Left to right: Kenzie Love, Josh Dyke, Kristen VanHattem, Janielle Maxwell, Hazel Corcoran, Chloe Williams, Ven Drake, Kaye Grant
Based primarily in Calgary, Hazel Corcoran has served as CWCF’s Executive Director since 1995. She first became interested in the idea of employee ownership while completing a Master’s in Linguistics at Berkeley. She later went on to study law, and discovered the worker co-op model while completing a research paper on various models of workplace democracy. Coincidentally, CWCF was in the process of forming nearby, and Hazel attended the founding AGM and ultimately helped the Federation draft its bylaws.
Worker co-ops appeal to Hazel as a way to empower workers and help them flourish in the workplace and learn new skills. She believes it’s the most humane way to organize the economy. She would like to see Canada’s worker co-op sector grow significantly, and hopes it can partner with government and the solidarity economy to achieve this.
In addition to her work with CWCF, Hazel has also served as a director of a variety of co-operatives, in the past including Calgary Co-op, First Calgary Credit Union, le Conseil canadien de la coopération et de la mutualité, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada. She is currently a director of The Co-operators where she chairs the Member and Co-operative Relations Committee.
In her spare time, Hazel enjoys spending time with her family, walking in nature, and cooking Cajun food, a legacy of her origins in New Orleans. She’s also an active member of Prairie Sky Cohousing in Calgary.
Based in Winnipeg, Kaye Grant has served as CWCF’s Operations and Member Services Manager since 2013. She is also the key Consultant with Reconnaissance Management Consulting Group Inc. Kaye has worked for over 25 years within the non-profit/social enterprise sector in a number of roles. Kaye’s experience in working with the non-profit sector and local community groups enables her to maintain working relationships within the community. She has experience in training and facilitating workshops and courses in business related subjects. Kaye sat on the CCEDNet board for eight years and currently is on the Manitoba Co-op Association Board as the CWCF representative, as well as the Peg City Car Co-op Board in Winnipeg.
Kaye has long had a passion towards poverty alleviation and equality and has focused her work with organizations that contribute to this mandate. She was introduced to the worker co-op model by her then-teenage son, and found the variety of tasks he was performing as a member of one intriguing. She ultimately found a way to pursue this interest at CWCF, where she appreciates the opportunity to work with its members.
Kaye’s two young adult children have shaped her work with their values of equity and collaboration, and she wants to help build up the worker co-op model so it offers more opportunities for young people to find fulfilling work. Increasing awareness of worker co-ops is one of her main goals.
Kaye is an avid cyclist, biking wherever and whenever she can, and is also committed to making cycling possible for everyone.
Based in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Kristin Van Hattem has served as CWCF’s Common Good Capital Program Manager and Bookkeeper since November of 2016. She has learned a great deal about worker co-ops during her time with the federation, and likes how they emphasize work-life balance and give employees a say in their working conditions. Kristin also appreciates that CWCF supports a national network of worker co-ops and how these organizations are concerned with wanting to make the world a better place. She is especially excited by the work being done by so many innovative co-ops and CEDIFs throughout Nova Scotia.
In her spare time, Kristin enjoys discovering new trails, parks and beaches with her family. She relaxes by reading, crafting and doing crossword puzzles.
Based in Calgary, Kenzie Love has served as CWCF’s Communications and Executive Assistant since 2017. A former journalist, he holds an MA in Journalism from Western University, and is pleased to have the chance to employ his research and writing skills with organizations including CWCF, the Canadian Unitarian Council, and Autism Calgary.
Kenzie has appreciated the chance to learn about worker co-ops in his role with the federation, and has particularly enjoyed the opportunity to connect with worker co-op members across Canada through the member profile series he writes for the newsletter. He hopes that he can make the worker co-op model better known and understood through his work.
In his spare time, Kenzie enjoys reading, pub trivia, choral music, and going for walks with his dog, Louis.
Based in Trent Hills, Ontario, Ven is a hands-on and curious Full Stack Software Engineer with a passion for contributing to the ever-changing technology landscape. They are excited to provide IT support at CWCF, following their term with ethical digital, where they honed their skills in data, programming, software development, and leadership.
Ven’s journey in the digital economy began with the Autism CanTech Program at Norquest College, and they built upon their knowledge through SAS certification and education from SAIT.
Ven’s dedication to being a transformational leader shines through their role as a change agent with digital companies, contributing to the development and enhancement of digital programs for organizations. Their supportive and compassionate nature fosters an environment where all stakeholders feel comfortable engaging in the rapidly evolving digital world. Driven by their pragmatic approach and dedication to excellence, Ven remains committed to staying up-to-date with the latest technologies.
Janielle is a passionate advocate for racial empowerment, equity, and the socio-economic progress of marginalized groups. She has been serving as the Project Coordinator for the Canadian Worker Co-op Federation’s JEDDI Business Conversion Project since September 2022, and is also a Master’s candidate; pursuing her degree with a focus on BIPOC farmers and small-scale agriculture. Her exposure to the co-op sector began during the completion of her MSc, where farmer co-ops were often referenced in an international agricultural framework as a means of navigating challenges in traditional agri-food chains.
Janielle is excited about the collective power we can create and sustain for Equity-Denied Groups, through a co-op/ Social Purpose Organization sector that is centered on equity, decolonization, and inclusion. Janielle holds a Bachelor’s degree in Food Science with a minor in French studies from the University of Guelph. She is a writer & poet who enjoys international cuisines, planting, and self expression through journaling & song, in her spare time.
Based in Montreal, Chloë Williams joined the CWCF team in August 2023 as the Executive Assistant. She first got involved with the co-operative sector as a worker-member and co-founder of the Hive Cafe Solidarity Co-operative at a student-run multi stakeholder co-op at Concordia University, where she is currently an active board member. She recently completed a Masters of Business Management, Co-operatives and Credit Unions out of Saint Mary’s University where she developed a passion for co-operative conversions as a means of succession planning. Chloë is excited by the opportunity to continue to grow her knowledge of the co-op sector while working with worker co-ops across Canada. When she isn’t busy organizing in her community or actively participating in democratic processes she can be found playing ultimate frisbee!
Based in Kentville, Nova Scotia, Josh Dyke has served as CWCF’s Common Good Capital Program Administrator since 2016, a position that has grown since he began the job to include more hours and interaction with investors. Josh had little knowledge of worker co-operatives before starting with CWCF, but has come to learn more about them through his work with the federation, including a course on co-op governance he took through CoopZone.
Josh likes working for CWCF because it’s good to its employees and responsive to employee needs. He also appreciates the values CWCF holds and how it tries to promote these through services such as the RRSP Program.
A graduate of Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Josh holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminology with minors in philosophy and psychology. In his spare time, he volunteers as a Beaver Scouter, which he enjoys for the opportunity it allows him and others to have fun.
Based in Kentville, Laura Ross has served as CWCF’s Common Good Capital Program Assistant since 2019. When she’s not working at CWCF, Laura owns and operates Deep Hollow Print, a letterpress printing and graphic design studio in the Annapolis Valley in Nova Scotia. Laura has been running Deep Hollow Print for over 5 years now, and has won two East Coast Music Awards for her design work in the music industry.
Laura has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English from the University of Wisconsin, as well as a Certificate in Book Publishing/Editing from Humber College in Toronto.
Laura has a couple of cooperative connections: she lived in an international housing cooperative in Madison, Wisconsin for three years, and her grandfather PD MacDonald was involved in the Antigonish co-operative movement in the 1940s. He started one of the first Credit Unions in Nova Scotia, which he managed until the late 1970s. She’s a big fan of the cooperative lifestyle and is proud to be working at CWCF!
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Based in Toronto, Reba Plummer has served on CWCFs board since 2010, and as board President since 2016. The Co-executive Director of Toronto’s Urbane Cyclist, Reba started out as the proprietor of her own bike shop before joining Urbane in 2000. She attended her first CWCF conference in 2006, and has been present at every one since. She is currently on the board of The Co-operators, having been nominated by CWCF, and previously served as the Greater Toronto Area Co-op Network Regional Manager for the Ontario Co-operative Association.
Having been a sole proprietor, Reba appreciates the shared responsibility that comes with belonging to a worker co-op. She finds that the co-op’s members have particularly demonstrated their commitment during the Covid-19 pandemic and stepped up to meet the challenges arising from it. She believes that Urbane’s members are committed to living out the co-op values in their work, seeking to create fair and equitable employment for all.
Reba believes a lack of understanding within the wider community remains a challenge for worker co-ops, and hopes to make them better understood. She would also like to grow CWCFs membership, and to ensure it has more resources available to support the creation of or conversion to worker co-ops.
An avid cyclist, Reba has completed the Adventure Cycling Association’s leadership training and has led several bicycle tours including the Eastern Canada Adventure, a two-week tour from Quebec City to Gaspé. She is also a two-time Cycle Messenger World Champion (cargo bike racing division).
Evan Proven has served on CWCF’s board since 2019. A co-founder and longtime board member of Sun Certified, Evan has worked in the construction field for his entire career starting in concrete and moving on to wood framing, cabinet making, and super insulated renovation and new home construction.
Evan achieved his Red Seal Endorsement in Carpentry in June of 2017, and holds a Master’s in Management in Co-operatives and Credit Unions from Saint Mary’s University in Halifax. A married father of two and stepfather of two, Evan’s hobbies include beekeeping, gardening, cooking, snowboarding, sailing, and fixing things.
A strong believer in Co-op Principle 6 (co-operation between co-ops), Evan believes Sun Certified has benefited from the networking opportunities membership in CWCF has offered, and wants to continue fostering these as a board member. Although he’s a firm believer in worker co-ops, Evan is aware of the challenges the movement faces, something he’s experienced both as a member of Sun Certified and witnessed elsewhere. But he’s hopeful that promoting the benefits of worker co-ops will succeed in growing the organization’s membership and increasing the movement’s diversity.
“I just personally believe co-operatives are a way better model of running a business and potentially running an economy,” he says. “I think that co-operatives have a really, really important role in balancing the economy and making sure that people have opportunities for meaningful employment that also pay a decent wage.”
Kelly Storie of La Siembra was acclaimed as a director-at-large for CWCF at its AGM in November, 2021 She believes now is an opportune time to serve in this position, as Canada’s worker co-op movement is well-positioned to seize hold of the growing interest in democratizing the workplace.
“I feel like a lot of work has been done by the leadership of CWCF, and the board of CWCF, to really bring the worker co-op movement to the forefront of that,” she says. “And with my many years of experience in governance and co-operative governance in particular, I just felt like this could be a good time for me to invest and contribute back to the movement that has been so supportive of La Siembra over its 22 years as a worker co-op.”
Kelly first began working for La Siembra in 2010. She has appreciated the supportive role membership in CWCF has played for the Co-op during its history, both in terms of technical support and in the friendships and knowledge the Co-op has gained from belonging to the wider community. Her prior experience with co-op governance includes terms as a board member for Your Credit Union of Ottawa where she chaired the Audit Committee, and the Ontario Co-op Association, and she currently serves on the board of Equal Exchange.
Kelly wishes that everyone knew that worker co-ops are like any other business structurally and must operate accordingly to be successful, but that they can also do so in a way that is democratically organized, equitable, and has social value.
Leslie Brown is Professor Emerita in the Sociology Department , Mount Saint Vincent University, Halifax where her work has involved teaching, research, policy analysis, and knowledge dissemination. She credits her doctoral thesis on “New Wave” retail food co-operatives with launching her on a career studying co-ops and co-operation, in Canada and abroad. Research methodologies that prioritize collaboration with community-based groups and organizations have proven particularly fruitful in studying the role co-operatives can play in building community, democratizing the economy, providing vital services, and offering concrete examples toward a vision of a more inclusive, equitable, and sustainable society.
As a volunteer, Leslie has served in leadership positions in community planning projects, credit unions, and various types of co-ops. Since 2020 she has been member-at- large on the board of Flourish Community Development Co-operative, a consulting co-operative. As a new board member of the CWCF Leslie says “I am excited to have the opportunity to work with Board members, staff and CWCF members who are committed to supporting worker co-operatives across the country. There is no doubt in my mind that worker co-operatives have a vital part to play in helping us imagine, and build, a better world.”
Jessica Provencher has served on CWCF’s board since 2011. She got her introduction to worker co-ops as a bartender at La Barberie, a microbrewery in Quebec City. During her time there, she spent six years as head of co-operative life, representing the co-op at conferences and on various boards. She is currently on the board of The Co-operators, having been nominated by CWCF.
Serving on the board has allowed Jessica to learn more about worker co-ops in the rest of Canada, and to bring her experience from the Quebec sector to CWCF. She believes she’s benefited from building relationships with members of the worker co-op sector who share common values in spite of geographical separation, and learning that there were more people committed to worker co-ops in Canada than she believed.
“That gave me faith and confidence that there were a lot of people in Canada and throughout the world that wanted this model to be more dynamic and more well-known,” she says. “So I think how I’ve benefited the most is it kept me motivated to work in worker co-ops and to help and support them to be viable.”
Jessica believes in the worker co-op model because it empowers workers in both their work lives and other areas, and thus helps create stronger communities. She also believes CWCF has both a challenge and an opportunity in the coming years to grow Canada’s worker co-op sector, and that issues such as the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, and precarious employment make this especially timely.
“I think the worker co-op movement can be a very good example of how it works when people come together and share the power and responsibilities in organizations,” she says.
Chris Nichols is co-founder and general manager of Wood Shop Worker’s Co-op, a furniture and millwork co-op operating out of Vancouver, BC. With a Masters in Social and Political Thought and over 10 years carpentry experience, he likes to get his hands dirty, both literally and figuratively. He lives in East Vancouver in a co-owned house with his wife and two-year old son.
With the life motto of “The world hasn’t been given us to contemplate but to transform” (Arizmendiarrieta), Tara is inspired not only by the potential of Co-operatives as a whole but by the strength of the Worker Co-operative movement to lead this change towards a transformed future.
Tara (she/her) is a bi-racial woman of Cantonese American-born Chinese and White Canadian-born English, Welsh and Dutch descent. She grew up and now lives on the lands of the Coast Salish Peoples, the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) səl̓ílwətaʔɬ /Selilwitulh (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations and has immigrant roots to the lands of the Muwekma Ohlone peoples. She acknowledges her privilege of being a cisgender settler, masters educated, neurotypical, partial woman of colour and how this impacts her lived experience.
As a visionary leader in the Co-operative landscape, Tara leverages her expertise to shape strategic visions and curate collaborative experiences. A founding Member of GIA Consulting Co-operative, she supports Co-ops and Impact-based businesses to build comprehensive and actionable solutions in Member Engagement, Marketing, Human Resources, business and strategic planning and incorporation, setting the stage for Co-operative success. With a profound understanding of the Co-operative model’s potential, Tara champions its power to dismantle systemic barriers and foster inclusive growth.
Tara has worked at Vancity Credit Union for over 16 years in a variety of roles from Human Resources, Marketing, Member Engagement, Project Management, Product Management, Payments, Systems, Policies and Processes, Technology, and Operations. She is passionate about building community and, where asked, being a strong ally, using her voice and power to amplify those of others.
Tara also acts as the lead of Vancity’s Women’s Equity Employee Resource Group and previously lead the Women’s Networking organization Bringing Women Together. Through these groups, Tara has actively challenged the limitations of white feminism, pushing for a truly intersectional understanding of women’s struggles.
Tara has served on several Co-operative Boards including as Co-Chair and HR Lead for Terminal City Glass Co-operative – the first Glass Blowing Not-for-Profit Producer Co-op in Canada, the Co-operative Management Education Alumni and Student Co-operative where she held several roles including President and the Co-operative Management Education Co-operative.
Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido, MBA, is a co-founder of Black Women Professional Worker Cooperative. She is a Strategist & Visionary of F.L.O.W initiative: Financial Literacy & Opportunities for Women, a syndicated, invite-only series of experiential sessions, retreats and podcasts for women leaders, professionals and entrepreneurs. Her other activities and accomplishments include:
Co-Founder, Whole WoMan Network and i.S.E.R.V.E.2050 social enterprises; Nwanyibuife for women/youths, with a mission to raise up a new generation of Transformational, Ethical & Creative African Leaders.
Founder, POETRY4Change & SEED4Her/SEED4Him Leadership Initiatives for African Youths.
Passionate social justice advocate for Gender Equity, Quality Public School Education, Financial Literacy & Empowerment programs, especially in the delivery of certification trainings, seminars and workshops on Self-leadership, Transformational Leadership, Community Development & Wealth creation.
Dynamic Speaker and Trainer on Social Enterprise, Transformational Leadership and results-based Coaching, with a focus on empowering rural women to build sustainable and resilient cooperatives and communities.
Strategic Interventionist, delivering Experiential workshops for Women Professionals and Entrepreneurs on Work-Life Choices, and how to achieve Excellence & Success in the New Empathy-Driven, Data-Value-Based Economy. Author of upcoming books: “UN-Locking Your HeArt of Leadership”; Collections of Short Stories and Poems: “Conversations With An Amichi GrandMother” & “Today, I Will Not Bow.” She is a Sun Life Financial advisor.
Nasreen Omar is the Chair of the Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op in Edmonton. She migrated to Canada 47 years ago. She has been with the Co-op for the last 25 years. She retired as a Multicultural Program Coordinator from Alberta Health Services (University of Alberta Hospital) after 20 years of service.
She has a B.A. in Sociology and Master’s in Library Science. In both her jobs, Alberta Health Services and Multicultural Health Brokers Co-op, she has been a master trainer of Intercultural Competency. She has an extensive experience in community education. She does a Punjabi radio program, South Asian Men’s, and Women’s support group. She also does community education in parenting in two cultures and general health. She is an active educator of the worker co-op at the MCHB. She researches, designs and delivers workshops to relevant conferences.