BOARD OF DIRECTORS

The members

Co-operative and Mutuals Canada is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of 14 members.

John Kay, Realize Strategies Co-operative

President

John Kay, a social entrepreneur and organizational builder, has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing successful organizations, combining purpose and profitability.

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Before joining Realize Strategies Co-operative in 2012, John Kay held various leadership positions in the private and public sectors. From 2001 to 2007, he led the national operations of the WE Group of Companies as he oversaw a portfolio of value-based businesses that was generating $50 million in combined annual sales. Profits from these companies were invested in a group of non-profit companies funded and managed by the business. In 2003, he co-founded The Tyee, an award-winning national news site dedicated to “solution journalism.” In 2013, he co-founded Buy Social Canada, which is Canada’s national organization for social enterprise certification and social procurement training.

From 2004 to 2016, John was Director and President of Fairtrade Canada. Under his leadership, Fairtrade Canada started from a $400,000 annual enterprise (50% of which was funded by government grants) and became a $2.5 million impact organization funded solely by commercial licensing revenues. From 2010 to 2013, John also served as Fairtrade International’s Director and Chair of Global Finance, where he oversaw the organization’s $18 million global operating budget.

John has been part of the BC Co-operative Association Board of Directors since 2012 and has previously served as Board Chair and Treasurer. He currently serves as Vice President and manages the day-to-day operations of the Association.

Karen Miner, International Centre for Co-operative Management, Saint-Mary's University

Vice-President

Karen Miner has been involved in the co-operative movement for a long time and has focused her career on governance, strategy, business management and sustainability in co-operatives, for-profit and non-profit organizations, and governments.

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Karen Miner is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC), a Certified Director (ICD.D – Institute of Corporate Directors; ACCUD – credit union system [Canada]), She is also an Adjunct Professor teaching on co-operative enterprises at Saint Mary’s University.

For the past five years, Karen has been the Managing Director of the Co-operative Management Education program at the Sobey School of Business at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. She works to build relationships and partnerships with co-operative and credit union professionals from around the world. As a result, her knowledge and involvement in the co-operative movement continues to grow. Her work has given her the opportunity to teach about co-operative innovation, lead an International Symposium on Governance (2013), co-write an International State of Co-operative Business Education report (2014), co-edit a global governance report for the International Co-operative Alliance (2015), be part of the UN Expert Group Meeting on how co-operatives can help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (2016) and work on a four-year international co-operative governance project (in collaboration with KU Leuven University, Belgium) through 2023.

Furthermore, Karen has a history of being engaged in the national co-operative movement. For example, she was on the Board of Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) from 2006 to 2012 and on the Board of the Canadian Co-operative Association (CCA) from 2010 to 2013; she has also been a Director of Credit Union Atlantic since 2013 and was elected to the Board of Credit Union Atlantic since 2014.

She lives in Nova Scotia with her husband, Dan, and their two children, Isabel and Luke.

Alexandra Wilson, Co-operators

Vice-President

Alexandra Wilson, former CEO of the Agency for Co-operative Housing, has spent over 45 years developing and providing services to non-profit housing co-ops in Canada.

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Alexandra Wilson discovered a passion for co-operatives in 1974, when she led her neighbours in a successful fight to create the Bain Apartments Co-operative, putting a stop to the landlord’s plans to evict 260 low-income households. This involvement as a teenager in saving her own home led to a career spanning 47 years in the development, management, and provision of association services to housing co-operatives at the local and national level. Alexandra spent 22 years on the board of Co-operative Housing International and in 2017 was elected to the global board of the International Cooperative Alliance. She is a member of the board of the Funeral Co-operative of Ottawa; a member of the board, vice chair, chair of the Risk and Compensation Committee and past chair of the audit and sustainability committees of The Co-operators Group, a multi-line co-operative insurer; a past member of the board and audit committee chair of Vancity Community Investment Bank; and past chair of the Credit Committee of Alterna Savings and Credit Union. From 2012 to 2021, she served on the Advisory Board for Sustainable Business of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada. In 2021, Alexandra retired from her position as CEO of the Agency for Co-operative Housing, an organization she founded in 2005.

James Bettcher, United Farmers of Alberta Co-operative Limited

Director

James Bettcher is an agricultural producer and second-generation farm owner in southern Alberta with a passion for agriculture and the co-op community.

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As an agricultural producer, James Bettcher believes he has a very noble calling. His job is to supply the world with fresh and safe food products. After graduating high school, he aspired to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine. However, due to his father’s sudden illness, he chose to return to the family farm.

He, his wife, and his son own and operate a 2,200-acre second-generation farm located in Taber, southern Alberta. Their farm consists of 185 pure bred Gelbvieh and Red Angus cows. They also produce sugar beets, cereal grains and alfalfa. He is passionate about agriculture and co-operatives; he has been involved in several agricultural committees, always serving with the goal of giving back to the community which has served his family so well over the years, and contributing to improving the organization he serves. Their farm has been ranked as a Top 10 Sugar Beet Producer three times in the past 10 years.

He is not afraid to question and challenge his management or his peers. He believes he has a common sense approach to business when it comes to making decisions and setting directions. He uses a proactive approach versus a reactive approach where one reacts to circumstances and situations.

He has been a member of the Board of Directors at UFA Co-operative Ltd. since 2014. He has been a delegate since 2005. He served as President of Badland Hills Cattle Grazing Association for 10 years before becoming their Executive Director.

 

PASCAL BILLARD, COOPZONE

Director

Pascal’s commitment to the co-operative movement runs deep. He has contributed to setting up many co-ops, mostly in the farming and agri-food sector.

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He earned his bachelor’s degree in agricultural science, with a specialization in business management, in France. He has worked on three continents (Africa, Europe and North America), helping to plan and manage various sustainable development projects in the agri-food and environmental sectors. As the president and co-founder of SOL-AIR Consultants, based in Hawkesbury, Ontario, he advises leaders of private companies, co-ops, non-profits, communities and administrations involved in agricultural, agri-food, tourism and environmental development activities and prepare feasibility studies, market analyses and business plans to assist them in establishing or expanding operations.

In his capacity as a certified coach with the Entrepreneurial Academy of Prescott-Russell, he regularly works with newly formed and growing co-ops.

His commitment to the co-operative movement runs deep. He has contributed to setting up many co-ops, mostly in the farming and agri-food sector. He was president of CoopZone, the Canadian network of co-op developers, from 2015 to 2020 and continue to serve on its Board of Directors.

He is also an avid proponent of attracting French-speaking immigrants to Ontario, as a partner of the Réseau de soutien à l’immigration francophone de l’Est de l’Ontario and a member of Ambassadeurs de la diversité.

Stéphane Forget, Sollio Co-operative Group

Director

Since 2019, Stéphane Forget is the Senior Vice-President, Co-operative, Institutional Affairs and Sustainable Development at Sollio Co-operative Group. He has extensive experience in government and public affairs.

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Until his arrival at Sollio Co-operative Group, Mr. Forget was President and CEO of the Fédération des chambres de commerce du Québec. Previously Vice President of Strategy and Economic Affairs for the same organization, he has acquired extensive experience in government and public affairs, holding various positions with the Société de transport de Montréal, the City of Montreal, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Government of Québec and many other associations. He holds a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Université du Québec à Montréal’s School of Management (ESG UQAM) and a law certificate from the Université de Montréal. In the spring of 2019, he obtained a university certification in corporate governance (ASC) from Université Laval. Over the years, Mr. Forget has had the opportunity to serve on various boards of directors.

Julien Geremie, Co-operation Council of Ontario

Director

Julien Geremie is the Executive Director of the Co-operation Council of Ontario, working with various co-operatives and social enterprises. He has a great knowledge of Ontario’s economic, community, cultural, and social environments.

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As the Executive Director of the Co-operation Council of Ontario, Julien Geremie works with hundreds of partner organizations and has a great knowledge of Ontario’s economic, community, cultural, and social environments. He is often asked to be a guest speaker at various workshops and congresses both in Canada and abroad. He is also an Administrator of the Association of Co-operative Educators, the co-chair of the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable, a Board member of the Radio Co-op in Toronto and the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario, a member of the Ontario Government Social Impact Measurement Taskforce and the Community Benefits Group, a member of the provincial and national government relations committees for the co-operative sector and more. In 2018, he won the Canada’s Emerging Co-operator Award. Julien was also Head Delegate of a Canadian delegation during the 2016 G7 Summit in Japan. He holds a master’s degree in Political science from the Université de Montréal.

Randy Graham, Federated Co-operatives Limited

Director

Randy Graham is a Director of Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) and represents 17 co-operatives. In addition to being very active in his community, the Saskatchewan native has experience in corporate performance management, and creation and management of sustainable equity programs.

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Randy was elected to the Federated Co-operatives Limited (FCL) Board in 2016. Randy represents the 17 retail co-ops in FCL’s District 11, which covers the northwest portion of Saskatchewan. As one of FCL Directors, Randy also serves as Vice Chair of the Board and Chair of the Audit Committee.

Randy was a member of the Discovery Co-op Board of Directors from 2002 to 2017, serving as President for 12 years. During that time, he took many training courses and seminars, gaining experience in a variety of areas such as corporate performance management, and creation and management of a sustainable member equity program.

Randy is very active in his community, generously giving his time for many Battleford boards and organizations, including Battleford’s Chamber of Commerce, North Battleford Golf and Country Club, Battleford’s North Stars Junior Hockey Club and Battleford’s Promotion Society to name a few.

From August 1992 to May 2019, Randy held various positions at Innovation Credit Union. He was part of the senior management team and was Vice-President of Operational Risk Management for several years prior to his retirement.

Randy and his wife Diana reside in the town of Battleford. Both enjoy many activities, including spending much of the summer at Turtle Lake, golfing. Randy also enjoys helping his in-laws on the grain farm during the height of the farming season.

ERIN MORGAN, ONTARIO CO-OPERATIVE ASSOCIATION

Director

Erin Morgan joined OCA as the executive director on March 28, 2016. She brings to OCA many attributes and strengths in team leadership, collaboration, government relations, strategic planning, people management and co-operation.

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Erin Morgan joined OCA as the executive director on March 28, 2016. She brings to OCA many attributes and strengths in team leadership, collaboration, government relations, strategic planning, people management and co-operation.

In her previous position as general manager for the Ontario Bean Growers Association, Erin was instrumental in achieving a successful merger of two long standing farm organizations; a large task that included aligning business operations and strategic goals, developing new regulations, bylaws and operational requirements. She was also successful in meeting challenging financial targets through her collaborative relationships with government, private industry, other associations and the research community.

Prior to Ontario Bean Growers, Erin was public affairs and communications manager for Grain Farmers of Ontario. In this role, she was responsible for the leadership and management of the communications and government relations teams and acted as an advisor to the board in the creation and implementation of the strategic plan.

In addition, Erin’s experience with interacting with a large membership base, working in a non-profit capacity and reporting to a board of directors will serve us well as she leads the OCA team into the next phase of success.

Erin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Guelph and resides in the local Guelph community.

 

Mark Needham, Arctic Co-operatives Limited

Director

Mark Needham is an active member of Yellowknife and has been a member of the Board of Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op for over 25 years. He also serves on the Board of Arctic Co-operatives Limited and the Arctic Co-operative Development Fund.

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Mark Needham, of Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, has been an active member on the Board of Directors of Arctic Co-operatives Limited and the Arctic Co-operative Development Fund for the past nine years.

Residing in Yellowknife for the past 22 years, Mark currently serves on the Board of Yellowknife Direct Charge Co-op, which he joined from 1992 to 1994 and again from 1996 onward, holding all executive positions.

Mark has a Bachelor of Commerce degree from the University of British Columbia and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University.

Active in his community, Mark is a member of Saint Vincent de Paul (SSVP) and St. Patrick’s Parish, and volunteers for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Salvation Army.

Working at Northwestel for the past 22 years, Mark has also taught the college curriculum at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) in Calgary and the Arctic College in Yellowknife.

Mark and his wife Barb have two children.

REBA PLUMMER, Canadian Worker Co-operative Federation

Director

Reba Plummer is a co-op champion and a bicycle enthusiast who lives in Toronto. Reba is an advocate of the co-operative business model. Over the past two decades as Co-Executive Director at Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op, Reba has worked hard to create good governance practises in her own co-op.

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Reba Plummer is a co-op champion and a bicycle enthusiast who lives in Toronto.

Reba is an advocate of the co-operative business model. Over the past two decades as Co-Executive Director at Urbane Cyclist Worker Co-op, Reba has worked hard to create good governance practises in her own co-op. Working at a worker co-op completely immerses one in the complex yet rewarding life of a co-op.

As an engaged member of the CWCF, she was elected to the Board in 2010 and since 2016 she has been President. Reba participates on several committees including Event Planning and HR. She helped to lead the Federation though the creation of a forward-thinking, ambitious Strategic Plan in 2018.

Reba was delegate to The Co-operators from 2011 to 2018. In 2018 she joined the Board and has served her three-year term as part of the Sustainability and Citizenship Committee.

Reba worked as the GTA Co-op Network Regional Manager from 2016 to 2018. She helped developing co-operatives connect with resources, spread the word about the co-op model, and helped to build relationships among existing co-ops.

Reba received her Certificate in Co-operative Management in 2010 through the Schulich School of Business and completed the Introduction to Co-op Development through CoopZone in 2016. Reba is an enthusiastic lifelong learner and continues with her education whenever possible.

When you can’t find Reba at Urbane Cyclist or a co-op event, it’s guaranteed she’s out riding her bike!

Timothy Ross, Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada

Director

Timothy Ross is a community builder and advocate for social inclusion. He is Director of Strategic Affairs for The Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. He has been a leading voice for affordable housing and homelessness issues.

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Mr. Ross moved to Ottawa in May 2016 to join the Co-operative Housing Federation of Canada. As Director of Strategic Affairs, he leads a talented team of co-operators focused on government and stakeholder relations, member engagement and the organization’s annual business meeting. In a short period of time, he has built relationships with many elected and non-elected officials in federal, provincial, and municipal governments.

Prior to moving to Ottawa, Mr. Ross worked as a leading voice for affordable housing and homelessness issues. As Executive Director of the New Brunswick Non-Profit Housing Association, he was one of the regional and national spokespersons for the “Housing for All” campaign in support of co-op and non-profit housing. Mr. Ross has gained valuable governance experience on multiple regional and national boards, as he served in director and executive positions for the Canadian Housing and Renewal Association, the Nashwaak Watershed Association, and the Greater Fredericton Social Innovation.

Mr. Ross believes that the co-operative model contributes to a better world. With so many people feeling neglected and disadvantaged by current economic and political forces, co-operatives offer a practical and democratic business structure that allows people to take charge of their own needs and aspirations.

STÉPHANE TROTTIER, DESJARDINS

Director

Director with Desjardins since 2016, Stéphane is an expert in the field of Ontario financial services.

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Stéphane holds a master’s degree in ergonomics from the Advanced Ergonomics Institute, a collaboration between Michigan State University and Texas Tech University. He also has continuing education certificates in business administration and psychology from the University of Toronto and is a member of the Guild of Industrial, Commercial and Institutional Accountants. He’s owned and managed a health and safety business for 20 years. Stéphane is also an expert in the Ontario financial services sector and has served as a Desjardins caisse director for 25 years.

Jeannie van Dyk, Agropur Dairy Co-operative

Director

Jeannie van Dyk, owner of a family dairy farm and co-owner of a wild blueberry far, is an active member of the agricultural sector. In 2010, she received the FCC Rosemary Davis Award for her leadership and commitment to Canadian agriculture and the agri-food industry.

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Jeannie van Dyk has a lifelong career in agriculture. She owns and operates a 100-cow dairy farm with her husband and two sons and is a partner with two of her brothers in a 1,100-acre wild blueberry farm. A graduate of Dalhousie University’s Faculty of Agriculture and MacDonald College, she holds a BSc. in Agriculture and is a certified member of the Institute of Corporate Directors.

Following her education, Ms. van Dyk worked for five years as a swine specialist for the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture before beginning her full-time farming career in 1985. She has served on the Hants Co-op Board, the Livestock Services Board, the Farmer’s Milk Producer Board, and 17 years (6 as Chair) on the Farmers Co-operative Dairy Board. She joined the Agropur Board as Vice Chair in 2013.

Ms. van Dyk has been involved in the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness program and has given many guest lectures at the local agricultural college. In 2010, she received the FCC Rosemary Davis Award for her leadership and commitment to Canadian agriculture and the agri-food industry.

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