Courtney Berner, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, discusses the Center’s cooperative development efforts with Host Vernon Oakes. She highlights: programs that are being used to help communities establish worker cooperatives to address succession planning; research efforts that are targeted to explore the many facets of cooperative governance; and conferences, roadshows and other techniques that are being used to educate the community about the cooperative model.
Courtney joined the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives in 2011 and served as a cooperative development specialist until assuming the role of executive director in January 2018. Courtney develops research, outreach, and education programs on cooperatives and provides support to new and established cooperatives in a wide range of industries. Her areas of expertise include cooperative education, business development, cooperative finance and governance, and innovative uses of the cooperative model. Courtney also teaches a course on cooperatives at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and loves challenging students to think critically about why co-ops emerge, how they differ from other forms of enterprise, and how the model can be used to address current social and economic issues.
Prior to joining the Center, Courtney worked at the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C.-based research institute devoted to global environmental concerns. Courtney holds an M.S. in agroecology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a B.S. from Pacific Lutheran University. Courtney originally hails from Oregon where she grew up riding horses, eating salmon, and picking blueberries. She moved to Madison in 2009 where she lives with her husband, son, and two orange cats. In her free time, Courtney enjoys gardening, cooking, travel, and channeling her Finnish heritage in her backyard sauna.