2016 Cooperative Issues Forum
May 4, 2016

National Press Club
529 14th St. NW, 13th Floor
Washington, DC 20045

1:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Sponsored by the Ralph K. Morris Foundation


Past Forums

The Cooperative Development Foundation hosted the Fifth Annual Cooperative Issues Forum on May 7, 2015 at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. The forum featured a report on Replicating Success in Cooperative Development from Hilary Abell, Co-Founder, Project Equity, Oakland, CA and Kevin Edberg, Executive Director, Cooperative Development Service, St Paul, MN, The second half of the forum was a moderated panel with the 2015 Hall of Fame Inductees. The event was attended by over 125 people and was sponsored by the Ralph K. Morris Foundation.


Replicating Success


Better Together: Hall of Fame Inductees Forum

The Cooperative Development Foundation hosted the Fourth Annual Cooperative Issues Forum on May 7, 2014 at The National Press Club in Washington, DC. The forum featured a Keynote Address by Dame Pauline Green, president, International Cooperative Alliance; an update on domestic cooperative development and technical assistance plans, and a moderated panel with the 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees. The event was attended by over 100 people.

Keynote Address – Dame Pauline Green

Cooperative Development Leadership Reports – Deb Trocha, Terry Simonette

Hall of Fame Inductees Forum

The 2013 Forum profiled how cooperative business enterprises are engaging in local and regional collaborations that are providing innovative options for economic and community development. Collaboration is in the co-op DNA, as the principles around which all cooperatives are founded include public engagement, co-ops helping co-ops and concern for community. This program illustrated how cooperatives, and networks of cooperatives, are engaging and achieving collective impacts. The panel discussion addressed challenges and opportunities for cooperatives to play an even larger role in the new sharing and collaborative economy.


  • Introductory remarks: Michael Beall, CEO, National Cooperative Business Association
  • Panel Discussion. Panelists will included:
    • Bob Noble, Co-Founder, Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance
    • Erbin Crowell, Executive Director, Neighboring Food Cooperative Association
    • Jerry McGeorge, Director of Cooperative Affairs, Organic Valley
    • Gar Alperovitz, Professor of Political Economy at the University of Maryland, College Park, author & founding partner of the Democracy Collaborative
    • Panel moderated by: Liz Bailey, COO, Cooperative Development Foundation
    • Copies of Gar Alperovitz’s latest book, “What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk About the Next American Revolution”, were available for sale/ signing at the reception that immediately followed.



The Cooperative Development Foundation and the Overseas Cooperative Development Council held a Forum in May at the National Press Club as part of the U.S. cooperative community’s observance of International Year of the Cooperative.  The Forum highlighted the international cooperative development work of U.S.-based development organizations and its impact overseas and at home.  The involvement of U.S. cooperative organizations in overseas activities grew out of the conviction that cooperative techniques, which have helped millions of American families, could be adapted to help poor and low-income people in developing countries.

Dame Pauline Green, President of the International Cooperative Alliance, opened the Forum with her perspective on the U.S. cooperative community’s role and impact in the commitment to support economic development in developing nations.  Gordon Lindquist, Immediate Past Board Chair of CHF International, led a panel discussion of two U.S. cooperators who did volunteer cooperative economic development overseas and two representatives of countries where U.S. cooperative development organizations have programs.  Dennis Hill of the ND Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives spoke of his work overseas through the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).  Claudia Svarstad of the National Farmers Association discussed how her work through USAID’s Farmer-to-Farmer program and how involvement in volunteer exchange programs not only provides overseas cooperatives with expertise but also brings experience and ideas back to the U.S. cooperative community.  The Honorable Linah Jebii Kilimo, Assistant Minister of Cooperative Development & Marketing, Kenya and Benyamin Carnadi, Economic Counselor, The Embassy of Indonesia, addressed the social and economic impact of the work of the U.S. cooperative development community in their countries.


Cooperative Solutions for Affordable and Rural Senior Housing” was the topic of a daylong discussion at the National Press Club on March 19th, 2012. In a forum that brought together government officials, non-profit leaders, financial representatives and community members, CDF championed the role of housing cooperatives in providing housing and financial security for rural seniors. In discussing the Housing Needs of Rural Seniors and Communities, Judy Canales, Administrator for Rural Business and Cooperative Programs for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), affirmed that proactive measures should be taken to “invest and maintain quality of life presence through the cooperative network.”

Unlike the $7.4 trillion that was lost in real estate equity as a result of the recent housing bubble, not a single cooperative loan has entered foreclosure. President and CEO of NCB Capital Impact, Terry Simonette, provided this context in order to frame how the Case for Cooperative Housing could be made. Particularly, at a time that policy makers are wavering on what really works, the cooperative model provides an innovative solution to preserving long-term community stability.

Manufactured Housing as A New Option for Co-op Housing was a crucial aspect of the cooperative housing discussion. Rural Cooperative Homes, Inc., and its modular home case study in Adams-Friendship, WI, provide a successful small-scale example of seniors aging in place. The organization mobilized seniors to purchase prime property, located two blocks from a new community center, grocery store, and hospital. The seniors then constructed modular homes that cost less to build, had lower monthly expenses and were more energy efficient, while employing a cooperative governance model to collectively determine their present and future wellbeing. On a larger scale, the social enterprise ‘ROC USA’ works with manufactured homeowners to convert rental land to housing cooperatives when the owner puts the land up for sale. Since its founding in 2008, ROC USA has already converted 30 such communities and 70% of these conversions are in rural areas.

Andrea Levere, President of the Corporation for Enterprise Development (CFED), underscored the Importance of Affordable Housing by emphasizing the need to design and deliver affective housing solutions that build economic security.  With 43% of all Americans unable to make ends meet for three months at the poverty level if their income was crippled or taken away, society can no longer maintain the opinion that issues of housing affordability only affects those people. Adopting an ambitious asset-building strategy that includes, but is not limited to, affordable housing has the potential to “inspire hope in this country again.”

In addressing The Needs of Seniors in the Rural Housing Arena, it is important to keep in mind that though Rural America is older than the rest of the country, rural seniors are not a monolithic group. Thus, a range of options is needed between remaining in single-family home and moving into nursing homes. Housing cooperatives provides a nice alternative by creating a sense of community and ownership amongst its members. Rural seniors, who typically do not carry a mortgage on their homes, cannot remain in jeopardy of rising land rents while living in manufactured homes. Seniors ought to be given the option of building wealth through their manufactured homes in the same way this privilege is afforded to traditional site-built homeowners.

In his remarks, the Honorable James Clyburn (D-SC) elaborated on the Challenge of Energy Efficiency in the Rural Housing Stock. The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina has been able to retrofit and audit older manufactured homes as a way of keeping member costs low and improving the livelihood of those they serve. Similarly, the nonprofit network ‘Next Step’ has been instrumental in converting older manufactured homes into energy-efficient, affordable places to live. With 1.5 million manufactured homes built before federal standards for these homes were adopted in the 1976, Next Step is committed to replacing all of these homes over 30 years. If just 10% of these homes were replaced, three tons of carbon emissions would be removed annually.

Lastly, forum participants considered Challenges and Opportunities In Making the Finances Work for cooperative rural housing. A group like ROC USA also provides financial support and technical assistance throughout the co-op conversion process whereas community loan funds like Iowa’s Homeward, Inc. provides funding to assist with the purchase of manufactured homes themselves. Overall, the challenge is that financing for housing cooperatives continues to be an area of untapped potential for many financial institutions. However, credit unions are beginning to explore opportunities in creating financial instruments specifically for housing cooperatives and their members.


On March 21, 2011, CDF hosted a day long forum at the National Press Club in Washington, DC, to profile applications of the cooperative model for delivering home care services.  The forum featured speakers and panel discussions that covered a number of topics, including: the direct care workforce; the long term care crisis facing rural America; the cost reimbursement and funding challenges; federal resources for development; and, the multi-stakeholder model and its potential to produce more sustainable cooperatives.  An article about the Forum appeared in the May/June 2011 issue of Rural Cooperatives, which is published bimonthly by USDA Rural development.

Click here to read the article which begins on page 18 of the publication.