Georgia Cooperative Development Center
GCDC was founded in 2017 by Matthew Epperson, who recognized a need for a more intentional effort to support start-up co-ops, when he embarked upon his own co-op start-up adventure and saw aspects of the process and ecosystem that could be supported further. Listen to his story in his own words.
Audrey 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 is an experienced Human Services Professional and Cooperative Manager with 20+ years of diverse experience at the intersection of cooperative economics, social work, and community development. A small farmer and organizer, Eric serves as a Board Member, Owner, and Project Director of West Georgia Farmers’ Cooperative—an agricultural co-op founded in 1966. He also owns and operates New Eden ecosystem (NEe) in West Point, Georgia.
Ahzjah Simons (2022 CCMA Cooperative Service Award Recipient)
Ahzjah Simons is known for her work in organizational leadership, management and communications for the past 20 years, in the areas of marketing, multimedia, in the co-op and wellness industry. She is Founder of Digico Global Business Solutions LLC and Co-op Developer for Co-op Cosmos Consulting, currently working to support multi-sector cooperatives, bipoc and womxn-owned small businesses, non-profits, creatives, and black holistic health, beauty, and wellness solopreneurs.
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 to help usher in a more equitable representation of BIPOC within the retail co-op space at co-op, leadership, and NCG board levels. At the 2022 CCMA conference, Ahzjah was honored with a CCMA Cooperative Service Award by the Consumer Co-op Management association, for her innovative and transformational service in the cooperative industry and leading one of the largest retail food co-ops in the southeast.
Abiodun 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 under served 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.