Annual Cooperative Board Leadership Training 2016
Directors from cooperatives in 5 states, NC, FL, TN, GA, and KY, met in Asheville, NC for Cooperative Board Training 101 led by Joel Kopischke and Leadership Training led by Michael Healy, both facilitators from the Cooperative Development Services Consulting Co-op. January’s event was cancelled due to snow, and the April 16th rescheduling cut the typical number of participants but not the enthusiasm. The intimate setting for both training groups replaced what would normally be a conference room full of Co-op Directors and staff.
After the initial excitement of joining the Three Rivers Market Board of Directors, one might wonder, “What exactly is my role? How do I best contribute?” CBL 101 is a day-long introduction to the history of cooperatives, cooperative principles and values, the legal duties of Directors, cooperative governance and basic financial literacy—how to analyze and understand financial reports. In classroom sessions on cooperative governance, the role of the Board, and balance sheets, we developed fluency in a shared language. We learned that our prime task is to create strong governance for the cooperative through policy, not to manage the operations of the store. Meeting Directors from other cooperatives was a bonus— and a great opportunity for networking and learning best practices from others.
With the foundation provided by CBL 101, members can be confident TRM Directors are prepared to fulfill our responsibilities and continue the legacy of the Rochdale Pioneers in England in 1844 and African-American cooperatives in early twentieth century US history. We refined skills to bring sound governance to our co-op, vision, and oversight, supporting the General Manager who is responsible for store operations.
For the leadership development segment, four Directors representing three Cooperatives convened to work through good, bad, and ugly scenarios of directorship. We honed our identity as cooperative leaders and recognized personal strengths and weaknesses to better understand how to contextualize the role of the Board and our respective visions for the future. The discussions reinforced some of the values we champion as a cooperative— self-responsibility, equality, honesty, and caring for others— values worth striving for in Board service as in life.
Overall the trainings were a great experience and made us appreciate that Three Rivers Market is built on sound policies and practices. A worthy trip indeed!
CBL 101 attendees: Nina Gregg & Gabrielle Boudreau
Leadership training attendee: Jenny Weisent