Alex 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
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.
Karen Tyler-Ruiz – Co-Vice President
Center for Community-Based Enterprise (C2BE)
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.
John McNamara – Co-Vice President
Northwest Center for Cooperative Development
Senior Cooperative Development Specialist
John joined NWCDC in the Spring of 2014. John has 26 years of practical experience in the worker cooperative world with Union Cab of Madison. John holds a Ph.D. in Business Administration and a Masters in Management: Cooperative and Credit Unions from Saint Mary’s University (Halifax). As a student researcher, he assisted in the development of the Co-op Index Report, a tool for measuring co-ops against the values and principles of cooperation. He taught a summer course on worker cooperatives at The Evergreen State College (2014-2018) and at Presidio Graduate School in their Cooperative Management Certificate and co-edited a collection of essays on measuring co-operatives available as an e-book at no cost from the Cooperative Difference. John also serves as Chair of the Union-Coops Council of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives.
RL Condra – Treasurer
National Cooperative Bank
VP of Advocacy and Government Programs
Mr. Condra is Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Government Programs for National Cooperative Bank. In this capacity, he is responsible for advocating for issues that directly impact NCB’s cooperative customer segments. Since joining NCB, he has advocated for cooperatives to have access to SBA lending programs, risk retention changes for cooperative housing, and the Rural Cooperative Development Grant (RCDG) program for cooperative development centers.
Mr. Condra currently serves on the board of the Food Cooperative Initiative, Consumer Federation of America, and Cooperation Works, a national network of organizations and individuals working on co-op development and advocacy for co-op organizations.
Prior to joining NCB, Mr. Condra was Vice President of Advocacy for the NCBA CLUSA and spent several years on Capitol Hill as a staff member on the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Nutrition and as Director of Congressional Affairs for the Delta Regional Authority.
Mr. Condra earned a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Arkansas.
Kim Coontz – Board Member
California Center for Cooperative Development
E. Kim Coontz’s involvement with CW dates back to 2000, its first operational year. Kim is the Executive Director of the California Center for Cooperative Development, a private non-profit dedicated to promoting and supporting cooperatives. She has been working with cooperative enterprises for over 25 years. During her cooperative career she has provided start-up assistance new cooperatives, including the development of feasibility studies and business plans. She has taught cooperative board governance seminars, conducted research on cooperatives, and provided technical support to cooperatives. She has authored and co-authored more than 10 publications about cooperatives and written numerous articles. Prior to her employment with CCCD, Kim was Executive Director of Yolo Mutual Housing Association, a nonprofit developer of cooperatively-governed affordable housing in Davis, CA. She also spent 14 years working for the Center for Cooperatives at the University of California at Davis (prior to its closure in 2004)
Deb Trocha – Board Member
Indiana Cooperative Development Center
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
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
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
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.