Honoring the Legacy of Elizabeth “Liz” Bailey

January 29, 2024

A Letter from Gary A. Officer, President & CEO

I am saddened to report the passing of my dear friend and CWI board member, Elizabeth “Liz” Bailey. A proud mid-westerner from the state of Wisconsin, Liz blazed a successful trail in public service as a cabinet appointee to Governor Tommy Thompson in her home state and, then, as a Defense Department appointee under President Bill Clinton.

While Liz found fulfillment in her important government assignments, her true calling can be found in her enduring support and belief in the U.S. cooperative movement. Simply put, Liz had a deep affection for the people who serve our nation’s cooperative community. In turn, they Liz Baileyalso profoundly admired Liz for her leadership.

I will always cherish my time as a board member at the Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF), where I observed Liz’s wonderful leadership of the organization. Liz spent many years at CDF before taking the helm of the National Cooperative Business Association and then serving on its executive team.

I have many memories of Liz’s work during this period. Still, for me, her most important contribution was her steadfast commitment and support for the community of African American Cooperatives represented nationally by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives. Liz ensured that this critical yet often overlooked segment of the cooperative community was consistently positioned at the table on important policy, legislative, and funding discussions. This, in turn, led to more inclusive policy outcomes and increased funding opportunities for this historically underrepresented community.

Liz was also a dear and trusted friend. She never lost her mid-western wit despite decades of life inside the DC beltway, and most of all, she responded to my call to service when she agreed to join the board of directors at the Center for Workforce Inclusion (CWI). Servant leadership was Liz Bailey’s life calling, and she served us all to the end of a life well lived.

On behalf of the Board of Directors and the management team at CWI, I extend our heartfelt condolences to Jim Bailey during this period of deep mourning.