Staff & Board
Thanks to our Food Co-op Initiative staff & board members, we’ve been going strong for over eleven years, starting over 140 food co-ops!
Meet our Staff
Stuart Reid, Executive Director
Stuart began his career in grocery as a carry-out and stock clerk for the Windom, Minnesota Hy-Vee store back in 1972, never believing for a minute that he would still be working in the grocery business 40+ years later. He probably wouldn’t if he hadn’t discovered food co-ops in Minneapolis when he moved there for college. Since then he has volunteered, co-managed, managed and served on the boards of many food co-ops, worked for the co-op-owned DANCe warehouse, and helped open the Just Food Co-op in Northfield as their first general manager. Stuart has been part of FCI since its earliest years and sees no reason to do anything else.
Jacqueline Hannah, Assistant Director
Jacqueline worked in retail management for 25 years before joining FCI, 17 of those years in the natural foods industry, and 9 in the co-op natural food industry as general manager of Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana, IL. During her time with CGFC she led the co-op through two expansions, the founding of their Food For All economic access program, a rebrand, andisg the fastest growing retail food co-op in the nation from 2008-2013.
In 2010 Jacqueline was named one of the “40 Under 40” business people of excellence by Central Illinois Business Magazine; in 2011 she was awarded the Innovation Award for Economic Development Impact by the University of Illinois; in 2013 she received the Cooperative Service Award from the Indiana and Illinois Cooperative Development Centers; in 2014 she was awarded Co-op Executive of the Year by the Illinois Cooperative Council.
Mary Stennes Wilbourn, Outreach & Operations Coordinator
Mary manages our data, website, and outreach, and will likely be the first person people speak to when they contact Food Co-op Initiative. She brings extensive experience in nonprofit and higher education office management, communication, and advocacy. Mary spent four years as communications and operations manager for a social justice organization in Minnesota, followed by several years as an office management consultant and freelance writer. Prior to that, she spent ten years in the career center of a busy Midwestern university, managing the office and the on-campus employment program. She coauthored a job search handbook for college grads, and established one of the first online job databases in the country. As she transitioned into the co-op world, her experience in working with diverse communities and in community organizing has proved invaluable.
2018-19 Board Members
Chair: Richard Dines, Engagement Consultant, Credit Union National Association
Richard has been a passionate supporter of and participant in co-ops since living in a student housing co-op at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in the ‘80’s. He worked for the National Cooperative Business Association for 11 years before moving to the National Cooperative Bank to lead the launch of the Food Co-op 500 (which evolved into the Food Co-op Initiative). He has now been on the staff of the Credit Union National Association for 9 years, where he manages member relationships with credit unions.
Vice Chair: Anya Firszt, Blooming Prairie Foundation, Chair;
General Manager, Willy Street Co-op, Madison, WI
Anya has been an active cooperator since moving to Madison, WI in 1985; for 30 years she has been working at the Willy Street Co-op, 22 of those years as the general manager. Willy Street Co-op has over 34,900 owners, 400 employees, 3 retail sites and a commissary. She also serves as the board chair at Blooming Prairie Foundation, and has served on the Blooming Prairie Warehouse Board, as well as the NCG Board.
Treasurer: Allan Gallant. Blooming Prairie Foundation
A graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Allan is a Certified Public Accountant. He has spent the past 40+ years working to create economic opportunities for entrepreneurs and community organizations in low resource communities throughout the United States. He is a strong supporter fo cooperative models and employee ownership programs Allan specializes in business development, especially food distribution (wholesale and retail), Employees Stock Ownership (ESOP) conversions, and cooperatives. Allan is highly regarded for his outstanding training abilities including board training and financial analysis. In addition to his consulting work Allan currently serves on the board of directors of the Blooming Prairie Foundation.
Secretary: Marilyn Scholl, CDS Consulting Co-op
Marilyn has worked with food cooperatives for over 40 years, including nine years as a general manager and nine years with the University of Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives. Marilyn’s experience as a manager and board member offers clients a unique and valuable understanding of the board and manager relationship. “I like contributing to something that I think makes the world better,” Marilyn said. “Good management can flourish under good governance, and good governance supports good management. A systematic approach offers a way to empower boards to do work that’s very rewarding to their co-ops and communities.”Marilyn recently retired as the manager of CDS Consulting Co-op, and was inducted into the Cooperative Hall of Fame in 2018.
Chris Clamp, Director, Center for Cooperatives and CED, Southern New Hampshire University
Christina Clamp, a professor of sociology, serves on the board of the Food Co-op Initiative; the board of the ICA Group, a developer and technical assistance provider to employee owned and worker co-operative businesses’ and LEAF, a community development finance institution which provides financing for housing and food consumer cooperatives and worker cooperative. She earned her bachelor’s degree from Friends World College where she first studied co-operatives in the American South, India and Central America. She went on to complete her MA and Ph.D. in sociology at Boston College where she studied worker co-operatives and employee ownership including her research on the Mondragon Cooperatives in the Basque region of Spain. Her latest research is examining the use of shared services co-operatives in the USA.
Steve Cooke, General Manager, Friendly City Food Co-op, Harrisonburg, VA
Steve Cooke has been the General Manager of Friendly City Food Co-op since August of 2010. He came back to the Shenandoah Valley to be part of the start-up team there and apply all of the experience, skills and local food system building tools he acquired as GM of Sevananda Natural Foods Market in Atlanta, GA, where he worked for 16 years. Steve has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Journalism from James Madison University in Harrisonburg. Steve likes to say that he “has a degree in Political Science and Communications, and that’s why he runs a food co-op,” tying the politics of food, and the building of strong community relationships.
Gerardo Espinoza, Executive Director, Local Enterprise Assistance Fund (LEAF)
Gerardo has served as executive director of LEAF for the last five years, spearheading the Fund’s move into retail food co-ops and healthy food financing. He joined LEAF after spending many years in the commercial banking and investment management field. His background includes ten years as a Vice President at First National Bank of Chicago, and 15 years in investment management in the positions of Portfolio Manager and Senior Vice President with Baring Asset Management and John Hancock funds. He has a master’s degree in Economics from Stanford University and an MBA from the Harvard Business School.
John Guerra, Business Development Director, National Co+op Grocers (NCG) Development Co+operative
John advises NCG member co-ops on the planning and implementation of store reinvestment, relocations, and new store projects. John has over 10 years of experience in retail real estate development and management with expertise in market & financial analysis, lease negotiation, program development, and portfolio management. He joined NCG’s Development Co+op in 2015.
Leslie Mead, Executive Director, Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF)
Leslie has 30 years of experience with cooperative organizations, most recently serving as president of The Cooperative Foundation, a private foundation based in St. Paul, MN. She began her career with the National Council of Farmer Cooperatives, raising from assistant general counsel to the positions of vice president for legal, tax and accounting policy and vice president for education. She also served as the executive administrator of the Association of Cooperative Educators. She holds a BA degree in journalism from Drake University in Des Moines, IA and a Juris Doctor degree from Indiana University School of Law — Bloomington
Brian Misenheimer, Senior Vice President, , National Cooperative Bank
Graduating from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, (UNCG) in 1999, Brian earned his B.S. in Marketing/Management with a concentration in Business Management. He began his career in commercial lending as a credit analyst and spent his first years in credit underwriting roles at various organizations, including joining National Cooperative Bank in 2001. After being promoted to a lending/business development role while at NCB; he managed national program lending relationships with cooperative wholesalers and franchisors. In 2009, Brian expanded his commercial lending experience with other national lenders until 2015 when he returned to National Cooperative Bank. Since 2015 his focus has been on the retail grocery industry working with natural food cooperatives and independent retailers among other small to middle market companies/cooperatives across the country. With the majority of his banking career spent in financing cooperatives and their members, Brian appreciates the strength of the cooperative business model. Mr. Misenheimer’s commercial lending experience is stretched across several funding environments including: conventional loans, commercial real estate, government guaranteed lending (SBA 7a, SBA 504, USDA B&I), as well as new market tax credit transactions.
Sverre Roang, President & CEO, FAC Services LLC
Sverre grew up around natural foods. His father, Peter Roang, was one of the founders of Basics natural food store in Janesville, Wisconsin, which Sverre converted to a cooperative in 2005. Sverre also serves on the board of Blooming Prairie Foundation, which works to further the health of people, the planet and the cooperative business model by supporting development, research, and educational efforts in the organic industry and the cooperative community. BPF has been instrumental in the formation and continued funding of FCI. He also brings a wealth of business and legal experience to the FCI board, having practiced law for 20 years and now running a complex company with operations around the country.
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