Since Christina Nicholson joined the team last November, her energy, humor, and deep knowledge of cooperative economics have already made an impression. Christina is the Worker Ownership Initiative Program Manager, an Aquarius, and a talented quick-bread maker. We sat down over zoom to talk about her role, her journey to Nexus, and her hopes for the future.
Interview edited for length and clarity
What do you do at Nexus?
Everyday for me in the Worker Owner Initiative is a new learning experience! For example, through our role as a Minneapolis C-TAP provider (Cooperative Technical Assistance Program), I’m working with a small language-learning cooperative. We meet weekly to develop their new bylaws and articles, as well as helping them build their internal culture and their ecosystem of outside resources. Together, this foundation will help the cooperative grow and thrive once it’s established. I am also doing work as a financial analyst – looking at another business who is considering converting to a cooperative, and helping them understand how to create a fair sale price for the worker owners who are considering purchasing the business.
In general, I have found in business that people are disinvited from their own agency when it comes to the language of finance. In my new role, I have found that helping teams understand the technical side of things can help build a cooperative’s culture— this is exciting because it becomes a more empowering relationship. The goal for me is for the teams I serve to be able to say “We understand this model, we’re taking this model, and moving beyond it.”
What did you do before Nexus?
In my 25 year cooperative career I’ve done every job from front line bagging to leading whole organizations as a general manager. In 2019, I got my MBA to understand how current capital systems move, at a more technical level, to help people build the bridge between their work and their ability to claim their own agency.
I’ve learned that you are always a better leader if you are doing the work with people. Successful leaders aren’t only thinking about the work, or visioning, but they are IN it. My work has been about leading on the ground and being influenced by those around me. Cooperatives help foster that environment and give you a sense that you are truly interdependent in the work you do.
What do you hope to learn next year?
I want to learn how to support people’s health, agency and wellbeing while seeing them move away from conventional, white supremacist, capitalist models of business. As more people from historically marginalized communities continue to grow in their power, I am energized to see how their cultural and individual gifts will shape the future of cooperatives!
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love to cook, and I always overplant kale in my garden. We have a LOT of recipes for raw kale salads. Thankfully, my daughter appreciates the earthiness. I also love to travel—I love oceans and mountains, but I am the happiest when I get to spend time with my wife and a good book!