View this email in your browser

In this issue:

Changing of the Guard

After twenty-two years of dedicated service at the UW Center for Cooperatives, Anne Reynolds retired her post as Executive Director. During her tenure, Reynolds shared her extensive knowledge of governance, strategy, and innovative uses of the cooperative model with dozens of co-ops in a range of sectors and industries. Her efforts spanned economic sectors, income classes and cultures, and involved teaching, research and direct assistance to cooperative businesses. Reynolds held leadership positions with the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition, several local food initiatives, and education programs related to cooperative board leadership and employee ownership. Reynolds will continue to serve on the boards of Shared Capital Cooperative, The Cooperative Foundation and the Madison Public Market Foundation. In 2015, she was awarded Cooperative Networks’ Cooperative Builder Award, which honors individuals who have made outstanding contributions at the local, state, and/or national level to advance cooperative philosophy and ideals. In 2016, Anne was named a Badger Bioneer by Sustain Dane. The award celebrates local leaders who further a shared vision of Big 'S' Sustainability, encompassing a strong community, a just economy, and a healthy planet. We are profoundly grateful for her years of service, leadership, and friendship to the Center and the cooperative movement.
Anne Reynolds
Courtney Berner
Courtney Berner assumed the role of Executive Director as of January 8, 2018. Berner joined UWCC in 2011 as a cooperative development specialist. During her tenure she has developed a nationally recognized program focusing on cooperative business development. She has cultivated highly successful partnerships with external stakeholders, and is widely sought as an educator and speaker within the cooperative business community. Berner brings research, development, and outreach experience in a range of issues related to food systems, community economic development, and the cooperative business model. Prior to earning an M.S. in agroecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she spent five years at the Worldwatch Institute, an independent research institute devoted to global environmental concerns.

New Faces at UWCC

We are pleased to introduce two new cooperative development specialists that recently joined the UWCC team.
Charity Schmidt joined UWCC in November 2017 to coordinate the work of the Madison Cooperative Development Coalition (MCDC), the City of Madison funded initiative to form worker cooperatives that address income inequality and racial disparities by creating living-wage and union jobs.
Charity has published work ranging in topics from diversity in and access to service learning, sociology in action beyond the university, and the crisis facing bee colonies. Schmidt has masters degrees in Latin American, Caribbean, and Iberian Studies, and Sociology from University of Wisconsin-Madison. She has taught classes on social theory, sociology of race and ethnicity, and American contemporary society at Madison College and UW-Madison. She also works as an Organizer with the South Central Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO and serves on the Board of the Workers’ Rights Center.
Esther West will join the UWCC staff as a cooperative development specialist in February 2018. She brings broad national background to her passion for co-operatives and creative community development. Her comprehensive approach is supplemented with graduate degrees from Cleveland State University’s Levin College of Urban Affairs in Urban Planning and Environmental Studies and a GIS certificate, and an undergraduate degree in Theology from Xavier University.
This Mexican-American’s co-operative experience includes five years of worker-ownership at Equal Exchange in Boston, facilitating workshops with Green Worker Co-ops, collaborating with Community Blend in her hometown of Cincinnati, co-authoring an academic paper on innovative co-op development in legacy cities, and more. She dedicates her work to her late father, co-operator Ray West.

Save the Date! Join us in Portland
May 31 - June 2 for CCMA 2018!

CCMA 2018

Farmer Co-ops Conference Addresses Consolidation and Shifting Political Landscape

A record number of agricultural cooperative leaders attended the 20th Annual Farmer Cooperatives Conference in St. Paul, Minnesota on November 1-3, 2017. The conference provided a closer look on several topics of current interest to farmer cooperatives. Conference highlights included mergers and consolidation, challenges to defining membership, cybersecurity, and impacts from political and policy developments. The next Farmer Cooperatives Conference will be November 7-9, 2018 in St. Paul, MN.

To read more about the topics presented that the 2017 Farmer Cooperatives Conference please see the conference recap in the upcoming edition of USDA's Rural Cooperatives magazine.
Dr. Joe Outlaw presents on his farmer-centric analysis of the Farm Bill.
Co-op government affairs leaders address the changing policy environment.

In Brief: Updates and Publications


USDA Funds Rural Cooperative Development in Minnesota and Wisconsin - The U.S. Department of Agriculture has awarded the seventh round of funding to the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives and Cooperative Network to develop cooperative businesses in rural communities across Minnesota and Wisconsin. The $200,000 Rural Cooperative Development Grant will focus on:
  • Support for new and recently launched cooperatives that help farmers aggregate and market agricultural and value-added products
  • Provide direct technical assistance, peer education, and networking opportunities for small, rural grocery cooperatives in the Upper Midwest
  • Technical assistance to start-up worker cooperatives and businesses exploring conversion to cooperative ownership
  • Address the challenge of rural healthcare by supporting and developing worker-owned homecare cooperatives that provide dignified jobs and high quality care.
Madison Mini-Grant Program - Madison Cooperative Development Coalition announces its Mini-Grant Program. Grants up to $10,000 are available to support education and technical assistance for groups forming worker cooperatives or converting existing businesses to cooperatives and are reviewed on a rolling basis. Grants are also available for community based organizations to integrate cooperative development, training, and outreach into their work, with the next deadline being May 7th, 2018. You can learn more on UWCC's website, or contact MCDC Coordinator, Charity Schmidt at or 608-262-5905.

The Cooperative Foundation Funds Translation of  Worker Cooperative Financial Training and Learning Tools - UWCC will work with the Interpreter's Cooperative in Madison, WI to translate worker cooperative financial tools developed for members and boards to Spanish.The tools allow users to explore the relationships between business operations, the financial impacts of strategic decision making, and basic financial reporting. Additionally, it will present several business scenarios that illustrate the type of decisions that a worker-owned LLC might be required to make. The user will be guided through making changes to the assumptions in the spreadsheet to test the effects of each scenario on the financial reporting documents. The resulting changes will illustrate the financial effects of these decisions on both cooperative operations, and income of the worker-owners. Click here to see the Worker Cooperative Financial Training Tool.

Changes to Wisconsin Cooperative Law Chapter 185 -  In November 2017, the Wisconsin State legislature passed Act 76 also known as the Cooperative Statute Modernization Bill. The first update to Chapter 185 in over 30 years includes changes regarding outside non-member voting directors and voting rights based on patronage activity, equity, or combination allowed for members of a cooperative holding company and its subsidiaries. among others. For more information, please see UWCC's summary of the changes to Chapter 185.

Call for Proposals: Forestry Cooperatives - The University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives offers an annual small grants program (up to $5,000) to fund development of Wisconsin-based cooperatives or cooperative groups (associations, networks, informal collaborations) in the areas of forest management; forest-related products; biomass energy; forest-owner policy initiatives; and existing forestry cooperatives or associations. Please contact Kelly Maynard if you would like to receive the call for proposals with more details in early March.      


Coordinating Farm Labor Across Farms: A Toolbox for Diversified Farmers and Farmworkers, Courtney Berner, Erin Hannum, and Kelly Maynard in coordination with Farm Commons 
Sustainable farmers often seek more flexible options for meeting their diverse and fluctuating farm labor needs. Farm workers also struggle to piece together stable and rewarding employment opportunities. This toolbox explores one potential solution: coordinating farm labor across farms through the creation of a cooperative or LLC. The toolbox divides the process of assessing the feasibility into four steps, or four overarching questions. Reflective questions or exercises are included at the end of each section to provoke discussion and help farmers and farmworkers determine what overall approach, if any, might be best for them.
Download the Toolbox
Other Publications

Upcoming Events


Up and Coming Food Co-op Conference

Milwaukee, WI | March 16-17, 2018
More information

Consumer Cooperative Management Association 2018

Portland, OR | May 31 - June 2, 2018
More information

Farmer Cooperatives Conference

Minneapolis, MN | November 7-9, 2018
More information
Copyright © 2018 University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.