When Eric first announced that he would be retiring in June, the CoopZone Board knew that they would have big shoes to fill. Eric has been the rock of CoopZone, and was central to the development of the Co-op Developer Training Program. Eric’s relationship with CoopZone spans over 10 years, as he was a graduate of the first Training Program cohort in 2011.
Eric succeeded Peter Hough as Course Director in 2016, and brought an exciting vision to the position. Under his direction, the Training Program was segmented from a two-year program into an 8-course modular program that could also be taken over two years in 2-month splits. This enabled participants to take the courses that best suited their learning needs “à la carte”, as opposed to taking the entire training program sequentially. As a result, the CoopZone Training Program attracted a wider range of participants. From business developers to budding entrepreneurs, and co-op developers, CoopZone now had a way to tailor the learning experience to students of all co-op backgrounds, while facilitating connections between these groups.
Every year, the Training Program has brought learners together from several countries, and in the 2021 academic year Eric taught 15 international student participants, generously sponsored by the Co-operative Development Foundation of Canada (CDF). This made for wonderfully interesting conversations across nine time zones, quite the logistical feat. This is just an example of Eric’s dedication to the program, to students, and to the co-operative movement at large. Students have always thought very highly of Eric’s teachings and consistently share that the CoopZone Training Program is extremely valuable, and internationally unique.
Throughout his five year tenure, Eric has touched countless Canadian co-op developers, who have gone on to do great things for the co-op sector in Canada. It is apparent that without Eric’s leadership, these advancements may not have been possible. CoopZone would like to thank Eric for his invaluable contribution to the Training Program, to CoopZone and the co-op movement in Canada and abroad. Best of luck with your future projects Eric!