Why the Trophies?

Two Reasons ACCA’s Work is Getting Recognized


When the co-op movement needs leaders, educators and enthusiasm, they’re turning to Alberta Community and Co-operative Association (ACCA) staff members Seth Leon and Lacey Chyz.

If there’s been a recent co-op development project in the province, it’s likely that Seth Leon has had a hand in it. The 35-year-old, originally from Nova Scotia, came to Alberta with a Masters of Development Economics and a talent for creating collaborative environments for community and economic prosperity.

2016 ACE Award SethOn June 2, 2016, Leon’s tremendous contributions as a co-op developer and educator were recognized by the Association of Co-operative Educators when he received the William Hlusko Award for Young Co-operative Educators. The international award was established in the seventies to acknowledge those who are changing society, while still just starting their own careers. “Seth’s optimism for the possibilities of what can be accomplished is infectious,” says Sarah Pike, executive director of ACE. “We expect his influence in co-op development to grow.”

In his four and a half years at ACCA, Leon’s been instrumental in generating millions of local-investment dollars to revitalize business opportunities and foster entrepreneurship by helping citizens pool their resources and invest in local projects to create and operate their own Opportunity Development Co-ops. He’s presented at conferences and universities across Canada and the United States and still finds time to volunteer as a director on multiple boards within Calgary’s not-for-profit community.

Volunteering is exactly how ACCA found, and later recruited, Lacey Chyz. When she began volunteering for ACCA’s Co-operative Youth Leadership Program in 2011, Chyz was a passionate communicator from the credit union sector. She formally joined the ACCA staff team in 2014, bringing renewed charisma to Canada’s co-op movement after returning from a six-month international internship with the Canadian Co-operative Association.2016 CMC Award Lacey

On June 15, 2016, Co-operatives and Mutuals Canada named Lacey Chyz as Canada’s Emerging Co-operator of the year.  The award recognizes an individual under 35 who has contributed in especially significant ways to promoting, developing and uniting co-operatives and mutuals in Canada and internationally.

Seth Leon, Manager of Co-operative Services and Lacey Chyz, Communications Coordinator may work out of separate offices, but they’re a combined force, co-facilitating sector events like the Gathering of Alberta Co-operatives, and creating ACCA’s workshop and training series. Their individual and joint leadership has expanded the province and the nation’s understanding of the co-operative model. Both young leaders have an enthusiasm that empowers the co-op movement to grow with a skill set to help it do so.

That leaves one wondering – what can we expect next?