Transforming our Cities: Strategies for Local Economic Democracy

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This year’s conference theme of “Resist and Transform” focuses on the potential for cooperatives to be a tool for both resistance in these volatile times as well as a building block for transforming our economy and society. Moderated by Stacey Sutton who has researched various municipal strategies throughout the U.S., The speakers on this panel will explore specific examples that support the transformation of local economies employed throughout the U.S. and Canada. We will hear from representatives from New York, NY where city council has supported worker coop development with an investment of over 5 million dollars for the past 3 years, Quebec, CA where local cooperative networks and provincial governments have partnered to support worker coops for decades, Jackson Mississippi, where Cooperation Jackson has worked with allies to implement a comprehensive plan based on principles of economic democracy which has been embraced by Chokwe Antar Lumumba who recently won the democratic primary mayoral race, and Newark, NJ where mayor Ras Baraka, has embraced and championed the cooperative model of development to rebuild sustainable communities.


  • Elizabeth Carter

    Elizabeth Carter

    Elizabeth L. Carter has recently left her position as Assistant Legislative Director & Special Counsel for the City of Newark's Department of Economic and Housing Development to work full time for the Urban Cooperative Enterprise Legal Center. Elizabeth founded UCELC, a nonprofit organization, to create and support cooperative enterprises designed to promote social, economic, and ecological sustainability within low and moderate income communities through community transactional legal services, community planning, participatory research, education, and advocacy. Elizabeth is also a SELC Fellow. SELC’s staff and growing Fellows group provide excellent support for innovation to advance worker cooperatives and the Solidarity Economy.
  • Iya'falola H. Omobola

    Iya'falola H. Omobola

    Hailing from Cleveland, OH and raised by activist parents, Iya'falola H. Omobola has followed the path of both spiritual and political activism all of her life. She founded and directed a cultural youth intervention program called Tomorrow’s Child for in Illinois and Ohio. She has served as local co-president of the National Black Independent Political Party in Cleveland, OH; Media Coordinator for the Ajanaku Afrikan American Research Institute, in Memphis, TN, Administrative Assistant in Chicago Mayor Harold Washington's Office of Affirmative Action and for special projects in the Office of Legislative Liaison; and more recently as one of the late Mayor Chokwe Lumumba's campaign media coordinators. A priestess of the Orisha-Ifa tradition for the past twenty-five years, Iya is the author of three spiritual books, published by her company, WindWhispers Publications. She is director of the Lumumba Center’s New Afrikan Spiritual Mindset Awareness Institute and is a mother of four children. She is one of the founders and a co-director of Cooperation Jackson and anchors the Community Production Center, the People’s Grocery store and the Revolutionary Resonance Arts and Culture working groups.
  • Stacey Sutton

    Stacey Sutton

    Assistant Professor of Urban Planning and Policy in the College of Urban Planning and Public Affairs (CUPPA) at the University of Illinois Chicago. Stacey’s primary research interests include community economic development, cooperative enterprise and collective action, neighborhood change, and racial and spatial stratification. Most recently, Stacey has been using mixed methodologies to engage three lines of research. First, she examines what she calls “Cooperative Cities,” meaning different ways that city governments are involved in economic democracy and equitable development through worker cooperatives and social enterprises. She also raises critical questions regarding the role of city government and the cooperative movement. In another study, Stacy observes and visualizes how, over time, place-based policies and neighborhood conditions affect urban enterprise ecosystems in three cities. Finally, Stacey examines interplay among racialization, gentrification and dispossession in urban neighborhoods. This is reflected in her book project titled, Buy Black: Race, Retail and the Politics of Neighborhood Business Survival, that examines neighborhood change through the lens of Black small business-owners. Sutton holds a joint PhD in Urban Planning and Sociology from Rutgers University, and a MBA from New York University.
  • Stephanie Guico

    Stephanie Guico

    Stephanie Guico is a cooperative management consultant and facilitator specialized in multi-stakeholder team building. Since 2014, she has worked with organisations to build out their partnerships, grow ecosystems and ready their business models for scale. Prior to consulting, she worked with Desjardins Cooperative Group in Quebec, where she played key roles amongst governance and marketing teams to break silos and increase equity. She continues to work with one of the Group’s credit union through her role as ambassador of the Caisse d’économie solidaire’s Social Impact Investments, providing education and outreach to the public on this unique line of products. She joined the board of Cooperatives and Mutuals Canada in June 2016, and is an associate member of percolab, a Montreal-based consulting firm and worker co-operative.
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