities USA), which helps residents affordably purchase and cooperatively own their manufacture home communities. Howard also directed a program which organized and financed (purchase and rehab) low income resident purchases of privately owned buildings in NYC and convert them to affordable cooperative ownership.  He actively supports credit union residential lending and has served on CU boards. He lives in a residential cooperative in Yonkers, NY.  Fair Mortgage Collaborative is supporting ROC USA in the design and now implementation of a national secondary market program which allows credit unions to originate loans to manufacture home owners in MH resident owned communities.  ROC USA also provides organizing and technical assistance to residents in manufactured home communities to try and purchase their parks.  ROC USA also provides all necessary financing for these purchase and rehab efforts and has (so far) supported 45 such resident purchases in 15 states.

Are you interested in starting a worker cooperative but don't know where to start? Is your worker cooperative having trouble moving through a sticky issue? Sign up for a free advising session from one of the Democracy at Work Network's Peer Advisors.  These sessions will help you identify first steps to moving forward, recognize how others have solved similar problems, point you towards other resources you can use to succeed.  DAWN Peer Advisors are worker-owners from across the cooperative movement who have completed a year long training and certification process to move them from successful worker-owners to great advisors.  Peer Advisors work with cooperatives to build their internal capacity, connect them to the breadth of knowledge in the cooperative movement and help the choose and implement the answers that best fits the cooperatives goals and culture.

Joe Rinehart got involved in the worker cooperative movement as a Peer Advisor in the Democracy at Work Network. Joe is a former worker-owner at Firestorm Café & Books and instructor at Appalachian State University.  Prior to that, he completed a Master’s degree in Industrial Technology at Appalachian State University with a focus on bio-fuels production, on-farm technologies and renewable energy.  He taught in the Technology department and co-created and taught a course on Cooperatives and their role in sustainable development. Joe currently serves on the board of the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy.  When at home in Brooklyn, NY he is generally working on perfecting his Kimchi recipe, riding his bike to the edges of the city, contra-dancing or trying to find a time and place to build an aquaponics system.

Aaron Dawson has been at Equal Exchange, a Fair Trade Massachusetts worker co-op with approximately 120 employees, 100 co-op members and a 25+ year history of growth, Fair Trade and democratic practice, for 10 years, where he is a Customer Service Manager. He is also an elected board member for Equal Exchange. Finally, in 2012 Aaron graduated with a Master's in Co-operative Management from St. Mary's  Master's in Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions program. Involvement in worker co-ops runs in Aaron's family. His father, Steven 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.