About Us

History of ACE

Education about cooperation has been a vital part of the success of collaborative organizations since their inception. The pioneers of the “modern” cooperative movement in Rochdale, England showed incredible insight to include education as one of their key principles in 1844. (Read more)

Glenn Anderson of Wisconsin (Left) and Harold E. Chapman of Saskatchewan were President and Vice President of the first ACE board, signalling the collaboration of co-op educators across borders that defines ACE.Glenn Anderson of Wisconsin (Left) and Harold E. Chapman of Saskatchewan were President and Vice President of the first ACE board, signalling the collaboration of co-op educators across borders that defines ACE.

In the beginning...

The idea of sharing education and training as well as research between academics, trainers, educators, and beyond the Canada/U.S. border began in earnest in 1952. Harold Chapman notes in his 2012 autobiography, Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement, that Alex Laidlaw and Hayes Beall, representing top Canadian and American co-op leadership, respectively, helped hold the first Institute at the University of Minnesota at Duluth. It was sponsored by the Cooperative League of the USA (CLUSA). This initial conference lead to successive institutes in Illinois, Minnesota and Iowa, writes Chapman. The Institute then came to Canada in 1956, held at the University of Saskatchewan where the International Co-operative Alliance of the Americas was asked to invite its members.  Several from Puerto Rico attended that Institute, according to ACE records.

Call for a Permanent Professional Association of Co-op Educators

Chapman writes that Jerry Voorhis of CLUSA was a key leader advocating for a permanent professional association for educators of co-ops. At the 1964 Institute in Kansas City, Missouri, participants agreed that an association for co-op educators was needed. A subcommittee brought its recommendations forward to the Institute at the Co-operative College in Saskatoon in 1965 where a founding board was elected:  

  • President - Glenn Anderson, Wisconsin Association of Co-operatives
  • Vice President - Harold E. Chapman, Western Co-operative College
  • Recording Secretary - Bernice Olliff, Co-operative Union of Ontario
  • Treasurer - Victor Smith, Greenbelt Consumer Services Inc.
  • Other Directors - Ramon Colon-Torres, Co-operative League of Puerto Rico; Cecil Crews, Michigan Credit Union League; J.D. Miller, Consumers Cooperative Association; Emil Sekerak, Consumers Co-operative Society of Berkeley; and Rt. Rev. F.J. Smyth, Coady International Institute Hayes Beall was the first Executive Secretary

ACE Incorporates

The new organization’s bylaws were approved at Levis, Quebec, Canada in June 1969. Former ACE administrator, Frank Blackburn, says that it was he and CLUSA’s Phil Dodge who visited the Wisconsin Secretary of State's office in 1970 to incorporate the association as a cooperative. In 1999 it was re-incorporated as a Minnesota Association, and ACE received 501c3 status as a United States nonprofit organization operating for educational purposes.

Caribbean Involvement

The Caribbean became an important contributor to the association almost since its inception. A long relationship between Canada’s educators and Puerto Rican cooperators is due in large part to Father Joseph Alexander MacDonald of the Antigonish Movement who traveled to Puerto Rico to assist in cooperative education and development. The first Institute in Puerto Rico was in 1967.

Recognizing Outstanding Education

Three original awards were created to recognize extraordinary work in co-op education: Award of Merit, Organization Award recognizing a cooperative that raised the bar in education, and a Youth Award, later named in honour of William Hlushko of the Co-operative College of Canada and the Saskatchewan Wheat Pool. The spirit of these awards continues today. Awards recognizing mentorship, innovation and promotion of democratic practices have been added to acknowledge other ways educators pass along co-op values.

Diversity Ensured

ACE’s bylaws (2011) ensure that the Board of Directors is representative of ACE’s major regions —the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean (including Puerto Rico)—and leaves room for growth for “All Other Areas.” The association holds its Institutes in English, French and Spanish whenever required to make sure that information is shared as fully and successfully as possible and to allow for collaborations without boundaries.

Future Assured

Youth have always been recognized as leaders by ACE. In 2013 at the ACE Institute in Puerto Rico, youth participants created the foundation for a Youth Caucus. Interacting with the Institute, Youth Caucus members delve into issues affecting young cooperators and find solutions that apply directly to their cohort. Youth Caucus members also actively participate in ACE’s governance process.

Learn more:

Chapman, Harold E. Sharing My Life: Building the Co-operative Movement. Saskatoon, SK: Co-published by Harold E. Chapman and the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives, 2012. Accessed January 25, 2016. http://usaskstudies.coop/documents/books,-booklets,-proceedings/Sharing My Life.pdf.

Fairbairn, Brett. Prairie Connections and Reflections: The History, Present, and Future of Co-operative Education. Saskatoon, SK: Centre for the Study of Co-operatives University of Saskatchewan in Co-operation with Association of Cooperative Educators, 1999. Accessed January 25, 2016. http://purl.umn.edu/31765.

ACE unites co-operative researchers, educators, practitioners and developers in a single association serving, primarily but not exclusively, Canada, United States and the Caribbean. With beginnings that date to 1952, it has helped bridge geographic, cultural and language divides to share education about co-operation.

Mandate of the Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE)

Vision: To strengthen cooperatives and the cooperative movement by promoting innovative educational responses to social and economic changes.
Mission: To provide members a forum to highlight programs and practices that increase understanding, innovation and professionalism in cooperative education. ACE benefits cooperative education and the cooperative movement by:
  • Promoting cooperative research.
  • Developing linkages between universities, cooperatives and supporting organizations.
  • Building capacity to support the development of innovation and acumen in cooperatives.
  • Spreading the word by providing resources on cooperative education.

Board of Directors 2020-2021

CATHY STATZ, President - Cathy Statz is Education Director of the Wisconsin Farmers Union (WFU), headquartered in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. She coordinates a variety of cooperative education programs for Farmers Union members, their children and the general public, including the WFU Summer Camp Program at Kamp Kenwood, and the National Farmers Union College Conference on Cooperatives. Cathy grew up on a dairy farm near Sauk Prairie, Wisconsin, and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with Secondary Level Education Certification) and a Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and is the 2006 recipient of Lawrence University’s Nathan M. Pusey Young Alumni Achievement Award. She has been a member of ACE since 1997 and was named the 1999 recipient of the ACE William Hlushko Award to Young Cooperative Educators.



ANDRÉA RENAUD, President - Andréa Renaud was elected President of ACE in 2017 at the beginning of her first term as a director. She is a Cooperative Affairs Advisor at La Coop fédérée. Andréa trains employees and members about cooperation and supports them to encourage a better representation of women on boards of directors. She has ten years of experience in the management and governance of cooperative enterprises. She has also worked for the Desjardins Group and SOCODEVI, a development agency. A graduate in Psychoeducation from the University of Trois-Rivières, she also holds a Master’s degree in Cooperative management from the University of Sherbrooke.



ELLEN GODDARD, Secretary - Ellen Goddard is Cooperative Chair in Agricultural Marketing and Business, University of Alberta. She came to Alberta from a position as National Australia Bank Professor of Agribusiness and Associate Dean, Coursework, at the Institute of Land and Food Resources, the University of Melbourne. Prior to that Australian appointment Ellen worked in the Department of Agricultural Economics at the University of Guelph. Over the past 30 years Ellen’s research has been focused on economic modeling of domestic and international markets for food products (particularly meat) for policy analysis purposes. Since her appointment at the University of Alberta, Ellen has been teaching an undergraduate course in cooperatives and through that course has supervised a number of undergraduate research projects, some of which have won undergraduate student research awards at the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association in the U.S. Ellen has also supervised numerous MSc and PhD students who have conducted research on various aspects of cooperatives. Her research in particular is focused on the role of co-operatives in concentrated agricultural and food markets.


ROD KELSAY, Treasurer - Rod Kelsay is the Executive Director of the Mid America Cooperative Council. The council is an association of over 110 cooperatives that covers the states of Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio. The council’s principal focus is cooperative education. The council has a very diverse group of members covering credit unions, agricultural, finance, food marketing, genetics, hospital laundry, housing, Library, and rural electric cooperatives. Rod holds a masters (MS) degree from the University of Illinois and a BS degree from Purdue University. Rod has managed strategic planning and business analysis projects with cooperatives for over 25 years. Rod is the past Chairman of the Board for the Association of Cooperative Educators an international association of cooperative educators, and past president of the National Association of State Cooperative Council Executives. In 2000 Rod received the ‘Sagamore of the Wabash’ from Governor Frank O’Bannon.



DANIEL CÔTÉ, Director - Daniel Côté has been teaching at L’École des Hautes Études Commerciales, Montréal, since 1983. He obtained is Ph.D from Louisiana State University in 1985.  At HEC, he has been involved with le Centre de Gestion des Coopératives between 1977 and 2003.  He has been the director of this Centre from 1992 to 2003.  He teaches mostly courses on business strategy at the graduate and undergraduate levels. He retired in August 2014 to fully dedicate himself to his work on co-operative management, both research and teaching. Professor Côté has conducted research on co-operatives for more than 25 years.  He worked on different co-operative sectors (mostly agribusiness and finance) and on issues such as management, strategy, entrepreneurship, etc.  His main concern has always been the management of co-operatives in a competitive environment.  His work focuses on the development of a new co-operative paradigm. He develops the idea that co-operative leaders have an incentive to strengthen their co-operative identity since it is a source of competitive advantage.  His new co-operative paradigm is based on issues of loyalty, mobilization through values, learning organization, meaning and legitimacy.  His approach to research is very much action based where fundamental ideas and concepts (such as loyalty) are being implemented and tested in real life context with existing co-operatives.  He has published extensively on these issues. As of now, he focuses on the foundations of this new cooperative paradigm, looking at concepts such as psychological ownership, co-creation of value, reciprocity and social capital. He regularly gives conferences on co-operatives both in Canada and internationally. In 2004, he received the ACE (Association of Co-operative Educators) awards for Outstanding Contribution to Cooperative Education and Training. In 2014, he received an award from CASC for his outstanding contribution to co-operative research.  He has been selected as fellow of the Filene Institute in October 2011. He is currently teaching a graduate course on co-operative management for the «Master of Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions» program at St-Mary’s university (Canada). Finally, he chairs the board of directors at Coop HEC, a campus coop with 15 000 members, $10 million in sales and about 100 employees since 2012.


HANNAH SCOTT, Director - Hannah Scott joined the ACE Board of Directors in 2019.- Hannah Scott is the Program Manager for the CFAES Center for Cooperatives where she leads the creation and implementation of programs and technical assistance to foster cooperative business and education in Ohio, West Virginia, and beyond. Hannah is especially passionate about cooperative opportunities in agriculture, having worked with a variety of agricultural producers to establish co-op enterprises and leading the innovative Ohio & West Virginia Food Hub Network. Hannah is a board member of the international Association of Cooperative Educators (ACE) and is a Certified Business Advisor through Kent State University's Graduate School Ohio Small Business Developement Centers. Hannah farms with her family in Brown County, Ohio and is active in the agricultural community.


YVAN ROUILLÉ, Director - Yvan Rouillé is the Director of the Retail Market, Caisse Desjardins des Policiers et Policières. He started in 1998 at the Paris Stock Exchange. In 2001, he decided to develop his expertise in financial institutions until 2006 when he became the Director of a bank branch in Montreal. In 2014, he was promoted to General Manager of a Bas St-Laurent credit union and in 2016, he joined Desjardins as Director of the Retail Market. He advocates participative management and the development of his management team. Desjardins is the largest credit union in Canada and its growth during the last century has been crucial to the social and economic development of Quebec. Today, forming one of the largest financial groups in Canada, Desjardins has always remained faithful to the philosophy of its founder: to contribute to the well-being of individuals and communities.


STEVE DUBB, Director - Steve Dubb is a senior editor at Nonprofit Quarterly. Steve has worked with cooperatives and nonprofits for over two decades, including twelve years at The Democracy Collaborative and three years as executive director of NASCO (North American Students of Cooperation). In his work, Steve has authored, co-authored and edited numerous reports; participated in and facilitated learning cohorts; designed community building strategies; and helped build the field of community wealth building. Steve is the lead author of Building Wealth: The Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems (Aspen 2005) and coauthor (with Rita Hodges) of The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads, published by MSU Press in 2012. In 2016, Steve curated and authored Conversations on Community Wealth Building, a collection of interviews of community builders that Steve had conducted over the previous decade.


Our Team 

JULIEN GEREMIE, ACE Administrator - Julien Geremie is supervising ACE’s administration and organizes our Annual Institute. Julien Geremie is also Executive Director with the Conseil de la cooperation de l’Ontario in Toronto. He is responsible for providing support to over a dozen start-up co-operatives and social enterprises across Ontario, more specifically in the fields of agriculture, education, rural development, health, succession planning and much more. Julien works collaboratively with hundreds of partner organizations and he has a great knowledge of Ontario’s economic, social and cultural ecosystems. He is a guest speaker at various workshops and congresses both in Canada and abroad. He is the co-chair of the Ontario Social Economy Roundtable, member of the Ontario Government Social Impact Measurement Taskforce and the Community Benefits Group, member of the provincial and national government relations committees for the co-operative sector and more. Julien was also Head Delegate of a Canadian delegation to Japan during the 2016 G7 Summit. He received the Emerging Cooperator Award from Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada in 2018. Julien holds a master’s degree in Political science (M. Sc.) from the University of Montreal and he can be reached at 416-364-4545 or on Twitter @JulienGeremie.

ERIN HANCOCK, CENet Consultant - Erin is working with ACE on the online community project known as the CENet (Co-operative Educator’s Network). She also works as the Manager of Promotion and Partnership for the Co-operative Management Education Programs at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Prior to these roles, she served as the Manager of Research and Education for Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada. As a master’s student at the University of New Brunswick, she undertook research on co-op policy in the province, and helped establish the Co-operative Enterprise Council of New Brunswick. Erin was the 2014 winner of the William Hlushko Award to Young Co-operative Educators.


Discover the many Stakeholders in Co-operative Education we have the pleasure of working with regularly

Cooperative Organizations and Associations

Cooperative Education & Development Resources

University based Cooperative Centers