Education & Outreach Director Receives Cooperative Innovation & Achievement Award

Education & Outreach Director Receives Cooperative Innovation & Achievement Award

On Saturday, June 8 Nancy O’Connor, The Merc Co+op’s Education & Outreach Director, was awarded the Cooperative Innovation and Achievement Award at the Consumer Cooperative Management Association’s annual conference.

The Cooperative Innovation and Achievement Award is given to cooperative innovators who have changed the way that cooperatives approach situations. Recipients of this award understand the urgency, relevancy, and complexity of the problem or opportunity addressed by the innovation, which results in measurable improvements or achievements that resonate with the cooperative principles and the cooperative’s mission.

With nearly three decades of service to The Merc Co+op, O’Connor is responsible for creating a vast array of effective programs such as the store’s round-up program Change for Our Community, the annual Giving Tree, Merc Aid (a co-op employee hardship fund), and the Employee Outreach Program (ECO). 

As an educator O’Connor has inspired the community through presentations, health fairs and store tours. She developed and grew a robust schedule of on-site cooking and nutrition classes with an all-star line-up of chefs and educators that continues to teach over 140 classes each year. In addition, O’Connor has served on countless boards and advisory committees over the years working to improve the health and wellbeing of the community. 

In 1999, O’Connor was a driving force in establishing the Community Mercantile Education Foundation as a way to amplify the work that the co-op could do in the community. In 2010, she brought her vision of a school garden to life and the 14,000 square foot West Middle School garden is now in its tenth growing season. Recently this program has grown to include a flourishing garden at First Step at Lake View, a social service agency serving women recovering from addiction.

CCMA’s conference is designed for food cooperative leaders including general managers, board directors, staff members and consultants, plus their national allies. This year’s event was held June 6-8, 2019 in Durham, North Carolina.