CoFED inspiregizes future food co-op leaders across North America. We support students with training and tools, and connect them with peers, mentors, and allies in a solidarity network.

Northeast Mentor Network

CoFED has secured commitments from the following advisors and allies to field questions from CoFED member teams! Thank you mentors! If you would like to get in touch with any of these wonderful people, email

Joe Holtz

Park Slope Food Coop  - Brooklyn, NY

Wants to talk to students about: a) The issue of which model of food cooperative is best to meet the needs the cooperative is trying to satisfy b) financial planning c) member labor d) any issue in regard to designing for transparency including transparency in pricing e) any issue in regard to designing the coop to enhance the sense of ownership by the members

Joseph Holtz was born in and grew up in Brooklyn. Joe and nine other Brooklynites co-founded the Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC) in February 1973. In 1975 he was hired as the PSFC’s first paid staff with the title General Coordinator. In the mid 1990’s he was named the Coop’s first General Manager and now coordinates, in collaboration with eight other General Coordinators, a paid staff of 71 and the work of 16,100 active members. The goals of the PSFC have always included having the members provide good food at low prices through working together. The Coop makes a great effort to buy as much food as possible from local growing areas. The sales volume of PSFC was $48,000,000 last year.



4th St. Food Coop New York, New York

Wants to talk to students about: Creating co-op culture, succession planning, documentation, non-traditional governance, and organization of responsibilities.

Lippe joined the 4th Street Food Co-op as a receiving shift-worker, and has since been responsible for roles in Membership, Information Systems, Facilities, and Development. His main interests are collaboration and collective work (both in the domain of cooperative structures and otherwise), and in creating sustainable, healthy organization structure and culture.


Vanessa Bransburg

Co-op Development Center at the Center for Family Life  Sunset Park, NY

Wants to talk to students about: consensus decision making, meeting facilitation, using group work methodology with coops to build relationships, deal with conflict, create transparency, effective and positive communication, conflict resolution

Vanessa was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina and was raised in San Diego, California until she migrated over to New York City for social work graduate school in 2005. In 2008, Vanessa was hired at the Center for Family Life to run a Cooperative Development Program in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Since then, Vanessa and her team has been working with a variety of worker cooperatives that comprise of immigrants mostly from Latin America. In 2007, the Center for Family Life and others involved with NYC coops formed the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives. Most recently, Vanessa has been involved in providing training and technical assistance to community based organizations in NYC who are interested in developing worker cooperatives with community members in low income neighborhoods or others who have been economically, politically and socially marginalized.


Dan Livingston


Wants to talk to students about:  Buying Clubs, Direct Sourcing from Farms, Guerrilla Theatre and Logistics

Dan started his career in the food world as a dumpster-diving hitchhiker, and moved onto paid work as the Food Recovery Specialist through an AmeriCorps placement at the Community Hunger Outreach Warehouse (CHOW) and a Coordinator for Binghamton Food Not Bombs. His past food work includes Operations Manager for the online farmers market, Central New York Bounty, and Food Coordinator for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. Dan is a founding member of the Binghamton Urban Farm Project, and has been appointed by the Mayor of Binghamton to the Community Development Advisory Committee. Dan and his partner were recently recognized by Mother Earth News as Homesteaders of the Year for their efforts in Urban Agriculture in Binghamton. Dan now works as the Community Outreach Coordinator for He has helped connect over 50 communities throughout New York State and Pennsylvania to local and sustainable foods, and is shaking up the food system by empowering individuals and groups to develop retail food spaces in their communities that serve their needs without cutting into the viability of the people who grow and process the food.


Chris Michael

NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives

Wants to talk to students about: cooperative development, legalities

Christopher Michael is completing a JD/PhD (Politics) at the City University of New York with a focus on cooperative financial structures, community economic development, and employment law. Chris is also a founding director of NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives.  Chris has ten years of experience in a variety of fields. After undergraduate at Columbia University, he worked demolition in the South Bronx, Brownsville, and Harlem; and then advanced to the position of Carpenter’s Apprentice at a private renovation/construction firm. He moved to Berlin for three years, where he worked in catering, independent film, advertising, and translation. Returning to New York, he drove yellow cab for two years. Chris is married, an enthusiast of the Chinatown YMCA, and continues to love New York pizza.


Holly Howard

Ask Holly How

Wants to talk to students about: business planning, business operations:  systems and infrastructure, leadership development

Originally from Aurora, IL, Holly’s career path has not been a straight line.  She  has pursued all of her passions in life from performing as a ballerina, to publishing medical research, to working as a music therapist and to participating in a few recording sessions on the bassoon.  She is a graduate of Berklee College of Music in Boston as well as Columbia University in the City of New York.  After an existential crisis in her twenties, she found myself ditching the Ivy League for a waitressing gig at egg restaurant in Brooklyn, NY.  She spent four years working her way from waitress, to manager, to VP of Operations and Finance for the company and learned all the ins and outs of running a small business.  She founded Ask Holly How in 2010 in order to help other small business owners transform their passion into a profitable and inspiring small business.  She works with creative professionals across the tri-state area teaching them the business skills they need to build a business that thrives.  Holly believes it is the small inspiring businesses in our communities that define our quality of life in those communities. It is her life’s mission to support the promise and genuine experience each small business can offer so they can remain gathering places for sharing love, livelihood and social innovation.


Jay Lee


Wants to talk to students about: food startups, financing, online models

Jay Lee is the Founder and CEO of Smallknot, a tech startup whose main product is community crowdfunding platform for small businesses.  Prior to Smallknot, he worked as a corporate and securities lawyer at a Wall Street firm in New York City and as a researcher for a grassroots HIV/AIDS organization in South India.  He currently also serves as a market manager for Farmigo, an online farmer's market that connects local farms and food producers directly to local consumers.  Jay spends most of his off-hours roaming the streets of New York on two wheels (both motor- and human-powered), or planning his next fishing trip.  

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