Alejandro Simón is the CEO of Grupo Sanco Seguros, where he has worked since 1998. He is also President of CITES (Centre for Technological, Business and Social Innovation), and President of FISO (Latin American Foundation of Security and Occupational Health).
Alexandra Wilson discovered a passion for cooperatives in 1974, when she led her neighbours in a successful fight to create the Bain Apartments Cooperative, putting a stop to the landlord’s plans to evict 260 low-income households. This involvement as a teenager in saving her own home led to a career in the development, management and provision of association services to housing cooperatives. After nine years with the Cooperative Housing Federation of Toronto, five as managing director, and 15 years at the head of the Cooperative Housing Federation of Canada, Alexandra started up the Agency for Cooperative Housing, serving as CEO from 2005 until her retirement in 2021.
Aline Mugisho is the Executive Manager for the Innovative Youth in Agriculture Project (I-Youth) at the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA). Before joining IITA, she worked as a Senior Project Manager for the European Youth Education Centre (EJBW) in Germany where she is also completing her doctoral studies at the Willy Brandt School of Public Policy, University of Erfurt.
Ana Aguirre is a co-founder and worker owner at TAZEBAEZ S.Coop where she leads the cooperative development area. She is the Vice President for the International Cooperative Alliance Youth network in Europe, where she also serves in the youth executive committee.
Ana Džokić is an architect, with over 20 years of experience pioneering unconventional approaches to the challenges of contemporary urban development. Ana is a founding member of two civil associations that deal with the unsustainability of the current housing condition.
Ander Etxeberria-Otadui has been the head of Mondragon’s cooperative outreach program for the last five years. Annually, he serves approximately two thousand people who want to become acquainted with the Mondragon Cooperative Experience. He also lectures in universities and other fora around the world.
Mr. Abdollahi is a confident cooperator with over 30 years of experience in the cooperative sector as the Member of the Board of Directors of IRIB, Managing Director of the National Consumer Union of Iran (ESCAD), and the President of Iran Chamber of Cooperatives since 2014.
Balasubramanian (Balu) Iyer, is ICA’s Asia-Pacific’s Regional Director based in New Delhi, India. ICA, a member-based organization, advances the cooperative social enterprise model and provides a global voice and forum for cooperatives. The ICA Asia-Pacific’s 110 members from 32 countries are national apex organizations, sector federations and government departments.
Béatrice Alain is Executive Director of the Chantier de l’économie sociale, an independent organization dedicated to the consultation of actors and partners of the social economy in order to promote collective entrepreneurship and develop sectors and tools capable of supporting the emergence of this development model based on the values of solidarity, equity and transparency.
An accountant by profession, Ben Reid began his cooperative career with a small cooperative in Ilkeston, UK. By 1988 he had become Deputy CEO of West Midlands Co-operative and CEO in 1992. In 2005 West Midlands Co-operative Society and Oxford, Swindon and Gloucester Society merged forming Midcounties Co-operative.
Bitange Ndemo is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Nairobi’s Business School. His research centres on the link between ICTs and small and medium enterprises with emphasis on how ICTs influence economic development in Africa. Professor Ndemo chaired the Kenya Distributed Ledgers and Artificial Intelligence Taskforce that developed the country’s road map for digital transformation.
Chris has over 17 years’ experience in development work in both small holder and plantation set ups. An HR generalist and Manpower Development professional, he has helped set up management systems for business sustainability, compliance and project management.
Christine M. Merkel is an expert in international relations, strategy development and public policies in arts, media and culture. She is the head of the Division of Culture, Communication, Memory of the World at the German Commission for UNESCO.
Clara Maffia is the Institutional Relations Manager at OCB – Organization of Brazilian Cooperatives. She has a degree in Political Science from the University of Brasilia and a Postgraduate qualification in Organizational management. Over the last 10 years she has worked in the field of relations between cooperatives and the Brazilian government.
David Aviña is an Assistant Director at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), where he coordinates energy services programs and other technical assistance work with the Member Services department. He provides cost-savings and useful tools to the limited-equity Housing Development Fund Corporation (HDFC) co-op community.
Dinara Chochunbaeva is an artist, expert on traditional handicrafts and conductor of art and social projects. Since 2004, she coordinates in Central Asia, the UNESCO/World Crafts Council Program’s “Award of Excellence for Handicraft Products”.
Dr. Carlos Zarco has a degree in Medicine and post-graduate studies in quality management and senior management of health institutions. He has master’s degrees in Planning and Quality Management, Science in Health, and Advanced Clinical Management. Dr. Zarco is a member of the Board and Director-General of Fundación Espriu, President of the International Health Cooperative Organisation, IHCO, and member of the Board of the Alliance for Health Promotion.
Dr. Chanho Choi was an employee of the National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), Korea for 32 years, Secretary General of the International Agricultural Cooperative Organization (ICAO) from 2008 – 2009, Professor at the Agricultural Cooperative University (ACU) from 2005 – 2008, and ICA Asia and Pacific’s Regional Director from 2010 – 2014. He also has a Ph.D. in Development Communication from University of the Philippines at Los Banos (UPLB, 1988).
Dr. Chiyoge B. Sifa is the Regional Director and CEO of the International Cooperative Alliance – Africa. She holds a Ph.D. in Strategic Management and has had over 25 years of work experience cutting across communication, aviation, humanitarian services, academia, agriculture, and cooperative development across Africa.
Dr. Graciela Fernández is the President of ICA’s Cooperatives of the Americas, and has served as Vice President of the ICA since October 2018. She has more than 20 years of experience in leading and promoting the cooperative business model, social economy and associative path of working and representation.
Dr. Saji Gopinath is the Vice-Chancellor of Kerala University of Digital Sciences, Innovation and Technology set up by the Government in the southern state of Kerala in India. He has a long career as a Professor of Management with the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode where his research is primarily in the area of Operation Excellence in a variety of social and commercial organizations.
Dr. Seunghyun Cho is Assistant Research Fellow of NH Economic Research Institute (NH ERI) at 솓 National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF) of Korea. Dr. Cho studied the risk management of commodity markets and earned his Ph.D in Agricultural Economics at Seoul National University.
Elena Pérez is the current Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Security of the Government of the Basque Country in Spain. She has a degree in Law and Business, specializing in Economic and Public Sector. She later obtained her master’s degree in Gender and Equality Policies.
Elizabeth Salazar is an international development practitioner and gender advisor. She is a Technical Specialist for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment at the National Cooperative Business Association CLUSA International (NCBA CLUSA). Her work focuses on international development programs in the areas of economic growth and livelihoods, cooperative business development, and food security and agriculture.
Eric Bidet is a professor at the Faculty of Law, Economics and Business Administration of Le Mans University-LMU (France). Here, he has directed the Master of Social and Solidarity Economy program for 12 years and has been Chair of the Social and Solidarity Economy department since it was created in 2014.
Guilherme Brady is the Head of the Unit for Family Farming Engagement and Parliamentary Networks within FAO Partnerships and the UN Collaboration Division. He is the officer responsible for the Joint Secretariat FAO – IFAD for the United Nations Decade of Family Farming.
Born in Liverpool (UK) in 1956, Guy Ryder studied Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge and Latin American Studies at the University of Liverpool. He speaks French and Spanish as well as his mother tongue, English. He started his professional career in 1981 as assistant at the International Department of the Trade Union Congress in London.
Proudly representing the Korean cooperative movement, Gwangseog Hong will be one of two MCs at Congress. He is the team leader of the international cooperation office at the Korea National Agricultural Cooperative Federation (NACF), and deputy secretary general of the International Cooperative Agricultural Orgnisation (ICAO) Secretariat.
Hotaka Hara is a physician specializing in family medicine at Ehime Health Co-operative Hospital, which he joined in 2002 after graduating from Ehime University. He currently serves as the Assistant Director of the hospital and the Manager of the Internal Medicine & Family Practice Department. Since 2006, he has been in charge of training programs on family medicine organized mainly by Ehime Health Co-operative Hospital. From June 2019 to June 2021, he served as a board member of the Japanese Health and Welfare Co-operative Federation (HeW CO-OP JAPAN), a national federation of health and welfare co-operatives in Japan with 105 affiliated member societies comprising 2.97million individual members (as of March 2020).
Hugo Villalta Solano is the Commercial Director for CS Group. He has more than 27 years of experience in the financial sector, in the definition and implementation of strategic plans, and in leading and developing high-performance work teams focused on the marketing and comprehensive sale of results-oriented banking services.
Idoia Mendia is second vice president and Labor and Employment minister of the Basque Government (Spain), which has, among her attributions, competences in matters of social economy in the cooperative model that is a world reference. Se will be speaking alongside Iñigo Albizuri – MONDRAGON’s Global Head of Public Affairs on “Strengthening Our Cooperative Identity”
Ilana Gotz is a project manager at Euricse, working primarily on initiatives and research related to the cooperative movement at the international level. For Euricse she manages the World Cooperative Monitor, Stories.coop, and contributes to various projects related to international training and network building, such as Youcoope and Ecoope.
Ms. Isabelle Gagné has more than 20 years of experience in the field of communications. Involved in event management, strategic thinking and content development, and she is an excellent team collaborator, so that it can carry out its mandate in a professional, efficient and consistent manner – this is a priority for her
Dr. Jane Kathuku is a career banker, cooperative movement enthusiast, certified engagement and productivity coach and a strategic management expert with a bias in medium and small enterprises growth with 18 years of experience in banking and cooperative leadership.
Jen Horonjeff is the founder and CEO of Savvy Cooperative, the first and only patient-owned public benefit co-op that helps innovators connect directly with diverse patients in order to get the insights they need to build better and more inclusive healthcare solutions.
Film Producer and Director
Atautsikut/Leaving None Behind
John Houston will help launch the start of Congress by sharing his stories at the celebratory event, kicking off the three days of discussion, debate and conversations on the theme, Deepening our Cooperative Identity.
Jose Mari Luzarraga is the Co-Founder of Mondragon Team Academy (MTA World), an international community of 2,122 team entrepreneurs & young leading changemakers through the definition and implementation of a new vision of education & coop-entrepreneurship.
Jose Pérez has been working on the promotion of health cooperatives since 2000. Currently, he is Deputy Director of Fundación Espriu, Spanish organisation gathering health cooperatives in Spain, and Secretary-General of the International Health Cooperative Organisation.
Julie LaPalme is Secretary General for Cooperative Housing International, one of the International Cooperative Alliance’s eight sectors. Since 2014, Julie has been raising awareness about housing cooperatives at a global level, facilitating peer-to-peer exchanges, and sharing good practices through a comprehensive communications program.
Since her debut on stage and in television in the early 2000s, Karina Lehoux has been a facilitator in more than 850 events, including: seminars and conventions, annual general meetings and public forums. More recently, she has been using her experience in television to facilitate virtual conferences, awards and international events. Last October, she was the spokesperson for the Conseil québécois de la coopération et de la mutualité. Karina Lehoux is a graduate of Laval University (bachelor’s degree in business administration) and HEC Montréal (DESS in communication-marketing).
In 2017, working with 11 entrepreneurs from Spain, China, Korea, Costa Rica, the Netherlands and United States of America, Lucia Lacuesta established a company called Fun, where they develop divergent projects related to their individual passions and current global trends.
Marc has been working in the cooperative movement since 2004. He started working in coffee and cacao cooperatives in Nicaragua for a year, before joining the European Confederation Cooperatives Europe in 2006. He currently acts as ICA’s International Development Director, coordinating the #coops4dev Partnership with the European Commission.
Maria Eugenia Pérez Zea is the Chair of the International Cooperative Alliance’s Gender Equality Committee and Vice President of the Regional Committee on Gender Equality (CREG). She is the Executive Director of the Colombian Association of Cooperatives (ASCOOP).
Maria Molina has more than 40 years of experience in cooperative sector enterprises, with competencies in the areas of education, cooperative promotion, democracy and social responsibility. She is a Social Worker with a specialist in Business Administration, master in Education and Human Development, and is a mobilizer of initiatives, programs, projects and work teams in the areas indicated. Maria is a leader with listening skills and the managerial competencies needed to execute projects and skills to facilitate educational processes with different population groups by their educational level, by social stratum, ages and leadership.
Masahiro Higa was appointed in 2020 as the Representative Senior Managing Director of the Japan Cooperative Alliance (JCA), which was established in 2018 to promote cooperation among cooperatives of various sectors in order to create sustainable communities with better living and better working.
Musa Sibandze is the President of the Eswatini Farmers Cooperative Union (ESWAFCU), Founder & Managing Director of SMS General Supplies and Services (PTY) LTD which was established in 1999. He is also the Founder and Senior Pastor of the Redeemed Christians Revival Center Church based in Eswatini.
Nancy Heinrichs is the Executive Director of NorWest Co-op Community Health, a non-profit health cooperative and community health agency in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Nancy has defined her career by a philosophy of openness, integration and collaboration viewed through a community lens.
Om Devi Malla is the Senior Vice-Chair of the National Cooperative Federation of Nepal, and sits on the global board of the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA). She has been involved in the cooperative sector since 1997, having been an active campaigner for women’s empowerment through cooperatives particularly in her role as a member of the legislative Parliament of Nepal.
Currently, Patxi is the President of the Basque Cooperative High Council, Vice President of KONFEKOOP – the Basque Confederation of Cooperatives, Coordinator of the Teaching and Education cooperatives of the Basque Country that gathers 89 cooperatives, 57.513 members, 6.950 workers and 73.696 students.
Peter Hunt is the Founder and Managing Partner of Mutuo. He successfully led the successful
industry alliance to develop the Australian Treasury Laws Amendment (Mutual Reforms) Act
2019, and is an advisor to the UK Government on mutual business, to include leading the
Parliamentary teams which piloted five private members bills through the UK Parliament.
Robby Tulus is the Special Advisor to the Indonesian-Canadian Congress (ICC), based in Ottawa, Canada. He pioneered and co-founded the Credit Union Movement in Indonesia in the late 1960s. He pioneered and founded recent establishments of the National Association of Socio-Economic
Rosa Lavín Ibarra, is the president of KONFEKOOP Confederación de Cooperativas de Euskadi (Confederation of the Cooperatives of the Basque region), that is home to 1,300 cooperatives from the worker owned, education, retail, finance- credit, agriculture and food, transport and housing sectors.
Ruth Jelimo Kosgei is the Treasurer of the Lelechego Marketing Cooperative Society in Kenya. She previously led Sales and Marketing at Lakestar Insurance Company, Ltd. She has a great deal of experience working with dairy cooperatives and savings and credit cooperative organizations (SACCOs).
Santosh Kumar works as Director of Legislation at the ICA Global Office and staffs the ICA Cooperative Law Committee. He previously worked at the ICA Asia and Pacific office. Santosh completed his post-graduation in international trade law from the University of Turin, Italy, and is a lawyer admitted to the Bar Council of Delhi in India.
Sarah de Heusch is an Institutional Affairs Officer and Chair of Smart’s ethical committee. Smart is a cooperative of freelancers and entrepreneurs that provides them with tools and services to develop their activity autonomously while in solidarity.
Seungkwon JANG is a Professor of Organization Theory, teaching management and organization theory at the Department of Management of Co-operatives, Graduate School & Cooperative MBA, Graduate School of Social Economy, Sungkonghoe University (Seoul, Korea).
Sido is Chairperson of Minsnail Housing Coop and has been living in Snail Houses for five years. Sido means “try” and “all regions” in Korean. Because work, culture and social infrastructure are all concentrated in Seoul, Sido has worked to alleviate this inequality between Seoul and “the regions.”
Simona Cavazzutti is the President of Confederation of Rural Cooperatives (CONCOPAR) of Paraguay, President of Institute of Agricultural Biotechnology, Vice President of the National Central Cooperative, Vice President of the Agro-industrial Production Cooperative and Treasurer of the Federation of Production Cooperatives.
Stefania Marcone is the Vice President of Cooperatives Europe, chair of the Gender Equality Working Group, and also serves on the ICA’s Gender Equality Committee. She also is a member of Legacoop National Commission for Equal Opportunities and the Italian Alliance Commission on Women and Equality. Ms. Marcone was appointed in 2012 to serve on the UN Committee for the International Year of Cooperatives.
Sungsoon Park is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Management of Cooperatives at Sungkonghoe University’s Graduate School. The Department of Management of Cooperatives is for students who have experience in the social economy and work in cooperatives, and want to study more about the social economy. Park’s major is strategy and studies the networks, ethical practices of social economy, and self-support business. Park teaches people who want to start a social economy and how to run the business.
Sylandi is the Marketing and Communications Specialist for Middle Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (Middle Georgia EMC), an electric cooperative in Georgia, USA. She works closely in developing marketing campaigns for the newly launched broadband services the cooperative provides. Recently, she was featured in the ICA’s 25 Voices campaign which recognizes and tells the story of members of the cooperative movement under the age of 25. Sylandi holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication, with an emphasis in Organizational Communication. She is currently obtaining her Master’s degree at the University of Georgia’s Industrial-Organizational Psychology Program.
Mr. Tarun Bhargava, the General Manager in charge of the Sustainable Cooperative Development team at the Indian Farmers Fertilizer Cooperative, is First Chairperson of International Cooperative Entrepreneurship Think Tank of the ICA. He is also an Executive Member of ICAO, Agricultural Sectoral organization of ICA.
Victor is currently the chairman of COPAC (The Committee for the Promotion and Advancement of Cooperatives), the UNTFSSE (United Nations Task Force of the Social and Solidarity Economy), chairman of the PAGE Management Board (Partnership for Action in the Green Economy) and member of the Capitals Coalition Supervisory Board.
Woonjeong Baek joined iCOOP in 2008 as a consumer-member to purchase healthy and organic food for her family. She has been actively involved in cooperative activities and contributed to establishing a co-op in her community. In 2012, she became Director of the Dongrae iCOOP, one of the member co-ops of iCOOP, and in 2016, she was elected as Chairperson of Geumjeong iCOOP. In 2019, she became a board member of iCOOP and currently serves as the Vice Chairperson.
Youngbum Park has served as Vice Minister of the MInistry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs for the Republic of Korea since 2020. In 2019 he was the Secretary of Agriculture and Fisheries, Office of Presidential Secretary for Economy in the Presidential Office, and in 2018, he was a member of the Self-Evaluation Committee of the mInistry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
Joining Mr. Hong as co-MC is Zuraidah Hoffman. She leads the World Cooperative Congress communications team, after joining the ICA in 2019 as the interim communications director. With more than 20 years of experience in communications, she spent the last decade working closely with NRECA International, a global rural electrification NGO that takes its roots from the American electric cooperative movement. An experienced storyteller, producer and communicator, Zuraidah has travelled the world to produce stories on the impact rural electric cooperatives have on improving lives. A trained journalist and alumni of The George Washington University, she has experience in both written and visual media, international community outreach programmes and strategic communication.