Jasper Schneider is a Vice President of Member & Industry at National Information Solutions Cooperative’s (NISC). Schneider brings expertise in technology, law, finance, and rural policy to NISC. Prior to his current role, for six years Schneider ran a federal agency at both a state and national level, leading USDA’s Rural Utility Service as State Director in North Dakota, and as acting Administrator in Washington, DC. Schneider is also a former lawmaker, serving in the North Dakota Legislature. Prior to Schneider’s public service career, Schneider had a law practice and also started a successful technology company covering the computer hardware industry. Schneider also worked at Cisco Systems, prior to obtaining his law degree from Hamline University School of Law, in St. Paul, MN. Schneider and his wife have four children, and make their home in North Dakota.
Julie Cram is the Deputy Assistant Administrator in the Bureau for Economic Growth, Education and Environment (E3) at the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Her portfolio includes the Offices of Education and Local Sustainability. In this position, she oversees the development and implementation of USAID’s strategy and policies in the education sector, as well as the implementation of USAID grant programs aimed at promoting locally-owned and led development efforts.
Julie also serves as Senior Coordinator of United States International Basic Education Assistance. In this capacity, she is responsible for the oversight and coordination of all resources and activities relating to the promotion of international basic education, including the development of a comprehensive U.S. strategy for international basic education in consultation with other U.S. government agencies and external stakeholders.
Prior to joining USAID in January 2018, Julie was an advocacy and public affairs expert with more than 18 years of experience in issue advocacy, communications and government affairs from high-level posts in both the federal government and the private sector.
Mark Cayce has served as General Manager and CEO of Ouachita Electric Cooperative since 2002, where he brings experience working with investor-owned utilities and electric cooperatives specializing in energy efficiency, customer service and local management. Mark also serves as Chairman of Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation.
Ouachita Electric Cooperative was recently recognized by the Smart Electric Power Alliance as the 2017 Electric Cooperative of the Year. Mark was named as one of the top 40 electric utility innovators in 2017 by Public Utilities Fortnightly, and was recognized by Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas Department of Environmental Quality with the 2018 Energy Excellence Award for partnering with South Arkansas Telephone Company to merge solar energy and fiber optic internet while bringing fiber optic internet to rural South Arkansas.
Jamila Medley is a passionate advocate and educator for the advancement and growth of the cooperative economy. She is executive director of the Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA).
Jamila was introduced to the co-op business model at Mariposa Food Co-op in West Philadelphia. She is experienced in creating and facilitating workshops and trainings focused on examining participatory leadership principles and how to practice them. Throughout her career, Jamila has strengthened organizations by helping their stakeholders gain knowledge and skills that enable them to participate fully in their roles as staff, board members, and volunteers.
Jamila holds a master’s degree in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania and earned her bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies at Connecticut College. She serves on the board of directors for Media Mobilizing Project and also works as a consultant with CDS Consulting Co-op.
Michael Lindsay is a partner in the law firm of Dorsey & Whitney LLP, where he has practiced for over 30 years. He is co-chair of the Commercial Litigation and Antitrust Practice Groups at Dorsey. His practice focuses on antitrust matters, in litigation, M&A transactions and client counseling. His antitrust practice has spanned numerous industries, including airlines, agriculture, consumer electronics, energy and electricity, food retailing, medical devices and medical equipment and standards development. His broad litigation experience includes antitrust, patents and trademarks, securities, product liability, insurance coverage, and general commercial litigation. He has advised a wide variety of cooperatives for two decades.
Michael graduated from The University of Chicago Law School and Marquette University, and he also studied at the London School of Economics. After law school he clerked for Judge Richard Posner at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
Michael serves as Articles Editor for Antitrust magazine. He was the Vice-Chair of the ABA Antitrust Section’s Trial Practice Committee (2004-2008) and Chair (2005-06) of the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Antitrust Section. He has taught antitrust as an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School and the University of St. Thomas Law School.
Evan Casper-Futterman is the Director of the Economic Democracy Learning Center at the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative, and has been a board member of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City since 2016. He received a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of New Orleans, and was a White House Intern in the Domestic Policy Council’s Office of Urban Affairs. He is a Doctoral Candidate (ABD) at the Bloustein School of Urban Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University, studying economic democracy.
Gerardo Alberto De León has been Commercial Manager of FEDECOCAGUA, the federation of coffee cooperatives in Guatemala, since 1981. In this role, he is responsible for setting prices with affiliated cooperatives at the local level for their coffee and to sell it on the international market.
His daily work is about bridging coffee as a physical product cultivated by small producers in FEDECOCAGUA’s member cooperatives and coffee sold as a commodity fixed on the New York Stock Exchange Future Market known as “C” contract (for cocoa, sugar and coffee).
His long career as a Coffee Commercial Manager enables him to have a complete understanding about the challenges and opportunities of cooperatives in an international market.
FEDECOCAGUA currently exports 350,000 coffee bags of 69 kg per year, amounting to a growth in volume of 500 percent since 1989. FEDECOCAGUA is currently the second largest coffee exporter in Guatemala. While the others exporters in the top 10 list are multinational companies, FEDECOCAGUA is the only local entity.
Mike Keyser is the Chief Executive Officer at BARC Electric Cooperative, a rural Virginia electric cooperative located three hours southwest of Washington DC, serving 13,000 members. During his seven years at BARC, the cooperative has launched several groundbreaking projects, including a community solar array (the first and only in Virginia), and a system-wide fiber-to-the-home project to bring gigabit Internet, voice and video service to all BARC members.
Prior to joining BARC, Mike spent four years as the CEO of the American Samoa Power Authority (ASPA), a utility located in American Samoa. ASPA is the third-largest employer in American Samoa, employing about 450 employees and providing electric, water, wastewater and trash service to all five islands. Mike holds an undergraduate degree in Business from Washington State University and a law degree from Seattle University School of Law, and is a member of the Washington State and American Samoa bars.
Vernon Oakes is president and founder of Oakes management Inc., co-founder of Washington Venture Partners and host of Everything Co-op, a weekly radio broadcast. He has a strong background in management and operations developed in corporate and entrepreneurial environments. Vernon has significant experience in a wide range of business activities including finance, marketing, sales, sales forecasting, distribution and service, and systems design—both national and international. He has nine years of teaching experience at the college level, and two years training of adults for the Department of Interior. Five years ago Vernon began hosting Everything Co-op, a radio broadcast that has become an integral component of the national cooperative movement.
Vernon has extensive and varied experience in identifying and pursuing opportunities in both domestic and international markets including Europe, Canada, Caribbean, Asia and Africa. Skills include the ability to develop or enhance marketing information, pricing and costing systems. As a past director of International Marketing for a Fortune 100 Corporation, Vernon has successfully developed innovative distributor parts sales programs, programs for distributor inventory management, worldwide parts pricing strategies and market studies.
While serving as President of the National Association of Housing Cooperatives, the marketing team decided to launch a show in honor of National Co-op Month. The show was only scheduled to last one month, but the response to the broadcast helped Vernon to realize the importance of the show, and the integral role it could play in broadening the awareness of cooperatives. With the support of National Cooperative Bank and a personal investment, Vernon has been hosting Everything Co-op for almost five years. He is committed to helping people learn about the cooperative business model because he believes it can help the country solve many of the problems its facing in this post-recession era. This year, Vernon received the “Lifetime Achievement Award” from the Potomac Association of Housing Cooperatives and the “Spirit of Cooperative Award” from the National Cooperative Bank.
Vernon received a master’s degree in Business Administration in Marketing and Finance from Stanford University, a master’s degree in Mathematics from Penn State University and a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Chemistry from Bluefield State College.
Amanda Daubert is the Director of Services at Furniture First Cooperative. Amanda has been with Furniture First for more than sixteen years and is responsible for building and maintaining partnerships for all services offered to the Furniture First members. This includes consumer financing, furniture/mattress protection plans, POS systems and more. Additionally, she oversees the Furniture First Member Performance groups.
Amanda also works to bring new members into the group, explaining in detail how Furniture First can benefit their business. Once a new member joins, she coordinates new member events to ensure total member engagement. She founded the Furniture First NextGen Group and continues to expand participation. Furniture First understands the value of getting the NextGen more involved, and showing them the importance of Furniture First, ensuring they continue their membership for generations to come.
Amanda has her bachelor’s degree from Elizabethtown College and recently completely her MBA, also through Elizabethtown College. She was also recently honored by the Home Furnishings Business by being selected for their Forty Under 40 “Matching Passion with Purpose.” She is married with three very active children. Additionally, she founded a “Mom’s for Make A Wish” softball team that focuses on fundraising to help grant the wishes of children in need.
David Cook practices in the Autry, Hall and Cook, LLP’s cooperative law group. In his cooperative practice, he has advised numerous cooperatives on cooperative operation and governance, member-relations, patronage capital management and cooperative taxation.
David is one of a few attorneys who specialize in cooperative taxation. Cooperatives receive various tax benefits under state and federal tax law. Cooperatives and their subsidiaries can be structured in ways to maximize such benefits and minimize any negative risk factors. Thus, cooperatives should seek advice from tax attorneys who specialize in cooperative law and taxation. David has advised taxable and tax-exempt cooperatives on tax issues ranging from proper cooperative operation, treatment of patronage capital and patronage dividends, classification of income as patronage or non-patronage, and compliance with Subchapter T, common-law, and tax-exempt cooperative tax rules and regulations. He also advises cooperatives in connection with their core business transactions, as well as transactions involving their affiliates and subsidiaries.
David received his Juris Doctor from Mercer University, Walter F. George School of Law, in 2005. He received his master’s degree in Accounting from Georgia College and State University, and a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in Accounting from Mercer University.
Renee Hatcher is a human rights and community development lawyer. She is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the newly named Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Law Clinic at The John Marshall Law School-Chicago, a pro bono legal clinic that provides free legal support to community-based businesses, non-profits, cooperatives and other solidarity economy enterprises. Prior to joining John Marshall Law School, Renee taught in the Community Development Clinic at the University of Baltimore School of Law and served a post-doctoral appointment at the University of Texas-Austin's Institute for Urban Policy Research and Analysis. Previously, Renee served as a staff attorney and project director for the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights (CLC), where she directed a community development law project providing legal services to entrepreneurs, community-based organizations, and individuals interested in expunging their criminal history to create better opportunities for local marginalized communities.
Renee currently serves as the national co-chair for the U.S. Human Rights Network Working Group on Equality and Nondiscrimination, co-chair of the AALS Clinicians of Color Subcommittee, and a member of the Law for Black Lives Clinic Cohort Development Team. She received her law degree from New York University School of Law and her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Indiana University-Bloomington. Her work and research focus on solidarity economy theory/practice and the law.
Jonathan White is the Director of Private Sector Partnerships and Foundations at NCBA CLUSA with over 15 years of international development experience. He is responsible for establishing partnerships with companies, foundations, government donors and NGOs in support of programs aimed at increasing farmer productivity, natural resource management, food security and cooperative strengthening. Previously, he was the Senior Advisor for East Africa at World Vision U.S. where he oversaw a $120 million portfolio of community development programs. At the German Marshall Fund of the United States (GMF), he implemented grants focused on researching barriers to agriculture value chains and trade in Africa. At A.T. Kearney, he developed strategies for emerging market governments seeking to attract foreign direct investment. He’s a visiting professor at Allegheny College where he teaches U.S. foreign aid. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Allegheny College and a master’s degree from Johns Hopkins University.
Esteban Kelly is Executive Director of the U.S. Federation of Worker Co-ops (USFWC) and a co-founder and the first board President of the cross-sector Philadelphia Area Cooperative Alliance (PACA).
Esteban is a visionary leader and compassionate strategist who inspires organizers by drawing on science fiction, social theory and collective liberation. Esteban has been a professional facilitator for more than 20 years, harnessing creative energy and organizational skills to advance food sovereignty, solidarity economy and cooperative business, gender justice and queer liberation, and movements for racial justice. In that vein, he co-founded AORTA (Anti-Oppression Resource & Training Alliance), a worker co-op devoted to strengthening movements for social justice and a solidarity economy by building the capacity of leaders, projects, co-ops and other value-aligned organizations through education, facilitation and consulting.
Formally introduced to cooperatives as an undergraduate in the student housing co-ops at UC Berkeley, Esteban soon began organizing co-ops across Canada and the U.S. with the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO). He was inducted into NASCO’s Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2011 in recognition of his ten years of service—including seven years on their board and three years working as their Director of Education and Training.
Esteban previously worked as Development Director and then Staff Director for the New Economy Coalition (formerly the think-tank known as the New Economics Institute). From 2009 – 2011, Esteban served as Vice President of the USFWC and a board member of the Democracy At Work Institute (DAWI). He was also on the boards of the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) and the U.S. Solidarity Economy Network (SEN). He has served on the board of NCBA CLUSA since 2011 and is an advisor to the international network of artist-activist trainers, Beautiful Trouble.
Naphtal Barasa Etyang is the Chief of Party for NCBA CLUSA’s Youth Empowerment Through Agriculture (YETA) program funded by the MasterCard Foundation. He has been in this position since 2016. He has more than 14 years of professional experience in community-based programming, social leadership and rural development, with an emphasis on youth, cooperative development and marketing.
Before joining YETA, he was the Chief of Party for Winrock International under the USAID-funded Yes Youth Can! Project in Kenya, where he was responsible for leading a team in facilitating youth empowerment through job creation, income generation, employability and access to finance. This program mobilized over 135,000 youth and helped them organize into groups, gain entrepreneurship skills and launch businesses. Nearly 700,000 youth benefited from civil education and 55,000 youth were trained in SACCO management, resulting in $20 million in loans.
Naphtal previously worked with NCBA CLUSA Kenya for eight years on youth, agricultural and health programs. He is an experienced field trainer and program manager with expertise in the CLUSA Approach and the Cooperative Principles. He’s experienced in integrating health issues (e.g. HIV/AIDS, TB and family planning) into community development and youth activities. He has a master’s degree in Development Studies from Moi University. He also has post-graduate diplomas in Social Leadership and Rural Development (Xavier University) as well as Sales and Marketing (Kenya Polytechnic University) in addition to a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology (Moi University).
Sambou Coly focuses on responsible finance and agriculture. Before joining Mastercard Foundation, Sambou was the Country Manager of Oikocredit-Senegal where he was responsible for the overall management of the microfinance/agriculture portfolio and for the West Africa private equity portfolio. He has extensive field experience in Senegal, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Mali, Benin and Ivory Coast. He is multilingual, speaking English, French and Wolof. Sambou began his career as a banker where he spent 10 years working with the Laurentian Bank of Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and with Citibank. Sambou earned an Executive MBA from the University of Quebec in Montreal/Institute of Canadian Bankers and a Diploma from HEC Montreal.
Tarun Bhargava, the Deputy General Manager of the Sustainable Cooperative Development team at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative (IFFCO), is an Executive Member of ICAO, a sectoral organization of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). His portfolio involves working with approximately 36,000 member cooperative societies in the agricultural sector in India.
Tarun graduated from BITS Pilani as a Chemical Engineer and spent much of his career manufacturing phosphatic and nitrogenous fertilizers as well as contributing to the development of IT-based business solutions for cooperative development. He works extensively with the international community to contribute to building stronger agricultural cooperatives.
Mo Valko started as the Marketing Manager at Boise Co-op in 2015. She’s been working in local food and cooperatives for 10 years. She is passionate about localized economies, growing the co-op’s impact and incorporating sustainable practices into daily operations. She helped introduce a composting partnership to the co-op (diverting 14 tons of organic matter from the waste stream annually), oversaw the recognition of the Boise Co-op as a silver level Bicycle Friendly Business, and currently serves as a Livability Ambassador for the City of Boise. She loves mountaineering, taking photographs, cooking and running Boise’s many trails with her dog.
Bryon Stilley served as the operations manager for Chariton Valley Electric Cooperative for seven years before taking over as the general manager/CEO in April 2015.
The cooperative serves 6,100 meters with 1,400 miles of overhead & underground electric lines in South-Central Iowa. It serves parts of seven counties, including the city of Albia. With a small team of 20, Chariton Valley works hands-on with one another on a variety of projects within the cooperative.
Bryon has been working with cooperatives in the upper Midwest for three decades. He began his career as an apprentice lineman in the late 1980s and worked his way up through the cooperative family as a journeyman lineman, assistant manager of Engineering, and operations manager.
Rob Ardis is the president and CEO of Santee Electric Cooperative in Kingstree, South Carolina. He has bachelor’s degrees in math, physics and electrical engineering as well as an MBA. He is a licensed professional engineer. He has published numerous papers on peak shaving via conservation voltage reduction. His wife, Shannon, is a physical therapist. The couple enjoys watching their 14-year-old son, Cade, play football and baseball; and their 12-year-old daughter, Ava, play volleyball.