Kristen Barker

Founding Member & President, Cincinnati Union Cooperative Initiative

Cincinnati, OH

Share Ownership  |  Community Economic Development, Food and Agriculture, Worker Ownership

Kristen is turning Cincinnati into an American epicenter for implementing the Mondragon union cooperative model.

Kristen is the president and co-founder of the Cincinnati Union Co-op Initiative (CUCI). She previously worked as the peace and nonviolence program coordinator at the Intercommunity Justice and Peace Center, was a co-founder of, and was a co-founder of Solidarity School, which fosters connections between faith and labor. She has served on the boards of Our Harvest Co-op, Sustainergy Co-op, and Apple Street Market Co-op. Kristen has a B.A. from Xavier University, in Cincinnati, where she was born and currently lives.


  • CUCI launched 4 co-op initiatives (explored 3 others), hosted 2 national union co-op conferences with over 200 people from 20 states, and is the epicenter of U.S. implementation of union co-ops.
  • Harvest Co-op-created 18 jobs, focuses on building food security and food access in the region while providing livable wages for workers. It is also the site of Cincinnati State’s Sustainable Agriculture Management Practicum.
  • Sustainergy Energy Retrofitting Co-op created 3.5 jobs, partnering with Cincinnati G&E (Empower) to implement low cost, high-impact residential retrofits.
  • Apple Street Market has become a scaleable initiative. With over 1100 community owners, it will provide food access in a food desert and is 85% funded. Feasability studies are underway for other neighborhoods.
  • Renting Partnerships (RP) is an affordable housing partnership between a non-profit and residents. RP sublease establishes rights for residents to participate in decision-making and build financial equity.