Meet our 2020 Board Winners!
Alex Risley Schroeder
It is a privilege to again seek a position on the Board of Directors.
Our food co-op meets a triple bottom line of people, planet, profit. In these times, this triple bottom line resonates more deeply. Neighbors who need food and work, farmers and producers who need markets. A planet rocked by multiple crises, racial, environmental, and economic, that are rooted in searing inequities that we know are here too. A store with enough financial sturdiness (in these fiscally complex and lean times) to have staff who could rework store operations so that we are as safe as we can be, and start building a second store with whole hearted financial support from owners. This inspires me to seek another term, to continue serving our Co-op workers, our farmers and producers, our owners, and our communities.
I am a skilled participatory facilitator who works with individuals and groups to collaboratively analyze, synthesize, and build do-able solutions. I have worked in adult basic education, skill training, 'green' economy development, including local food systems, and to strengthen economic supports for families. Six years ago, I ran for a position on the Board to help grow our local food economy and increase the number of good food jobs. In those six years, we have moved ahead to secure a location, finalize financing, including a successful owner loan campaign, and begin construction of our second store. I have learned a lot in the past two terms about co-ops, people, financing, food, and growing a business and I will keep learning.
I bring a deep passion for River Valley Co-op to the work of the Board, and the belief that much can be solved when we do good work together. It would be an honor to continue as a director of our Co-op.
Gary L. Schaefer
In 1997 a group of us met regularly to brainstorm how “Northampton Community Food Co-op” could become a reality. Today, we are a flourishing business with over 11,000 members and a second store opening in a few months where everyone is welcome.
For four decades I co-owned an ice cream manufacturing and distribution company, in the Pioneer Valley, with two ice cream shops. In addition to our ice cream, we also distributed locally produced foods. Since I have a degree in Business and Accounting along with a Masters in Social Work, I blended my education and passions to create a company that adapted and flourished with the changing times.
My business experiences have served me well as a River Valley Co-op Board member for the past three years. I am a strong advocate of the co-op business model as a resilient alternative for the traditional corporate business model.
I also helped found and advised Our Family Farm Milk Co-op (now in its 25th year). I’m also a member of other Western Mass food co-ops.
As a River Valley Co-op Board member, I’ve worked cooperatively with the Board to reach consensus and tackle many challenging issues like economic, social and racial diversity. Our second Co-op store will open in 2021, but our work continues as we navigate many current and future needs. What I love and cherish about being part of our Co-op Board is that our mission is to thrive financially as we guide our store and our members closer to a just and sustainable future.
I am comfortable in myriad settings, personable and able to work with folks from many disparate backgrounds. As Black Lives Matter dominates the news cycles (and not always for positive reasons)--as public dialogue about brown peoples’ treatment at the hands of law enforcement continues; as income gaps widen; as concern about how to navigate the pandemic deepens; and as tactfulness and diplomacy become ever more vital when trying to engage communities, I draw on my strengths to help present a rational, articulate, and patient voice for unity. I would like to add my voice to yours, as a member of the Board.
I have been helping effect positive change in the lives of others, especially children and students, for three decades. I have marched in solidarity with under-served people of all colours. I have taught pre-schoolers and college graduates in public, private, and charter schools throughout the Happy Valley and beyond--and policy development, planning, and organisational evaluation have always played a part. I’ve been a state social worker; a counsellor in group homes, hospitals, and a prison; and a fiery, socially-conscious spoken-word artist. I also functioned as a trainer--one of my chief duties in my Reserves units. I brought these skills to our Co-op, where I've been working for two years.
I have many other talents and interests, including being a professional DJ and emcee for the past thirty-six years performing for crowds both small and large from Chicago to New York to Boston to Atlanta--I even provided the musical backdrop for your 2018 Annual Board Meeting!
I'm unafraid of hard work or tough questions, slow to anger, and quick to mirth. I listen patiently, ask questions regularly, admit when I’m ignorant, apologise when I’m wrong, learn from my mistakes, and try hard to think before I speak. While I know that our Co-op is in great hands, I also know that with the addition of my hands, together we can broaden our mission’s scope and become a more visible and outspoken supporter of all our communities. Thank you.