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Upcoming Webinars 

About Guild Webinars 

Webinars are a free benefit of membership in the Cooperative Professionals Guild! Nonmembers may register for a small fee. The Guild holds webinars monthly, generally on the third or fourth Thursday in the month, at 10am Pacific/11am Mountain/noon Central/1pm Eastern. Most webinars are offered for CLE credit in California and select other states. If you have a suggestion for a webinar topic or presenter (including yourself), or if you're a Guild member who would like to participate in the volunteer Webinar Circle that plans the webinar series, please email webinarcircle@professionals.coop.  We particularly welcome presenters from communities whose voices are under-represented in our economy. 

Past Webinars 2021 to Date Recordings of our past webinars listed below are available to members without charge in the Member Resources area when logged in as a member.

January 26, 2023 - Basic Cooperative Taxation Featuring Teree Castanias and Brett Huston, CPAs

In this first of our series on Cooperative Taxation, Teree Castanias and Brett Huston, both CPAs, will present the basic rules of Subchapter T of the Internal Revenue Code and describe how those rules affect a cooperative's tax return, Form 1120-C. This session will be helpful for anyone who wants to know what tax rules are required for a cooperative.  Future sessions will go into further depth on these rules.

December 8, 2022 - A conversation with Dr. Karama Neal, Administrator of USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service.

Presented  Dr. Karama Neal, Administrator of USDA Rural Business Cooperative Service. Continuing legal education will be offered for the state of California.. Dr. Neal will be discussing USDA's strategic plan and Rural Development's priorities including:

  • Advancing racial justice, place-based equity, and opportunity
  • Addressing climate change and environmental justice, and 
  • Assisting rural communities to recover economically through more and better market opportunities and through improved infrastructure.
  • The webinar will also address implementation of funding for cooperatives from the Inflation Reduction Act. 

November 2022 - Bankruptcy: an Opportunity for Cooperative Conversions?

Bankruptcy legal expert Iain Macdonald discusses how subchapter 5 of Chapter 11 can reposition businesses burdened by debt and allow cooperatives to make a streamlined purchase of the distressed business' assets. This webinar offers CLE in California.

Iain is a partner in the law firm Macdonald Fernandez LLP and has practiced bankruptcy law for over 40 years, primarily in the courts of the Northern and Eastern Districts of California.  He attended the University of San Francisco School of Law and has taught bankruptcy and commercial law at the Law School since 1984.

October 22, 2022 - Union Co-ops and Labor Law. 

In this webinar, Professor Ariana Levinson discusses legal issues relating to union labor law in the context of cooperatives, with a focus on the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The presentation will also address the questions of “what is a union co-op” and “why have a union if you already work for a co-op.” Examples of labor law issues that arise in the context of worker-owned cooperatives include whether worker-owners are covered by the NLRA, whether co-ops can express a pro-union stance in their by-laws or other documents, whether co-ops can express a neutral position in their by-laws or other documents, and whether co-ops can lawfully form committees of workers to address terms and conditions of employment without a union.

Learning objectives: After this webinar, you will be able to:

a. Tell someone what the NLRA is and the types of situations it covers;

b. Explain what a union co-op is and what may be beneficial about one; 

c. Identify issues that might arise under the NLRA when dealing with a union co-op

Optional pre-reading for this webinar includes:

"What's a Union Cooperative," by Barry Craig interviewing Ariana Levinson for the Kentucky AFL-CIO News, March 25, 2021.

Breaking New Ground: Social Movement Theory and the Cincinnati Union Co-op," by Ariana Levinson, published in Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal (2022)

 "Union Co-ops and the Revival of Labor Law," by Ariana Levinson, from 462 CARDOZO J. OF CONFLICT RESOLUTION [Vol. 19:453] 

Presenter:

Ariana Levinson is a Distinguished Teaching Professor at University of Louisville Brandeis School of Law whose scholarship and teaching focus on labor and employment law issues and practical legal skills. Ariana is a fellow in the Rutgers School of Management & Labor Relations Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership & Profit Sharing. She has published five law review articles, and several news and policy briefs, about cooperatives.  Her latest article about union co-ops was recently published in the Employee Responsibilities & Rights Journal.

Prior to teaching at Brandeis School of Law, Ariana taught at USC Gould School of Law and at UCLA School of Law. She clerked for the Honorable John G. Davies (United States District Court, Central District of California) and for the Honorable Myra C. Selby (Supreme Court of Indiana) and practiced labor law, including serving as a fellow for the AFL-CIO's Legal Department. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School. During law school, she served as a contributing editor on the Michigan Law Review and was awarded the Robert S. Feldman Labor Law Award for the most outstanding work in that field. She has also received a faculty favorite award from the University of Louisville Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning multiple times. She was awarded a University Distinguished Teaching Award in Recognition of Exemplary Teaching in 2019.

September 22, 2022 - Discussion of Diné Nihi Kéyah Project: Mapping Navajo Nation Land History, Law and Custom 

Details: Last July 21, Cooperative Professionals Guild hosted a conversation entitled "Decolonizing the Cooperative Movement: Personal and Professional Experiences of CPG Attorneys and other Allies."  In this September webinar, the dialog continues with a presentation on the unfolding "Diné Nihi Kéyah Project: Mapping Navajo Nation Land History, Law and Custom," which is gathering together information needed by communities on the Navajo Nation in order to begin envisioning a tribal future, from communities up. (Please see https://dinelanduse.org/.) CLE is available for this webinar. Presentation will be by Josey Foo, Executive Director of Indian Country Grassroots Support, which is serving as the project coordinator, and Gloria Dennison, a community matriarch.

In order to serve clients in a culturally competent way and to work towards communities' ultimate goals, lawyers need a unified vision from communities--the communities' clear vision, however impractical, and however illegal it may presently seem, especially if it seems out of reach. In the Diné Journey Narratives, we emerged through darkness, beauty, disorder, then to our present heroic tests asked of each of us, not only to preserve our Diné way of life, but the existence of the Fourth World. Many lawyers already understand that change needs to happen. The urgent part for communities is, If communities themselves do not put forward their visions, there is nothing lawyers can do. Thus, we are inviting our members and friends to engage in deep listening with us. 

Diné Nihi Kéyah (our land) Project is a project of Indian Country Grassroots Support.

August 25, 2022 - Federation of Southern Cooperatives’ Dãnia Davy to Give Update on Farmer Debt Relief Provision in American Rescue Plan Act

Dãnia Davy, Director of Land Retention and Advocacy with Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, will discuss the litigation about debt relief for socially disadvantaged farmers and give an update on the farmer debt relief provisions of the American Rescue Plan Act.

CLE Credit will be available in California.

Background:

Alleging unconstitutional reverse discrimination, Texas Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller in his capacity as a private citizen filed suit to invalidate a Congressionally authorized debt relief program administered by the USDA. Miller v. Vilsack, No. 4:21-cv-0595-O (N.D. Tex. Apr. 26, 2021).

Under § 1005 of the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the Secretary of Agriculture is authorized to pay up to 120 percent of the outstanding USDA-guaranteed loans of each socially disadvantaged farmer or rancher. ARPA § 1005(a)(2), 135 Stat. at 12–13. Socially disadvantaged farmers or ranchers are defined as having been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice because of their identity as member of a group without regard to their individual qualities. They may include (but are not limited to) American Indians or Alaskan Natives; Asians; Blacks or African Americans; Native Hawaiians or other Pacific Islanders; and Hispanics or Latino. 7 U.S.C. § 2279(a) and Notice of Funds Availability; American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Section 1005 Loan Payment (ARPA), 86 Fed. Reg. 28,329, 28,330 (May 26, 2021). Suit was also filed by white farmers in Wisconsin and Florida. Faust v. Vilsack, 519 F. Supp. 3d 470 (E.D. Wis. 2021) (No. 1:21-cv-00548) and Wynn v. Vilsack, 545 F. Supp. 3d 1271 (M.D. Fla. 2021). The USDA had begun issuing debt forgiveness offers, but was enjoined by all three courts from continuing to distribute funds under the theory that the provision ran afoul of the Constitution’s Equal Protection clause. The Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund was allowed to join the Miller action in recent litigation.

According to a news account, Congressional Democrats have drafted a provision that would replace ARPA § 1005(a)(2) with an $11 billion program that would provide debt relief to “economically distressed” and “at-risk” farmers who potentially could be white. Another bill S 2023, HR 3782, Relief for America’s Small Farmers Act, would provide loan forgiveness of up to $250,000 for certain borrowers who are actively engaged in farming, have an average annual adjusted gross income of $300,000 or less over the previous five years, and have certain Department of Agriculture farm loans.

Presenter:  Dãnia Davy serves as Director of Land Retention and Advocacy at the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund, which is the largest and oldest cooperatively-owned organization whose membership includes black farmers, landowners, and cooperatives. After double concentrating in Community Health and Africana Studies at Brown University, she earned her J.D. at University of Virginia School of Law. Dãnia has ​written extensively on ​heir property, Black land loss, ​racial disparities in maternal mortality, racial disparities in the criminalization of mothers, and disparities in healthy food access for low-income and communities of color.

July 21, 2022: Decolonizing the Cooperative Movement: Oral Histories from CPG Members and Friends

Details:

The CPG Webinar Circle started a Decolonizing the Cooperative Movement series two months ago, with a webinar focusing on Diné traditional ways of cooperating and cooperative economics. This July 2022 online event is a non-CLE panel of CPG Members and Friends, who will share oral histories and personal and professional experiences, revealing the ways in which colonization has challenged or prevented culturally appropriate cooperative economic development.

Our series of conversations on Decolonization in the Cooperative Movement arose organically after Josey Foo of Indian Country Grassroots Support invited Diné leaders to talk with the Webinar Circle, and they started to discuss with us their culture, their traditional ways of economic cooperation, and the challenges of seeking legal support from lawyers who only offered dominant-culture solutions.

We are holding conversations to help our members decolonize their law and accounting practices for cooperatives--

For some of our members who are Indigenous, Black, or part of another marginalized group, this is essential in helping their/our own people in an authentic and liberated way.

For colonized people, there is a challenge that when a "mainstream" lawyer comes in to a traditional culture to "help," sometimes the "mainstream" solution does not help, and the economic challenges remain. We are seeking to listen fully and deeply, so that practitioners of any background can hear the challenges that colonization poses, and offer solutions that empower rather than oppress.

You are invited to a listening session, where attorneys and accountants have an opportunity to practice listening fully before beginning to analyze and problem-solve.

Panelists will include:

Ricardo Diaz Soto, Brian Guy Gilmore, Donna House, Pacyinz Lyfoung, Retired Chief Justice Herb Yazzie


June 16, 2022: Limited Cooperative Association "Deep Dive"

Details: The limited cooperative association (LCA) is a newer legal entity that is available in several states. In this "deep dive," lawyers who helped draft LCA legislation and work frequently with LCAs discuss the provisions of these laws, pros and cons, and how LCAs are used. If you would like to submit a question anonymously in advance, email sarah@cuttingedgecounsel.com.

Panelists:

Mark Hanson has organized over sixty cooperatives in his commercial and business practice. He was the drafter of the revised Minnesota corporate cooperative law combining five cooperative statutes into one modern cooperative statute. In private practice he was the drafter of the first limited cooperative statute in Wyoming as well as the limited cooperative statute in Minnesota. Mark worked with drafters of limited cooperative laws in other states as well. Mark also initiated the IRS revenue letter which provided that limited cooperatives could be taxed on a partnership basis. Mark has authored book chapters on cooperative structures for agribusiness and the development of cooperative statutes and has authored a number of articles on cooperatives, and their structure and governance. For the last 15 years Mark practiced with Stoel Rives, LLP in their Minneapolis office and now advises a select number of clients as a sole practitioner in ToThePt. Law LLC. Mark’s email address is hansonmtjj1@mac.com.

Professor Renee Hatcher is a human rights and community development lawyer. She is an Assistant Professor of Law and the Director of the Community Enterprise and Solidarity Economy Law Clinic at UIC Law, a legal clinic that provides free legal support to grassroot organizations, community-based businesses, cooperatives, and other solidarity economy enterprises. Prof. Hatcher is a member of Partners in Abolition, Transformation, Healing and Solidarity (PATHS), Black Lawyers Solidarity Economy Network (BLSEN), and Law for Black Lives Movement Lawyering Squad. She also serves as a board member for the New Economy Coalition and the Detroit Justice Center. Renee was one of the drafters of the Limited Worker Cooperative Association Act passed in Illinois in 2019.

Linda Phillips is Senior of Counsel at Jason Wiener PC, a public benefit corporation, based in Denver, Colorado. She obtained a J.D. from the University of Denver, Sturm College of Law in 2003. Linda represents small to medium-sized businesses, with a strong emphasis on all types of cooperatives (purchasing, marketing, producer, platform and worker cooperatives). Her work includes business formations, business structural analysis, and general counsel for the cooperative community related to their business enterprises. Linda advises clients about business and cooperative entities and tax issues involved with starting a company or converting to an employee-owned entity. Linda’s former partner, James B. Dean, was co-author of the Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act (ULCAA) passed by the Uniform Law Commissioners in 2007 and Linda helped Jim and others from the Colorado Bar Association pass a Colorado version of ULCAA in 2012. Linda has given presentations on cooperatives in several other states and can be seen with her colleague Jason Wiener on the Northwest Cooperative Development Center’s YouTube channel with a seven-part series on converting businesses to worker-owned entities, called the Legacy Tour. 

Dave Swanson is a partner of Dorsey & Whitney LLP. He works with local and regional agricultural cooperatives, rural electric cooperatives, purchasing cooperatives, consumer cooperatives, worker cooperatives and start-up organizations, in industries such as agriculture, energy and utilities, purchasing, consumer, housing, professional services and healthcare. He also represents other agriculture-related organizations such as commodity promotion groups, cooperative banks and cooperative trade associations.

May 26, 2022: Conceptualizing Tribal Cooperatives in their Purest Form

DESCRIPTION:

Panelists will discuss the ideal tribal cooperative from a Diné point of view, and some challenges faced when forming enterprises under available laws. This will be followed by a short participant discussion focused on potential solutions.

PANELISTS:

HERB YAZZIE is retired Chief Justice of the Navajo Nation, serving from April, 2005 - May, 2015. He is now a farmer and rancher. Retired Chief Justice comes from the community of Dennehotso, Tábạạhí clan, born for Kinłichíchíi’nii, Tó’áhaní (maternal grandparents) and Tódích’íi’nii (paternal grandparents). He served as attorney for DNA People's Legal Services and was legal counsel for the Kayenta Township. He was a school board member of the school at his community and later a member of the Executive Board of the Navajo Area School Board Association. He has also served the Navajo Nation as its Attorney General and as its Chief Legislative Counsel and was an attorney for the Yavapai-Apache Nation. Retired Chief Justice is a military veteran, serving a tour in Vietnam as an Army lieutenant. He is a 1975 graduate of Arizona State University College of Law. He is a founding board member of Indian Country Grassroots Support. 

DONNA HOUSE is a Diné/Oneida Native American advocate for bio-cultural diversity and a contributing designer of the National Museum of the American Indian. Donna was born in Washington, D.C., where her father was a guard at The Pentagon, and grew up on the Navajo Nation at Oak Springs and later Fort Defiance, Arizona. She is "of the Towering House People Clan of the Diné and Turtle Clan of the Oneida." Donna was born into a family of nine children and raised by traditional Navajo values. She went to the University of Utah and became the first person from Oak Springs to graduate from university. She initially read molecular biology and wanted to become a doctor, however she then changed major to environmental science to investigate the relationships between people and the land around them. 

GLORIA DENNISON is a sheepherder and matriarch in Naschitti Chapter on the Navajo Nation who well understands that the restrictions, whether on the size of her herd or the use of her land, represent more than just an inconvenience, but rather a fundamental intrusion on a traditional Navajo way of life. As a Diné, the issues surrounding the use of Dennison’s land strike not only to her occupation, but to her cultural identity. As ranchers and livestock owners within the Navajo Nation seek out resolution to the issues surrounding their livelihoods, the answers they seek will ultimately decide more than just how they work, but how whether they can live in a manner consistent with their cultural identity. 

April 21, 2022: Ethics and Elimination of Bias in the Legal Profession, Current Innovations and Limitations, Cooperatives and Just Transition Perspectives

Co-sponsored by the Cooperative Professionals Guild and the Just Transition Lawyering Institute.  

DESCRIPTION:

Several efforts are underway to create sandboxes that would increase access to legal services. At the same time, attorneys who seek to create new approaches to community and movement lawyering may face limits from ethical and professional rules. In another area of chilling effect on legal professionals, minority bar associations that seek to support the advancement of BIPOC judges may be afraid to show the appearance of partisanship which may negatively impact nominees to judgeships.

This webinar seeks to keep current on legal innovation efforts and to provide cooperative law attorneys and just transition lawyering attorneys with more clarity about the possibilities and limits for their community engagement, activism and investments, and how those relate to the elimination of bias in the legal profession.

This event has been approved for 1 hour of MCLE credit by the State Bar of California, including 1 hour of elimination of bias credit.

PRESENTED BYPacyinz Lyfoung, LLM/JDThe Inclusive Economies Law Practice of Pacyinz Lyfoung

Pacyinz Lyfoung is an attorney returning to the practice of law after many years of acquiring different tools from different sectors to more holistically and practically achieve sustainable social change. She worked for several years in government, as a nonprofit executive (including in legal organizations), and as a project architect and consultant with expertise in designing law-related trainings. Her current practice focuses on working with entrepreneurs, organizations and cooperatives to create more racially and economically equitable sustainable economic and community development. She appreciates the communal exchange and collective growth as a SELC Fellow, Just Transition Lawyering Fellow and Cooperative Professionals Guild Member.

March 17, 2022: Community Land Trusts and Housing Cooperatives.

This webinar looks at ways co-op lawyers can assist with housing solutions.

In this webinar, Attorney Kristin King-Ries will first provide an overview of community land trusts (CLTs), with a focus on matters of legal concern. Next, Attorney Christina Oatfield will focus on how CLTs can work with housing cooperatives, looking at both zero-equity and limited-equity cooperatives. Then Sandy Bishop, Executive Director of Lopez Community Land Trust, will present a case study of Lopez CLT, which has woven housing cooperatives into the way they operate as a CLT. We will end with an opportunity for conversation and Q&A.

Panelists:

Kristin King-Ries is an attorney representing nonprofit community land trusts throughout the U.S. on a range of legal matters. She also consults with Agrarian Trust and the Vermont Law School's Center for Agriculture and Food Systems on adapting shared equity models to farmland and farmer housing. Kristin is a founding member of the Montana Agrarian Commons. Currently she serves on the board of the Northwest Montana Community Land Trust and co-chairs the Advocacy Committee of the Northwest Community Land Trust Coalition. Prior to opening a private practice, she served as general counsel to Trust Montana. Kristin is a new member of the Cooperative Professionals Guild. For links to publications and presentations, please see kingriesllc.com

Christina Oatfield is an attorney in Berkeley, California serving nonprofits and cooperatives of various types with their transactional legal needs and sometimes also legislative analysis and advocacy. She obtained her license to practice law through an uncommon path: by studying under the guidance of practicing attorneys through the California Office Study Program, which is an independent study alternative to law school. During her apprenticeship path to becoming an attorney she studied at Cutting Edge Counsel and at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, both in Oakland, California. Prior to starting her own practice, Christina worked on staff at the Sustainable Economies Law Center for eight years leading legislative advocacy campaigns to advance homemade food sales, local agriculture, worker cooperatives, affordable housing, housing cooperatives, and local investing. Please see christinaoatfield.com.

Sandy Bishop serves as the Executive Director of Lopez Community Land Trust (LCLT). She was one of the original co-founders of LCLT in 1989. LCLT has been developing limited equity co-op housing since 1990. Sandy has tutored dozens of people who are engaged in start up CLT’s and co-op housing ventures, both in the US and internationally. She is always discovering the powerful ways community land trusts and co-ops can be used as a tool for land reform, permanent affordability and local empowerment. The work of LCLT has received both local and national recognition including GreenBuild, Home Depot Award of Excellence, the Living Building Challenge, Home Power and others.

February 17, 2022: Platform Cooperatives: Emerging Trends, Concepts, and Best Practices.

In this session, you will learn about new concepts, trends, and techniques to marry a platform business model with a cooperative.  Platform cooperatives leverage network effects, platform technology and member engagement to break the mold of "rent seeking" and extraction, made infamous by Silicon Valley-backed start-ups. Platform cooperatives put value-creators at the center and align incentives by allocating surplus back to members in proportion to their platform contributions or consumption. Many of these platform cooperatives opt for multi-stakeholder design. Emerging trends enable platform cooperatives to optimize for financeability as well as community ownership.

Panelists:

Lauren Ruffin is co-founder of CRUX Cooperative, an Albuquerque-based immersive storytelling cooperative that collaborates with Black artists as they create content in virtual reality and augmented reality (XR). Mx. Ruffin is a thinker, designer, & leader interested in building strong, sustainable, anti-racist systems & organizations. Mx. Ruffin has nearly 20 years experience in policy, marketing, business development, and strategic planning in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. It’s their mission to take the skills and lessons they’ve learned and share them with Black and Indigenous led organizations for radical social change.

Dr. Astrid J. Scholz is a co-founder of Zebras Unite, a growing global cooperative of founders, investors, and allies who are creating a more ethical, inclusive, collaborative, and sustainable approach to building businesses. She leads Zebras Unite’s capital team. Astrid is also Managing Partner of Armillaria, a system design and technology collective dedicated to co-creating global, distributed, democratic infrastructure for mobilizing data, innovations, and capital to solve today’s wicked problems (see https://trillions.global). Astrid was previously President of Ecotrust, a conservation-based development organization with $150M in assets under management. She holds degrees from the Universities of St. Andrews, Bristol, and California at Berkeley.

Jason Weiner is the Principal of the boutique law and business consulting practice Jason Wiener|p.c., and co-founder of “Colorado Cooperative Developers.” He specializes in cooperative law, shared ownership models, cooperative finance, regenerative capital and financing strategies, sustainable economies law, teal lawyering, virtual outside general counsel, and worker-ownership. Mr. Weiner has significant experience structuring platform cooperatives. 

January 20, 2022: Taking Worker Cooperative Transitions to Scale with Project Equity 

10am Pacific/1pm Eastern

Stacy Smith, Project Equity’s Vice President of Program Operations and Client Experience, will:

  1. Introduce Project Equity’s vision for rapid scaling of Employee Ownership through conversions by increasing business owners’ access to legal and accounting professionals who can support business transitions.
  2. Demonstrate Project Equity’s tools for scaling cooperative transitions (e.g. Design Workbook, emerging Workflows checklists, template legal docs, etc.) through an interactive demonstration of the tools; and
  3. Discuss working collaboratively with participants to bring more professionals into co-op transition support.

via Zoom on Thursday, January 20, at 10am Pacific/1pm Eastern. CLE is available in California.

November 18, 2021: New Tools to Streamline Cooperative Formation – Artisan Chocolates Case Study

Join us for a demonstration of new tools to streamline the logistics of cooperative formation while maintaining high touch client relationships. Greg Brodsky and Ryan O’Connell will demonstrate use of Start.coop’s Ownership Model Canvas for early stage co-op formation. Meegan Moriarty will demonstrate the use of USDA’s nationwide legal database as a tool for formation research. Therese Tuttle will demonstrate the use of customized document assembly software (Documate) to draft ready-to-file Articles of Incorporation for a new cooperative using the Ownership Model Canvas developed by Greg and Ryan.

These tools are intended to help scale up the formation of cooperatives. We are excited to share these tools with our community of practice. Join us to see the new processes and to share your feedback.

Objectives:

Participant will be able to:

  • Identify “pain points” with current co-op development and use the Ownership Model Canvas to address them.
  • Understand the use of the USDA Cooperative Statute Research Library to facilitate creation of articles and bylaws
  • Use document automation software to quickly generate articles and bylaws so attorney time can be used to focus on customized client service

Greg Brodsky

is the Founder and Co-Director of Start.coop, the accelerator for shared ownership companies. Prior to launching Start.coop, Greg founded and led the Bike Cooperative, a division of CCA Global Partners. Greg served on the board of the Cooperative Development Institute for 10 years and was board chair for 3 years. Greg convenes the Equitable Economy Fund, a pilot fund convening angel investors to scale shared ownership.



Ryan O’Connel

has been in the chocolate industry since 2013, spending most of his time in bean-to-bar craft chocolate. His interest in cacao & chocolate making was accelerated during time living in Ecuador, one of the major cacao producers in Latin America.




Therese Tuttle

is an attorney who represents California consumer, agricultural, and worker cooperatives. In 2001 she successfully defended the 400 members of Tri Valley Growers, a processing cooperative, from claims of creditors in the cooperative’s bankruptcy. In 2013, she drafted amendments to California’s cooperative law that enabled preferred-share financing and capitalization of cooperatives. 


Meegan Moriarty

is the legal policy analyst for USDA’s Rural Business Cooperative Service. She is a national point of contact for information on cooperative legal and tax issues and Rural Development grant, loan, and guarantee programs. She leads a nationwide project researching and comparing state cooperative statutes.

October 12, 2021 - Melissa Scanlan: Prosperity in the Fossil-Free Economy (MCLE) 

Drawing on both her extensive experience founding and directing social enterprises and her interviews with cooperative sustainability leaders, Melissa Scanlan discusses her new book Prosperity in the Fossil-Free Economy: Cooperatives and the Design of Sustainable Businesses, which provides a legal blueprint for creating alternate corporate business models that mitigate climate change, pay living wages, and act as responsible community members. With case studies from different sectors of the economy (energy, food/agriculture, banking, water, trade), we will discuss the power and potential of cooperating as a unifying concept around which to design social enterprise achieving triple bottom-line results: for society, the environment, and finance.

Objectives:

  • Understand the Sustainable Development Goals and climate crisis, and how cooperatives can play a leading role in finding solutions.
  • Discuss best practices with legal design of cooperative governance documents to pursue broad sustainability objectives

*Gain inspiration from case studies of leading sustainable cooperatives in Spain and the U.S.

Sept. 16, 2021: Co-op Conversions: Legal steps to convert a founder-owned business to worker ownership (MCLE)

Sam Gray will share his experience with converting founder-owned businesses to worker ownership. He will discuss the steps involved and how certain legal strategy decisions were made. This webinar will:

  • Help lawyers identify the steps necessary for completing a conversion of an existing business into a worker cooperative
  • identify key choices for their client
  • help lawyers be prepared to offer guidance to clients on those choices.

August 19, 2021 - USDA Rural Development Programs for Cooperatives (MCLE)

Debbie Rausch, USDA Rural Business and Grant Analyst, will describe grant, loan, and guaranteed loan options for cooperatives at USDA Rural Development. In this webinar, participants will:

  • Become aware of grant, loan, and guaranteed loan options for cooperatives at USDA Rural Development
  • Understand the legal requirements to obtain a Rural Development grant, loans, or guaranteed loan and to keep the grant, loan, or guaranteed loan in good standing with the agency.

July 22, 2021: Challenges and Opportunities for Cooperatives in Navajo Country (MCLE)

Cooperative development in Indian Country has deep cultural roots but is profoundly affected by the complex relationship between Native American traditional practice, complex and scattered legal structures that have been implemented over time, and jurisdictional issues that arise between and among tribal Nations, States and the Federal government. Looking at cooperative development through a land-use management lens, Josey Foo, executive director of Indian Country Grassroots Support, will provide a legal and historical background and describe how project planning in Indian Country requires an understanding of the legal framework, tribal government and culture, and community needs. Josey will discuss a case study involving farmers who created a cooperative to sell their produce but ultimately found that reincorporation as a nonprofit collective better met their business and funding needs. Cooperatives are part of the Native American community development tool kit and can leverage the assets and vision within the tribal community; structuring cooperatives in Indian country may require creativity to meet Tribal business needs and ultimately help work toward the vision that Tribes have for their communities. The workshop will take the form of a discussion with attorney Therese Tuttle with The Tuttle Group who has deep knowledge of cooperative practice including experience with creating cooperatives for Native Americans, and with Meegan Moriarty with USDA Rural Development Cooperative Programs, who is familiar with the Navajo cooperative statute and who has knowledge of Federal grant opportunities for Native Americans.

June 8, 2021: International Cooperative Law and Cooperative Enabling Environments (MCLE)

The U.N. International Labour Organization Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation (no.193 of 2002) provides that governments should create a supportive policy and legal framework for cooperatives that, among other measures, includes provisions to assist cooperatives in contributing to sustainable human development and eliminating all forms of discrimination. Meegan Moriarty will lead a conversation with Professor Hagen Henrÿ, a contributor to ILO Recommendation 193, who will argue that international cooperative law is binding on national legislators but requires a translation of recognized cooperative principles into local legal rules. He will discuss the obstacles to this translation including the peculiarity of cooperative principles, the radically changing notion of enterprise (hence that of cooperative enterprise), and the challenges in identifying the real lawmakers in a globalized world.

May 11, 2021 - Professionalism in a Cooperative Law Practice: Developing and Growing a Practice Centered on Cooperative Law (MCLE)

Looking to develop or up-level a cooperative or sustainable economies law practice and go from solo to organizational? Want to be surrounded and supported by a team of values aligned and collaborative professionals? Jason Weiner and Linda Phillips of will discuss how to develop and scale a practice centered on cooperative and sustainable economies law that is regenerative, self-sustaining, and furthers the core values of our sector. Learn how to prioritize anti-oppression work in and through a sustainable economies law practice, while earning sustainable income.


April 13, 2021 - Clark Arrington: lessons from a lifetime of community-centered legal service


Clark Arrington, a co-op and securities lawyer with decades of experience, will share lessons learned and observations from his current role as general counsel of The Working World/Seed Commons. We will discuss: Funding cooperatives, Non-extractive finance, Cooperative economics in general, Movement lawyering, and Impact investing.


March 16, 2021 - Stakeholders and Shareholders: Innovations in resilient agricultural cooperatives (MCLE)

Therese Tuttle and Kim Arnone will discuss the related concepts of inclusion and investment by comparing two recently formed agricultural cooperatives: F.E.E.D. Cooperative, Inc., and Bay Area Ranchers Cooperative.  F.E.E.D. Cooperative is organized as a multi-stakeholder cooperative, and Bay Area Ranchers Cooperative is organized with significant community financial investment through two different but simultaneous securities offerings. The presentation will consider technical mechanisms for achieving social benefits.

February 16, 2021 - Towards a Uniform Cooperative Law for US States (MCLE) 

With Thomas BeckettThomas Geu and Megan Moriarty

While uniform state business corporation statutes provide level expectations for enterprises across the United States, the field of cooperative laws is a quirky and often threadbare patchwork quilt. While statutes in a handful of jurisdictions have stayed current with the needs of modern cooperative activity, other state statutes remain grounded in agricultural concepts of the nineteenth century. Operating from the assumption that a new solidarity economy will require a broader and more uniform legal framework for cooperatives, this webinar examines the basis for a uniform cooperative corporation law . How would that be accomplished? What would it contain?

  • Thomas Beckett (Moderator) is a lawyer with significant experience working with agriculture enterprises in the region, including cooperatives, quasi-cooperatives, and nonprofits, as well as with working farmers. Beckett has presented on the Business Law for Worker Cooperatives at the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives conference and at the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy. He has taught Business Law at Warren Wilson College and is certified to present the FastTrac TechVenture program, the Kauffman Foundation’s entrepreneurial training curriculum. 
  • Thomas Geu (Panelist) is a Professor of Law and former Dean of the University of South Dakota School of Law, and Reporter of the Uniform Limited Cooperative Association Act to the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
  • Meegan Moriarty (Panelist) is the Cooperative Public Policy Advisor for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s Rural Business-Cooperative Service. She leads a nationwide project researching, comparing and analyzing state cooperative statutes and tracks federal legal developments affecting cooperatives.

The Cooperative Professionals Guild, 2023

Contact us at: guildquestion@professionals.coop


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