Browse All Categories
By CHCA on May 28, 2024

Cooperation Among Cooperatives

Why is it important for Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) staff members to be involved in external boards?

Hear what CHCA worker-owners have to say 

D Hernandez-1

Denise Hernandez, VP of Human Resources
United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC)  Board Member.

Denise is a Bronx native who has built her career in the South Bronx.    With a background in Human Resources, Denise has always been focused on services that benefit the organization and its workforce. In addition, she works to build and strengthen CHCA’s culture through practicing the use of coaching skills, implementing workplace training, and facilitating the Joy at Work committee. For many years Denise focused on CHCA’s internal community; she eventually arrived at a point where she wanted to get more involved with external cooperatives. She decided to run for the United States Federation of Worker Cooperatives (USFWC) board and was elected in November 2021.  During the two-year term, Denise focused on learning about USFWC, and the impact of their work on the coop community. She has been inspired by the group’s passionate, smart, and committed leaders. People who focused on bringing social, economic, and language justice to Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC). Denise works collaboratively with leaders who advocate for the importance of cooperatives and uplifts the impact coops bring to the individuals who work there and their communities.    Denise contributes her work and advocacy experience while serving on the board and their committees. As Denise was approaching the end of her two-year term, feeling exhilarated, she made a decision to run for a second two-year term and was elected in November 2023. 

Untitled design-3

Martha Montufar, Workforce Development Director
New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives

(NYC NOWC) Board Member

As a native of Ecuador who was raised in the Bronx, Martha understands the social and economic impact on people's ability to obtain a living wage and improve their quality of life. In her CHCA role, Martha is dedicated to making resources available to immigrant populations and helping people obtain meaningful careers.  Martha’s vast experience in an advocate role, including her years at college, inspired her to become more involved in the cooperative movement.   She was interested in engaging in a broader manner that would have an impact not only in the Bronx but across New York City.   She decided to run as a board member for the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives (NYCNOWC) and was elected in December 2023.   Martha’s ultimate goal is to become a resource to other coops and share her expertise in recruiting, human resources, and data analysis.   She is eager to support other coops in their growth and knowledge.  Martha believes that CHCA’s model is unique, as it is the only home care coop in New York State.  Martha’s involvement with the NYC NOWC board will allow her to share CHCA’s best practices, experience, and expertise in being a worker and client-centered organization. 

Untitled design (2)-1
Mariana Ortega, Director of Information Technology and Facility
Cooperative Economic Alliance of New York City (CEANYC) Board Member 

Mariana has over 25 years of IT and facilities management experience, 17 of those years have been in service to CHCA and other values-aligned organizations. Mariana has a history of participating in various boards. In the past, she has served on the Advisory Board for Children’s Village, in addition to her commitment as a foster parent. Mariana has also participated as a board member for Up & Go Coop for several years.    Last year, Mariana decided to run for the Cooperative Economic Alliance of New York City CEANYC board and was elected in November 2023.  Mariana believes, wholeheartedly, in working, supporting, and developing the coop community. Mariana’s optimal goal is to share her ideas and skill set, in addition, learn from the collaboration provided by her co-op peers.   Mariana's involvement in CEANYC will allow her to bring what she has learned and her experiences from CHCA to support and help develop the networking of all coops. 

Untitled design (1)-2
Adria Powell, President and Chief Executive Officer 
Cooperative Development Foundation Board Member

Adria Powell’s connection to CHCA spans more than three decades. As the daughter of one of CHCA’s founders, Peggy Powell, Adria began her work with CHCA as a temp employee, answering the agency’s telephone calls, greeting workers attending worker ownership and in-service meetings, and filing the endless documents required to maintain worker and client compliance before heading off to Boston College to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in Black Studies.  Today, Adria is the President/Chief Executive Officer at CHCA.    

Adria accepted the nomination to the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) board because of the organization’s mission and the programming and resources they deliver that directly impact home care cooperatives.  

For close to a decade CDF has specifically supported home care cooperatives through the Homecare Cooperative Initiative project. As a worker-owned home care cooperative, CHCA has benefited by participating in annual conferences that bring together home care cooperatives, developers, funders, researchers, and more to exchange experiences, share successes, and work through challenges with the goal of expanding and strengthening the home care cooperative community. 

In 2024, Adria attended the 8th Annual Home Care Cooperative Conference which has been jointly led by CDF and ICA Group since its inception. At the conference, CDF and ICA Group announced the launch of Elevate Cooperative, the secondary cooperative established by ICA Group to serve Home Care Cooperatives. Over the next year, there will be a transition of the home care initiative and conference to Elevate Cooperative.  As an Advisory Board member of Elevate and a board member of CDF Adria believes she is uniquely positioned to maintain the home care connection between the two organizations. 

As the largest women-owned worker coop, CHCA has a responsibility to contribute to supporting other coops. Our sustainability as an organization is crucial and so is supporting the sustainability and success of other cooperatives because it strengthens all of us and builds collective power.  We share a common set of goals in the worker cooperative community including working towards a more equitable and shared economy, as well as developing and maintaining dignified, high quality and democratically governed workplaces for all who are connected to the cooperatives. 

Denise, Martha, Mariana, and Adria continue to encourage their peers to be involved and engage in cooperative and cooperative-aligned events as well as those organizations’ boards. They know it is important to create a pathway for those who come behind them to support change for the future.    

If you are interested in learning more about worker ownership, please visit us on our website. 

Published by CHCA May 28, 2024