Board of Directors
The Board of Directors is comprised of nine co-op owners; three director seats are up for election every year. The co-op’s Board of Directors are empowered by the owners to, not just ensure the co-op’s current success, but to look forward strategically to make sure our business continues to thrive in an ever changing and unpredictable future. They work to build alignment between where the co-op is heading both by soliciting owner involvement and feedback, and by communicating information about recent events and trends to all co-op owners. If you are curious to see Board work in action, monthly board meetings are open to owners and happen on the second Wednesday of the month from 6:30 - 9pm at the store.
Steve Bruner (Vice President) moved to Amherst from Bozeman, Montana in the summer of 2014. During his ten years in Bozeman, he owned and operated Refuge Sustainable Building Center, was an adjunct instructor at Montana State University, and helped implement a strategic plan for Yellowstone National Park. His community involvement included stints on the Mayor’s Climate Protection Task Force and the Children’s Museum of Bozeman’s Board of Directors and his professional experience has been defined by mission-driven organizations. From writing strategic plans for National Parks to directing an outdoor adventure program to owning his own business, he has used mission statements as the rudders with which to steer the ships.
Email: Steve Bruner
Andrea Stanley (Vice President) grew up visiting her family’s dairy farm in Quebec, Canada. These yearly trips made an impact and when Andrea and her family moved back to the Pioneer Valley in 2008, investing in the local food system was important. It started as being a conscientious consumer and joining River Valley Co-op. In 2010 she started Valley Malt with her husband, trying to fill a gap in the local food system and bring local grain to local beer. They now farm 80 acres of land in the valley, growing organic crops like barley, wheat, black beans, sunflowers and popcorn. Prior to this jump, Andrea was a vocational rehabilitation counselor working with youth to help them find work and careers. With the heart of a social worker and the passion of an entrepreneur, Andrea is most excited about filling more gaps in the local food system and believes that local farmers and processors make tastier, healthier food for our community.
Email: Andrea Stanley
Dorian Gregory, CPA (Treasurer) works with the Cooperative Fund of New England, a community development financial institution that is a bridge between socially responsible investors and cooperatives, community-oriented non-profits and worker-owned businesses in New England. As a CPA, she has almost 20 years experience working in a large international firm and a small regional firm, providing audit and business advisory services to wide range of businesses in diverse industries. A lifelong martial artist, Ms. Gregory also owns and operates a Taijiquan and Qigong Studio. She brings to the Board financial expertise, clear communication and strong management skills, as well as her love and enthusiasm for the cooperative movement.
Email: Dorian Gregory
Jacquie Fraser (Clerk)has been an enthusiastic supporter of River Valley Co-op since moving to Northampton and is thrilled to be joining the board. Prior to membership at River Valley, she was a member of the Park Slope Food Co-op in Brooklyn; being a member of this long-standing co-op was a great learning experience. She is currently employed in academic community public health. In the past, she has held both practical and academic public health positions including providing education and counseling sessions in AIDS organizations. She hopes to be able to use her experience and knowledge in program planning and evaluation to benefit the River Valley Co-op.
Jade Barker is a member of CDS Consulting Co-op, a co-op of consultants who support co-ops across the country with operations and governance. Her specialty is Co-operative Board Leadership Development. Jade was formerly co-director of the Mediation & Training Collaborative in Greenfield (a program of Community Action), a non-profit providing conflict resolution and communication services. A longtime community activist in her tenth year on theRiver Valley Co-op Board, Jade believes that cooperation is key to our survival as a species. She brings to the Board strong facilitation skills, a commitment to collaborative problem solving, and a love of all things co-op.
Email: Jade Barker
Alex Risley Shroeder
Alex Risley Schroeder (Clerk) re-oriented her work in adult education and workforce development to focus exclusively on strengthening the "green economy" through education, training and policy development. Her commitment continues to be to leverage our increasing focus on sustainability to build jobs and businesses that support communities and individuals. She brings to the Board a thoughtful perspective on the ways local agriculture and local food systems can provide such leverage points, a willingness to learn and work collaboratively, and the belief that much can be solved when we do good work with others.
email: Alex Risley-Schroeder
Gary L. Schaefer
Gary L. Schaefer For four decades Gary co-owned a local ice cream company two with retail shops. Gary and Barbara then grew the business to include a small ice cream manufacturing and a distributing company focused on food products produced in the Connecticut River Valley. As an entrepreneur, He learned a lot by trial and error. The most important lesson was learning to see the whole picture, including past successes and failures, the importance of monitoring day to day operations and spending significant time preparing for the future. He is strong believer in co-operatives as a sustainable alternative to the traditional business model. Gary was also part of a small group who founded, and for 2 years administered, the Our Family Farms Milk Co-op, now in its 20th year. Gary is deeply committed to seeing our Co-op, our staff, our vendors and our community thrive long into the future and to be an inspiration for other co-ops to start and expand.
Email: Gary L Schaefer
Emily Laine is passionate about farms, food businesses, and the laws that apply to them. Her love of these areas grew out of her experience as a co-manager at Earthfoods Café at UMASS, where she first learned to practice and value cooperative management. With this small business on her mind, Emily thought about the intersection of social issues, economics, sustainability and trying to implement best practices at this cooperatively run business. Ever since, this desire to put the win-win-win of people, planet and profit into practice has been an ongoing theme. She currently works in Holyoke at an independent not-for-profit that is responsible for the electricity flow between all six New England states and ensuring the region has reliable and economic electricity today and into the future. Emily's work provides a unique perspective on the transition to a more renewable grid. She serves on the Board of the Northampton Center for the Arts and has fresh and ongoing experience with a nonprofit constructing and growing into a new building.
Email: Emily Laine
Mark Devlin is an accomplished business professional who worked for General Electric's finance company (GE Capital) for over 15 years, primarily in the areas of financial management and continuous process improvement. After moving to Western Massachusetts and a brief stint in teaching, he returned to financial services and joined Berkshire Hathaway-owned Wellfleet Group, a local provider of student health insurance. During his 15+ years with Wellfleet, Mark rose to company director, served on its Executive Council, chaired its Quality/Continuous Improvement committee, and directed a team of 7 analysts. Mark continues to support Wellfleet as a part-time project resource.
He is an active volunteer and demonstrated service leader, supporting underprivileged youth, homeowners in need, elderly, cancer care, feminism and pride. Mark recognizes that we are indeed better together, and he has a need to be involved. He is particularly interested in the role of community relative to the individual—recognizing difference, then celebrating and protecting it. In this respect, Northampton is a true delight.
While he holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Business Administration, Mark grows increasingly concerned as capitalism is confused for democracy in our country. He is fully disenchanted with the trends of wealth distribution and self-preservation, while mourning the effects that companies like Costco and Amazon have on our communities. He is taken with the structure and success of cooperative businesses in the Pioneer Valley, and beyond. He is a hungry seeker of alternative perspectives like Cynthia Kaufman’s Getting Past Capitalism.
Mark is also leery of big box stores, and married to a full-on foodie. His son introduced him to the simple but powerful concepts of whole and organic foods, labeling, and local, by way of his life-threatening food allergies. Mark's unstoppable wife responded to this crisis by joining our local CSA 10 years ago (Red Fire Farm) and mastering the art of vegetable cooking. He genuinely loves shopping at River Valley Co-op—the employees, the patrons, the size, selection, setting, and the wonderful mission.
Email: Mark Devlin