About High Country Cooperation

HCC is a community-based nonprofit promoting economic democracy in the High Country, in order to strengthen communities, provide dignified work, and address growing inequities in income and wealth.


Our Partners

Our most important partners are the people living and working here, who are full of energy, skills, knowledge, and caring for each other and the mountains. We learn from our neighbors every day.

Locally, we are in close conversation with High Country Caregivers and Innovative Approaches about the potential for cooperatives to help take care of elders and others in need of a little extra support.

In North Carolina, we have received funding and advice about cooperative development from the Fund for Democratic Communities and Carolina Common Enterprise, and much insight from the Center for Participatory Change.

On the national scene, we are a member of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and regularly attend their national conferences and consult resources through their non-profit Democracy at Work Institute. We have received training through Cooperation Works! and participate in the Southern Grassroots Economies Project and their CoopEcon Institute.



Mission and Principles

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Board of Directors

Cynthia Wood

Cynthia Wood

Board Chair, Treasurer

Cynthia is a founding member of HCC who has lived for more than twenty years in the Zionville community of Watauga County; her children attended Mabel School and Watauga High. She is an award-winning teacher at Appalachian State, with courses on cooperatives, development, and community economics. She has training in cooperative development through Cooperation Works! Cooperative Business Development Training Program and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. Cynthia wisely leaves the growing of food to local farmers, but enjoys her flower garden, porch-sitting with family and friends, and her cat Zoey. Reach Cynthia at cynthia@hccooperation.org.

Renee Scherlen

Renee Scherlen

Board Member

Professor, Department of Government and Justice Studies, Appalachian State University. PhD Political Science. Teaches courses on Latin America and development issues. Experienced nonprofit Board member. Over 20 years in the area. Spanish speaker.

Kathleen Petermann

Kathleen Petermann

Managing Director, Board Member

Kathleen is a local farmer who owns and operates Waxwing Farm and is a member of High Country CSA. Visit her at the Watauga County Farmer’s Market! She is a founding member of HCC and promotes our Cooperative Agriculture program. Kathleen has trained in applied cooperative development through Cooperation Works! Cooperative Business Development Training Program and was named a Southern and Appalachian “Emerging Leader” in cooperatives by the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives in 2014. She has a degree in Sustainable Development, Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture from Appalachian State. She’s currently involved in discussion with friends about starting a worker-owned farm in the area. Reach Kathleen at kathleen@hccooperation.org.

Dr. William Schumann

Dr. William Schumann

Board Member

William (Billy) first moved to the High Country in 1988 and lived here for 12 years before leaving for work opportunities. Over that time, he served as a college educator with extensive experience in building student learning opportunities around collaborative, community-based partnerships with non-profit and local government agencies, both in the United States and the United Kingdom. Now back in Boone, he spends free time enjoying the region’s natural attractions with his wife and two sons.

Matt Gawthrop

Matt Gawthrop

Board Member

Matt Gawthrop is a founding member HCC, originally from the Appalachian region of West Virginia. He has training in cooperative development through Appalachian State and the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives, and has a degree in Sustainable Development. While he has recently relocated to Raleigh, he continues to work for our community by exploring the potential for networks of cooperatives in North Carolina. Matt has convinced his family that cooperatives are great; in addition to supporting HCC, they are considering joining him in a future worker cooperative.

Charlie Wickboldt

Charlie Wickboldt

Staff, Board Secretary

Charlie loves the mountains, which is why he ended up going to school here. He is a recent graduate of Appalachian State with a degree in Anthropology. Charlie has training in development, cooperatives, and participatory research, which made him a great intern for High Country Cooperation last year. His special focus with HCC is the cooperative eldercare project. Whenever he can, he gets outside to hike and backback. Reach Charlie at charlie@hccooperation.org.


Contact us today to learn more.

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