Hnin W. Hnin, National Program Coordinator, ROC (the Restaurant Opportunities Center)
Hnin was born in Burma and raised in Brooklyn by working class parents. At age 17, while building boardwalks for a SCAconservation project in Indiana, she read Fast Food Nation and got politicized around food and sustainability. Since then, she’s been challenging the underlying cultures/worldviews that enable environmental, political-economic, racial and gender inequities to continue. Hnin sees food/sustainability as inextricably tied to questions of liberation, democracy, queerness, and joy. She has mused about food justice on Grist and Colorlines. Currently, in her role as ROC United’s National High Road Coordinator, Hnin is developing a national network of triple-bottom-line restaurants, worker-activists, and ethical eaters for a more responsible food system. ROC United is the only national group dedicated to improving working conditions and sustainability in the U.S’s rapidly growing restaurant industry. Before joining ROC, Hnin was the Associate Manager of National Programs at Slow Food USA–where she coordinated over 200 chapters working to promote good, clean, and fair food. Hnin holds a BA in Political Economy and International Studies from Williams College. She is also an alumnus of IHP’s Rethinking Globalization , a year-long study abroad program that examines the cultural, environmental, and social impacts of neoliberalism worldwide.
Steve Dubb, Research Director, Democracy Collaborative
Steve Dubb is Research Director of The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, where he has led the development of the Community-Wealth.org web-based information portal and has been lead author or co-author of a number of publications including Building Wealth: The New Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems (Aspen, 2005), Linking Colleges to Communities: Engaging the University for Community Development (2007), Growing a Green Economy for All: From Green Jobs to Green Ownership (with Deborah Warren, 2010) and co-author (with Rita Axelroth Hodges) of The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads (MSU Press, 2012). Dubb also conducted (with Ted Howard) the initial strategic planning that led to the development of the Evergreen Cooperative initiative in Cleveland, Ohio and currently helps guide efforts to adopt that model to meet the needs of other cities. Previously, Dubb was Executive Director of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit association that provides education and technical assistance to university and community-based housing and retail cooperatives. Dubb received his Masters and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego and his Bachelor’s in Economics (with honors) and Spanish from the University of California, Berkeley. While in college, Dubb was also a member of cooperatives, being a member of the Berkeley Student Co-op from 1986 to 1989 and a member of the Groundwork Books collective from 1989 to 1998.
Sarah Rocker, Staff Adviser to the Flaming Eggplant Cafe
Sarah Rocker is the staff Advisor to the student-run Flaming Eggplant Cafe at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. She’s been gardening all her life, and working on farms since 2005. For the past 5 years she’s lived on an intentional housing community homestead, and helped to found and operate Delphinia Community CSA and market farm with her husband for the past 3 years. Sarah specializes in culinary and medicinal herbs and flowers and enjoys saving and sharing seeds. She is also a co-founder and board member of the West Olympia Farmer’s Market, and active member and volunteer of various local organizations, including the Thurston Food Systems Council and McLane Grange, where she’s helped to organize foot-stompin, seed-swapping social mixers for small farmers in the area. She is a member of Slow Food USA and attended the 2012 Terra Madre conference in Turin, Italy as a U.S. Delegate for the Washington/Alaska region. She holds an M.A. in German studies with a focus on Intercultural Communication and is wrapping up her Master’s in Public Administration, with research in local and regional food systems. She’s fond of vintage cookbooks, weekend brunches and hosting garden parties with friends.
Michael Roberts, 11th Hour Project
Michael came to know CoFED through his work at The 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation, where he is an associate in the Ecological Agriculture and Regional Food System grant making program. At 11th Hour, Michael works with projects across the country devoted to reforming the food system, providing financial resources, strategic advice, and connections with other activists and leaders necessary to scale innovation. Relatively new to philanthropy, he brings with him the values of community empowerment and local actors as the most important agents of change. Michael holds a Master of Science from University College London (UK) in Environment and Sustainable Development, where he focused on the transformative nature of community food projects and urban agriculture. While at UCL in 2009, he was a regular volunteer at Organic Lea, a worker-owned cooperative and home of the largest certified organic farm within Greater London’s city limits. Michael’s MSc dissertation explored the role of community-driven entrepreneurship in supporting alternative models and policies for food, agriculture, and trade. A section devoted to local community food projects was published in the UCL compilation The Food Junctions Cookbook: Living Recipes for Social Innovation. He also used Participatory Action Research methods to work alongside rural migrant farmers in Ashaiman, Ghana to organize as a cooperative and assert their right to their land just outside the capital city of Accra. Though he grew up in South Carolina and Georgia, Michael has lived and worked all over. He has worked as an organizer for the League of Conservation Voters in Salem, Oregon during the 2004 presidential campaign and in 2008, became the production manager at Piedmont Biofuels Cooperative in Moncure, North Carolina. He currently resides in Oakland, CA where he has the pleasure of interacting with some of the most exciting entrepreneurial projects in the food system both as a funder and an engaged citizen.
Brent Dixon, The Cooperative Trust
When Brent was a kid, he wanted to be a tractor. That didn’t work out, and so he founded The Habdash, a creative studio based in Austin, Texas. He’s spent the last couple of years doing and teaching design and user-experience, advising on behalf of The Filene Research Institute, a consumer financial think tank, and founding The Cooperative Trust, a grassroots network of hundreds of young people fighting for the future of socially responsible finance. He’s also an organizer with Hackidemia, a mobile invention lab for kids. In 2012 Brent recorded and released “Cradle to Cradle,” a five-song collection that is available for your ears on iTunes and Spotify. His work is driven by a fascination for what makes people tick.
Mary Schulte, East Coast Student Representative
Mary Schulte is a worker-owner at the Maryland Food Collective, established in 1975 at the University of Maryland. She graduated from UMD in 2011 with a B.A. in Government & Politics and a certificate in LGBT Studies. She is currently pursuing an associate’s degree in accounting from her local community college and plans to open a worker-owned vegan food co-op to ground her vision for a food justice movement that affirms animal rights. Mary is convinced of the power of the cooperative model to transform economic and personal relationships for the better, and she brings her passion for instigating student-run cooperatives on every campus to her work with CoFED
Zach Zeilman, East Coast Student Representative
Zach is an urbanist, educator, and explorer, but his interest in food has been evolving since he was a child creating culinary experiments in his parents’ kitchen until more recently, studying the role of gardening in American urbanization. He came to CoFED in Summer 2011 as an incoming senior at Vassar College, ready to learn about food cooperatives and be inspired. He took his experience at the summer convergence and organized students at Vassar to create The Pumpkin Patch, a student-run food cooperative, which has focused on working with the Poughkeepsie community and providing students with healthy, local foods in it’s first year. Simultaneously, he got involved with Slow Food and served as a board member at Vassar to guide the organization. Zach believes CoFED provides a valuable service to students by training them to work in various contexts with diverse groups of people on issues that affect everyone. Food connects people at the most primal level, but also serves as a source for innovation and creativity. As a board member, he brings his start-up experience and work in education and community development to CoFED. Zach serves on the Strategic Planning and Finance committees and as the Treasurer for the Board of Directors. He aims to support CoFED’s longevity through sustainable business practices and by helping other students working towards sustainable food justice for their school and community.
Zen Trenholm, North California Student Representative
Hello Inspiregizers! My name is Zen Trenholm and I’m extremely excited to run as the student representative for Northern California on the Board of Directors. As a passionate cooperativist studying cooperative business development, I’m eager to have the opportunity to strengthen the organization by helping facilitate the kind of communication and relationship-building that supports a vibrant CoFED culture. As the Treasurer on the Board of Directors for the California Student Sustainability Coalition and as the Policy Co-Coordinator on the Berkeley Student Food Collective’s Board, I plan to use my non-profit and business experience to assist the organization with strategic goals and governance. A little bit about Zen…Zen Trenholm is a fourth year student at UC Berkeley studying Cooperative Business Development. Concerned with addressing the needs of his local community, he has joined the Berkeley Student Food Collective as their Policy Co-Coordinator. He also serves as the Treasurer and Project Director for the California Student Sustainability Coalition. Zen was a speaker on the “Building the New Economy through Student Leadership” panel at the Spring 2011 Green Festival and has worked on numerous social, environmental and economic justice issues throughout his academic career. He will be attending the National Cooperative Business Association’s Annual Conference in Seattle this October as a Crasher.
Alyssa Lee, Southern California Student Representative
Alyssa Lee is a 3rd year undergraduate student at UCLA and the Operations Director for The Student Food Collective at UCLA. Alyssa started her journey into sustainability in her freshman year, focusing on reducing her plastic consumption and becoming more "DIY" (she also made a few recycled art pieces along the way!). She only began to have a vetted interest in sustainable food after attending the California Student Sustainability Coalition Spring 2012 Convergence after which she helped found The Student Food Collective at UCLA. Since then, she has organized a small convergence at UCLA for Southern California food co-op campaigns, written a handful of grants for the SFC, and presented the SFC's business plan to the Associated Students of UCLA Business & Services Board this past January in the hopes of securing a student-run and owned cooperative grocery store on campus.
Alyssa is more excited than words for this opportunity to expand her knowledge and involvement in sustainable food systems and cooperatives as a Board member with CoFED. She is also heavily involved in other sustainability organizations on campus, working for a free mobile clinic for homeless populations in Los Angeles, and promoting music education and women in music through her sorority. When she's not beautifying Google Spreadsheets or making Post-It mosaics, you can find her playing alto sax for the Bruin Marching Band, baking vegan cookies, singing old Korean songs sans karaoke, or writing to people in limericks. She is currently studying Microbiology, Immunology, and Molecular Genetics and Public Health.
Clara Baker, Midwest Student Representative
Clara Baker is senior Environmental Studies major at Beloit College in Beloit, WI. She also identifies as a baker, an activist, a musician, an educator, a backpacker and a dreamer. Clara’s interest in the co-operative sector of the food movement stems from her role at Beloit heavily involved and invested in food activism. Her first year at college, Clara and her roommate spent most her time meeting with students, faculty and administrators to discuss the possibility of having a dining co-op on Beloit’s campus. Inspired by other dining co-ops in the Midwest, she co-founded the Big Spoon Dining Co-op on Beloit’s campus. Now in its third year, the Big Spoon Dining Co-op has also paved way for two other co-ops to start on campus. Now a member of CoFed’s Programming Committee, Clara is excited to support CoFed’s programming in furthering other cooperative ventures and initiatives in the Midwest and beyond.