Audrey Griffin is a CPA with 20 years of experience in auditing, tax and financial consulting for nonprofits, cooperatives, and small businesses. As a finance consulting for Columinate, she works primarily with cooperatively owned retail grocers. Her work focuses on strengthening organizations through strong financial reporting; assisting clients to understand the story that “the numbers” tell; and tax preparation services for small cooperatives and nonprofits. Audrey currently serves as a co-Executive Director of the GA Cooperative Development Center and is treasurer of St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Carrollton, Georgia. Past volunteer experience includes the boards and finance committees of several nonprofits and her local food co-op.
Sarah has worked as a community planner and nonprofit program administrator for 30 years. She has played leadership and planning roles in developing micro enterprises, cooperatives and worker owned businesses, and grassroots organizations, and the promotion of African American land retention, cultural heritage, food security and racial and social justice policy and organizing. Sarah is a member of the Goddard College Graduate Institute faculty where she helped to found the MA in Social Innovation and Sustainability. She is the Asset and Finance Development Director of the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative for Economic and Social Justice, a Managing Member of Southern Journeys LLC – a worker owned sewing company and the owner of Bobrow-Williams Group LLC, a community planning firm.
Roland has been a member of the Georgia Bar since 1994. Roland’s practice includes representing electric cooperatives and related entities in corporate, finance and regulatory matters, negotiating and drafting contracts, including construction contracts, and handling complex business transactions and commercial litigation.
Eric graduated from LaGrange College in 1993 with a Bachelors of Social Work. He joined the West Georgia Farmers Cooperative in 2012 where he currently serves on the Board of Directors and the Development Committee. Since that time, he has become a passionate champion of cooperative economics and empowering communities through he power of cooperatives and their social impact. He is currently a visionary for the first cooperative retail food co-op, credit union, and community kitchen in LaGrange, Georgia and continues to contribute to the ongoing success of a very innovative GCDC.
Ahzjah Simons (2022 CCMA Cooperative Service Award Recipient)
Ahzjah Simons is a Management and Communications Specialist with 20 years of experience in marketing and new media, broadcast media, retail food co-ops and co-op industry wearing hats from member services, product marketing, to general manager, and board president. Her background also includes event production, radio and tv production, multi-media content creation. As a Digital Media Marketing and Communications consultant for Digico Global and Co-op Developer for Co-op Cosmos Consulting, she works to support multi-sector cooperatives, bipoc and womxn-owned small businesses, non-profits, creatives, and black holistic health, beauty, and wellness solopreneurs. Her work focuses on educating and strengthening organizations through digital transformation, business automation with a human touch and utilizing consistent marketing/communication practices and media strategies for storytelling; member engagement and 360 visual and written campaign design. Ahzjah currently serves as a Co-Executive Director of the Georgia Cooperative Development Center and is also Founder, Conscious Living OmniMedia Group, & The Children’s Wellness Network. She currently serves on the Board of Georgia Organics and was the first black woman to be elected to the National Cooperative Grocers Board of Directors. She also served as their DEI committee’s Co-Chair and still serves on the DEI committee to help usher in a more equitable representation of bipoc within the retail co-op space at co-op, leadership, and NCG board levels. She also served 5 years volunteer time as VP, Georgia Cooperative Development Center, Treasurer, Little Five Alliance, VP, of Little Five Points Business Association, Sevananda board President, and Board President for the Sevananda Community Health Foundation. At the 2022 CCMA conference, Ahzjah was honored for her work in the cooperative industry and home co-op Sevananda Natural Foods Market with a CCMA Cooperative Service award.
Tom Strong is a workforce consultant and open-book management coach, licensed with The Great Game of Business®. Tom helps his for-profit, nonprofit, and social enterprise clients grow while engaging their employees and developing great workplace cultures. He does this through several approaches, including developing training programs, delivering financial coaching, facilitating strategic planning retreats, and constructing team-based continuous improvement programs. Prior to starting his own venture, Tom worked for nearly a decade at The Hitachi Foundation, a DC-based philanthropy dedicated to the idea that businesses can create better jobs for low-income people without sacrificing performance. He led the Foundation’s programs in healthcare and food processing. The programs and partnerships he developed led to hundreds of lower-income workers receiving promotions and wage increases, while their employers saw measurable improvements in revenue, patient outcomes and other key metrics. Tom lives in Atlanta with his wife and a bunch of cats. He is an avid home cook, gardener, and board game player. He has an MBA from The University of Arizona and a BA in Chinese from Reed College.
Abiodun Henderson is the Executive Director of the Come Up Project which is featuring its first entrepreneurial business training program, based in agriculture, for returning citizens called Gangstas to Growers. She has been a community worker in SW Atlanta for over 6 years and has experience in running grassroots programs, farming and empowering those living in traditionally underserved communities. Under her leadership as garden coordinator, the Westview Community Garden is now community owned after being bulldozed in 2015. Abiodun also helped create and manage the Westview Empowerment STEAM Camp from 2013-2015. Besides working to reduce recidivism in Westside Atlanta by employing at-risk youth and formerly incarcerated individuals, she is a board member of SWAG (Southwest Atlanta Growers) Cooperative. Her organization strives to become self-sustainable which is why The Come Up Project has begun to produce their first product, a hot sauce called “Sweet Sol”, branded by our trainees. It ls currently sold to restaurants and at farmer’s markets. She sees this as the beginning of helping to build large worker-owned cooperatives! Abiodun is a native Brooklynite and enjoys when her four year old son yells with a pumped fist, “Free Black People!”, every morning they pass the city jail.
Matthew Epperson is a southern cooperator based in Athens, GA; he is the Founder and former Executive Director of the Georgia Cooperative Development Center. He grew up in Tampa, FL before relocating in 2008 to Athens, GA. He’s a graduate (2015) of the Masters of Management: Co-operatives and Credit Unions program at Saint Mary’s University, an online program offered in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He was a manager at Daily Groceries Co-op, where he has worked for 9 years performing in various capacities from working member to board director, bookkeeper and interim General Manager. He has helped found (2016) the first worker-owned co-op in Athens, GA, a cleaning co-op called Peachy Green Clean Co-op. He has served on the boards of multiple nonprofits including the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED), Rabbit Box Storytelling and BikeAthens. He is a proud individual member of CooperationWorks! the nationwide cooperative developer peer network. He has worked as a Member Advocate for one of the largest credit unions in the United States. He is also employed full-time as the Business Director of Savvy Cooperative.