Board Chair Reflections on ACE Institute

By Steve Dubb

So, I want to encourage ACE members and supporters to mark their calendars and join us in San Juan, Puerto Rico from August 7th to 10th. Last year, ACE held a hybrid conference in Vancouver. But this year marks the first full-scale cooperative education Institute in four years. You won’t want to miss it!

There is magic in these ACE Institute gatherings. Jaime Cuevas, who is on our board and is leading the local organizing efforts often says the ACE network was essential to getting a law passed in Puerto Rico allowing for the establishing of electrical cooperatives, including the Renewable Energy Management (REM) Co-op in which he participates.

For my part, I recall that when ACE was last in Puerto Rico in early August 10 years ago, I met Brendan Martin of The Working World. The agenda described his group as “an organization that extends microcredit to worker-run businesses in Argentina, Nicaragua, and now New York City.” ACE helped connect Brendan with a broader support network, setting the stage for today’s Seed Commons network, which to date has provided over $15 million in non-extractive finance to worker cooperatives in more than two dozen U.S. cities.

This year’s Institute promises to be equally generative. The timing of our gathering is also good. The first co-op in Puerto Rico was established in 1873. This year marks its 150th anniversary. Puerto Rico today has an extensive co-op movement—and there is a lot to celebrate.

I encourage you to not only make the trip, but to consider contributing your knowledge directly. Our Institute theme is “Climate, Co-ops and Resilience.” Panels on sustainability are very welcome, but there is room for a wide range of cooperative education and development topics.

If you have something to share with your fellow cooperators, simply put together a brief (250 words or so) description, brief bios of yourself and other panel participants, and your contact information (name, address, organization, title, preferred language, phone number, email address) and submit your idea to We will review proposals on a rolling basis, so it’s advantageous to submit early. The deadline for proposal submissions is May 1st.

Look out for more information in the months ahead. Hope to see you in San Juan!