Cooperative Leadership Certification

NASCO's Cooperative Leadership Certification is a professional development opportunity for those who are looking to advance their role or to start their career in cooperative housing.

  • Develop a new understanding of leadership from a cooperative lens

  • Gain proficiency in NASCO's four cooperative leadership core competencies
  • Receive peer feedback on challenges or obstacles in your cooperative community
  • Develop a close network of cooperative leaders across the US and Canada
  • Complete a final cooperative leadership project or initiative of your choice, with mentorship from NASCO staff


Center your leadership education around four core competencies:

  1. Cooperative Literacy
    Develop a thorough understanding of cooperative systems, policy basics, finances, meeting facilitation, and legal and reporting needs. 
  2. Creativity & Critical Thinking
    Learn lateral thinking, productive brainstorming techniques, root cause analysis, self-management, and adaptability. 
  3. Effective Communication
    Practice messaging for different stakeholder groups, public speaking, giving trainings and presentations, uplifting the voices of others through democratic process, advanced facilitation techniques, communication across cultures, active listening, and transparency. 
  4. Unlearning Anti-cooperative Leadership
    Shift learned ideas of unilateral leadership, the concentration of knowledge, and leadership vs authority. Practice receiving criticism, supporting future leaders, and challenging systems of oppression.

Info Sessions

Info sessions for the leadership program have passed. You can watch the recorded session here to learn about NASCO's definition of cooperative leadership, the timeline and content of the program, concrete outcomes, and how to apply. You can also reach out to with any questions. 


Application Timeline

Aug 1, 2020 | Applications open  

Aug 24, 2020 | Applications close 

Aug 31, 2020 | Recommendations due  

Sept 14, 2020 | Applicants notified of acceptance

Late Sept | Leadership Cohort Orientation (held remotely)




What is cooperative leadership?

NASCO’s Definition of Cooperative Leadership:

Cooperative leadership is the act of engaging members in their cooperative organization while taking care to recognize the needs of their community. Any cooperator can practice leadership when they uplift the voices of fellow members and actively work to share power equitably.   Cooperative leadership must be inclusive to be successful, especially uplifting the voices of our marginalized leaders who are often unheard. 


A cooperative approach to leadership connects the human needs of members to a co-op’s mission and the day-to-day work needed to maintain strong organizations. Practicing cooperative leadership requires self-awareness, active listening, and gratitude when receiving criticism. Cooperative leadership is not a title or a position. Cooperative leadership is an activity that may be practiced by any member at any time, and no member can do so at all times.

What does the Cooperative Leadership Program include?

  • Introduction to NASCO cooperative leadership framework and goal setting among members of the leadership cohort
  • Invitations to participate in a dedicated online channel reserved for each leadership cohort
  • Quarterly remote meetings with each leadership cohort including guided discussion and exercises led by NASCO staff
  • Participants’ choice of 10 workshops or webinars relating to NASCO’s Core Leadership Competencies, with sessions offered online between quarterly cohort meetings as well as at NASCO’s existing conferences
  • Opportunity and support to lead workshops and education sessions at NASCO Institute, NASCO Student Leadership Conference and NASCO Staff & Managers Conference
  • Continued study reading list with online discussions meant to inform real-time meetings of the leadership cohort
  • Participation in at least 2 Peer Consultation sessions with fellow leadership cohort members, with at least one presentation of an issue and one participation as a peer giving feedback (The peer consultation process is an opportunity to solicit feedback from peers and practice the analytical and strategic thinking skills necessary for exercising leadership)

Who should apply?

Both co-op members and staff can benefit from this programming, as leadership is not a position, but an action. Additionally, the co-ops themselves will benefit from having engaged, supportive leaders.  This program builds a stronger applicant pool for future co-op staff positions, locally elected officers with a richer understanding of sector-wide best practices, and a shared set of values for how co-op leadership can serve and grow our movement.

How much does the program cost?

Program costs:

NASCO Active Member rate: $350

NASCO Associate or Individual Member rate: $400

Non-member rate: $500


Travel: Applicants are required to travel to at least one NASCO Conference during the course of the program (this upcoming year, we expect that remote conference opportunities will be available). The expected travel costs are $300-$500 per event. We encourage applicants to seek sponsorship from their co-op to cover tuition and any necessary travel expenses. 


Scholarships: We will be offering up to four black equity scholarships to cover the full program costs along with a $1200 stipend for each recipient. Black equity scholarships will be offered to offset the history of black inequity in housing cooperatives. Scholarship applications will be included in application materials, opening August 1, 2020. 

What are the requirements to participate in the program?

To participate in the Cooperative Leadership Program, you must:

  • Be involved in a housing co-op 

  • Have access to a computer or mobile device and internet 

  • Be able to attend one NASCO conference (Either NASCO Institute November or a Leadership Conference in the spring) 

  • Be able to commit an average of 5-10 hours per month  

  • Be willing to participate in building and enforcing standards for conduct among the cohort through a community agreement process