Leslie Watson

Leslie Watson has long been motivated by the idea that co-ops have an important role to play in business and local communities. Her belief in the power of cooperation led her to become involved in two important neighborhood improvement projects in her hometown of Minneapolis. She joined the board of the Eastside Food Co-op in 2002 during its startup phase, and served on the board for nearly ten years. More recently, she helped to found and currently serves on the board of the Northeast Investment Co-op, which is bringing community members together to invest cooperatively in distressed real estate. “I want to be part of increasing the capacity of my neighborhood of Northeast Minneapolis in a way that is not motivated by profit, but has everything to do with improving quality of life,” Leslie said. “I believe there’s an opening for our society to embrace collective ownership. The food co-ops have proven to be really great success stories that demonstrate how it can work in different environments.”

Not only has Leslie applied her entrepreneurial drive to launching new co-op initiatives, she has technical knowledge that adds even greater value to her experiences and more benefit to her clients. She has a Masters in Public Affairs from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs. Leslie is also a recipient of a prestigious Bush Foundation Fellowship focusing on the cooperative model in local communities, and a member of CoMinnesota, a group dedicated to connecting Minnesota’s cooperative community. She was recognized for her contribution to co-ops with a Howard Bowers Award for Board Service. Her work as a board leadership consultant includes helping co-ops during all phases of their maturation, from startup to stabilized and expanding. “Cooperation has been the foundation of my involvement in my own community,” she said. “So I am really excited about people committed to developing their co-ops and I enjoy supporting them in that work.”

Leslie’s services include:

  • Board leadership training and support
  • Retreat planning and facilitation
  • Support for startups
  • Community engagement planning
  • Capitalization and financing support
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