Our Mission and Vision

Our mission is to work cooperatively to increase accessibility to and availability of affordable group acupuncture treatments.

POCA, as a multi-stakeholder co-op, is designed to build a long-term, stable economic relationship based on fair treatment for everybody. Multi-stakeholder cooperatives recognize that producers and consumers are mutually dependent on one another, and that the health of the relationship between these groups is connected to the health of the larger community and economy.


Our vision:

To make community acupuncture as widely available as possible.

To establish affordable acupuncture training and continuing education programs.

To establish best practices for the operation of sustainable community acupuncture clinics.

To create job stability for community acupuncture employees, staff, and clinic owners.

To build healthy relationships and foster collaboration among our practitioners, staff, patients, and communities.

To establish micro-lending programs, scholarship funds, insurance/benefits programs, and further financial support to POCA members.

To ease entry into the practice of acupuncture and work with legislators to ensure safety and reasonable regulation.

To develop research that is useful to POCA clinics, patients, and practitioners.

To build alliances with organizations that build community and foster sustainable economies.

To sustain POCA as a robust, flourishing cooperative.



Our History

Our history begins with the founding of Working Class Acupuncture (WCA; then Window of the Sky) in Portland, Oregon, in 2002, by acupuncturists Lisa Rohleder and Skip Van Meter. The community acupuncture (CA) business model they developed is based on many of the traditional community styles of treatment often practiced in Asia. In setting up the first CA clinic, the founders asked some simple questions: What were the barriers to people getting acupuncture? What is really necessary for acupuncture treatments? How can acupuncturists make a sustainable income providing treatments to more people? The result is the CA model, which includes some fundamental re-imaginings of what acupuncture is and can be, and many helpful systems that help clinics run smoothly. It is also influenced by the concept of social business as defined by Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus.

In 2005, WCA published their first book, The Little Red Book of Working Class Acupuncture. In 2006, Lisa Rohleder published The Remedy: Integrating Acupuncture into American Healthcare, and began writing articles about social entrepreneurship and affordable acupuncture for industry publication, featured on blogs such as The Integrator; at the same time, WCA began offering workshops for other acupuncturists to share the CA business model, the philosophies behind it and their systems and experience. Later that year, the Community Acupuncture Network (CAN, a 501c6 non-profit) was formed by Lisa, Lupine Hudson, and Michael McCoy (at that time, the Executive Director of the AOM Alliance).


By the end of 2006, 11 clinics had started practicing as community acupuncture (CA) clinics. Within two years, 32 clinics were in operation and the CAN forums were bursting with discussion as people continued to simplify and refine the CA model. Growth continued to increase: by 2009, 115 clinics were open, and Lisa, along with several CAN members, published Acupuncture is Like Noodles. The 200th CAN clinic opened in 2011; practitioners and acupuncture students turning to this affordable sliding-scale community model generated a critical mass of energy that propelled the CA movement into its next stage of growth and development. 


On March 18, 2011, POCA formally incorporated in the state of Oregon. POCA offers membership and leadership to community acupuncture patients, licensed acupuncturists and those in training programs, community acupuncture clinics, and organizations who support our mission and members. Read our Executive Summary, or learn about our Organizational Structure.

Our Organizational Structure

POCA’s governance is based on the principles of sociocracy; its structure works to organize the social capital of the CA movement. Social capital includes the time, energy, skills and goodwill that co-op members contribute. POCA would not exist at all without generous investments of time from many different co-op volunteers.

Current board members:

Community Member Bob Whirlow from Providence Community Acupuncture in Providence, RI

Community Member Donna Landazuri from East West Natural Medicine in Pinole, CA 

Community Member- OL to GC Carol Young from Urbana Acupuncture clinic in Urbana, IL  and BOD Vice President

Punk Member Mike Kalebich  - BOD President

Punk Member Mackenzie Muir

Punk Member and GC Rep to the BOD James Lorr and BOD Secretary


POCA‘s main decision-making body is the General Circle. It is made up of the BOD's elected Operational Leader and two members of each Department Circle. Department Circles and their leaders are:

Membership Circle- Pam Chang, Mike Kalebich

Finance Circle-Molly Fread, Sarah Lefkowich

Publications and Content Distribution- Wade Philips

Events Circle- Cris Monteiro, Amy Severinsen  

Clinic Success Cirlce -Jim Lorr, Cait Cain and Sonja Sivesind

POCA Regional Coordinators are selected on a local/regional basis. Other projects include legislative, jobs creation, and newsletter production.

The General Circle deliberates on matters concerning the co-op as a whole (mainly budgets and policy) and reviews proposals made by co-op members. 
Any co-op member can
 bring a proposal to the GC

Staff members are: Carmen Doerge -Financial and Administrative Coordinator; Wade Phillips -Technical Coordinator; and Peter Frey - Membership Coordinator

You can contact staff or circles members via email. Members can log into the site and find more information in the Circle wiki.

Executive Summary

The Peoples’ Organization of Community Acupuncture


Established March, 2011

From the beginning, the Community Acupuncture movement has been led by practitioners to serve patients. The movement has grown from a single clinic in Portland, Oregon, to hundreds of clinics around the world.

Until 2011, the Community Acupuncture Network, (CAN, a 501c6 non-profit) professional organization was the main vehicle for the growth and proliferation of community acupuncture. But there were needs best met by a new organizational structure – ­ a multi-stakeholder cooperative. This cooperative structure creates a means for the direct involvement of patients in the process of governing the organization. Participation means that membership is a shared responsibility. Everyone is invited to be involved! 


  • Acupuncture is important to our health as individuals, families, co-workers, and community members, because it provides inexpensive, non-invasive relief from pain and suffering.
  • Community Acupuncture defines and supports a mode of direct delivery of inexpensive care for people of ordinary incomes regardless of insurance coverage.
  • Community Acupuncture provides a new model for healthcare and self-care empowerment.
  • Community Acupuncture has at its heart a commitment to social justice and the deconstruction of barriers to care and health care resources.
  • Community Acupuncture’s commitment to social justice addresses barriers to accessing care and training in the field of acupuncture.
  • In its first 10 years, the Community Acupuncture movement has created employment opportunities where there were none. However, because of graduates’ debt load and the prevailing professional culture, many of these positions have yet to be filled.


  • affordable acupuncture
  • professional clinic support including  staffing, micro-lending, training, management, and mentoring
  • affordable training, education, and continuing education
  • Identifying as yet un-served communities
  • new paradigms of healthcare and health empowerment
  • revitalizing local economies
  • social capital and financial capital in our communities and in the community acupuncture movement
  • bridging with other communities that are working for social justice


  • promote accessible and affordable acupuncture.
  • supports an international healthcare movement concerned with access to care and social justice.
  • help build POCA Tech ­ – an affordable school for training community acupuncturists.
  • open new clinics in un-served communities through business micro-loans.
  • have a say in how our coop does things. Every voice and vote matters. Join a POCA circle (committee), vote in the annual elections, be counted and heard.
  • create more living-wage jobs for acupuncturists and support staff.
  • volunteer at local clinics and in the larger organization.
  • support a working model for sustainable, ethical, and affordable healthcare practice.

Read about specific patient/community and acu-punk/student membership benefits.