The 2022 US Cooperative Hall of Fame is welcoming four new co-operators, with recognition for their work in international co-op development, the electric co-op sector, food co-ops and credit unions.
The Hall of Fame recognises notable US co-op leaders and is run by the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), a non-profit affiliate of the National Cooperative Business Association (NCBA CLUSA). This year’s inductees will be honoured at the National Press Club in Washington DC on 6 October.
This year’s inductees are:
Paul Hazen, executive director, US Overseas Cooperative Development Council
Mr Hazen is executive director of the US Overseas Cooperative Development Council (OCDC), where he has been working for over a decade. During his time with OCDC, Mr Hazen has worked to build collaborative networks of co-ops around the world and promote the co-op model. He secured a 50% increase in US government funding to the Cooperative Development Program, and set up the International Cooperative Research Group which promotes greater understanding of and increased funding for international co-op development.
Previous to his role at the OCDC, Mr Hazen was president and CEO of NCBA CLUSA. Joining the organisation in 1987, Mr Hazen worked for the next 25 years to advance the co-operative movement in the US and internationally, securing government funding for rural co-op development and protecting co-ops’ tax status in the US, as well as increasing funding for co-operative development overseas. During his time at NCBA CLUSA, the organisation’s international development portfolio grew from US$8m to over $30m annually.
CDF said: “From advancing the co-operative identity, directing investments toward co-operative research, organising communities for collective purchasing power, and measurably benefiting international co-operative development, Paul’s leadership has touched and strengthened every part of the co-operative ecosystem.”
Dan Waddle, senior vice president, NRECA International
Mr Waddle joined National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) International in 1991, after working with the organisation on an electrification project in Bolivia. Since then he has led NRECA in the implementation of electrification programmes around the world, including in Latin America, Africa, and Asia. These electric co-ops provide power to communities for use in agriculture, enterprise, education and healthcare, and use the co-op model to support community growth and wellbeing.
Prior to this, Mr Waddle worked as a research associate and lecturer teaching engineering to agricultural extension specialists in Kenya, then in 1983 went on to manage a USAID electrification project in the Philippines using renewable energy. After completing a doctorate at Texas A&M University in 1987, he accepted a job at Oak Ridge National Laboratory managing renewable energy electrification projects in Latin America and Southeast Asia, which eventually led to his work at NRECA International.
CDF said: “By focusing on supporting local community self-determination and trusting in the capacity of each community to understand its needs, Dan has focused his knowledge and skills to support poverty reduction through creation of vibrant and sustaining power solutions to meet all energy needs of client communities.”
Mr Gallant, who died aged 87 on 24 July last year, deveoted his career to the development of co-operatives in the US, with a particular focus on food co-ops.
After first working for his family’s business, B. Green and Company in Baltimore, and being inspired to bring ethics into his work by the civil rights movement in the US, Mr Gallant set up the National Council for Equal Business Opportunities, and later the Responsive Management Group to support co-ops in the food industry.
He was appointed CEO of the Alaska Commercial Company (ACC) in Seattle, where he mentored young people in agriculture and food co-ops, then served as a consultant for Puget Consumer Cooperative (PCC).
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Mr Gallant’s work with PCC led to his involvement with Blooming Prairie Warehouse in Iowa City. The sale of Blooming Prairie Warehouse in 2002 provided $3m to establish the Blooming Prairie Foundation for co-operative development. Under Mr Gallant’s leadership, Blooming Prairie Foundation became a key funder of the Food Co-op Initiative (FCI), which Mr Gallant founded in 2006. To date, FCI has supported the development of over 150 food co-ops contributing over $180m annually to the economy and providing more than 1,600 jobs.
CDF described Mr Gallant as a “charismatic co-operative visionary” and “a galvanising leader,” adding that he “always will be remembered for his commitment to food co-operatives and the communities they serve”.
Gary Oakland, retired president and CEO, BECU
Mr Oakland joined Washington-based BECU credit union in 1980 as director of finance and stayed there for 32 years, becoming CEO in 1986. In that time, BECU grew to become the fourth largest credit union in the US, with 700,000 members and $10bn in assets when he retired in 2012.
Mr Oakland shaped BECU through a members-first approach, pioneering numerous ways to support members, as well as working to empower employees, increase access to financial services in marginalised communities, and promote the co-operative model.
His approach included the establishment of financial education programmes to help members achieve their financial goals and take control of their finances. Mr Oakland also set up the BECU Foundation which has so far awarded technical college and university scholarships worth more than $3.3m to 1,250 student-members.
Mr Oakland also helped set up two credit unions for low-income communities and secured funds to keep more than a dozen low-income credit unions afloat during times of hardship.
CDF called Mr Oakland “an inspiration to others as he continually and passionately exemplified the most basic and fundamental part of co-operative identity – people helping people”.
CDF chair Rich Larochelle said this year’s inductees “embody co-operative values and a vision for an inclusive economy that spans across co-operative sectors and international borders”.
New for this year, CDF will also honour “unsung heroes”. It said: “The vision for an inclusive economy that the 2022 Hall of Fame inductees and the co-operative community embrace should also honour those co-operators of the past whose critical role in co-operative history was overlooked or unrecognised. To help us honour the past while keeping an eye towards a more inclusive future, this year we will start to induct unsung heroes as part of the Cooperative Hall of Fame.”
Unsung heroes will be individuals whose work took place before the hall of fame began in 1974, and who come from historically marginalised groups such as women and BIPOC individuals. The 2022 Unsung Cooperative Hero is due to be announced in spring.