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Mike Zak

Cooperative Developer

He/him pronouns

Mike is a seeker of knowledge, justice, and sustainability. He was the Co-Founder and a worker-owner of Gro-op, an aquaponic vertical farm, for the past 10 years. Mike co-created Gro-op as a model of what an ethical business could be: ever striving towards utilizing the most environmentally sustainable urban farming practices, empowering workers through democratic cooperative ownership, and investing in its community by providing on the job training programs for Opportunity Youth in Buffalo's East and West Sides while working with local non-profits towards Food Apartheid eradication. Mike has been passionate about the cooperative movement for close to two decades. He was a Board member and Board Chair of the Buffalo Cooperative Federal Credit Union for 6 years as well as a member owner of several local cooperatives. Mike has also been an activist and organizer in many social, environmental, and racial justice organizations throughout his life which include being a Board Member and Board Chair of the WNY Peace Center, volunteering at Citizen Action, PUSH Buffalo, Buffalo ReUse, and The Foundry Buffalo. Mike has 20 years experience being a business owner and has a Bachelor's Degree in Philosophy. He has worked as a Youth Educator at WNY YouthBuild teaching low-income Opportunity Youth, who had dropped out of High School, building trades & occupational skills. Most of all, Mike truly believes the best way to have a just and equitable society is through democracy and cooperative decision making.

Mike Zak
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