What are cooperatives? Cooperatives are values- driven businesses that put worker and community benefit at the core of their purpose. The owners of the cooperative are the people who work in it. These businesses can be found in every sector and industry, from engineering and manufacturing to retail to service. Workers participate in the profits, oversight, and, to varying degrees, the management of the organization, using democratic practices. Workers own the majority of the equity in the business and control the voting shares.

Cooperatives and alliances have a great potential to power the Deaf Ecosystem and empower us to support each other in new and visionary ways. In this forum, led by Jessica Belwood and Lisi Whitworth, members of the brand new DeafMade Cooperative will share what they learned in the process of forming a cooperative. Audience members are encouraged to bring their own ideas and to participate, sharing their experiences.

Jessica Belwood

Founder of Bellewood Virtual Assistant - BellewoodVA.com

A young woman with brown hair in a professionally-styled hair, smiling directly at the camera.

Biography: Jessica Belwood is Deaf from birth and the founder and owner of Bellewood Virtual Assistant. She is passionate about serving, helping grow and impact Deaf-owned businesses and organizations to bring prosperity to the Deaf community. Jessica also provides expert consultation on how to tap a gold mine: a niche with millions of Deaf/Hard of Hearing people and American Sign Language users, the best-kept secret. Wielding a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, she can help your business to connect with customers in a meaningful way, and create an impact. As for hearing business owners or organizations, you will be pleasantly surprised to find that working with a Deaf Virtual Assistant is not only more efficient but leaves a lasting impression on your business and community.

The marketing methods today has dramatically evolved the past decade. Staying up to date with marketing methods are critical for success. Future and current clients, Jessica is continually learning and applying successful and proven marketing methods from the real experts, so you can rest assured that quality service will be provided. She is part of an ongoing training and mentoring program under Sandi Krakowski, a Forbes Top 20 Online Marketing and Social Media Influencer. Get proven results for a very affordable price!

Elise Whitworth

CEO & Cofounder - Eventida, Inc. / Interim Co-Director & Cofounder, DeafMade Cooperative

image of Lisi, middle aged with silver hair, watching something off to the side

Lisi Whitworth is a former journalist and an entrepreneur who works with partners to build sustainable organizations that makes a difference, consistently generates revenue, organically grows, and most importantly, creates jobs.

She seeks to create organizational cultures and support systems that encourage innovation, healthy lifestyles, friendship, and life-work balance, and believes that technology, media and modular learning systems are key to achieving this goal.

In her journey as a Deaf woman, cancer survivor, employer, wife and mother, she has grown passionate about accessibility, equality, health, and lifelong learning, particularly in the Deaf community.

She co-founded Satdaya LLC, a brand management company; Eventida, a global bulletin board and marketplace for accessible & inclusive events; and DeafMade Cooperative, a member-owned company of Deaf entrepreneurs and contractors supporting one another.

She is currently working with Gallaudet University’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Institute (GIEI) and Center for Continuing & Online Education (CCOE) to create the very first Deaf Media Summit; supporting the rebrand of a nonprofit, from Signcasts to Deafsourced Media; is in the ONA Journalism Mentorship Collaborative; and participating in the very first cohort of Village Capital program at Gallaudet University.