John & Carol Zippert, Director of Program Operations and Cooperative Activist, Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund
Partners in both life and the pursuit of social justice, John & Carol Zippert embody the mission of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and the growth of the cooperative movement in the South. Dedicated to self-determination through cooperation, the Zipperts’ cooperative impact includes housing, land ownership and credit union development, and cooperative education and training for youth and organizations in low income communities.
During his 45 years as director of programs for the Federation’s Rural Training and Research Center in Epes, AL, John promoted cooperative economic development for low-income and minority people through advocacy, fundraising, and training and development programs. He helped hundreds of Black farmers make successful claims in a class action lawsuit against USDA for discrimination in credit and conservation programs.
A self-described “community worker”, Carol dedicated five decades to building cooperatives with the Federation, cultivating opportunities for rural youth, and leading the Federation of Greene County Employees (FOGCE) FCU. Located in one of the nation’s poorest counties, under Carol’s stewardship the assets of the credit union grew from $25,000 in 1975 to $1.4 million in 2017.
In addition to their shared passion for cooperative economic development, since 1985 John and Carol have published a weekly newspaper primarily serving the African-American community of Greene and surrounding counties in the Alabama Black Belt. They have three children and 11 grandchildren.