Senior Director for Membership and Cooperative Relations
Karen Zimbelman is National Co+op Grocers’ Senior Director for Membership and Cooperative Relations. She has worked as part of NCG, its predecessor regional associations in the west, and with food co-ops in local and national positions since 1980.
Prior to her current position KZ was a self-employed consultant specializing in co-op governance, education and training program design, and employee benefits. Her work included helping start and run the two west coast cooperative grocers’ associations (NWCGA and PCGA), serving as the founding executive director of Cooperative Grocers’ Network (CGN) for 10 years, five years as editor of the Association of Cooperative Educators' quarterly newsletter, and almost twenty years providing board training sessions and governance-related services. She wrote the original online manual on How to Start a Food Co-op, is the co-author, with Marilyn Scholl, of The Ownership Toolbox about membership programs, developed a self-instruction training program for staff called the Co-op Orientation Program for Employees, and wrote a number of other books for cooperatives and credit unions. She has held positions with North Coast Co-op, NCBA CLUSA, Rochdale Institute, North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), and People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor. In 1994, she was recognized with the Cooperative Service award at CCMA and in 1999 was given an award for contributions to co-op education.
KZ has a Master's degree from the University of Michigan, with a specialization in organizational development for community-based organizations; her thesis won the Glenn Anderson award for consumer co-op research. She has extensive board experience with credit unions, co-ops, and non-profits. For two years she served as the U.S. representative to the Consumer Committee of the International Co-operative Alliance. She lives in Eureka, California with her husband, Chris Copple, retired general manager of a worker co-op.