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Kelli Phillips

Director, representing Hay Communications Co-operative

Tell us a bit about yourself (i.e., your background (where you grew up, education, children, which co-operative you work for, your position, etc.) 

Although born in Toronto, I moved to rural SW Ontario as a young teen and very much enjoy small town life. My two sons live nearby, and I have one grandson. I achieved my Graphic Design Diploma from Fanshawe College in 2002, and currently work as the Marketing Director for Hay Communications Co-operative.  

How long have you been involved in the co-operative movement, and what do you love most about it? 

I was fortunate to become part of Hay Communications, my local telecommunications company, in 2007. I knew little about co-operatives before then. Through my role educating the public about how our co-op is different and better for the community, I’ve become much more knowledgeable on the subject. It is refreshing to be able to honestly “sell” the truth about your staff and services. 

If there is one thing you would want people to know about co-ops, what would it be? 

I’d like everyone to know there are real differences in the people who work for and direct operations for co-ops vs the corporate sector. The staff and board really take being a co-op seriously and are devoted to the core co-op values. It’s not a slogan or a tag line, but a way of doing business.  

Why is your co-operative a member of OCA?  

Hay Communications values the support and resources provided by OCA. Co-ops tend to be smaller companies, so we benefit from this like-minded group of individuals, much like how Hay works with other local telcos.  

What do you think are some of the benefits of being a member of OCA?  

Combined intelligence and resources from a variety of business styles and professionals brings unique perspectives to the table. Ideas you can apply to your own business.  

Why did you decide to join the OCA board as a Director? 

Joining OCA as a board member is giving back to the co-op community. Helping to develop what other businesses may need to become a co-op or supporting existing co-ops is of personal and professional interest to me. I’m happy to represent the telecom industry and bring our unique methods to the collective group.

How has your past experience helped you in this role?  

My previous work experience was supporting health and nutrition promotion with the Huron County Health Unit.  I think “selling” lifestyle changes through education put me in the correct frame of mind for working at a co-operative.  

What do you think are some of the opportunities and challenges facing OCA in the next 3 - 5 years? 

People are becoming very aware of the cost to produce and deliver products or services. As they see profits made by corporations, they want to do it better and more efficiently. Co-ops offer an alternative that is socially responsible with shared group risk and cost. Co-ops are resurging and NOW is the time to advocate and motivate these people. Challenges to any start-up are large corporations with massive advertising budgets and worldwide reach. A digital world also has its challenges to connect to specific target markets with adequate impact. 

What is your vision for OCA?  

My vision is both narrow and broad. I’d like to see new and unique types of co-ops forming locally and in SW Ontario, as well as assistance for co-operative start-ups from provincial and federal governments. Recognition and support from these groups would go far in promoting awareness of the co-operative model. 

Share a fun/silly thing that not many people know about you!  

I have a 190 lb English Mastif. He is like having another person living in the house. He does get me out to the trails often, however, but he also loves to sit in my lap. 

Contact Kelli Phillips at