Board of Directors Nominees

Emilie Miyauchi 

I have over ten years of experience working with grassroots food, agricultural, and environmental justice organizations in Baltimore, the Hudson Valley, and NYC. I’ve shared in the successes and struggles of communities building their own responses to no or dissatisfactory food choices – starting gardens, CSAs, farmers markets, and teaching ancestral food practices – building a food system by and for community. But the struggles are real, and it has become increasingly clear that community food systems will only survive the pressures of capitalism to the extent that they are able to connect to community financial institutions, meaningful marketing, creative aggregation… a whole cooperative ecosystem grounded in an ethos of mutuality and justice. CEANYC’s mission to support and expand community-controlled initiatives and cross-sector cooperation resonates with me. I see a need for this relationship-building work and the potential for it to create both resiliency and the scaffolding for deeper political engagement amongst cooperative groups and institutions. I want to support CEANYC in doing this work, I want to see a future in which this work flourishes.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

CEANYC is important to me and to the NYC cooperative landscape because of its cross-sector focus and for its explicit insistence that the solidarity economy is political – that it is an anti-racist, anti-austerity, anti-patriarchical, anti-capitalist model. We have to hold onto that political consciousness on a personal, relational, and systems level to ensure the work we do is transformational and not simply alternative.

I would like to see CEANYC continue and expand its political education and leadership development programming. I am also interested to see what it might look like for CEANYC to begin cultivating leaders from within the solidarity economy to run for office in local government.

I was excited to see the mapping work of Solidarity NYC and the resulting Cooperative Directory, and in the next two years I would like to explore the ways the directory (or an iteration of it) might be used as a tool for value chain work. For example, the directory might be used to facilitate a CSA farmer finding a community supported kitchen that wants tomato seconds for sauce. Providing an extra market for the farmer would help to mitigate the cost of production and distribution and keep the farmers share prices affordable for the community. In this way CEANYC members not only find each other but find concrete ways to share and secure resources.

 

Rajesh Kottamasu 

Running for the CEANYC Board offers an opportunity to put my skills and work toward a mission I believe in, and to generate value for the community of co-ops and solidarity economy organizations that have been meaningful for me personally.

My foundational cooperative experience has been in housing co-ops. I have lived in four: a 30-person co-op in which I lived for four semesters of college; a 10-person co-op in which I lived for several seasons before and during grad school; a 4-person cooperative inside of a 16-person collective in Crown Heights where I lived for 3.5 years; and a 20-person cooperative in Clinton Hill where I lived for 2.5 years. Many of my closest relationships began in these living situations, and they have been extremely formative for me in formulating my values, politics, concepts of community, citizenship, and personal responsibility. In all, and especially in the most recent household, I played a key role in the design of procedural and physical systems for membership, commitments, accountability, mutual support, composting, group meals, budgeting, bedbug management, landlord relations, storage, and workspace. Throughout these experiences, I gained tremendous experience facilitating and participating in community meetings, navigating challenging conversations, crafting structures to allow the greatest opportunity for all voices to be heard.

I have been a member of the Park Slope Food Coop for ten years. For several years, I was a squad leader for Stocking and Receiving. While I have not assumed any further leadership roles at the Food Coop, it is a very meaningful community for me—it is the only place in New York I can reliably run into a number of friends whose values I share. At the same time that I am very committed to my membership in the Food Coop, I am also aware of many challenges the structure and operation of the Co-op pose—particularly in terms of a decision-making tyranny of senior members and a structural failure to recognize needs and concerns of racial, class, and sexual minority members and non-members. I am committed to participating as a member in dialogue to make advances toward a more just, equitable, and cooperatively operating food coop.

I am also a member of Meerkat Media Collective. I began collaborating with the Meerkat Media cooperative production company in early 2013, most often as an animator and designer. Over the course of over a dozen projects and years of sharing space in the Meerkat office, I gained familiarity with and affinity for the operation of a well-functioning worker cooperative. In 2014, I was invited to become a member of the Meerkat artist collective as well. I contributed value as a member of that community in terms of facilitating meetings and consensus-based decision-making processes; I also helped to redesign policy and agreements and co-led budgeting processes.

Within Meerkat’s membership working group, I worked with others to respond to the constellation of growth goals expressed by existing members by reformulating membership. We proposed two tiers of membership: general community membership, bearing no special access or rewards but also no responsibilities; and a year-term residency awarding a number of benefits but also requiring the intensive operation and steering of the collective. We framed an annual open call for new residents based on similar efforts I had co-led in my housing cooperatives. After several months of discussion and refinement, we deployed this new structure. Its continued success in fulfilling many of those initial growth goals has been affirming to the process and to the methods we deployed. The open call allowed us to break out of a pattern of recruiting new members only from among our existing, largely demographically homogenous networks. The residency structure and terms allowed us to share cultural power in the collective with new members over a relatively short timeframe.

I am interested in learning and sharing more tools to allow groups to share power among members to facilitate individual empowerment within and stewardship of those groups, both of which have been instrumental in my own development and sense of value.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

I appreciate the support that CEANYC offers to the cooperative and solidarity economy movement, nurturing the spread of equitable, resilient, anti-capitalist models of structuring work, home, and community. This is an especially important effort in New York City given the wealth gap continues to widen and divide New Yorkers by race, class, and geography—and given an openness of New York City government and of many New Yorkers to learn about different potential ways to steer away from the many cliffs toward which the city and the country seem headed.

I hope that in the next five years, CEANYC is able to raise funds/support to grow its full-time staff to a day-to-day team of 4-6 people. I hope it is able to build more mutualistic relationships among member organizations—to leverage individual memberships into larger clusters of cooperation—both in the interest of CEANYC’s own operation and in pursuit of greater collective power. Through that power, I hope CEANYC and its members are able to gain greater voice in shaping conversations about anti-capitalist futures at the scale of the city. I am also interested in learning and thinking more about how CEANYC can support the development of tools to help long-established co-ops embrace the cultural change required to pass power to younger members, especially members of color, in pursuit of longevity and sustainability. I hope that two years from now, CEANYC has made tangible-if-incremental steps toward this five-year vision.

Anne Schoeneborn 

I am interested in joining the CEANYC Board of Directors because I am moved and inspired by CEANYC’s efforts to increase the visibility of the solidarity economy in NYC and build capacity and connections across coop sectors. I have spent the last five years organizing neighbors to work cooperatively to convert a trash-strewn lot on my block into what is now a vibrant community garden, Q Gardens. Through this experience, I have gained practical skills organizing diverse neighbors around a shared vision, building relationships with key stakeholders, navigating bureaucracy (Q Gardens is on MTA property), and nurturing a range of garden-level pilot projects. For the last three years, I have also served on the Board of the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT), a grassroots non-profit that preserves 37 community gardens throughout Brooklyn and Queens (including Q Gardens). For the last two years, I have served as the chair of BQLT’s grants committee, during which time I have led proposal development and managed the implementation of several cross-garden, grant-funded projects. My paid work is in public health and I believe deeply in the power of community gardens to bring neighbors together, improve mental and physical health, and increase community resilience. I am excited at the prospect of representing the interests of community gardens on the CEANYC board and actively facilitating connections between gardens and the broader solidarity economy in NYC.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

My vision for CEANYC is that it become the go-to resource for New Yorkers to connect with their local cooperatives, and that a robust network of CEANYC member organizations emerge that facilitates cross-sectoral collaboration and knowledge-sharing. Looking around NYC, I see an economy based on social and racial injustice, ecological destruction, and organizations that are hierarchical and exploitative. To me, CEANYC and the solidarity economy are like points of light on a fairly bleak horizon, pointing us toward a healthier and more sustainable society. The CEANYC directory was a revelation to me—I had not really considered community gardens as part of a larger solidarity economy. I hope to help CEANYC continue to enhance the directory and develop tools that will enable New Yorkers to easily identify cooperatives in their specific neighborhoods. I also hope to help the Cooperative Leadership Institute continue to expand so that more members can receive targeted training and technical assistance. For example, it would be wonderful to conduct a basic needs assessment with all member organizations and develop a process for prioritizing needs and matching those needs with capacity-building resources.

Alex Roesch

I was initially hired by UHAB to research the limited-equity cooperative landscape at the national level. The project found and surveyed every limited-equity cooperative (LEC) that was produced in the USA. Building on the research, I have been coalition building within the sector, to build a structure that can better serve the existing LECs and strategically collaborate to build new LECs. We have called this project the 6th Principle Coalition, named after the 6th Principle of Cooperation, “Cooperation among Cooperatives.” UHAB, along with the founding members of the coalition (The National Association of Housing Cooperatives, The Grounded Solutions Network, City First Homes, Cooperators United for Mitchell Lama and the Council of New York Cooperatives and Condos) represent nearly all housing cooperatives of any type in the United States. The coalition has secured some funding to implement initial activities that include: training and workshops for practitioners interested in developing LECs, training and workshops for co-op members in locations that lack resources, and the creation of an online platform for sectoral research and resources.

I would be honored to represent the cooperative housing sector via UHAB/6th Principle Coalition as a CEANYC board member. In the spirit of the 6th Principle of Cooperation, the prospect of increased cross-sector collaboration between the housing and other cooperative sectors is one of our organizational goals.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

As discussed in meetings to create UHAB’s MOU with CEANYC, there are several points of collaboration between the housing sector and other cooperative sectors to be furthered over the next few years, such as linking worker cooperatives to commercial spaces in housing cooperatives. Over the next 2 years I envision some tangible collaboration between housing cooperatives and worker cooperatives to be well underway. Additionally I think there is good potential for housing co-ops and food co-ops to collaborate, one for which there is significant historic precedent. I am excited to strategize ways in which CEANYC membership will be more meaningful to individual housing cooperatives and their members.

In the next two years I look forward elevating the presence of cooperatives in local and state policy discussions. I believe in using CEANYC’s cross-sector approach to further the missions of member organizations in a broad sense. Cooperatives die when they become insular and resistant to growth. The housing sector in particular needs to look outward to renew itself, and CEANYC presents that opportunity.

Tara Brown

Throughout my career, I have worked through non-profit and government organizations to build power and economic opportunity for low-income and working people. I am originally from West Virginia, a state where extractive industries dominate and residents have benefited little from the wealth generated, while also suffering consequences in their health and environment. Growing up, I saw first hand the ways that our dominant economic system extracts and exploits. Through my academic studies, professional work, and community involvement, I have explored alternative economic arrangements and developed interventions to help people struggling in our current inequitable system. Through my work, I have come to believe that the solidarity economy is the foundation for building a system that is equitable and works for all. I would be honored to serve on CEANYC’s Board of Directors to advance and strengthen the solidarity economy in New York City, with a focus on Community Land Trusts.

I am currently Senior Program Manager at the Center for NYC Neighborhoods where I oversee financial capability programming to help working and middle class New Yorkers achieve or maintain the dream of homeownership. Because the high cost of housing and competition from wealthier buyers remain the largest barriers to homeownership in NYC, I am proud to be part of the Center’s initiative to launch the Interboro Community Land Trust, which will create permanently affordable homeownership opportunities in our city through shared equity and democratic governance.

Prior to my current position, I served as Senior Program Officer at the NYC Office of Financial Empowerment where I worked across city agencies for four years to create financial empowerment programing that supports new immigrants, job seekers, entrepreneurs, public housing residents, and many other New Yorkers. In this role, I also helped to launch financial capability services for worker cooperatives in partnership with Make the Road. While at OFE, I also maintained partnerships with Community Development Credit Unions such as Lower East Side People’s FCU. Prior to moving to NYC, I worked in state government in Ohio, where I led a partnership with the Ohio Employee Ownership Center to provide low-cost succession loans for employees purchasing their workplace to become worker owners. In my personal life, I’ve also been an active member of several community gardens.

Finally, outside of work, I am taking time to explore the underlying causes of the racial wealth gap and how I personally benefit from racial privilege as a white woman. I am currently researching and analyzing how my ancestors and I have obtained assets such as jobs, education, and land that people of other racial and ethnic backgrounds were less able to access. I believe it is critical for people with privilege who are engaged in social change work to explore and acknowledge these privileges as we move forward to build a more equitable future.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

I believe that CEANYC can make great strides in elevating the solidarity economy as a large-scale anti-poverty and community development solution. While the de Blasio administration has shown support for worker cooperatives, Community Land Trusts, and cooperative housing, CEANYC is unique in working across sectors to build a unified solution to interrelated economic challenges citywide. The city’s support for the solidarity economy has been limited by sector. CEANYC can bring member voices to government, funders, and other community partners to build a cross-sectional focus to address challenges of job quality, affordable housing, and healthy food availability. As I continue to learn more about CEANYC initiatives and the solidarity economy, I also hope to contribute to the framework for evaluating the effectiveness of our programs and advocacy, as this has been a focus of my work academically and in non-profit program management.

Michelle Parker 

As a champion of member-owned organizations and community-based initiatives, I look to serve CEANYC’s board so that we can collectively serve more individuals with limited access to affordable financial services, including low-income wage earners, families, new immigrants, young people and the growing number of New Yorkers seeking financial independence through cooperatives.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

As a young, emerging organization with a focused mission, CEANYC has ample opportunity for growth. In the next 2 to 5 years, my vision for CEANYC is to increase its depth and breadth by serving more cooperatives with a more expansive set of programs and services. As a new resident in New York City, I’m bearing witness to a tale of two cities with rising income inequality and diminishing hope for longstanding residents. Together, we can support a wide range of cooperatives that continuously serve New Yorkers while mainstream institutions are leaving them behind.

Mark Winston Griffith

I’ve been around. Over the last thirty years I’ve been a community organizer, journalist, financial institution executive, city council candidate and policy think tank director. More importantly, I’m a true believer in movements. What I bring to CEANYC is experience in cooperative institution building, social justice leadership and building a civic action network. I co-founded the Central Brooklyn Federal Credit Union and am on the boards of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop, the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, the National Black Food and Justice Alliance and the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance.  I’m the executive director of Brooklyn Movement Center, a Black-led, multi-issue, direct action organization. And as someone who has co-founded and managed several non-profit organizations, l see myself as a steward of CEANYC’s formative building years.

I was on CEANYC’s original steering committee and the inaugural board of directors. But my job is not to occupy a place on the board indefinitely, but to help get this institution off the ground and then get out of the way so that others have the opportunity to develop their own leadership skills and update CEANYC’s vision.

What is your vision for CEANYC in the next 2-5 years? Why is CEANYC important to you and to New York City? What should CEANYC be doing more of or differently in the next five years? What do you envision CEANYC’s membership and programs will look like at the end of your 2-year term?

In the next 5 years (ok, maybe 10), I see CEANYC’s job as making sure that cooperatives – and the exchanges of commerce, skill and resources that can flow between them – will be a prominent driver of insurgent politics, non-extractive practices and resilience among those whose lives would otherwise be gentrified. Ok, maybe this is more a dream than a prediction, but cooperativism is one of the few viable strategies that ordinary people have to resist the racial and economic cleansing that has befallen New York City.

I want to see CEANYC position institutions and economic experiments to nurture and center the leadership of Black and Brown people. Furthermore, I would like to see coops begin to recognize their common interests and shared strengths by learning from one another, expanding their purchasing power and finding the capital and talent they need to not just survive, but thrive.  This may be one man’s fantasy, but I’m here to grind for CEANYC so that this becomes our shared reality.