Recognition from Peers at the CCMA 2018 Awards Banquet

Durham Co-op Market Cooperative Innovation and Achievement Award
Sugar Beet Co-op named Startup of the Year 2018
Sugar Beet Co-op named Startup of the Year 2018
The Cooperative Service Award went to  Barry Smith, GM of Flatbush Co-op
The Cooperative Service Award went to Barry Smith, GM of Flatbush Co-op
Laura Miklowitz received a Board Service Award
Laura Miklowitz received a Board Service Award
BriarPatch Co-op received the Cooperative Excellence Award
BriarPatch Co-op received the Cooperative Excellence Award
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The annual granting of CCMA awards for excellence and service is managed by the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF: with assistance from past winners of these awards and sponsor support from National Co+op Grocers. CDF also manages several cooperative funds including the Howard Bowers Fund, whose board grants scholarships for food co-op education and training, including CCMA attendance. Over $40,000 in grants to co-ops were made by the Bowers Fund in 2017, and a silent auction of donated items, held during the conference, raised added thousands of dollars. (Find the Fund at

With a quick series of inspirational images, Stuart Reid and Jacqueline Hannah from Food Co-op Initiative (FCI) presented reminders of the past decade’s resurgence of food co-op startups. Presently, FCI is working with 120 startup groups across the country. Adding to their encouraging report, the National Co-op Bank announced a $100,000 grant to FCI to further its work.

Startup of the Year is awarded by FCI to a recently launched co-op that is achieving outstanding results. This year, recognition went to Sugar Beet Co-op in Oak Park, Illinois, and the conference audience got a glimpse of its snappy look and impressive accomplishments. In its second year, ending mid-2017, Sugar Beet ( achieved strong growth in owners, services, and profitability, with sales reaching $3.6 million. Recently, the co-op was positioned for further improvements by being accepted as a member of National Co+op Grocers. The award was received on behalf of Sugar Beet by Chris Roland, its general manager.

Cooperative Excellence recognizes a retail that has made significant progress in meeting member needs. BriarPatch Co-op (Grass Valley, California) was introduced by Carolee Colter of CDS Consulting Co-op, who noted the co-op’s extremely high employee satisfaction, its strong organizational unity, and its growing community impact. In the current year it anticipates sales of around $33 million and an ownership base exceeding 10,000. Some 14 BriarPatch board members and staff were present to accept the award and the crowd’s applause.

In recognition of Cooperative Innovation and Achievement, Steve Saltzman from Self-Help Credit Union had nominated Durham Community Market, and his colleague at Self-Help, Darrow Isaacman-VanWertz, presented the award. Led by its general manager, Leila Wolfrum, Durham Community Market is a consumer/worker hybrid. Now in its fourth year, it has grown strongly and profitably and is a member of National Co+op Grocers. Known for its thinking outside the box, Durham Community Market is expanding co-op impact by hiring a very diverse workforce and delivering outstanding community outreach programs—including weekly $3 dinners that attract hundreds of people to cooperative food and culture.

Two awards were given for Cooperative Board Service in recognition of outstanding dedication and leadership in governance. Michael Healy of CDS Consulting Co-op introduced Laura Miklowitz of Hendersonville (N.C.) Community Co-op, who has served for 17 years and is the board facilitator. After joining the board during a period of turmoil, Miklowitz was a driving force in a major and successful expansion of the co-op. 

The second award for board service went to Alan Weisberg of BriarPatch Co-op, an effective leader in the evolution of this very successful co-op. The large BriarPatch contingent, their co-op having received the award for excellence, came up front in order to thank Weisberg, who joined the board in 2004 and also was the first person from that co-op ever to attend CCMA. 

Bill Gessner of CDS Consulting Co-op gave a stirring introduction to Barry Smith of Flatbush Food Co-op (Brooklyn, N.Y.), with further tribute from the co-op’s board president, Sheila Lieberman. Smith started this co-op in his basement in 1976 and has been its general manager ever since, 42 years to date. Presently at $17 million in annual sales and operated by a staff that reflects its extremely diverse community, Flatbush Co-op generates sales per square foot at more than twice the national food co-op average. Lieberman noted that Barry’s life has been equally dedicated to the greater co-op world during all those years; Gessner commented that he has “a tremendous set of skills that he hides from everyone” (including “worrying”). Barry Smith received a standing ovation and an award for his remarkable Cooperative Service. •

AWARDS PHOTOS (from top)

Board President Drew Peng, board member Beth Hopping, General Manager Leila Wolfram, and Darrow Issacman-VanWertz of Self Help Credit Union accept the Cooperative Innovation and Achievement Award on behalf of Durham Co-op Market, one of the announced co-op hosts (with Weaver Street Market) of CCMA 2019. 

Stuart Reid and Jacqueline Hannah of Food Co-op Initiative present Sugar Beet Co-op General Manager Chris Roland with the golden grocery cart, the award for  Startup of the Year.

Bill Gessner of CDS Consulting Co-op, and Flatbush Co-op board members Vice President Charlotte Chaykin-Mirer and President Sheila Lieberman, honor General Manager Barry Smith for Cooperative Service.

Laura Miklowitz, board director and facilitator at Henderson Community Co-op, accepts a Cooperative Board Service award after an introduction by Michael Healy of CDS Consulting Co-op. 

Members of the board and staff from BriarPatch Food Co-op. General Manager Chris Maher, 3rd from left, accepted the Cooperative Excellence Award on behalf of BriarPatch. Board President Alan Weisberg, 9th from left, received an award for Cooperative Board Service.

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