2006: During the 2006 CW annual meeting, proposals were presented and members approved reorganization as a member-owned service cooperative. Committees worked with the board and attorneys to draft articles of incorporation, bylaws and financial projections for the new organization. These documents were unanimously approved by the CW members and articles of incorporation were filed during December 2006.

This transformation into a member-owned services cooperative took place after almost 17 years of working together—first through the National Network of Rural Cooperative Development Centers and then as the unincorporated CooperationWorks. Priorities, however, remain the same. In addition to continuing as a professional peer network for practitioners engaged in the development of new cooperative businesses, CW program priorities include:

  • Delivery of CW’s annual Professional Development Training Program for new co-op development practitioners.
  • Organize and hold up to three CW face-to-face meetings.
  • Schedule and hold topic conference calls on issues relevant to the development of new cooperative enterprises.
  • Publish CW’s newsletter NetWorks and relevant articles for other publications.
  • Maintain a Listserv to enable members to seek and share information readily.
  • Continue public education and advocacy for the development of new cooperative enterprises as an effective economic development strategy.

Audrey Malan, the executive director of CW for many years, agreed to remain in her position through 2007 to facilitate the transition of the organization to a service cooperative. After that time, CW members agreed to eliminate the executive director position. Instead, the cooperative will be managed by the members through their work and involvement on Service Circles.

2007: The change to a cooperative model allowed individuals and organization engaged in the development of new cooperatively-based businesses to join the group. In addition, members now select from a menu of services provided by the co-op at cost. These services and programs are defined by the membership through member Service Circles and all members are on the board of directors.

The operation and programs of the newly reorganized CW revolves around member-directed Service Circles. The Service Circles were defined by the members during the CW meeting Nov. 29 and 30, 2006, in New Orleans and were confirmed by the CW board on Jan. 24, 2007. There are currently seven Service Circles, but this number will go up and down as needs change. They are:

  1. Leadership Circle.
  2. Business Planning Circle
  3. Public Advocacy Circle
  4. Networking Circle
  5. Outcome Measurement Circle
  6. Membership and Marketing Circle
  7. Professional Development Circle

Participants of the Service Circles are defining and implementing their priorities and activities. The CW board (all members), grant the authority for the Circles to operate. Circle members report their program and activities to the full board.

The July 19 and 20, 2007, meeting in Asheville, N.C., marked CW’s first meeting as a member-owned professional service cooperative operated by Service Circles and with a board that includes all members, both individual and organization. Officers elected to lead the cooperative for a year are: Madeline Schultz, chair; John Zippert, vice chair; Jennifer Gutshall, secretary; and Diane Gasaway, treasurer. In addition, Melbah Smith was elected to an “at-large” position. This group makes up the Leadership Circle for the new organization.

Effective Dec. 31, 2007, Audrey Malan resigned her position as CW’s executive director. CW awarded her a lifetime membership in CW to thank her for her years of service.