The Co-operative Achievement Award: This award honours individuals who have made an outstanding contribution to the cause and development of co-operative and mutual enterprises in Canada and internationally.

Dianne (Fitzgerald) Kelderman

Dianne received her B.A and B.Ed from Memorial University of Newfoundland, her Masters in Education from St. Mary’s University, her Masters in Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University Graduate School of Business, and is a graduate of the High Potential Leaders Program at Harvard Business School.

Dianne is the President of Atlantic Economics, a firm specializing in economic analysis and business development. She is currently on contract as the President and CEO of the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, a contract she has held for the past 23 years.

Dianne’s work in economic development spans 30 years and several countries. She has worked extensively in Atlantic Canada and has been the lead advisor on assignments across Canada, the New England States and as far afield as India. She is a published author, a well-known speaker on economic development issues, and a government policy advisor.

Dianne has worked in all aspects of economic development but has a particular interest in business and alternative finance development. She was the initiator of the first community economic development investment fund in Atlantic Canada—the Community Catalyst Fund. She is the author of, and currently manages a $210 million small business financing program, for Nova Scotia’s co-operative and credit union sector, the author and manager of the sector’s $1.5 million equity fund, and the author and manager of the credit unions $2 million immigrant financing program.

Dianne led the creation and launch of Canada’s first and only online health care clinic—Connecting People for Health. During her tenure with the Nova Scotia Co-operative Council, the assets of the organization grew from $19,000 to over $7 million, and revenue grew by 4,000%.

In her spare time, Dianne is an active volunteer, having served as Vice Chair of Canada Health Infoway, Director on the Board of Marine Atlantic, Chair of the Board of the Atlantic and Nova Scotia Chamber of Commerce, Chair of the Finance and Planning Committee for Immaculate Conception Church, and many other local organizations.

For the 17 years, Dianne and her husband John were a big couple to Little Sister Sarah. Though 23 years have passed, Sarah is still part of their family.

In 2010, Dianne was named one of Canada’s 8 Women of Influence. In 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2014 Dianne also received awards for Top 50 CEO in Atlantic Canada and was inducted into the Atlantic Business Hall of Fame in 2014. In 2022, Dianne was named one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Atlantic Canada, and also, in 2022, received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Truro Chamber of Commerce.

Dianne is known by her colleagues as a person “who gets things done”. She does not shy away from challenges! She is a tenacious, innovative leader, action oriented, a visionary, committed to business excellence, and sees opportunities where others see obstacles. She is always willing and eager to tackle tough systemic issues that impact the lives of others.

If you want something done, stay out of her way and watch it happen.