Kristen Barker is a social entrepreneur and President of the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative. CUCI creates jobs that are accountable to workers and our communities by developing and launching co-ops based on the Mondragon-USW union co-op model (worker ownership + solidarity and collective bargaining). CUCI has launched one co-op and has five co-ops in various stages of feasibility/business planning. Our first co-op, Our Harvest, has been operating an incubator farm for the past year, training and growing new farmers. In phase two, the food hub will aggregate and distribute local produce to anchor institutions. Worker owners are card-carrying members of UFCW. The other co-ops in the planning stages include Sustainergy (an energy retrofitting co-op with the Building Trades), a railway manufacturing co-op with USW, Sarah Center Jewelry Co-op with USW, Renter Equity Management Co-op, and a cookie co-op with the UFCW.
Kristen has been working since 2001 at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center (IJPC) as a community organizer. In this capacity, she has coordinated the Peace and Nonviolence program, directed an innovative dialogue training program, and fostered collaboration and connection between faith, labor, and community groups. Before working at IJPC she spent a year and a half in El Salvador volunteering with CRISPAZ on a listening project with a repopulated community. She graduated from Xavier University with a B.A. in theology and a minor in peace studies. She is the mother of a resilient 11 year old child with special needs.