Holly Jo Sparks

Endorsed by Oryana Community Co-op, Traverse City, Michigan

Candidate Statement

1. Please tell us about the experience you have that you feel is relevant to serving on the Shared Capital Cooperative Board of Directors.

I have provided technical assistance and leadership to shared-equity and nonprofit housing cooperatives since 1999. Previously, I served as Executive Director for Santa Barbara Student Housing Cooperative, NASCO and currently the MSU Student Housing Cooperative in East Lansing, MI. In addition, I have served on boards for NCBA (2007–2010), NASCO Development Services and Kagawa Loan Fund (2001–present), Oryana Community Co-op in Traverse City, MI (2014–present) and NAHC Publications (2010–

13) and Government Relations Committee (2014–16). I co-organized the Eastern Conference for Workplace Democracy in 2013 and was inducted into the NASCO Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2009.

In addition to my cooperative experience, I studied housing, community and economic development at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and at MIT, from which I hold a Master in City Planning. During this time, I contributed substantially to three community neighborhood plans in Massachusetts and Louisiana, primarily in the areas of financial and economic development feasibility. My educational and hands-on experience, as well as position with The Democracy Collaborative focused on community-based economic development, shared homeownership, housing and real estate finance, neighborhood revitalization, democracy and action research. As a board member, I would bring the perspectives of an academic, a cooperator, a property manager, and development consultant.

2. Why would you like to serve on the Shared Capital Cooperative Board? 

Shared Capital Cooperative’s expanded mission to help finance the cooperative movement nationally offers an exciting opportunity for me to contribute my experience and leverage relationships within the cooperative movement and community economic development networks. The staff and board members with whom I am acquainted are dedicated, passionate and very capable; I would be honored to serve among them as Shared Capital continues to grow. Also, I bring knowledge and experience of multiple coop sectors, including food, housing, and worker-owned cooperatives, all of which could benefit Shared Capital Cooperative.

3. What are the primary challenges and opportunities you see for Shared Capital Cooperative in the future? With those in mind, how do you see yourself contributing to addressing those issues?

As Shared Capital Cooperative’s new branding suggests, access to capital is one of the major obstacles cooperatives face, both for start-ups and growth. Because the cooperative model is unique, traditional funding sources are not in a position to offer technical assistance, evaluate business and governance strategy, nor assess and underwrite risk of cooperative conversions and enterprises. My strength and vision for Shared Capital Cooperative is to connect strategically cooperative resources, ideas, and people to expand a democratic economy.