Co-operative Governance

Democratic, people-centred, and transformational practice

May 18, 2023

Join us for this engaging course on co-operative governance, as democratic, people-centred, and transformational. Designed for seasoned decision-makers and emerging leaders from any sector or type of co-operative, all will benefit from this knowledge-rich course. This participatory education experience focuses on enhancing your knowledge and building your network.

Governance is core to all co-operatives, relevant to all members, and applied in a diversity of ways based on the co-operative type, size, and stage in lifecycle. Whether you are new to co-operatives or an experienced professional, this session will stretch your thinking on governance as a system fit for values-based, member owned, and democratically controlled organizations. You will leave the room with a renewed sense of the importance of governance structures and processes being consistent with the organization’s purpose while fulfilling goals, meeting objectives, and protecting member and community interests. This session highlights the critical importance of governance as a tool to set transformational purpose and visioning for co-operatives to meet complex social, economic, and environmental agendas. Naturally, this includes all types of co-operatives across all sectors of the economy and society as we collectively seek to grow a strong co-operative economy.

Case study examples will be used to illustrate best governance practices, highlighting how strategic governance enables organizations to lead deeply on social justice, economic resilience, and the climate emergency, to name but a few challenges facing co-operatives today. To do all of this while being true to a people-centred enterprise model, governance systems must maintain member ownership and control while being democratic and responding to external and internal factors influencing members’ evolving needs and goals. Notably, individual co-operatives cannot do this alone; working together and across sectors is key to our collective future.


As an attendee, you will:

  • Understand the critical features of co-operative governance at the conceptual, systems, and applied levels.
  • Connect strategic governance to solving complex social, economic, and environmental problems.
  • Learn about specific examples of governance excellence in practice.

Course Facilitators and Presenters for Arlington Course

Cathy Statz, Co-operative Educator and Outreach Specialist with the International Centre for Co-operative Management

Karen Miner, Managing Director of the International Centre for Co-operative Management and Vice-Chair of Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada

Dr. Sonja Novkovic, Co-operative Economist, Academic Director of the International Centre for Co-operative Management and Vice Chair of the International Committee of Co-operative Identity (International Cooperative Alliance)

Key presentations by co-operative experts including Erbin Crowell-USA (Executive Director of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association, Board Member of the National Cooperative Business Association, Saint Mary’s master’s graduate); Courtney Berner - USA (Executive Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives); Stephen Gill - UK (Founder CEO at VME Coop, CEO and CTO at Coop Exchange and Saint Mary’s master’s graduate).

Dates and Locations

  • FULL (Registration closed) - A pre-2023 Cooperative IMPACT Conference course is scheduled for October 3, 2023 (9:00 am-4:30 pm) at the National Cooperative Bank, 2011 Crystal Drive (8th Floor), Arlington, Virginia, 22202, USA. This location is a short commute from downtown Washington, DC.
  • A workshop version of this course featuring Dr. Sonja Novkovic and Karen Miner will be offered on October 28, 2023, during the Directors' Forum themed "The Future of Co-operative Governance" (October 27-28, 2023 in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada and offered virtually as well).

Fees and Registration

Course fees will be $300 USD for the Arlington, VA option. Registration is facilitated through the National Cooperative Business Association’s Cooperative IMPACT Conference. Note the Arlington course is FULL but you can contact to be waitlisted in the event we have cancellations. For the Directors' Forum in Ontario, register here.

“…the Centre’s work on co-operative governance has been sustained at a high level of quality over many years, culminating in a major international research conference, and a recent book on the theme of humanistic governance.  This has made an outstanding contribution to research on governance, and has made a distinctive positive contribution to thinking about cooperative governance, thereby facilitating improving policies and practices of boards and managers.” - Roger Spear, Emeritus Prof of Social Entrepreneurship (Open University) and Teacher on International Masters in Social Entrepreneurship (Roskilde University)