Mike Collura has been on the board of the East End Food Co-op in Pittsburgh, Pa. since 2006, and has been president of the board for the last two years. A factor contributing to his decade-long commitment is the information, networking opportunities, and training he’s experienced at the annual Consumer Cooperative Managers Association (CCMA) conference. The conference is held every June in rotating locations around the country geographically close to operating food co-ops. In ten years, he’s only missed it twice.
“It is always really helpful to me, and every year the topic revolves around things that I can take away and use for the co-op, especially around team-building and conflict resolution. The content is always good,” Collura said. Collura especially likes the opportunity to meet with his peers from co-ops around the country, and he always makes it a priority to get to know people, especially at the mealtimes and during breaks. “Cooperators are really friendly,” he said, and he likes how open and accessible people are during the conference. “Nobody should feel shy about doing things at CCMA.”
The other opportunity Collura appreciates is talking to the vendors and consultants available at the conference. “It’s a chance to have a general conversation with them, especially if you are looking to hire good resources,” he said. He also participates in the games, contests and hospitality suites that offer a way to win consulting hours or to meet other people—including the famous “Tea Room” sponsored by Frontier Co-op in the daytime, or the CDS Consulting Co-op hospitality gatherings in the evening—that offer people relaxed social opportunities.
Now that Collura has been president for two years, he’s especially looking forward to CCMA this year. “Now that I’ve been president I know I really need the support even more and I’m looking forward to meeting with people.”