Guided by the belief that the power of self-help and community can overcome adversity and provide positive outcomes for society, Vernon Oakes has utilized his radio show, Everything Co-op, to elevate the voices of cooperative leaders who organize, maintain, support, and grow cooperatives. In October 2023, Everything Co-op celebrated 10 years on air and has over 365 episodes with themes ranging from cooperative development to advocacy all with the goal of sharing the power of cooperatives through education.
Vernon received an MBA from Stanford University, an MS in Mathematics from Penn State, and a BS in Mathematics and Chemistry from Bluefield State College. He was the first Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department at San Diego State University and coordinated the MBA program at Howard University in Washington, DC. He has ten years of teaching experience at the college level and two years’ experience training adults for the U.S. Department of Interior.
Earlier in his career, Vernon spent a decade working for a Fortune 500 Company, first as the President’s assistant and then four years as Director of International Parts Marketing, traveling the world performing marketing studies. During the latter five years, Vernon ran a distributorship for the company in Puerto Rico.
In 1994, Vernon launched a property management company in Washington, DC. Among his first contracts was a limited equity housing cooperative comprised of mostly African American women. Inspired by the members’ ability to make sound decisions rooted in integrity and engage in fruitful deliberation, he began to study the cooperative business model. Soon after, he became involved with the Potomac Association of Housing Cooperatives and the National Association of Housing Cooperatives (eventually becoming its President).
Through cooperatives, Vernon found a world of people dedicated to democratizing humanity and intent on making societal changes for the betterment of communities, particularly communities of color. Under that premise, Vernon sought support from the National Cooperative Bank (NCB) to sustain his drive and passion for a vibrant educational program that gives voice to cooperatives. NCB has been the primary sponsor of Everything Co-op since 2014.
After retiring from his property management company in 2019, Vernon became a member-owner of Columinate, a national consulting and management services cooperative, and actively participates on the development team of one of Columinate's new business units, Common Good Management Services. Common Good is focused on providing property management services for community-owned and governed affordable housing initiatives, including resident owned manufactured home communities and community land trusts to support permanent affordability initiatives. Firm in his belief that cooperatives can solve community problems and help people come out of poverty with dignity, Vernon continues his mission to educate about cooperatives through Common Good and Everything Co-op.