“Bill has helped our cooperative grow and continually improve. Bill has helped me weather difficult times in my career, and has proven to me again and again that he is a good friend and fellow cooperator.”
“I first met and worked with Bill in the 1990s and he was already legendary in the co-op world then! His knowledge and tireless dedication to strengthening our sector has made him a national co-op icon and have enriched the whole co-op community. My appreciation for all that he is contributed is matched only by the inspiration I take from all he has contributed.”
“Taken as a whole, Bill’s body of work is growing cooperatives. From board training and member loans to strategy, empowerment and capacity, Bill’s work has been to ultimately focus on having more ‘co-op’ in life.”
“What I’ve come to appreciate about his work with CDS is that he started out as just one guy, but surrounded himself with a talented group of people who have helped transform a sector.”
“Bill was much more than a meeting facilitator; he was also a social facilitator, leading us (CGA MW) in pursuits as diverse as tennis, ping pong, musical performances and tomato-judging contests. Bill is a role model, a mentor, and an inspiration to me. The world is a better place because of his work with co-ops and the people who love them.”
“He sees the value in fun and playfulness. It creates an environment where people can build trust. I’m grateful to Bill personally for his unending encouragement and support. I rely on him for guidance and inspiration, and he is generous with all that.”
George Huntington, general manager, Bloomingfoods Market & Deli:
“I asked Bill how many food co-ops he worked with in starting or expanding and was amazed when he responded that it was close to 300 over the last twenty-five years. I then asked how many of those failed in their attempts, and was further surprised when his answer was one. I think we would all welcome a record of 300 “wins” against 1 “loss.” I am hard-pressed to assign a sales dollar value to the work that Bill has been associated with, but I can guarantee that our collective jaws would drop (in a good way) if that number were somehow quantified.”
Tim Bartlett, general manager, Lexington Cooperative Market:
“Bill’s leadership and unique approach to coaching people is a big part of what makes him so successful. He leads with questions, gently and patiently drawing out your ability to solve your own problems and he pushes you to stretch your thinking when you need it.”
Dan Gillotte, general manager, Wheatsville Food Co-op:
“Our growth from a struggling $5 million a year co-op to a $16 million award-winning cooperative enterprise could not have happened without Bill. And that’s real.”
Annie Donovan, chief operating officer, NCB Capital Impact:
“From the perspective of those who finance cooperative development in the retail food sector, Bill Gessner has been a true treasure.”
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