Melbah M. Smith
Melbah Smith has worked for nearly 40 years to start and strengthen cooperatives in some of the most impoverished, isolated and ignored communities in the United States. She is a giant in the cooperative community.
With the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and the Mississippi Association of Cooperatives she worked as a community organizer and co-op developer to bring health care, economic development and social justice to rural people in some of the poorest areas of the country. As Executive Director of the Mississippi Center for Cooperative Development, she helped form more than 25 cooperatives and built an invaluable financial support network for co-ops that includes state agencies and private funding sources.
Smith is known as a trusted and visionary leader who challenges others to dream and works to ensure that they fulfill those dreams. After Hurricane Katrina she helped form Louisiana's first worker-owned business, which has created 20 jobs and will provide health care to the poor and elderly in New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward.
She also helped found and grow CooperationWorks, an innovative national co-op of cooperative development practitioners, and inspired many others to embrace the cooperative model through her passion, insight and enthusiasm.