2022 River Valley Co-op Board Candidates

Voting for three positions on the River Valley Co-op Board of Directors will remain open until 10PM Eastern Time on December 16, 2022.

River Valley Co-op Board of Director's Election Voting opens at 7:00 AM Eastern Time on November 10, 2022. Voting will remain open until 10 PM Eastern Time on December 10, 2022. You are invited to vote online by electronic ballot (see directions on the reverse side of this letter), If you prefer, you may vote by mail after completing the ballot section included, or by delivering your ballot by hand to either store anytime through December 10, 2022, by 10 PM.

Please note: Only the official representative of your River Valley Co-op ownership share named on this election notice is eligible to vote, and only one vote per co-op ownership share will be accepted.

Your vote in the Board of Directors election is important democratic participation supporting the governance of our jointly owned co-op. There are four candidates nominated for the Board of Directors on the ballot for three seats. These candidates have demonstrated a significant commitment to the co-op, and each candidate brings a depth of different experiences, skills, and perspectives.

All four of the 2022 Board candidate applicants were nominated by the Board and are now seeking your support by a vote in this election. You may vote for up to three candidates. Your vote to select our Board leaders is important support for our co-op. The three candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to the Board of Directors in this election.


Abby Getman Skillicorn (Incumbent)

I am running for my second term on the River Valley Co-op board so I can continue supporting our Co-op’s mission of fostering prosperity in the region while prioritizing people and the planet. I first ran for the Board, excited about the upcoming Easthampton expansion, and voted to approve the financing in my first meeting. As one Co-op with two stores, we are entering a new phase of our Co-op’s life, one of which I want to be a part of. I am currently serving as Board President and know there is more I can do to ensure River Valley Co-op is a thriving, just marketplace for years to come.

My professional work over the past decade has revolved around social justice and food access in Western Massachusetts and throughout the Commonwealth. As I continue to deepen my understanding of our food system from seed to table, I see how we perpetuate systems of food apartheid, and I strive to engage in work that creates more equity and access for everyone in our community. 

Currently, I am a manager for the Springfield Public Schools Food Service program, where I work across the District of 26,000 students to ensure our menu and service decisions are made with a student-centered approach. I direct the District’s farm-to-school efforts, support school gardens, supervise the FoodCorps/AmeriCorps program, and direct our student engagement strategy in the district. I previously worked for the Department of Transitional Assistance on the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, CISA, and PVGrows.

Thanks for your consideration of my Board candidacy. I hope to meet more of you—perhaps on the Easthampton patio as I enjoy a post-shopping snack with my husband and toddler.


Wendy Messerli (Incumbent)

I am River Valley Co-op’s Assistant Finance Manager. Over the past ten years, the Co-op has given me the opportunity to use my detail and systems-oriented skills to work directly with our local food system. I work behind the scenes to initiate, implement, and streamline many of the systems that support our cooperative vision for a just marketplace that nourishes the community. I oversee and supervise many day-to-day operations that involve the Co-op’s financial well-being, ensuring accurate data and interpretations of reporting that drive decision-making.

From my time working as a shared living provider and volunteering with a reproductive justice organization, I took with me the crucial goal to meet people where they are. I believe that making space for feedback, listening to all aspects of reasoning - can lead to deeper and well-informed decisions. I bring to the Board a unique perspective and a deep institutional knowledge of the co-op and its stakeholders.

Serving on the Board the past three years has broadened and deepened my commitment to our local food system and economy. I am grateful for the opportunity to explore the bigger-picture thinking and governance work that supports an alternative business model that is cooperative, community-oriented and sustainable.


Barra Cohen

I have been a member of the River Valley Co-op since it opened in 2008. The idea of supporting local business and agriculture, as well as my local community, is why I was drawn to our co-op. Concern for community, democracy, and solidarity are some of the cooperative principles that are reasons why I choose to engage with cooperative businesses. If I had to distill it down to one phrase, it would be people over profits. 

Over the last two decades, my professional work has included standing alongside and advocating for indigent and marginalized populations. I worked as a public defender in Franklin, Hampshire, Berkshire and Hampden Counties. Now, I work at a drop-in center for self-represented litigants to get free assistance accessing legal information and the various departments of the trial courts. A common thread in this work is that it is centered on the voices of the people. Our co-op is also a way to center a business on the voices of people, our co-op members. This translates to creating a store that serves our community by hosting educational events regularly, supporting local businesses and farms, and providing jobs in our community. 

I approach decision-making and problem-solving with openness and curiosity. As a member of the board, I am interested in learning from members about the present and the future of our cooperative. Our vibrant co-op is made of many voices and this past January I was appointed to fill a vacant seat on the board. I hope to be able to continue in my board service to our co-op over the next three years.


Courtney Fahlin

I strongly support local food systems that nourish diverse, and inclusive communities. I became a River Valley owner \the first week I moved to Northampton, and I am proud to be part of a community that works toward the same altruistic goals that I am passionate about and embraces all individuals. 

Before entering my current Master of Public Policy program at Umass Amherst, where I am focusing on food policy and systems, I completed my Master of Global Studies and International Relations at Northeastern University. This program opened my eyes to the persistent issues in not only our food system but systems across the globe that prohibits so many from being able to access nutritious and appetizing meals financially and physically. I completed a thesis on the Economic Feasibility and Accessibility of Plant-based Diets, to analyze and understand barriers to consuming a plant-based diet, with the intention of better understanding the economic, social and environmental implications.

This past summer I worked as a graduate Public Policy Fellow with Project Bread, a leading anti-hunger organization in the state, working to create a roadmap to establishing policy priorities for the coming year. This work was completed in conjunction with the Civic Action Project (CAP) during which I participated in roundtable discussions with policy practitioners, reporters, editors, pollsters, advocates, and corporate and government leaders. CAP Fellows focus on strategy and tactics that will assist us in being successful leaders and practitioners in our respective fields after finishing our degrees. This allowed me to hone my planning, organizing and strategic decision-making skills that I continue to enhance through personal and academic endeavors, as well as expanding my network. 

During my time completing this fellowship, I was able to see the extension of Universal School Meals for all students in Massachusetts. This victory allowed me to see up close how superb policy, strong advocates and determination can shape and improve food access for so many. I learned more about different supplemental nutrition assistance programs that ensure food access at the store, the farmer’s market, and other participating farms, further solidifying my commitment to advocating for the continuation and expansion of these programs. 

Beyond my academic experience with food policy and advocacy, I was a coffee roaster and barista for the better part of a decade. I strived to ensure that the coffee being sold was as sustainably and ethically sourced as possible while educating others about the importance of transparent food systems that compensate people adequately at all levels of the supply chain. I have an academic and real-world understanding of the profound effect that great food and customer service can provide for a community. River Valley has been a great part of my life in Western Mass, and it would be a privilege to serve on the board of the River Valley Coop to continue this work.



Board Candidate General Interest Form

Interested in becoming a candidate in our upcoming River Valley Co-op Board Elections? 
Please fill out and submit the following form and let us know! This section will be used to verify your co-op membership and contact you. Owners must be current in their membership to run for the Board or be appointed to a vacant seat.


If you're considering becoming a candidate for the River Valley Co-op Board of Directors, please read the following important background documents: