April 17: The State of Vermont's Cooperative Economy

Date: Wednesday, April 17th, 2013

Time: 6:30 pm

Location: UVM's Waterman Memorial Lounge (Room 338) UVM Aiken 102

Cooperatives comprise a vital and growing element of Vermont's economy, but their contributions are rarely discussed. Indeed, a recent news analysis by the Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland found that the cooperative model is severely and systematically under-reported in the business press. To break the silence and provide a sense of the true state of Vermont's cooperative economy, we will be holding a community forum which will include short presentations by representatives of Vermont's diverse co-op sectors, followed by questions from the audience. Presenters will include:

Roger AllbeeAgricultural Co-ops: Roger Allbee is a former Secretary of Agriculture, Food and Markets for the State of Vermont, and the author of this excellent essay on Vermont's agricultural co-ops. He served four years as secretary, and before that was state executive director of the USDA Farm Service Agency for Vermont. His accomplishments are extensive and vary from serving as a senior international business consultant for agricultural trade policy to serving as a professional staff member of the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture. His previous experience includes vice president of the former Farm Credit Banks of Springfield, Massachusetts, and as an extension specialist at Cornell University.

Mr. Allbee's educational background reflects his commitment to the continued advancement of agriculture. He received his B.S. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Vermont, and a master's in Agricultural Economics from the University of Massachusetts. He has completed the Cornell University Agricultural Executives Program, and the Harvard Business School Agribusiness Seminars. He has received numerous awards including the Outstanding Alumni Award, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences from the University of Vermont, and the Honor Award from the Soil and Water Conservation Society of America.

Joseph G. BergeronCredit Unions: Joseph Bergeron is President of the Association of Vermont Credit Unions, a state-wide trade association. He has been President since 1982, and affiliated with the organization since 1978 when he began as a consultant to member credit unions.

As chief executive of the Association, Joe is the primary political advocate for credit unions with Vermont's state and federal legislators. In addition, he and his staff provide technical and advisory support for credit unions, provide educational resources for credit union staff and volunteers, and arrange for group purchasing of discounted programs to support the operations of Vermont credit unions.


APEnergy Co-ops: Avram Patt has been General Manager of Washington Electric Cooperative of East Montpelier, Vermont since 1997. He also served on WEC’s Board of Directors for eight years prior to that. In addition to managing WEC’s distribution system serving over 10,600 meters, he is responsible for the company’s power supply, including its conversion to renewable energy, as well as its long-standing focus on residential energy efficiency programs. 

Prior to becoming General Manager, Avram held a number of positions in public and non-profit administration, most recently Director of Vermont’s Office of Economic Opportunity, which administers a variety of anti-poverty programs delivered by non-profit agencies throughout the state. He has been involved with co-ops in one way or another since childhood, and is half of a two-person household with five memberships in three Vermont cooperatives.


Food Co-ops: Molly O'Brien is the Board President of City MarketMolly O'Brien and has been on the board since 2009. She is also on the board of the Neighboring Food Co-op Association and is a former board member of Franklin Community Co-op in Greenfield, MA. She has been involved in co-ops all her life, as her parents were some of the original members of a food co-op in Rockland, ME. She is currently a member of 4 co-ops.



Julia CurryHousing Co-ops: Julia Curry is the Co-op and Community Organizer for the Champlain Housing Trust, where she provides support to five housing co-ops in the greater Burlington area. Julia also serves on the board of directors of City Market, and has been involved in the Keep BT Local campaign to transition Burlington Telecom from municipal to cooperative ownership.



Don JamisonWorker Co-ops: Don Jamison is the Program Director and one of the founders of the Vermont Employee Ownership Center.  Don helps plan and deliver VEOC’s educational offerings, and works with those in established companies assess the potential of employee ownership for their businesses.


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This event made possible in part by the generous sponsorship of:

City Market