Staff

Alex StoneAlex Stone – Executive Director

Alex Stone has been the Executive Director of CW since early 2016. She first became involved with co-ops through student housing co-ops at UC Berkeley, where she lived for three years and participated as a house-level manager and board member.  She was deeply involved with the creation of the Berkeley Student Food Collective and served as the store’s first Operations Manager through its first two years. Alex co-founded the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive and coordinated its first training involving over twenty students from seven universities across the west coast. As ED of CW, she has grown the network, undertaken a redesign of our flagship training for cooperative developers, and cultivated deep ties across the cooperative movement in the US. She is currently enrolled in the Master of Management, Cooperatives, and Credit Unions program in the International Centre for Co-operative Management at St. Mary’s University. She is a Just Economy Institute fellow for the 2022-2023 cohort.

Board of Directors

Bijiibah Begaye –  President
Cooperative Catalyst
Director

A true believer in supporting community at every stage of development, Bijiibah Begaye has previously served as Program Director for the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension, and as Executive Director of Tse Ko Community Development Corporation. In addition to her work experience, her biggest influences come from being raised in Coalmine Mesa on the Navajo Nation where her family has managed Staggered Hearts Ranch for over 40 years.

A woman with short hair and a black turle neck stands against a dark purple backdrop.Karen Tyler-Ruiz – Co-Vice President
Center for Community-Based Enterprise (C2BE)
Executive Director

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Karen Tyler-Ruiz serves as the Executive Director of the Center for Community-Based Enterprise, Inc, in Detroit Michigan.  C2BE supports the creation of people-centered businesses, cooperatives, and community and worker-owned enterprises, that are owned and run by their members.  Worker-owners have an equal say in what their organization does and how it generates and uses profits.  Tyler-Ruiz has spent the last 20 years of her career in community wealth building including community-based skill building, affordable housing, and personal finance, constructing practical frameworks and strategies in support of Detroiters and Metro Detroiters like herself, to be housed, to work, and to earn with dignity supporting a quality life for our families and local communities.

Deb Trocha – Board Member
Indiana Cooperative Development Center
Executive Director

Deb Trocha serves as the Executive Director of the Indiana Cooperative Development Center (ICDC). ICDC is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that promotes cooperatives as a vibrant model to address the economic and social needs of Indiana’s communities. ICDC provides assistance to a wide variety of cooperatives including food, agriculture, arts and crafts, child care, energy, and housing with start-up, management, and other technical assistance. It also provides training opportunities designed to bring together groups of people involved in the same type of cooperative development such as the Up & Coming start-up conference for food cooperatives. Trocha has spent her career in small business development helping entrepreneurs realize their dreams.  The last 15 years she’s been working to help individuals build and grow cooperatives that positively impact the lives of not only their members but local communities as well.

Kirstie Boyette – Board Member
Cooperative Development Foundation
Associate Director

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Kirstie Boyette serves as the Associate Director for the Cooperative Development Foundation where she is responsible for operations related to grantmaking, fundraising, finances, and programs. She manages the application, review, and distribution process of nearly $1 million in annual grantmaking from CDF’s family of Funds. Kirstie began working with the National Home Care Cooperative Initiative in 2019 and manages CDF’s home care co-op program. She also manages the Cooperative Leaders and Scholars program which aims to develop and engage new and emerging cooperators with multi-sector programming and professional development opportunities.

Prior to joining CDF, she worked at NCBA CLUSA where she focused on member events and strategic initiatives support. A graduate of the University of Florida, she holds a BA in
Agricultural Economics and served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. She is currently
pursuing a certificate in cooperative management from the Saint Mary’s University International Centre for Co-operative Management.

Davey Madison – Board Member
Montana Cooperative Development Center
Program Director

Davey Madison is the Program Director for the Montana Cooperative Development Center, developing and assisting cooperatives across Montana. Prior to MCDC, Davey worked as the Project Manager in the Montana Governor’s Office of Economic Development, where she acquired a deep understanding of economic and community development and established an extensive professional network that continues to be invaluable to her work with cooperatives.

Davey grew up on a working cattle ranch in the rolling hills of northeast Montana. She holds a BA in English from Carroll College, is active in several economic development associations, and tries to spend as much time horseback as possible.

Tamah Yisrael- Board Member
Individual Member

Tamah Yisrael is the Chief Solutions Officer of TMH Financial Services LLC and a member of Resolve Financial Cooperative.  She established her firm in October 2018 to provide business development, bookkeeping, and management services to small businesses, nonprofits, and social impact enterprises in the Greater New Orleans Area.  She currently provides Outsourced Executive Director Services to Builders of the Highway Foundation (BOTH Foundation) a national nonprofit. Under her leadership, BOTH Foundation has merged the Temple of Brothers of Sisters of Goodwill and Neo Jazz School of Music under its umbrella and has developed educational community centers in New Orleans, Miami, and Orlando. She is also a partner of Yisrael Records Inc. an independent record label and producer of jazz and contemporary music who provides management of local artists such as the Yisrael Trio.

Her community advocacy efforts are focused on cultural awareness, social justice, and access to healthy foods. In her role as President of the board of directors for the New Orleans Food Coop, she was able to bridge the connection in all three of these sectors. She is currently organizing a cooperative movement and is a project officer of Cooperation New Orleans Loan Fund. Additionally, she has been recognized by the Metro Birmingham Branch of the NAACP in its Annual Salute to Outstanding African American for her contributions to the culture and youth of the community. She is a graduate of the Foundation for Louisiana’s TOGETHER Initiative LEAD Community Training Program, UNO’s Community Development Finance program, and Cooperation Works’ Art & Science of Cooperative Development. She continues to serve the community on various committees and working groups to build a more equitable society.

Kate LaTour – Board Member
CoBank
Senior Manager, Government Affairs

Kate LaTour is Senior Manager for Government Affairs where she represents CoBank before Congress and the Administration. In this role, she also supports CoBank’s corporate social responsibility programs primarily focused on cooperatives, food systems and rural prosperity.

Previously, Kate was the Director of Government Relations for the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International where she led advocacy efforts to support cooperatives, including re-establishing the Congressional Cooperative Business Caucus, increasing awareness of the Rural Cooperative Development Grant program and ensuring cooperatives were able to equitably access disaster relief support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Kate also served as a legislative staffer in the U.S. Senate working on economic policy and introducing legislation to promote cooperative and employee ownership to address the small business ‘Silver Tsunami.’ She earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, majoring in Political Science and International Affairs, and her master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University where her research focused on policy and political enabling environments for cooperatives across economic sectors. Kate currently serves as a Board member of the Association of Cooperative Educators.

Fred Medlicott – Board Member
Northwest Center for Cooperative Development
Cooperative Development Specialist

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Fred has been a co-operative developer since 2018, based at the Northwest Co-operative Development Center in Olympia, WA. For several years, he specialized in technical assistance and conversion for manufactured housing co-operatives working as a Certified Technical Assistance Provider affiliated with Resident Owned Communities USA. Since then, he has worked with consumer, producer and worker co-operatives providing technical assistance and training on every aspect of starting and running a co-op including: co-op identity, financial management, governance design, business strategy, democratic decision making, operations and policy, business planning, securing financing,  setting culture and values and etc. He regularly provides coaching, support and training to board members of co-operative clients.  Fred has also been co-teaching a professional certificate program on sustainable development of co-operatives and guest lecturing for under-graduate courses through a partnership with the Evergreen State College.

Fred was a member of the 2018 cohort of the NCBA Co-operative Leaders and Scholars Institute. He has served on the Board of Directors for the Olympia Food Co-operative, COSOUND – a regional network of co-operatives, and volunteers on various committees and working groups within the co-operative movement.  This year Fred is serving as a Mentor as part of the NCBA/CW! Strengthening the Co-operative Ecosystem Mentorship Program.

Fred earned his Bachelor’s of Arts and Sciences in Food Systems and Solidarity Economies at the Evergreen State University in 2018, and has just completed his Master’s of Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions from St. Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Kristin Forde – Board Member
University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives
Cooperative Development Specialist

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Kristin landed in the worker co-op world via taxi in 2004 as a Union Cab member. While working as a cab driver, she helped launch member education initiatives, participated in newly developed cooperative grievance procedures and conflict resolution systems, was a founding member of Madison Worker Cooperatives (MadWorC), served as Board president for one term, and participated in the planning of Madison’s first Cooperative Business Conference in 2012. She joined UWCC in 2021 after working for ten years in a non-profit agency providing and managing crisis childcare. She is a UW-Madison graduate with a degree from the School of Education. Additional life experiences Kristin brings forward include teaching in New Orleans and Madison public schools, community organizing with Industrial Areas Foundation, restorative justice in Wisconsin prisons with Prison Ministry Project, racial justice organizing with Families for Justice, and community theater performances and productions at Bartell Theater. When not working, Kristin enjoys gardening, hiking, dancing, and dreaming up her next travel adventure with her eight-year-old son.