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 fourth Wednesday of the month from 6:30 - 9pm at the store.
Our regular monthly River Valley Co-op Board of Directors meetings are open to River Valley Co-op Owners. Board Meetings are not open to the public. Non-River Valley Co-op Owners may attend Board of Directors meetings only by invitation of the Board of Directors.
Any co-op media inquiries can be made to River Valley Co-op's Marketing Manager, Natasha Latour: email@example.com.
Steve Bruner (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
Dorian Gregory, CPA (Vice President) 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
Mark Devlin (Treasurer) 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 he 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. Mark was introduced to the simple but powerful concepts of whole and organic foods, labeling, and local, by way of his son’s life-threatening food allergies. He genuinely loves shopping at River Valley Co-op—the employees, the patrons, the size, selection, setting, and the wonderful mission. He is thrilled to be supporting this mission and the co-op owner-members through service on the Board.
Email: Mark Devlin
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.
Alex Risley Shroeder
Alex Risley Schroeder 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
Abby Getman Skillicorn
Abby Getman Skillicorn is a five year owner of River Valley Co-op and is proud to be a part of a body that so clearly and diligently seeks to fulfill its mission. She was inspired to apply to the Board of Directors because she wanted to give back to the co-op that feeds her family. Abby is thrilled for the Easthampton expansion, which will be closer to her house in Florence where she lives with her husband Michael and dog Lucy.
Her professional work over the past decade has revolved around social justice and food access in the Pioneer Valley and throughout the Commonwealth. As she continues to deepen her understanding of our food system from seed to table, she sees how we perpetuate systems of food apartheid, and strives to engage in work that creates more equity and access for everyone in our community.
Currently Abby is a manager for Springfield Public Schools Food Service program, where she works across the District of 26,000 students to ensure their menu and service decisions are made with a student-centered approach. Abby directs the District’s farm-to-school efforts, supervise FoodCorps members in a dozen elementary schools, and sits on the Culinary and Nutrition Center’s Advisory Committee and co-chair the Outreach and Communications sub-committee. She has previously worked for the Department of Transitional Assistance on the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, CISA, PVGrows, and Red Fire Farm.
Email: Abby Getman Skillicorn
Wendy Messerli is the current the Senior Bookkeeper on staff at River Valley Co-op. She came to the valley 16 years ago to attend Hampshire College and have called it home since. Wendy dropped out when she was unable to find the thread that would narrow her focus or career path; a community garden plot helped her realize that food was that thread. Over the past seven years, the co-op has given her the opportunity to use her detail and systems oriented skills to work directly with our local food system and Wendy finished her BA in Sustainability Studies through UWW at UMass Amherst.
Wendy oversees and supervises many day-to-day operations that involve the co-op’s financial well- being. She has a deep institutional knowledge of the business, and all of the stakeholders that the co-op touches– owners, vendors, farmers, and staff. You may also recognize Wendy from her role in our successful 2019 campaign to raise $5M in Co-op Owner Loans.
For six years Wendy volunteered with the Prison Birth Project designing print materials for this nonprofit that provided support, training, and advocacy at the intersection of reproductive justice and the criminal justice system. She took with her from this work the crucial goal to meet people where they are. Wendy is a creative problem solver and she believes that making space for listening and understanding all aspects of a reasoning can lead to deeper and more well-informed decisions and can bring about understanding and agreement in complex issues.
Email: Wendy Messerli