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19 New and Emerging Co-op Leaders Accepted into CLS Program

Updated: Mar 15, 2023


The Cooperative Development Foundation and NCBA CLUSA will welcome 19 new and emerging co-op leaders into the Cooperative Leaders and Scholars (CLS) program. This year’s 8-month expanded program is designed to deepen and broaden knowledge of cooperatives and the role of the co-op business model in meeting the economic and social needs of communities.


The 2023 CLS cohort includes:

  • Laura Bechard, Equal Exchange, Minnesota

  • Lesly Calle, City College of New York, New York

  • Gabrielle Chapman, Shared Capital Cooperative, Tennessee

  • Tomi Chung, Berkeley Student Cooperative, California

  • Crystal Davis, BEE Collective, South Carolina

  • Mathew Forth, Keystone Development Center, Pennsylvania

  • Joann Lo, UDW/AFSCME Local 3930, California

  • Ashley Long, Shared Capital Cooperative, Minnesota

  • Robinson Markus, Evanston Development Cooperative, Illinois

  • Tairi Mena, Black Star Co-op, Texas

  • Maggie O’Connor, Inter-Cooperative Council, Michigan

  • Rosa Poirier-McKiggan, Glitter Bean Co-operative and International Centre for Co-operative Management, Nova Scotia

  • Adrián Román, Boston Center for Community Ownership, Massachusetts

  • Francesca Santos, California Center for Cooperative Development, California

  • Loreal Scott, Cooperative Catalyst of New Mexico, Arizona

  • Camila Tapia-Gulliams, U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives and Transverse Cooperative, Maryland

  • Karen Tyler-Ruiz, Center for Community-Based Enterprise, Michigan

  • Rebecca White, Hanover Co-op Food Stores and Auto Service Centers, New Hampshire

  • Riley Wong, The Metagovernance Project, New York


“The expanded CLS program offers a unique opportunity for the cohort to co-create a meaningful program while fostering leadership in collaborative and supportive ways,” said Kirstie Boyette, CDF Associate Director and CLS Co-Coordinator. The cohort will participate in multi-sector programming and events and engage with cooperative leaders, policymakers, and other stakeholders.


“Incorporating feedback from last year's group enabled us to broaden and expand the reach of the program, attracting the most representative group CLS has ever had,” noted Cathy Statz, CLS Co-Coordinator. CDF and NCBA CLUSA intentionally surveyed the 2022 cohort on how to make the program even more impactful. Commenting on thoughts shared on how to advance DEI in the cooperative sector, Doug O’Brien, President & CEO of NCBA CLUSA observed that it was an “excellent mix of validation for the work, while honestly challenging us to do better.” An article based on interviews with cohort members can be found here.


CDF and NCBA CLUSA look forward to introducing the 2023 cohort to the cooperative community at the Co-op IMPACT Conference and Cooperative Hall of Fame in Washington, DC in October. Learn more about the cohort here.



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