The Board of Directors are responsible for passing our budget and major policies like membership and hiring our core staff. Our Board composition is 5 advisers and a student representative from each region. They sit on various committees, like governance, programming, finance, and development. They are elected by the member co-ops. Let’s meet them!
Michael Roberts, 11th Hour Project
Michael came to know CoFED through his work at The 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation, where he is an associate in the Ecological Agriculture and Regional Food System grant making program. At 11th Hour, Michael works with projects across the country devoted to reforming the food system, providing financial resources, strategic advice, and connections with other activists and leaders necessary to scale innovation. Relatively new to philanthropy, he brings with him the values of community empowerment and local actors as the most important agents of change.
Michael holds a Master of Science from University College London (UK) in Environment and Sustainable Development, where he focused on the transformative nature of community food projects and urban agriculture. While at UCL in 2009, he was a regular volunteer at Organic Lea, a worker-owned cooperative and home of the largest certified organic farm within Greater London’s city limits. Michael’s MSc dissertation explored the role of community-driven entrepreneurship in supporting alternative models and policies for food, agriculture, and trade. A section devoted to local community food projects was published in the UCL compilation The Food Junctions Cookbook: Living Recipes for Social Innovation. He also used Participatory Action Research methods to work alongside rural migrant farmers in Ashaiman, Ghana to organize as a cooperative and assert their right to their land just outside the capital city of Accra.
Though he grew up in South Carolina and Georgia, Michael has lived and worked all over. He has worked as an organizer for the League of Conservation Voters in Salem, Oregon during the 2004 presidential campaign and in 2008, became the production manager at Piedmont Biofuels Cooperative in Moncure, North Carolina. He currently resides in Oakland, CA where he has the pleasure of interacting with some of the most exciting entrepreneurial projects in the food system both as a funder and an engaged citizen.
Brent Dixon, Filene Research Institute
Brent Dixon is a designer, educator, and advisor to the Filene Research Institute, and founder of The Cooperative Trust, a global community of young credit union activists. Brent wants to connect the credit union system with CoFED to create financial education and products designed specifically for cooperatives.
Brent has lead the design of financial products and programs for un/underbanked consumers, young adults, and small businesses for credit unions across the United States. He has facilitated planning sessions and workshops for NASCO, NCBA, and every major credit union trade association in North America. He speaks regularly on emerging markets and trends in consumer finance. He previously lead digital media and outreach for the National Credit Union Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the credit union movement. Brent also founded the Habdash, an über-interactive design studio based in Austin, Texas.
Brent is excited to advise CoFED in its work sparking a larger conversation around social justice, economic empowerment, and planting the seeds to enable more cooperative and mission-driven businesses to thrive in the future.
Hnin W. Hnin, Slow Food USA
Hnin W. Hnin believes that a kinder, more just, sustainable world requires the heart, the body, and the mind to move together. Born in Burma and raised in Brooklyn by working class parents, she’s been learning to cooperate, to laugh when it’s hard, and to create joy while appreciating struggle for more than two decades. At 17, while building boardwalks for a SCA conservation project, she read Fast Food Nation and got politicized around food and sustainability. Every summer since then, she’s worked on a farm, farmers market, a restaurant–or some food-related project. She sees food/sustainability as inextricably connected to queer, feminist, economic, race, class, and democracy issues–all the things she began exploring in high school. As a campus organizer in college, she worked with others to establish a Women’s Center and build solidarity between various student groups such as the Lehman Council of Community Engagement, Queer Student Union, Black Student Union, Greensense, and Students for Social Justice and community groups like the Northern Berkshire Community Center. She studied abroad her junior year on IHP’s Rethinking Globalization program–doing a cross-comparative study of the role of gender in local food economies in 5 different countries. Her senior team project focused on clean energy policies. In 2010 she graduated with a BA in Political Economy and International Studies from Williams College, where she was also a 1960 Scholar on Environmental Studies. She currently works as an organizer for Slow Food USA and was a public policy intern at Applied Research Center.
Steve Dubb, NASCO
Steve Dubb is Research Director of The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland and has worked for the Collaborative since 2004. Steve is has authored or coauthored a number of books and reports including Building Wealth: The New Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems, published by The Aspen Institute in 2005; Linking Colleges to Communities: Engaging the University for Community Development (2007), The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads (2010, with Rita Axelroth) and Growing a Green Economy for All: From Green Jobs to Green Ownership (2010, with Deborah Warren). Dubb also (with Ted Howard) conducted the initial strategic planning that led to the development of the Evergreen Cooperative initiative in Cleveland, Ohio and currently assists efforts to adopt that worker co-op network model to meet the needs of other cities.
Previously, Steve was Executive Director of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit association that provides education and technical assistance to university and community-based housing and retail cooperatives. Steve is also an alumnus of both the Berkeley Student Cooperative housing co-op and the Groundwork Books collective at UC San Diego, a collectively owned and run bookstore.
Sarah Rocker, Staff Advisor to the Flaming Eggplant Café
Sarah Rocker is the staff Advisor to the student-run Flaming Eggplant Cafe at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Through spending a year abroad in Europe at age 19, she began to develop a passion for diverse culinary delights, and had her first experience of frequenting local outdoor markets, recognizing that they were the social and cultural seat of the community. Taught by her mother, she’s been gardening all her life, and working on farms since 2005. For the past 4 years she’s lived on an intentional housing community homestead, where her partner, Erik, farms for a living. Sarah grows culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers for the market stand and enjoys saving and sharing seeds. She is also a co-founder and board member of the West Olympia Farmer’s Market, and active member and volunteer of various local organizations, including South Sound Community Farmland Trust and the McLane Grange, where she’s helped to organize foot-stompin, seed-swapping social mixers for small farmers in the area. She holds an M.A. in German studies with a focus on Intercultural Communication and is currently pursuing a Master’s in Public Administration, with research in local and regional food systems planning. She loves reading old cookbooks and cooking elaborate weekend brunches.
New England — Mary Schulte, University of Maryland
I am interested in being an agent in shaping CoFED’s direction and making decisions that will foster a sustainable business model and translate into an increasingly vibrant, functional, and self-reinforcing student cooperative presence in North America. My own understanding of and appreciation for CoFED’s efforts have grown out of my participation in this summer’s past incubation, and I think that this experience, my work with CoFED since then, and my insight as a worker at the Maryland Food Collective would inform my input as a potential board member and open up the possibility for me to become more engaged with the mechanisms that make CoFED possible and where I can do the most service. Participating in the collective process at the Maryland Food Collective has taught me a great deal about responsible decision-making and importance of engaging fairly and responsibly.
Mid-Atlantic — Zach Zeilman, Vassar
I am a recent graduate from Vassar College where I founded the school’s first student-run food cooperative in my senior year and have been passionate about just food systems since. However, starting a cooperative, especially in the beginning stages required a lot of dedication, collaboration with others, and comprise. I first came to a CoFED Summer Convergence by myself, but with their inspiring leadership, I organized a great group of students and brought this budding idea into fruition to create The Pumpkin Patch. During the first year, I helped to establish partnerships with a local educational non-profit, with Vassar’s new food studies program, with faculty and administrators, and even local farmers and vendors. I led several events and many meetings in order to maintain momentum and raise awareness about the need for the organization and our committment to a healthy local community and food system. I continue to aid the group in trying to start a bulk buying club with a food cart and with the educational and community aspects. I have also had the pleasure of serving as one of CoFED’s first Generators this past year. In this position, I get to be directly involved the co-op’s development and use that experience to create a project and document it to share with others. I hope to contribute to a greater extent now as a Board Member by helping others who are in the same position as I was starting out, as well as to make sustainable, beneficial decisions for the longevity of the group as a whole.
Northern California — Zen Trenholm, UC Berkeley
Zen Trenholm is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley studying Cooperative Business Development. Concerned with addressing the needs of his local community, he has joined the Berkeley Student Food Collective as their Policy Co-Coordinator. He also serves as the Treasurer and Project Director for the California Student Sustainability Coalition. Zen was a speaker on the “Building the New Economy through Student Leadership” panel at the Spring 2011 Green Festival and has worked on numerous social, environmental and economic justice issues throughout his academic career. He will be attending the National Cooperative Business Association’s Annual Conference in Seattle this October as a Crasher.
Southern California – Alyssa Lee, UC Los Angeles
This will be a pivotal year for the UCLA Student Food Collective in getting our co-op running and I feel it’s time as Financial Manager and Operations Director to step up to bigger roles! I am currently a third year student at UCLA majoring in Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics hoping to minor in Global Studies and Public Health. Besides the co-op, I’m also very involved in Marching Band (Go, band geeks!) as an alto saxophonist, my band sorority (we do music-related service projects and promote women in music), E3, multiple volunteer tutoring clubs, and Bruins for Animals as a vegan of almost 2 years! My interests include making pretty signs, knitting, playing music, obsessing, highlighting, baking, and writing poems!
Northwest – Eli Evans, Evergreen State College
Eli Evans works at the Flaming Eggplant Cafe and is excited to connect with other student-run food coops in the Pacific Northwest and bring their voice to CoFED’s national Board. She also can’t wait to meet the other awesome students and advisers on Board. Eli wants to participate in the creation of CoFED’s direction because she thinks it is a powerful movement builder and a great opportunity for all that are involved. Besides working at the Eggplant and going to school, she also loves cooking meals for friends, summer swimming, and maple leaves falling!
Midwest – Clara Baker, Beloit College
My name is Clara Baker and I am a senior at Beloit College in Beloit, WI. I am also a baker, an activist, a musician, an educator, a backpacker and a dreamer. I am interested in being on the Board of Directors for CoFED because I want to help empower other students so that the cooperative movement can grow and thrive. I’ve spent my time at Beloit heavily involved and invested in food activism. Freshman year my roommate and I spent the year meeting with students, faculty and administrators to discuss the possibility of having a dining co-op on Beloit’s campus. We received two grants to travel to two other schools in the Midwest that have co-ops, and inspired by their models, we co-founded the Big Spoon Dining Co-op on Beloit’s campus. Now in its third year, the Big Spoon Dining Co-op has also paved way for two other co-ops to start on campus. My experience as a co-founder of this co-op as well as my experience networking with and researching other Midwest co-ops and food initiatives gives me confidence that I can continue to network with and advise other cooperative ventures and initiatives in the Midwest and beyond.