Current members of the collective are:
- Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo (Washington, D.C.)
- Megan McGee
- Jessica Gordon Nembhard (Washington, D.C./New York)
- Jim Johnson (Washington, D.C.)
- Josh Davis (Hot Springs, MT)
- Matt Noyes (Colorado Springs, CO)
- Sarah Eppley
- Abe Gruswitz
- Rusty Weaver
Born Vicki Lolita Adams in a small town in South Florida 1954, the year of the Brown v. Board of Education decision. The TV images of assassinations of John and Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, and Malcolm X and of the civil rights movement, rioting, etc. fired the rebel in me. At 17, I'd co-led a boycott of classes to protest Hollywood High's refusal to allow a black history program. Protesting racism at the University of Florida fueled more activism. I joined the African People's Socialist Party, and became the editor of The Burning Spear newspaper, APSP's journal.
I adopted an African name, Ajowa, and in 1985, legally became Ajowa ("Girl Born on Monday"), and in 1985, legally became Ajowa Nzinga Ifateyo. I deeply admire Queen Nzinga of Angola who fought Portuguese enslavers for more than 50 years. Ifateyo is Swahili for "Love Brings Happiness." After profound political disappointment in the APSP, I became a mainstream journalist to try to "change the world." I also worked on feminist issues in D.C. For more than 10 years I wrote for The Washington Afro American, the Los Angeles Times (where I interned), The Morning Call in Allentown, PA and The Miami Herald. I did important work, but soon learned that mainstream journalism had its limits, and its own race issues.
So I moved on to institution-building. First, I co-founded the Ella Jo Baker Intentional Community Cooperative in DC. (I did this while earning masters degrees in Community Economic Development and Business Administration from Southern New Hampshire University.) I serve on the board of the Eastern Conference on Workplace Democracy, and am a founding board member of the U.S. Federation of Worker Cooperatives. I joined GEO. Now I'm also working with the Democracy at Work Institute to create technical assistance network for worker co-ops, and have served on many boards over the past eight years.
At 55, I understand better now that deep and meaningful change starts with knowing ourselves, confronting our own racial, sexual and political brainwashing - internalized oppression and spiritual ignorance. This learning is an exciting journey. I am writing my memoir, Outside Child, about growing up fatherless and the child of "the other woman." I am organizing Beautiful World Cooperative and Business Services. Health is another passion -- I'm a contributor to the recently published book, Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society -- as is enjoying nature and creating a more joyful life.
JESSICA GORDON NEMBHARD, PH.D.
Author of Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice (2014), and 2016 inductee into the U.S. Cooperative Hall of Fame, Jessica Gordon-Nembhard, Ph.D., is Professor of Community Justice and Social Economic Development, in the Department of Africana Studies, John Jay College, City University of NY. Dr. Gordon-Nembhard is an internationally recognized and widely published political economist specializing in cooperative economics, community economic development and community-based asset building, racial wealth inequality, solidarity economics, Black Political Economy, and community-based approaches to justice. She is co-editor, for example, with Ngina Chiteji of Wealth Accumulation and Communities of Color (University of Michigan Press 2006). Recipient of numerous awards in social economics and cooperative studies, she is a member of the Cooperative Economics Council of NCBA/CLUSA; the International Co-operative Alliance Committee on Co-operative Research; a Faculty Fellow and Mentor with the Institute for the Study of Employee Ownership and Profit Sharing at Rutgers University School of Management and Labor Relations; an affiliate scholar with the Centre for the Study of Co-operatives (University of Saskatchewan, Canada); and guest lecturer with the International Centre for Co-operative Management, Sobey School of Business, St. Mary’s University (Halifax, NS, Canada). Gordon-Nembhard is also a past board member of the Association of Cooperative Educators; a past fellow with the Center on Race and Wealth at Howard University; and a member and past president of the National Economic Association. She is the proud mother of Stephen and Susan, and the grandmother of Stephon, Hugo, Ismaél and Gisèle Nembhard.
Two major influences have guided my life from the very beginning. One is that my parents ran a small technical business out of our house, and the kids were expected to work in the business. So from an early age, I learned how bills got paid, how customers were treated, and what made the difference between sweating the rent or having money in the bank. My second major influence is progressive activism - my parents were early supporters of the Civil Rights Movement and early opponents of the Vietnam War. Their outspoken positions lost them some friends, but gained them many others, and our house hosted lots of interesting people engaged in ponderous, altruistic discussions. Thus, trying to run a business ethically, while also living and working in a dissident, quasi-tribal culture, has always felt like home to me.
When I struck out on my own in the late 70s, I found my first affinity group through my local food co-op. Before long I had joined a DC collective publishing a dissident 'zine, and was organizing punk and reggae benefits and training people for non-violent civil disobedience actions. I got into freelance IT work in the mid-80s, and remained involved in many different democratic grassroots activities until the mid-90s, when I decided to focus my efforts more exclusively on economic democracy and website development. This again led me to my local food co-op, and to a local software company that was just beginning to convert to a worker-owned co-op. Through those experiences, my studies in co-op development, and my networking with other worker co-ops, I started working with the GEO collective in 2005, and began to do an increasing amount of consulting to co-ops as well. After 10 years with my worker co-op, with the movement growing quickly, I decided to go back to full-time freelancing - but this time, as an advisor to worker co-ops and other types of co-ops, with the perspectives of a worker-owner.
Josh Davis lives and works in beautiful Hot Springs, MT. He received a bachelor's degree in economics from the University of Montana in 2004. In 2005 he began a project in conjunction with villagers in Challing, Nepal to build a free community school. The project enjoyed limited success for three years but was cut short by earthquake damage in 2015. Josh became aware of worker cooperatives during the Occupy movement in 2011, and eventually stumbled across the GEO website. After years spent working as a janitor and house-painter, Josh is quite pleased to be working with the GEO Collective, helping to spread information to help build a better, more just economy.
Matt Noyes lives in Colorado Springs, Colorado where he writes and translates books on solidarity economy, and helps organize cooperatives. Matt lived in NYC for 18 years, where he was a movement educator working with union reform groups, immigrant workers centers, worker cooperatives, and other grassroots organizations, including the Association for Union Democracy. He moved to Tokyo in 2002 where he was initially a stay-at-home parent, doing transnational labor solidarity and research on the side, and then a professor at Meiji and Hosei universities. He received a Masters in Social Economy and Cooperative Organization from Mondragon University. In 2018 he moved back to Colorado to care for a parent with dementia and joined the GEO collective.
Abe Gruswitz is GEO Collective member and a masters student in Cooperative Management at St. Mary's University in Nova Scotia. He lives in East Orange, NJ. Abe is an organizer for communes, mutual aid, and cooperatives. He's an activist for social and environmental justice, as well as police and prison abolition.
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