Training Program

Join our Training Program and become an effective co-op Developper

Co-op development is a challenging process that requires a diverse array of skills.

CoopZone offers two levels of training - an Introduction to Co-op Development for those who wish to understand and support others leading the process, and a two year Advanced Online Program, for those coordinating the process.

Becoming an effective co-op developer requires not just knowledge and creativity, but most of all practice working with many different types of co-ops and their legislation.



This introductory course offers an understanding in the types and roles of co-ops and the basic co-operative development process. This one-year program provides basic information on the development and project management services to new, existing and expanding co-operatives. Participants will learn about the network and resources groups available for a successful co-op development process.

Course Length: 1 year (October to April)
Tuition: $1 500
Tuition includes written resource materials worth approximately $150.
Partial bursaries may be available.
Application deadline : October 3


This two-year program will provide you with advanced skills and information to provide development,facilitation, and project management services to new, existing and expanding co-operatives.
On-line distance education program in a collaborative learning team environment.
Participate in discussions on-line, group conference calls and webinars.
Incorporate the courses into your existing career.
Learn about co-operatives and the development process within your own context. Network with other
Have the benefit of an experienced mentor.

Course Length: 2 years (October to May)
Tuition: $2 900 per year
Tuition includes written resource materials worth approximately $150.
Partial bursaries may be available.
Application deadline: October 3


Russ Christianson

I started working with co-operatives as the General Manager for the Ontario Federation of Food Co-ops and Clubs in 1984. We turned the not-for-profit organization around and positioned it as a leader in the distribution of natural and organic foods in the 1980s and onwards (until it was sadly demutualized in 2017). Since leaving the OFFCC in 1988, I have worked with hundreds of start-up and established co-ops as a co-op developer and consultant, and I have helped start a number of sectoral co-op federations, including Alliance of Canadian Natural Food Co-ops, OWCF & CWCF, renewable energy (OSEA), Local and Organic Food Co-ops (LFFC). I have also volunteered for decades with the Ontario Co-operative Association.

Joy Emmanuel

From 2004 to 2009 I worked at BC Institute for Co-operative Studies, and also worked as a Project Manager, Researcher and Writer mostly based out of the University of Victoria. Since 2009, I’ve completed a community economic development certificate at Simon Frasier University as well as the 2nd year program of the CoopZone training Program, honing my skills as a co-operative developer. I am currently serving on seven different co-operative Boards.

Denyse Guy

As a co-op developer, I’ve founded, managed, volunteered and governed co-ops in different sectors - housing, child care, renewal energy, local food, and financial, to name a few. I assited in the creation of regional, provincial and federal co-operative networks and associations. I’ve won several awards for my work in co-operation throughout my career.

Eric Tusz-King

In 1988 I started formally working to develop co-operatives as part of my community economic development responsibilities with the United Church of Canada in various parts of the Maritimes. Before them, I belonged to several co-operatives as a member. In 2006 I was a founding member and then manager of EnerGreen Builders Co-operative for 10 years. In 2011, I enrolled in the CoopZone Training Program. After completing that course, I did an assessment of the Training Program and in 2016 I was appointed as Course Director until June 2021.

Jonah Fertig-Burd

I co-founded Local Sprouts Cooperative, a worker-owned cafe and catering business in 2007. I was a worker-owner for 7 years and then left to work with the Cooperative Development Institute. From 2014 to 2020, I was the Director of Cooperative Food Systems supporting the development of co-ops owned by farmers, fishermen, food producers, and cooks. I also supported the development of housing co-ops, community land trusts and worker-ownership conversions. Last year, I left the Cooperative Development Institute and work with the Sewall Foundation supporting organizations in the food system and recently just supported an impact investment of the foundation into a worker co-op (their first). For the past 4 years, I've been on the Board of the Cooperative Fund of New England, which finances many cooperatives in the Northeast of the US. I'm now a worker-owner of Celebration Tree Farm & Wellness Center, a farm we started 6 years ago and just transitioned into a co-op last year.

Zoe Creighton

I cut my teeth on co-ops as one of the founding members of Kootenay Co-op Radio in Nelson, BC. I was their first station manager, and then music director, board advisor, policy and programming committee chairs, and I’m still involved! After, I co-founded the Upper Columbia Co-op Council, in 2007 an apex association of co-ops and credit unions in southeastern BC, for which I continue to be the coordinator. I Joined the board of BC Co-op Association in 2008 - and served for a dozen years; I enrolled in the CoopZone Training Program in 2014 and have been working as a co-op developer ever since. Currently, I sit on the board of Nelson and District Credit Union, I am co-director of Co-operate Now Co-op Business Training Bootcamp, Convener of BC Co-op Developers' Community of Practice and much more!

Melanie Conn

My co-op experience began in 1971 as a founder of the Vancouver Women's Health Collective; although not a formal co-op it led me to founding/membership roles in the East End Food Co-op, CCEC Credit Union, the Yew Street Housing Co-op, and Plane Jane Construction during the 1970s-80s. My work evolved into women-centred CED research and education in WomenFutures during the 1980s-90s, a non-profit that focused on co-op and collective structures for women to participate in their community economies. In 1994 I became a member of Devco, a worker co-op that formally provided co-op development services in BC and eventually in other parts of Canada, including an Advanced Co-op Development Training series in Winnipeg and PEI in 2005. Since then I have continued to actively work as a mentor for emerging co-op developers and with dozens of various types of co-ops through Devco; in the past three years I have worked on my own on referrals from VanCity and the BC Co-op Association. In 2000 I designed and implemented the Certificate for CED Professionals for SFU's Sustainable Community Development Centre: eight courses including one about Co-op Models which I co-instructed with a colleague. I founded and managed Common Thread Co-op, a Community Service (non-profit) Co-op that trained and employed people with social and economic challenges to upcycle retired street banners from 2007-2018.



One hour webinars are offered to introduce the courses at a time convenient for you.
To set an appointment or to learn more about the program, please contact, Meg Ronson at:


Michael Norris

416-364-4545 poste 125