2023 Board of Directors Candidate Statements
River Valley Co-op Board of Director's Election Voting opens at 7:00 AM Eastern Time on November 2, 2023. Voting will remain open until 10 PM Eastern Time on December 2, 2023. You are invited to vote online by electronic ballot, by mail after completing the ballot section included, or by delivering your ballot by hand to either store, anytime through December 2, 2023, by 10 PM.
Please note: Only the official representative of your River Valley Co-op ownership share is eligible to vote, and only one vote per co-op ownership share will be accepted.
One of the key ways a co-op owner can participate and make your voice count is by voting in the Board of Directors election. There are six candidates nominated for the Board of Directors on the ballot for three seats. These candidates are making a significant commitment to the co-op to step forward as Board candidates, and each candidate brings a variety of different experiences, skills, and perspectives.
All six of the 2023 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 is important co-op participation and support. The three candidates receiving the most votes will be elected to a three year term serving on the Board of Directors.
Co-op Owners are invited to the Annual Co-op Ownership Meeting and Celebration!
December 02, 2023, 1:00-3:00 PM
All owners are invited to join us for a celebration of 15 years and report on the last year's progress. We'll have cake, a panel with three of our community partners reflecting on the last 15 years, reports from our Board President and General Manager, and the usual annual meeting business. Julia Latady, Micro-Farmer and educator, will have some quiet activities in the corner for kids. Come meet our Board of Directors and celebrate 15 years of cooperation!
- Welcome and convene meeting
- Review agenda, introduce Board Members and Candidates for the Board of Directors
- Approve minutes from last year’s meeting
- Presentations include reports from our Board President and General Manager and a panel of three community partners reflecting on the past 15 years.
- Adjourn Meeting
Refreshments and Snacks will be provided.
Register for your Annual Meeting event ticket at https://forms.gle/JGvQTVp74pspxhM18
Gary Schaefer (Incumbent)
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 15,000 members and a second store which opened in July of 2021 in Easthampton.
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 six years. I am a strong advocate of the co-op business model as a resilient alternative to the traditional corporate business model. I also helped found and advised Our Family Farms Milk Co-op (now in its 28th year). I’m also a member of two other Western Mass food co-ops.
As a River Valley Co-op Board member, I’ve worked co-operatively with the Board to reach consensus and tackle many challenging issues like economic, social and racial diversity. Our second Co-op store opened 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.
Angus Brewer (Incumbent)
Hi, I'm Angus Brewer.
I’ve helped effect positive change in others’ lives, particularly children and students, for more than three decades:
■ I’ve marched in solidarity with under-served people of all colors, preaching tolerance and unity.
■ I’ve taught in public, private, and charter schools throughout the Valley and beyond; policy development, planning, and organizational evaluation have always played a part.
■ I was a state social worker; a counselor in four group homes, two hospitals and a correctional facility; and a fiery, socially conscious spoken-word artist.
■ I’ve also functioned as a trainer in my CT and MA Army Reserves units, one of my chief duties because each time, I was the sole specialist in my field.
I have many other talents and interests, including DJing professionally from Chicago to New York and Bangor to Atlanta (I even provided the musical backdrop for our 2018 Annual Board Meeting, and provided musical entertainment for many other RVC events) for the past forty years.
But perhaps most importantly, I’ve worked at our co-op for five years now and spent time in nearly every department; and for the past three years, I’ve enjoyed working with the other Directors on the Board helping plan and improve our community outreach, among other things.
I would like to continue being useful to my co-workers, friends, family, and the communities in which we placed our co-ops, by lending my fearless voice to the din. I would appreciate your vote.
Emma Hempstead Woebbe
Emma found her vocation in sustainable food systems fifteen years ago as a Sociology student, when she realized how many of her questions about the world could be answered with sustainably produced food. She studied agriculture and food systems at Vermont Law School while living on a vineyard, leading the Food & Agricultural Law Society, and serving as Director of Social Media at the school’s Center for Agriculture and Food Systems. After her J.D., she went on to earn an LL.M. in Food & Agricultural Law at the University of Arkansas, writing a thesis on a holistic vision of food safety.
She has worked with various nonprofits in food systems sustainability endeavors, including the National Young Farmers’ Coalition, the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Northeast Regional Food Team, Food and Water Watch, Building A Local Economy, the Rutland Area Food & Farm Link. She supported the Vermont Right to Know Coalition in the lead-up to Vermont’s passing a genetically engineered food labeling law. Throughout, she has worked on farms and in kitchens, notably as a biodynamic farming apprentice and a chocolatier. In 2022 she led The Carrot
Project’s Agricultural Viability Alliance. She practiced law, focusing on environmental issues and small food and farm enterprises.
Emma relies on the wisdom of systems thinkers, including Donnella Meadows who wrote, “remember, always that everything you know, and everything everyone knows, is only a model. Get your model out there where it can be viewed. Invite others to challenge your assumptions and add their own.” Her dog is named Gem, like the lettuce. She and her wife became River Valley Co-op members the week they bought their house in Easthampton in 2022.
Henry was born and raised in the Pocumtuc River Valley in a house on Landy Avenue in Florence right next to the Mill River on Maines field where, from a young age, they were given the opportunity to cultivate a strong connection with the ecologies of our watershed. Over his life, here on this land, he has developed an eager determination to transform and steward our local communities to become beacons of collaboration, true democracy and vibrant health. This vision to transform our community has guided him to working on police divestment and harm reduction through pushing for the founding of the Department of Community Care in Northampton and decriminalization on the municipal and state level. He now serves as the Executive Director of PHENOM where he advocates for affordable public higher education in Massachusetts.
He recognizes the need for a sustainable and resilient local food system to address, resist and remediate the effects of the corporate pillaging of our life-sustaining ecologies. The recent floods in this valley have only added urgency to this issue. He hope that with his contributions as a director, the River Valley Cooperative will become a vehicle for our community to address these vital needs.
As a member of the River Valley Co-op since the moment my family and I arrived in town, I am constantly impressed by its operation, its staff, and its mission. I am now looking for a way to be more involved, and I consider being a member of the Board as a way to apply my passions and skills to further the aims of the co-op.
My family and I achieved our longtime goal of returning to New England from California in 2022. In Santa Barbara, we were members of the Isla Vista Food Co-op and subscribers to our local CSA. I adopted a vegetarian diet almost two decades ago as a way of reducing my negative footprint on the planet.
As a board member of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Central Coast, I broadened the reach of my sustainability focus when I produced programs with panels of experts on topics including: “Negative Emissions & Positive Returns: Climate Change and Economic Opportunity” and “Is Recycling a Lie? The New Paradigm for a Circular Economy.”
My commitment to education led me to create a volunteer organization in Santa Barbara called “Hello World!” that brings public high-school students who are learning Computer Science skills together with local non-profit organizations that have a need for a website or application to aid in their work/mission. The students are mentored by recent college graduates from local technology companies. The mentors get to practice their leadership skills as they guide groups of students to build technology solutions for the non-profit, so everyone benefits.
For most of my career as a Systems Engineer, I have designed and developed rides and shows for Disney theme parks. As an Imagineer, I use my physics training from MIT and my creative vision to help build immersive narrative experiences for park-goers. I am also the founder of several technology startups and have a reputation for being an enthusiastic team member, leader, and problem solver who is comfortable taking on both business and technology challenges.
If elected to the Board, I will bring these varied experiences and talents to the role.
I am a visual artist and as such I've worn many hats over the years to support myself including teacher, publicist, graphic designer, bookkeeper. My choice of artwork materials the past twelve years illustrates my commitment and awareness of climate challenges, the environment and the preciousness of natural resources.
I moved permanently to Western Mass eight years ago from Manhattan's Hell's Kitchen. While living in Midtown I volunteered with my block association and, I was instrumental in raising $250,000 to renovate and obtain permanent park status for Ramon Aponte Playground.
The block association's main fundraising event is selling T-shirts at the Ninth Avenue Food Festival. For well over 20 years, I worked several shifts at the booth. A neighbor and I while manning the booth decided to purchase and share a CSA membership. An Upstate farmer weekly brought the shares to a local community center where we picked them up. The CSA introduced me to an array of produce and an awareness of many farming challenges.
I joined the co-op as soon as I became a Massachusetts resident as well as buying from and supporting local farms.
During my first several years In Western Mass I initiated and organized the Hilltowns Open Studio Tour (HOST) but resigned due to political differences before seeing it to completion. It is satisfying to have laid the foundation for an event which is now in its 5th year. On a recent visit to Manhattan, I noticed Ramon Aponte Playground has doubled in size. Now, very different from the hypodermic needle infested sandbox and dilapidated half-basketball court of the 1980s to having a large jungle gym, seating area and expanded court. The park/playground provides much needed outdoor space and serves residents of all ages.
I take pride in my ability to see the big picture. A key element in strategic planning, setting and implementing realistic goals, and knowing when to seek expert guidance. This is the strength I would bring to the Board if elected.
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.
IMPORTANT READING FOR BOARD OF DIRECTORS CANDIDATES
If you're considering becoming a candidate for the River Valley Co-op Board of Directors, please read the following important background documents:
- Board Application Packet[nbsp](Read this first)
- About River Valley Co-op Board Governance (description of how our Board operates)
- Board Policies (complete version, pdf)
- Give and Get
- Annual Reports (link to pdf report downloads page)
- For more information contact Board Elections Committee at email@example.com