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PHI Founder and Past President Steven Dawson Recognized as “Cooperative Hero”

November 15, 2012

PHI Founder and Past President Steven Dawson, who now serves as the organization’s Strategic Advisor since stepping down as president in September 2011, will be inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame this spring.

Dawson has been recognized as a “Cooperative Hero” by the National Cooperative Business Association for being a “key figure in laying the intellectual and structural groundwork of the worker cooperative movement.”

Dawson’s induction — the cooperative community’s highest honor — marks the first time that the Cooperative Hall of Fame has bestowed the accolade to a leader in the “worker cooperative” sector, one of the four types of cooperative models, along with consumer, purchasing, and producer cooperatives.

The Cooperative Hall of Fame, which is managed by the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), is honoring Dawson for founding the ICA Group in 1978, the first professional consulting group for worker ownership, and for helping to build the Bronx-based Cooperative Home Care Associates in 1985, the largest worker cooperative in the U.S. with over 2,000 employee-owners.

“His work has changed the lives of thousands of workers and some of the foremost worker co-ops in the U.S. attribute their success to his influence,” CDF praises Dawson in a press release announcing the four 2013 inductees.

Dawson was also instrumental in replicating the CHCA cooperative home care model in 1993, by helping to create Home Care Associates of Philadelphia, which today has grown to a 170-member worker cooperative.

CDF is also honoring Dawson for helping to found PHI because he “understood that much of what affects the quality of work for direct-care workers emanates from public policy” and saw the need to develop a “national research, policy analysis, and technical assistance organization that works for the benefit of all direct-care workers.”

“Steve’s style of leadership is subtle; he rarely raises his voice, yet his influence cannot be ignored,” says PHI Board of Directors Chair and Independence Care System President Rick Surpin, who helped to found the PHI affiliates CHCA and ICA, a managed long-term care agency, and PHI.

“It is a kind of leadership that emboldens us to be our best selves and to find it inside of ourselves to do great things. Who would have thought that the largest worker co-op by far would be owned by 1,700 low-income immigrant women of color? Steve did; and he was right,” Surpin continues in his letter of nomination for Dawson.

Induction Ceremony

The 2013 Cooperative Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony will take place on May 8, 2013, at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.

A banquet will be held in honor of the inductees following a reception and Cooperative Issues Forum that will take place earlier in the day from 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm.

To purchase tickets to the event, learn about Cooperative Hall of Fame sponsorship opportunities, or place a “Congratulatory Listing” (pdf) for Steven Dawson in the event program, visit the CDF Cooperative Hall of Fame website.

The other 2013 Cooperative Hall of Fame inductees will be:

  • President and Chief Executive Officer Joy Cousminer, Bethex Federal Credit Union;
  • Executive Director Rebecca Dunn, Cooperative Fund of New England; and
  • Co-Founder and Board Secretary Leland Ruth, California Center for Cooperative Development.

— by Deane Beebe

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