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Get to know your NPCC 2015 speaker lineup

NPCC-15-logo-500 e88d6NCBA CLUSA’s 2015 National Purchasing Cooperatives Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, is less than a week away! If you haven’t already registered, there’s still time to make this investment in the future growth of your co-op!

We’ve got a unique mix of workshops, think tank sessions, panel discussions and networking events planned this year, including our timely panel on succession planning and the worker co-op option.

Baby Boomers between the ages of 60 and 70 currently own an estimated 6 to 8 million closely-held family businesses in the U.S., making the coming decade a key opportunity for the cooperative movement to take advantage of high turnover of business ownership. Worker co-ops increasingly provide a great alternative to big-box buyout, closure or worse.

Our panelists for this discussion include Gary Pittsford, CEO of Castle Wealth Advisors, LLC; Joe Marraffino, Cooperative Developer for the Democracy at Work Institute; and Rob Brown, Director of Business Ownership Solutions at the Cooperative Development Institute. Pat Sterner, COO of Domestic Operations for NCBA CLUSA, will moderate the discussion.

These thought leaders are just a few of this year’s stellar lineup of speakers. Please take a moment now to get to know our full speaker lineup for NPCC 2015. See you in New Orleans!

adam-schwartz-web 68ea9Adam Schwartz

Founder and Principal, The Cooperative Way

Adam Schwartz is the founder and principal of The Cooperative Way, a consulting firm dedicated to helping cooperative businesses succeed. The Cooperative Way is a strategic partner with CDS Consulting Co-op, a shared services cooperative. Schwartz has served cooperatives from different sectors for 23 years and has extensive knowledge of the key ingredients that lead to high performing, sustainable success for cooperatives from all sectors. He provides strategic guidance to the boards, employees and members of co-ops seeking to utilize cooperative principles and values as the primary force in serving their members and the community. 

Alexander-Gillett-web 191e3Alexander Gillett

Co-founder and CEO, HowGood

Alexander Gillett is the co-founder and CEO of HowGood, an independent organization that researches and rates the environmental and social impact of food products. His deep industry knowledge and connections have helped guide HowGood's growth from a good idea to a reality. With more than 140,000 products rated, the organization now boasts the largest food sustainability database in the world. Gillett's understanding of the food business landscape makes it possible for a transformative idea like HowGood to bloom in a neophobic industry. Overseeing the business from administration to strategy, Gillett has taken HowGood from concept to game changer. 

Amanda-Daubert-web 3b0b2Amanda Daubert

Vice President of Administration, Furniture First 

As vice president of Administration for Furniture First, Daubert's responsibilities include expansion of the group's membership, engaging current membership, managing centralized billing and direct billing programs, and overseeing the rebate process. Daubert is also responsible for working closely with Furniture First's Board of Directors to ensure the company's goals and objectives are accomplished by its staff. 

Bruce-Carrozzi-web 7d022Bruce Carrozzi 
Divisional Vice President of Retail Growth, True Value Company 

As divisional vice president of Retail Growth at True Value Company, Carrozzi is responsible for the sales and probability of 3,100 co-op members across the U.S. representing $1.5 billion in annual wholesale revenue. In addition to more than 30 years of hardware and home center experience, Carrozzi has a passion for bettering the lives of independent co-op owners through the improved planning and management of their business operations. 

Dan-Arnett-web 98948Dan Arnett 

General Manager, Central Co-op 

Dan Arnett is general manager of Central Co-op, a consumer food cooperative located in the Capitol Hills neighborhood of Seattle with more than 13,000 active members. Arnett has worked at cooperative businesses since the late 1990s, with cooperative management experience totaling 16 years. He holds a Master of Management: Co-ops and Credit Unions degree from St. Mary's University. Arnett currently serves on the boards of National Co+op Grocers and the Northwest Cooperative Alliance, also known as SLICE (Strengthening Local Independent Cooperatives Everywhere). 

Evan-Hackel-web2 51e3cEvan Hackel

CEO and Founder of Ingage Consulting 

Over the past 30 years, Evan Hackel has gained extensive management experience across cooperative sectors. In the early 90s, he was enlisted to run, manage and build a new leadership team for a large cooperative in the wake of the departure of its startup team. Hackel managed CCA Global Partners' purchase of the then bankrupt Flooring America franchise system, converting the cooperative and increasing business from $700 million to $2 billion in four years. Hackel also served as president of Carpet One, CCA's largest division with more than $3 billion in sales. Currently, Hackel is the founder and CEO of Ingage Consulting, the foremost provider of specialized management consulting services for leaders of franchises, cooperatives, buying groups and dealer networks. 

Frank Kasnick Photo-web 8f1caFrank Kasnick 
President and CEO, Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative 

Since 2011, Frank Kasnick has led Independent Welding Distributors Cooperative (IWDC), a marketing and purchasing cooperative owned by 135 independent gas and welding distributors across North America. IWDC's member footprint consists of more than 700 locations totaling approximately $2.2 billion in sales. Before joining IWDC, Kasnick was an executive at Praxair, where he oversaw regional P&L and later worked in the organization's corporate marketing department. Prior to Praxair, Kasnick held a leadership role at a major independent gas and welding distributor. Before entering the gas and welding industry, he held various commercial roles at Union Carbide, Castrol and BP. 

Gary-Pittsford-web ef0a8Gary Pittsford, CFP
President and CEO, Castle Wealth Advisors 

As the founder of Castle Wealth Advisors, Pittsford has worked to place the best people in the right positions within the company to optimally serve its clients. His ongoing priority is to provide sound financial advice and work closely with the Castle Wealth team to help each of their clients achieve their financial goals. He has more than three decades of comprehensive fee-only financial advisory experience, is a Certified Financial Planner and has held numerous leadership positions locally and nationally. Pittsford is also a sought-after presenter at national business conventions and an author, having contributed to and written articles for industry-specific and national publications. 

Joe-Marraffino-web 14f99Joe Marraffino 

Cooperative Developer, Democracy at Work Institute 

As cooperative developer at the Democracy at Work Institute, Marraffino's expertise includes startup financial planning, governance and democratic capacity building for worker cooperatives. Based in Ithaca, New York, he primarily works with clients in rural areas of the Northeast, but also offers trainings and technical assistance nationally. Before joining the Democracy at Work Institute as a founding organizer, Marraffino served as financial manager for GreenStar Natural Foods Market in Ithaca, a $20 million consumer-owned grocery. 

Kevin-Higginbotham-web 908bfKevin Higginbotham
CEO, Evergreen Marketing Group 

Kevin Higginbotham is CEO of the Evergreen Marketing Group, the leading cooperative for independent construction/industrial tools and supplies distributors and manufacturers. Since joining Evergreen in 1995, Higginbotham has led the development of programs focused on training and education, business development and partnering. He has been a member of NCBA CLUSA since 1998, served on past Purchasing Cooperatives Conference Planning Committees and has also presented and moderated panels at NCBA CLUSA's Annual Cooperatives Conference. In 2015, Higginbotham was elected to the NCBA CLUSA Board of Directors. 

pat-sterner-bio-pic de96ePat Sterner 
COO of Domestic Operations, NCBA CLUSA

Pat Sterner is COO of Domestic Operations for NCBA CLUSA. She brings to the position more than 30 years of experience in the civic sector, managing organizations and providing consulting services in the areas of governance, fundraising, program development, strategic planning and organizational development. Most recently, Sterner served as the Managing Director of the Center for Women's Health Research at the University of Colorado. She received a faculty appointment during her tenure. Previously, Sterner was Principal and CEO of JFB & Associates, LLC, a consulting firm providing services for non-profits and foundations. Established in 2002, JFB & Associates, LLC, provides strategic planning services, organizational development and governance consulting to more than 100 clients including the Maryland/DC Credit Union Association, the Minnesota Credit Union Foundation, the Aspen Institute, the Women's Foundation of Colorado, Mile High United Way and Rose Community Foundation. Prior to establishing JFB & Associates, Sterner was Executive Director of the National Credit Union Foundation (NCUF), the charitable development arm for the national credit union industry. 

Rob-Brown-web bdd55Rob Brown

Director of Business Ownership Solutions, Cooperative Development Institute 

Rob Brown is the director of Business Ownership Solutions, a program of the Cooperative Development Institute (CDI) that promotes worker ownership in Maine and works with retiring business owners and their employees to facilitate conversion to worker-owned co-ops. CDI is the USDA-designated Northeast Center for Cooperative Business Development. Brown has also helped mobile home park residents convert investor-owned parks to resident-owned cooperatives. Prior to his work with CDI, he was the founding executive director of Opportunity Maine, a statewide organizing, research and advocacy nonprofit focus on education and workforce development, energy policy and economic development. 

Roberta-cabot-web2 69e07Roberta MacDonald

Senior Vice President of Marketing, Cabot Creamery Cooperative 

MacDonald is nearing 40 years of consumer product and trade marketing experience, the last 26 of which she has spent as senior vice president of Marketing for Vermont-based Cabot Creamery Cooperative. She previously served as Vermont's first director of Marketing, a position then Governor Kunin created for her in 1984. MacDonald has been recognized with awards for design, promotion and high-impact public relations programs, including Cookies for Good and the Cabot Reward Volunteers iPhone app. Prior to moving to Vermont, MacDonald provided marketing, consulting and staff services for leading organizations and enterprises, including the San Francisco Opera, the National Endowment for the Arts, American Express, New York University and CBS. 

Rohnel-de-Rozario-web 1400aRohnel de Rozario
Strategy, Leadership Development and Organization Change Consultant, Hay Group 

Rohnel de Rozario is a strategy, leadership development and organization change consultant at Hay Group. He has more than 10 years of experience in the U.S., Europe and Asia. Rozario has worked extensively with CEOs and senior executives to help them address strategy, people, leadership and organization-related challenges. He has consulted across a range of industries with companies such as Bloomingdales, Honda and Fidelity. His experiences include organizational growth transformation for a world leader in financial services; strategic workforce planning for a leader in B2B/B2C services; Omni-channel transformation for a global leader in fashion retail; CEO succession planning and articulation of the business intent for a leader in the healthcare industry; and several post-merger integration assignments involving change management and organizational transformation in complex environments. 

Scott-Bebenek-web d6d4dScott Bebenek

President, IDI Independent Distributors, Inc. 

Scott Bebenek's career has spanned more than 25 years in the Canadian retail food, foodservice and industrial supply marketplace, with 15 years spent working for and with co-ops and buying groups. For the past seven years, Bebenek has served as president of IDI Independent Distributors, Inc., a 32-year-old cooperative of independent distributors servicing MRO markets. IDI's members have a total purchasing power of more than $1.25 billion, with more than 270 branches across Canada. During his tenure at IDI, Bebenek has broadened IDI's value proposition to its membership in areas beyond rebates by guiding the organization through its first formal strategic plan—redefining how IDI measures its value to members. He also led numerous technological initiatives at IDI, such as establishing a centralized electronic database of supplier data and building an e-comm network with IDI's core vendor partners. 

stephen-irvin-web e8605Stephen Irvin

President, Amicus Solar Cooperative 

Irvin has been president of Amicus Solar—the first purchasing co-op in the U.S. solar industry—since its founding in 2011. Amicus is jointly-owned and democratically managed by its membership of solar development, EPC, integration and installation companies. Amicus currently supports more than 34 member companies across 26 states, which employ more than 1,300 solar professionals. Irvin led the creation of Amicus while serving as CFO for Namasté Solar, a Colorado-based solar integrator and worker co-op specializing in the design, construction and long-term monitoring and maintenance of solar PV systems. 

teri-ditsch-web a59ebTeri Ditsch

Marketing Director, BLUE HAWK Cooperative 

Prior to joining BLUE HAWK Cooperative in 2010, Ditsch was a marketing consultant for AIP Solutions, a commercial collections agency specializing in co-ops and buying groups. She previously served as director of Communications and Meeting Planning for AMAROK, a drywall distributor purchasing co-op, and NEMEON, a roofing and siding distributor purchasing co-op. At NEMEON, Ditsch oversaw marketing and communications, magazine and newsletter distribution, public relations, advertising and meeting planning. 

We’re extending CPC early-bird registration rates until October 9!

cpc-logo-500 d7053There’s just over a week left to take advantage of early-bird pricing for the second annual Cooperative Professionals Conference in Minneapolis, Minnesota, from November 9 – 11.

Register on or before Friday, October 9 to lock in the $350 early-bird rate for NCBA CLUSA members ($475 for non-members). The Early-Bird Full Registration Package includes conference materials and admission to all sessions, networking events and meals. Single-day and student registration packages are also available. Click here to explore options.

October 9 is also the deadline to reserve your space in NCBA CLUSA’s Room Block at the Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot. To make a reservation by phone, call (612) 375-1700 and ask for the National Cooperative Business Association – Cooperative Professionals Conference Room Block.

The CPC discounted room rate of $179 per night (plus taxes and fees) applies to a single or double room and is valid for all reservations made on or before October 9, 2015. Space is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. 

The 2015 Co-op Professionals Conference will advance an emerging platform for professional development within the co-op movement. This conference is designed specifically for professionals who work for or with co-ops, including attorneys, accountants, CPAs, financial and investment advisors, insurance advisors, legislative staff and law students. Continuing Legal Education (CLE) and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) credit is pending.

To view a complete schedule of events, click here.

Leveraging co-op buying power in employee benefit plans

iStock employee-benefits-500 225f2Purchasing co-ops have it figured out: take a bunch of independent businesses, aggregate their purchasing power together and negotiate better deals with suppliers. This seemingly simple business model has proven extremely powerful and durable in the modern business landscape. Yet, for all of the ingenuity behind purchasing co-ops, most have yet to realize the full scope of their purchasing power.

It is true that the aggregate dollars of each co-op’s members drive down the cost of goods—but this same buying power can drive down the cost of other services. Some co-ops have begun to move in the direction of creating these back-office efficiencies through access to business partner programs. Services such as inventory management and credit card processing are now key tools in the co-op’s toolbox, but there are other programs that deserve attention. Most co-ops have yet to explore the area of financial services and group benefit plans that can be aggregated under the co-op banner. Key employee benefits such as retirement planning and health insurance are ripe for a co-op revolution.

One thing is certain: if you want to attract and retain high-quality employees, it is imperative you offer a high-quality benefits package. A 2013 survey indicated that 60 percent of respondents who planned to work for their companies until retirement identified their retirement plans as a key factor in deciding to stay. Health care was even more important. Co-ops are great at leveraging goodwill and personal values to attract the right kind of talent, but for small and medium-sized co-ops, the costs of offering a benefits package are often prohibitive. It doesn’t have to be this way. By applying and leveraging buying power to services, co-ops can design benefits packages that compete with what the big-boxes can offer.

Co-ops can also increase their member retention through the use of these programs. By integrating more functions of modern businesses, the co-op becomes the most crucial business relationship the individual members have. A symbiotic relationship is born, where co-op and member alike rely on each other for survival. Pure purchasing co-ops are at risk of industry competitors forming similar buying groups and poaching co-op members. By creating a sticky relationship, where the benefits are more than simply negotiating a better price on goods, co-ops can help protect against this type of competition. Due to laws and regulations, retirement and group benefit plans are typically off-limits to small and medium sized companies that join pure industry buying groups, whereas co-ops are a natural fit for such programs.

Members can be hesitant to join co-op programs that integrate back-office functions, but in most cases the benefits truly do outweigh the costs. Co-ops should be careful in designing programs that appeal to their membership and should solicit constant feedback from their members. A baseline employee census can help the co-op design programs that work from the outset, yet many members are cautious in supplying that data. Mature co-ops tend to have the best results, but all co-ops and their members stand to gain a competitive advantage by applying purchasing power to business services.

—NCBA CLUSA Gold Level Associate Member and Business Sponsor The Capital Group is a retirement and insurance solutions provider that works with co-ops and national trade organizations to design and implement unique benefits programs that drive value and help create long-lasting relationships between national sponsors and their members. This thought leadership piece was written by Andrew Thompson, Vice President of Qualified Plan Services for The Capital Group, and Andrew Seaborg, a Partner with The Capital Group. The Capital Group is a Silver Level sponsor of NCBA CLUSA's 2015 National Purchasing Cooperatives Conference in New Orleans, Louisiana, next week. 

Disclosures: Andrew Thompson and Andrew Seaborg are registered representatives of Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp. Securities and investment advisory services offered through Lincoln Financial Advisors Corp., a broker/dealer (member SIPC) and registered investment advisor. Insurance offered through Lincoln affiliates and other fine companies. CRN-1307474-092215

Is your co-op's order-to-cash performance moving in the right direction?

iStock-business-500 79994A recent benchmark report from The Accounts Receivable Network measures how companies are making strides in integrating and automating their processes.

Everywhere you look in business, the barriers to collaboration and integration are breaking down. And few areas show that more strikingly than Finance. Whether it’s a closer working relationship between procurement and accounts payable or better collaboration between accounts receivable, billing, and collections, silos are falling. Recently The Accounts Receivable Network (TARN) published a benchmark study, "Benchmarks: AR/Order-to-Cash Integration, Automation, and Performance Metrics" measuring each of those areas, based on study participants. What that study found was that functions that were once highly decentralized are now, for the most part, centralized in a single center. By taking a more holistic approach, Accounts Receivable, rather than just being the center where payments are received, is now part of the whole order-to-cash continuum, including billing, collections, credit management, reporting and sales order entry.

Participants included 100 organizations, 65 percent of them B2B enterprises, that ranged in size from companies with less than 500 employees (34 percent) and less than $50 million in revenue (27 percent) all the way up to those with more than 50,000 employees (13 percent) and more than $25 billion (11 percent) in revenue. The Finance/ Insurance and Healthcare/Social Assistance sectors comprised the largest participation.

Accounts Receivable 

When talking about integration, it’s first necessary to establish the operational models of the participant, from fully centralized to partially centralized to decentralized, all the way down to outsourced. The study shows that centralization in a single center is the major model, with percentages in the various order-to-cash functions ranging from 32 to 49 percent. Another obstacle to full integration comes in the reporting hierarchy, which varies according to the specific function. This can definitely get in the way of a more holistic approach, especially when:

Credit reports to Controller or CFO (23 percent/22 percent)

Order Entry reports to Sales manager/director or Controller (30 percent/20 percent)

Collections reports to Chief accounts receivable or Controller (21 percent/18 percent)

Order-to-Cash Integration

When the report turned to order-to-cash integration, companies were asked how important they consider process integration to be. Companies supplied answers from absolutely no linkage (13 percent) all the way up to formal coordination at 43 percent. And when it comes to measuring a company’s attitude toward process ownership, 45 percent (a percentage almost twice as large as any other response) said, “We perceive value in taking a process view and examining possible realignment of functions for better integration.”


The prevailing view is that automation has made its mark felt most strongly in the procure-to-pay (P2P) process, but that order-to-cash (O2C) automation is moving up. The TARN survey measures the level of automation the respondent is currently employing and planning to implement, as well as comparing the levels of automation across functions. Although there are automation solutions for every step in the order-to-cash and credit-to-cash cycle, most companies questioned have not implemented many of them. Of those surveyed, only one technology, ACH, passed the 50 percent mark. Others close behind are ERP/Accounting System (49 percent) and Electronic Lockbox Imaging (48 percent).

When it comes to planning for the future, close to 40 percent of respondents indicated that they were not planning to implement any automation technologies (other than those that already existed). Other responses for planned automation technology were:

Customer Portal (17 percent)

Cash Application Automation (14 percent)

E-invoicing system/EIPP/EBPP (12 percent)

ERP or Accounting System (12 percent)

E-payment Acceptance Solution (11 percent)

Automated Sales Order Processing (10 percent)

Of the specific functions that were automated, billing and AR held the top positions, while credit and collections were the least automated.

Performance Metrics

You can’t manage what you can’t measure yet many of the companies in this report only measure basics, such as days sales outstanding (DSO) and the percentage of current AR, both at around 70 percent. Only one other metric ranked above 50 percent, that being the percentage of AR greater than 60 days. All other metrics tracked at 40 percent or lower.

Improve your accounts receivable department with the right automation solution.

—NCBA CLUSA Gold Level Associate Member and Business Sponsor Corcentric provides financial process automation solutions for buying groups, purchasing cooperatives and their members. This thought leadership piece was written by Corcentric Senior Vice President of Sales Dave Lindeen.

NCBA CLUSA’s ‘Operation Connect’ will convene credit unions, electric co-ops to offer financial literacy, energy efficiency education

OperationConnect-logo-500 92f6aCurrently in its pilot stage, a project designed to promote financial literacy in communities served by electric cooperatives while building credit union membership is gaining momentum and generating enthusiasm among co-op sector leaders.

Called Operation Connect, the project brings together credit unions and rural electric co-ops operating in the same geographic location to promote financial literacy, budgeting skills and long-term financial planning for the 42 million electric co-op members nationwide.

“A small but significant portion of these members experience difficulty in meeting their payments, often due to a lack of financial literacy in budgeting their financial obligations,” said project architect Adam Schwartz, an NCBA CLUSA senior consultant for Domestic Operations and founder of The Cooperative Way. “The payment collection process, disconnect and reconnect of electricity is costly for both consumers and electric co-ops,” he added.

“If we can intercede to end this cycle, we can improve quality of life for electric co-op members while also growing the number of credit union members,” Schwartz said.

In Virginia, the Fort Lee Federal Credit Union and Prince George Electric Co-op have already partnered to offer financial literacy seminars paired with easy, low-cost home improvement ideas to help lower monthly household energy costs. There are several other potential cross-sector partnerships in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Colorado and Minnesota, Schwartz said.

NCBA CLUSA is working with its project development partners, including the CUNA Cooperative Alliance Committee, and the National Credit Union Foundation to create a toolkit that credit unions and electric co-ops can use to expedite the rollout of Operation Connect nationwide.

Pat Sterner, NCBA CLUSA COO for Domestic Operations, said cross-sector efforts, such as Operation Connect, are a priority for NCBA CLUSA. “We are thrilled to launch a project that puts Principle 6—cooperation among cooperatives—in action while building financial independence and energy efficiency in communities across the U.S.,” she said.

NCBA CLUSA anticipates a full launch of Operation Connect in 2016, Sterner said.


  • US Development PR

    NCBA CLUSA is dedicated to the continued growth and strengthening of cooperative businesses across the United States. Cooperatives at all levels provide a much needed and sought after alternative to other business models. Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with local cooperatives to embed them as permanent fixtures in their local economy. Through the implementation of cooperative development grants, NCBA CLUSA is providing support and training to coops across all cooperative sectors, through case studies and economic impact research. Using that research and the power of the collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of coops, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislature that protects the cooperative business model.

    Our domestic development work is grounded in our three-part mission:

    • to raise the profile of cooperatives
    • to promote and protect the cooperative business enterprise model
    • to drive cross-sector collaboration among cooperatives in keeping with Principle 6 of the Cooperative Principles

    We believe in collaboration, and in bringing value to the many efforts already underway through our cooperative development partners and intermediaries that are doing the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ cooperative development work.

    In our role as facilitator, convener, and financing partner, we assist our partners in their work with strengthening the structure, reach and financial sustainability of existing cooperatives, and as well as their efforts to establish new cooperatives. In particular we are collaborating with Cooperation Works! and Cooperative Development Centers across the country to develop more diverse – and sustainable – funding for their important work.

    We are responding to local and regional nationwide that are interested in establishing Cooperative Business Associations, with the intent of creating local cooperative ‘chambers of commerce’ to drive the financial success of cooperatives in these associations, raise the profile of cooperatives in their communities, and foster cross-collaboration among cooperatives.

    Using the power of cooperative development work and our collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of cooperatives, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislation that protects the cooperative business enterprise model.

    Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives and cooperative development organizations to embed cooperatives in their local and regional economies. With our partners NCBA CLUSA supports cooperative development, funds cooperative education, and promotes the need for research to continually strengthen the case for cooperatives in our economy.

  • Advocacy PR
  • International Development PR
  • CBJ - PR


For nearly 100 years, NCBA CLUSA has encouraged communities to live cooperatively, harnessing the uncommon power of common purpose. NCBA CLUSA applies cooperative principles in development, advocacy, and education.

Association Services

  Pat Brownell Sterner, Chief Operating Officer Click Here To Email Pat 202-638-6222   Thomas Bowen,  Director of Membership Click Here to Email Thomas Bowen 202.383.5461                           The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA (NCBA CLUSA) represents a cross-sector co-op community of more than 40,000 businesses that control over $3 trillion in assets.  We unite co-ops by promoting the cooperative business model, driving cross-sector collaboration, and being the national ‘voice’ for cooperatives to raise the profile of co-ops everywhere. Our work is grounded in our three-part mission:
 To raise the profile of cooperatives
 To promote and protect the cooperative business enterprise model To drive cross-sector collaboration among cooperatives in keeping with Principle 6 of the Cooperative Principles       We believe in collaboration, and in bringing value to the many efforts already underway through our cooperative development partners and intermediaries that are doing the necessary ‘boots on the ground’ cooperative development work. In our role as facilitator, convener, and financing partner, we assist our partners in their work with strengthening the structure, reach and financial sustainability of existing cooperatives, as well as efforts to establish new cooperatives.  We are collaborating with Cooperation Works! and Cooperative Development Centers across the country to develop more diverse – and sustainable – funding for their important work. We are responding to local and regional nationwide that are interested in establishing Cooperative Business Associations, with the intent of creating local cooperative ‘chambers of commerce’ to drive the financial success of cooperatives in these associations, raise the profile of cooperatives in their communities, and foster cross-collaboration among cooperatives. Using the power of cooperative development work and our collective cooperative voice, NCBA CLUSA advocates on Capitol Hill on behalf of cooperatives, fighting to maintain or increase government funding for cooperative programs and securing access to legislation that protects the cooperative business enterprise model. Throughout the United States, NCBA CLUSA is working with cooperatives and cooperative development organizations to embed cooperatives in their local and regional economies. With our partners NCBA CLUSA supports cooperative development, funds cooperative education, and promotes the need for research to continually strengthen the case for cooperatives in our economy.   OUR FOCUS NCBA CLUSA takes very seriously its role as CONVENER of cooperatives and cooperators across the country. ADVOCACY NCBA CLUSA is also working hard to amplify the voice of cooperatives at the national level, specifically through increased advocacy work on behalf of cooperatives sectors.  For example, NCBA CLUSA sent letters to members of the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees pressing for tax reform to retain the tax exemption for credit unions. Likewise, through the efforts of NCBA CLUSA and partners, a significant shift in the government’s fiscal year 2014 spending bill has made provision for $5.8 million for the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) and an additional $3 million for the Small Socially-Disadvantaged Producer Grant (SSDPG). Moving forward, we plan to establish a congressional Cooperative Caucus as a forum to brief legislators on cooperatives and cooperative sectors. CO-OP TALKS Another significant focus for NCBA CLUSA is boosting our presence with members through a series of Co-op Talks.  These meetings will be excellent opportunities for us to listen to our members, recruit new members, and learn more about what cooperatives need in communities across America.  Current list of venues include: Denver, Colorado Madison, Wisconsin   CONFERENCES NCBA CLUSA hosts and/or supports several conferences throughout the year: Consumer Cooperative Management Association (CCMA):  June 12-14 in Madison, Wisconsin Co-op Week (in partnership with the National Cooperative Bank and the Cooperative Development Foundation):  May 5-9 in Washington, D.C. Purchasing Cooperative Conference and the NCBA CLUSA Annual Meeting:  September 8 – 11 in St. Paul, Minnesota   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ASSOCIATIONS (CBA'S) We are working with several groups throughout the country that are organizing to establish CBAs.  To support these efforts NCBA CLUSA is providing financial support, human resources and business planning to launch what can be thought of as local “co-op chambers of commerce”, with missions to promote the co-op business model, grow the bottom-line of cooperatives in local communities, and engage more consumers as co-op members.  We are focused on four locations: Austin, Texas  (Austin Cooperative Business Association) Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia Area Cooperative Association) Upstate New York Western Massachusetts (Valley Cooperative Business Association   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS SERVICES We are committed to raising the profile of cooperatives as economic drivers in our communities.  To that end we will be providing services such as internal and external “cooperative assessments” for members interested in (internally) better integrating the cooperative principles into their business plans and operations, and (externally) leveraging cross-sector relationships to promote their businesses to a broader base of consumers.  We will be utilizing the Blueprint for the Cooperative Decade in this work with our members, with a projected outcome of better identifying and communicating the economic power of cooperatives in given communities.   COOPERATIVE BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE In 2014 we will be establishing the Cooperative Business Roundtable, which will be a convening of CEOs from our larger members.  We have recognized the opportunity to bring CEOs together to network with each other about the opportunities and challenges for cooperatives in today’s economy as well as those they face in their own cooperatives.  Plans are being made to launch the inaugural session of the Roundtable during Co-op Week in Washington, D.C. (May 5 – 9, 2014).     OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH CooperationWorks AND THE COOPERATIVE DEVELOPMENT CENTERS CooperationWorks! Is the center for excellence for cooperative business development. They are a dynamic and innovative national cooperative created to grow the cooperative model across the United States. Cooperative development centers work to revitalize communities through effective cooperative enterprise development. The centers provide a broad spectrum of expertise and technical assistance, including feasibility studies, market analysis, business plan development, governance training, and educational programs. NCBA CLUSA works closely with both CooperationWorks! and the centers to provide support and resources to aid in their very critical work. NCBA CLUSA understands that it is imperative to grow and sustain financial support so that CooperationWorks! and the centers may foster cooperative economic development. To that end, NCBA CLUSA is co-hosting with CooperationWorks! a summit to engage the cooperative development centers on a national level that will bring forth strategies that will diversify and grow funding. PARTNERSHIP WITH FREELANCERS UNION NCBA CLUSA first began working Freelancers Union in 2010 while assisting organizations across the United States that were applying for funding to develop the new national health care CO-OPs. NCBA CLUSA first provided expertise to Freelancers Union regarding board governance and board development for the application and later played a role in board training for Freelancers Union. Since that time, a close and productive relationship has grown between the two organizations. Sara Horowitz, Found and Executive Director of Freelancers Union, recently wrote; “Cooperatives are deeply knit in the American fabric. In 1752, founding father (and volunteer firefighter) Ben Franklin started the nation's first mutual fire insurance company, Philadelphia Contributionship, which still operates today. In his book For All The People, historian and woodworker John Curl highlights the amazing diversity of cooperative businesses that popped up in the 1800s -- mining coops, shoemaking coops, knitting coops. Basically anything workers could unite to own, they did. We are beginning to see the rise of that mutualistic ethos once again. Many of these efforts directly mirror the late 1800s mutual support model -- but this time with the internet helping bring what had once been local models to national scale.” Freelancers Union has a mission of promoting the interests of independent workers through advocacy, education, and services. NCBA CLUSA is working with the Freelancers Union to provide certain training, education and support services to assist the Freelancers Union in fulfilling their research of cooperatives, member educational programming, project management, board education, business model transition, and public relations objectives, and services for which cooperation may be mutually beneficial. REGIONAL FARMERS MARKET/USDA RCDG GRANT NCBA CLUSA’s 2012 USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant is dedicated to supporting the establishment of a Regional Farmer’s Market located in the Mississippi Delta, in partnership and through the leadership of Shreveport Federal Credit Union and the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. The establishment of food hubs that address food deserts is a particular area of expertise for NCBA CLUSA through our international work, and we are applying that expertise to our rural cooperative development partnerships. The work is also supported by previous project work related to wealth creation and development of value chains, especially as relate to cross-sector cooperative business opportunities. The initial work around the establishment of a regional farmers’ market located in Marks, Mississippi has been led by the Shreveport Federal Credit Union, which located a branch in Marks in 2006. Joining with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives, the primary cooperative development expert in the rural south, Shreveport FCU has worked with local community leaders to further explore opportunities for community engagement and is currently building out the concept for the market, setting in motion plans to launch the market by the end of 2013. The idea for the Delta Regional Market (a name under consideration) came about through multiple meetings with community members, mayors of several towns, and farmers in which they addressed the challenges which have caused this region to be so economically deprived. The Market will be a food hub for the entire community providing reasonably priced, fresh, locally-grown foods; creating jobs for some and for others an entertainment and a gathering place that is planned to be a major draw for customers within a 50-mile radius.  On-street parking provides plenty of space for customers, and the building is located near local businesses to encourage foot traffic to nearby merchants. The Market will also be a showcase for the community’s cultural roots. In addition to being a Food Hub with sales of fresh farm products, the Market will also house a small Museum called “The Muletrain Museum and Gift Store”, a Kidz Zone, and a small Food Court. “Sunday Go to Meeting at the Market” will highlight the deep spiritual roots of the people of the Delta, and provide the opportunity for area churches from diverse communities to bring their choirs and congregations to the market to sing in the food court area on Sunday afternoons as an additional way to attract consumers to the Market. Another central feature of the Market will be the participation of the North Delta Produce Growers Association, which will use part of the Market’s building to expand their commercial enterprise which currently sells purple hull peas to Walmart. Expansion of their operations will increase the distribution opportunities for their participating farmers, and open the door for other farmer cooperatives to join. Leadership and partnership must go hand in hand for the success of this project. Shreveport Federal Credit Union is stepping up with some of the financing for the building; the Federation of Southern Cooperatives is providing the hands-on expertise in agricultural as well as small cooperative business development. Thanks to funding from the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant, NCBA CLUSA is providing expertise in business planning, project design and financing to support the launch and sustainability of the project. We believe the Delta Regional Market can become an important pilot for other communities to follow, and we will work with our partners to document and evaluate every step of this important project. Links to partners: Shreveport Federal Credit Union Federation of Southern Cooperatives North Delta Produce Growers Association USDA

Association Services


Succession Planning for Co-op Members Join us for a Webinar on June 26 Space is limited. Reserve your Webinar seat now at: What will happen to your business when its leadership is ready to retire? During NCBA CLUSA’s June 26 webinar, presenter Gary Pittsford, CFP, president and CEO of Castle Wealth Advisors, will discuss key factors you need to consider in planning for the future of your coop, including: • Issues affecting family members • Transition options • Retirement income security • Tax impacts and options • Business and estate plans Get the answers to your burning questions about the succession planning process and begin to assemble an advisory team who can help you make smart decisions for your organization.   Title: Succession Planning for Co-op Members Date: Thursday, June 26, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM - 2:00 PM EDT   After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.   System Requirements PC-based attendees Required: Windows® 8, 7, Vista, XP or 2003 Server Mac®-based attendees Required: Mac OS® X 10.6 or newer Mobile attendees Required: iPhone®, iPad®, Android™ phone or Android tablet       Future NCBA CLUSA Webinar Topics Promoting Cooperation with Financial Cooperatives Learn how financial cooperatives are engaging in cross-sector collaboration by doing business with other cooperative sectors. Cooperative education in colleges and universitiesWhile the cooperative business model is distinct from other business models, our current options for pursuing relevant cooperative management education is limited. Join this webinar to learn about the existing programs, along with work being done to improve management education for the cooperative sector. Cooperative GovernanceWebinar will explore key issues in cooperative governance, and how cooperative governance is different than governance of other organizational models.   NCBA CLUSA’s webinars continue to be a popular source of information on issues impacting the cooperative community. Whether it is marketing and branding your co-op, understanding the legal and governmental framework of cooperatives or learning how co-ops are using technology to be innovative, NCBA CLUSA’s webinars provide useful and timely information to leverage opportunities for growing and improving your cooperative. Webinar Archive Miss a webinar? Visit NCBA CLUSA's archive to view presentations on-demand We'd Love Your Input! Do you have an idea for a webinar topic? Please send your suggestions to:info@ncba.coop



  Thursday, 01 August 2013 10:38 In a July letter to the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) stated he supports credit unions and their tax exemption status. Outside of the Washington beltway, regular folks may not be aware that Congress is working to overhaul the existing tax structure. For the last few years, Congressional tax committees have been considering comprehensive tax reform, and they now plan to draft and pass a bill later in the year. The current process in the Senate is called the “blank slate” approach. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) and Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) have asked senators to submit letters advising the committee which tax exemptions they support that should be included in the committee’s approach to comprehensive tax reform. Along with his requests to keep housing and energy tax provisions, Senator Begich also included the credit union tax exemption in his July 26 letter to the Senate Finance Committee. In his letter, Senator Begich stated, “Alaska is far removed from traditional financial centers and that credit unions play an outsized role in the state’s economy. That is why Section 501(c)(14), which grants tax exempt status to credit unions, should be retained in any tax reform effort, to ensure continued access to affordable credit for consumers, homebuyers and small businesses alike, all of which contribute substantially to economic growth.” At the Finance Committee’s request, the letter writing exercise has been kept confidential, but Senator Begich, along with a few other senators have made their requests public. It is not clear how senators are participating in the “blank slate” process, or how the House of Representatives will proceed with their tax reform approach. NCBA CLUSA has coordinated its efforts with the Credit Union National Association (CUNA) and the National Association of Federal Credit Unions (NAFCU) to support the credit union tax exemption and will continue to work with its association partners as the tax reform process moves ahead in Congress.  


Call to Action: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Cooperative Development Funding!

Cooperative Development Centers Need Your Support! During the Congressional appropriations process, vital funding for the USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program was impacted dramatically, and the cooperative community needs to do everything we can NOW to restore it to sufficient levels. The House of Representatives Agriculture Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2014 eliminates RCDG funding that is critical to the development of cooperatives in rural America. The Senate provides $8.8 million in their funding bill for the program. Without sufficient funding for the RCDG program, cooperative development centers providing hands-on assistance will be unable to operate, and the only existing program in the federal government dedicated to cooperative development would be hindered significantly or possibly eliminated. As an NCBA CLUSA member and supporter, you have an opportunity to help! Attached are two letters, one specifically drafted for the House of Representatives and the other for the Senate. Please send the appropriate letter of support to your Representative or Senators and let them know this vital program needs to be saved. If you would like to share the success of your advocacy efforts on this issue or have any questions, please contact NCBA CLUSA’s Vice President of Advocacy, R.L. Condra at 202.383.5480 or rcondra@ncba.coop. Sincerely, Michael Beall President and Chief Executive Officer   Download House of Representatives Letter » Find Your Representative Download Senate Letter » Find Your Senator

Call to Action: Tell Your Members of Congress to Support Cooperative Development Funding!

Legislative Update: Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of Representatives

  Legislative Update Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of RepresentativesLegislation Focuses on Job Creation by Promoting Cooperative Development  (WASHINGTON, DC) – The National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA) is excited to announce the introduction of legislation that will spur job creation and development of cooperatives. The legislation H.R. 2437 titled, “Creating Jobs Through Cooperatives Act of 2013” was introduced by Congressman Chaka Fattah (D-PA) on June 20 in the House of Representatives. “Co-ops bring communities tighter by encouraging residents to pool their skills and resources,” said Fattah. “They empower people to make decisions that will create opportunities that grow their communities and provide an added sense of belonging. This legislation brings federal resources and a policy priority to that effort.” The legislation would create a national program within the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide capital, training and other resources to foster member owned businesses. The bill introduced will strengthen communities, promote self-help, and generate jobs by awarding grants to nonprofit organizations, colleges and universities that help grow or create cooperatives. Also, when establishing cooperatives, communities will be provided with guidance, best practices, and technical assistance. Furthermore, the legislation will create a revolving loan fund, providing seed capital to groups forming cooperatives and funding to train providers in technical issues, supporting existing professional development for organizations engaged in cooperative development. “On behalf of the 29,000 cooperatives throughout the country, we thank Congressman Fattah for his support and leadership,” said Michael Beall, president of NCBA CLUSA. “This legislation is a giant step in providing more communities around the country with the financial backing to grow businesses that share their same values.” Cooperatives already play a significant role in the U.S. economy operating in all 50 states and across all sectors. They are owned and operated by the people who utilize the goods or services provided by the co-op and they operate for the benefit of its members. Cooperatives are a part of many industries including energy, telecommunications, food distribution, insurance, credit unions, agriculture, health, housing, and wholesale and retail purchasing and distribution. There are 29,000 U.S. cooperatives that account for more than $3 trillion in assets, totalling over $500 billion in revenue, $25 billion in wages and benefits, and providing nearly two million jobs. If you would like to receive the text of the bill, or would like to learn how you could have your Member of Congress support the legislation, please contact R.L. Condra, NCBA CLUSA Vice President of Advocacy, at  or 202.383.5480. The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the apex association for cooperative businesses in the United States and an international development organization. NCBA CLUSA provides cross-sector education, support, and advocacy that helps co-ops thrive. For nearly 100 years NCBA CLUSA has sought to advance and protect cooperative enterprises, highlighting the impact that cooperatives in bettering the lives of individuals and families. In the last 60 years, NCBA CLUSA has grown its international development portfolio to over $34 million of active programs in 14 countries.

Legislative Update: Cooperative Development Bill Introduced in the House of Representatives

Co-op Jobs

Reaching thousands of like-minded cooperators has never been easier! NCBA CLUSA’s jobs posting service targets your job listing to those in the cooperative community looking to get involved in cooperative work!



NCBA CLUSA is the nation’s oldest and largest national membership association representing cooperatives of all types and in all industries. We are democratically organized and operate according to internationally recognized cooperative principles. NCBA CLUSA’s mission is to develop, advance and protect cooperative businesses and to demonstrate the power of the cooperative business model to achieve economic and social impacts. As the apex organization representing the interests of the US cooperative community, NCBA CLUSA provides a strong, unified voice on Capitol Hill. The Association’s portfolio includes programs and services that meet the shared advocacy, education and communications needs of a cross-sector, US cooperative community. In addition to its work domestically, NCBA CLUSA’s international program has been engaged in cooperative and sustainable business development in over 100 countries for close to 60 years.


NCBA CLUSA is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer with a commitment to diversity.  All individuals, regardless of personal characteristics, are encouraged to apply; all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, age, and legally protected characteristics for non-merit factors. NCBA CLUSA is committed to providing reasonable accommodations to qualified individuals with disabilities in all facets of employment, including the employment application and selection process. If you have a disability that affects your ability to use our online system to apply for a position at NCBA CLUSA, please send an email to Misti French or call 202-383-5465.



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The Team

Meet Our Senior Leadership Team

Michael Beall

Michael Beall

President & Chief Executive Officer
Patricia Brownell Sterner

Patricia Brownell Sterner

Chief Operating Officer, NCBA
Amy Coughenour Betancourt

Amy Coughenour Betancourt

Chief Operating Officer, CLUSA International
Valeria Roach

Valeria Roach

Chief Financial Officer
Lisa Bowman

Lisa Bowman

Chief Administrative Officer, NCBA CLUSA
Larry Thomas

Larry Thomas

Chief Human Resources Officer, NCBA CLUSA

The National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA) is the oldest and largest national cross sector association for cooperatives, professionals servicing co-ops, and supporters.