Currently pursuing his bachelors degree in Environmental Science, Ali is an aspiring ecologist and conservation researcher. With experience managing both the Black Seed Farmers Market and the Regional Environmental Council’s Mobile Farmers Market in Worcester, Massachusetts, Ali hopes to engage and encourage the community to create healthy, food secure communities. When Ali isn’t on his bicycle, pedicab or skateboard, he can be found in one of the many urban community and school gardens planting seeds and giving lessons in garden education. WooRides is an opportunity for him to not only engage with the community at large outside of the garden, but to also show the community what a fair, just, and equitable workplace can look like.
Ashleigh is currently the Food Justice Organizer at NEBHDCo in Bed-Stuy for their Communities for Healthy Food Initiative, a holistic food justice program. Ashleigh has been engaged in social change work for nearly a decade and believes that food and land sovereignty are core values to all movement and organizing work. She also serves as co-chair of the Outreach and Membership committee of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop. A food coop in central Brooklyn with the mission of centering the leadership and needs of low-to moderate residents of color.
Catherine Murcek has been a worker/owner at Samamkaya Yoga Backcare and Scoliosis Collective for almost two years. She has been teaching yoga for nearly 9 years and last year became a certified yoga therapist. She has a degree is in International Economics from Franklin College of Switzerland and also performs contemporary dance with several small local companies around NYC. She is passionate about movement, healing, travel, and doing anything in her abilities to help support the worker cooperative movement.
Deneen Reynolds-Knott is a playwright/workshop facilitator living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a volunteer Brooklyn Urban Gardener (BUG) with the Brooklyn Botanic Garden, supporting community gardens around the borough. Currently, she is organizing a group of Teaching Theatre Artists to explore forming a workers-cooperative.
Emilie is a facilitator, educator, and organizer with over ten years of experience building community-controlled food systems and cultivating grassroots leadership with organizations in Baltimore, the Hudson Valley, and NYC. She comes to her work with particular focus on anti-racist and de-colonized institutional and personal relationships. A lover of both history and sci-fi, she believes we must be awake to our histories and free in our imagination of the future to bring about a democratic society that honors all humans and the non-human world. As part of the CEANYC community, she is excited to build capacity and cross sector collaboration in the leaderful space of the solidarity economy.
Jess is a Black herbalist, urban farmer and educator helping marginalized communities build autonomy through land-based healing practices. She and comrades are in the planning stages of a worker-owned medicinal herb farm called Stellaria Farm Coop.
I decided to immigrate from Argentina because of an economic crisis going on in my country at the time. And that’s why I am here… it wasn’t an easy decision to make because I had to be mindful of challenges that awaited me, a new way of living, and a language that was a little overwhelming. And here I am! Full of expectations and having to leave the ones I loved most, but at the same time I had the drive to keep fighting day by day.
Now I am a worker-owner of a cleaning cooperative Pa’lante Forward Green Cleaning. The first worker cooperative in the Queens area, now we have 10 worker-owners and continue to grow both personally and in terms of the business. I personally believe in strengthening social equality, and think that cooperatives are an ideal way to create a more just economy, where you can appreciate and value the hard work of a person and their humanity, regardless of country of origin or race.
Magali Regis is an architect practicing in New York City with a focus on sustainable design, historic preservation, and adaptive reuse. She is also a community gardener and garden activist, working for the past 20 years to preserve New York’s communal public spaces from looming development. Magali serves on the board of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, an advocacy group representing over 600 community gardens and 20,000 gardeners.
Merelis is an Afro-indígena Dominicana. I was born and raised in Queens, NY; my motherland the Dominican Republic (DR). I stayed connected to DR by visiting family during the summer every two years. I graduated from the City College of New York, where I discovered my passion for food sovereignty and studied the connection between culture and food. The past five years, I have worked with the Northern Manhattan community around nutrition education, to speak on ways food is medicine. Today I work as a wellness organizer, where I help organize schools and early childhood centers bring wellness to their spaces in a culturally respectful way. I am guided and inspired by my community of powerful and loving Black and Brown people. I am the living legacy of my ancestors and family, who have and continue to nourish and heal community through food. I love to eat tostones and make my natural version of vivaporú called Vidaporú!
I am co-founder of Q Gardens Community Farm Inc., a young Brooklyn Queens Land Trust garden in Brooklyn. Since the garden’s first season in 2015, I have been a member of the coordinating body and have headed up our expanding community composting program. I have also served in several leading roles on the Flatbush Farm Share CSA Core group since 2010 and helped to establish and maintain its sliding scale structure and other affordability features. Currently, I work as a mentor librarian in a citywide adult education liberal arts program through The College of New Rochelle. I am interested in the nexus between zero waste initiatives and cooperative work projects.
After a decade of varied focuses, I landed in the world of adult education as a teacher and, ultimately, Director of the Lehman College Adult Learning Center. We ran the program collaboratively, striving to build a democratic workplace embedded in a world of hierarchical institutions. I’m now retired, still working part time, including coordinating a student-run farm stand at Lehman. As the policy world and funders seek to turn our education programs into conventional “workforce development” trainers, I’ve looked to the solidarity and cooperative economy movements as a context for building alternative economic pathways for our mainly low income and immigrant students, and, more broadly, for laying the groundwork for a more just, democratic and participatory society.
Sarah is an illustrator and designer. She was introduced to radical politics through student organizing at the New School. Her organizing experience spans environmental issues, divestment, and resource accessibility for low-income students in higher education. Sarah is combining her passions for social justice and visual communication at Radix Media, a worker-owned commercial print shop and publisher.
Shahbaz completed his Bachelor’s in Industrial Engineering with a minor in Environmental & Sustainability Studies in 2014. He was laid off at the end of 2016 after working as a sustainability engineer for almost 3 years in a large corporate organization. After completing Coop Academy in 2015, offered by Worcester Roots, the seeds of cooperatization and work-place democratization were sowed, so when the lay-off notice was received, Shahbaz looked forward to cooperatizing his business idea around sustainable transportation. Outside of WooRides, he enjoys rock climbing, biking, the outdoors, and pondering other creative business ideas that he can work into the solidarity economy. Ultimately, Shahbaz seeks to insulate his communities against the volatility of traditional economic, political, and social systems.
Qiana is a veteran advocate for sustainable and equitable food and farm policies on the local, regional, and federal level and leads Just Food’s trainings on advocacy and how to launch new community-run farmers’ markets and CSAs. Qiana earned her Food Hub Management Certificate from the University of Vermont in October 2015 and her B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University. She is a member of the Peas and Justice Collaborative and the Alliance for Food and Racial Equity (AFRE), and recently served on the Organizational Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Qiana loves being an active CSA member, practicing Vinyasa yoga, and serves on the boards of The Point CDC, Revolutionary Fitness, and the South Bronx Farmers Market.
Alison’s diverse background includes managing wellness outreach initiatives for population health programming, conducting food, nutrition and health education programs for individuals and community groups, and working in a broad range of public health and advocacy programs for low income New Yorkers. Alison has been a volunteer in the Just Food community since 2009 as a Crown Heights CSA core group member, CSA community chef and Farm-to-Pantry Spanish language translator intern. She got her MPH with a concentration in Nutrition from CUNY School of Public Health, is a Certified Holistic Health Coach from Institute for Integrative Nutrition, a Registered Yoga Teacher, and prefers bike riding to other modes of transportation.
Not pictured: Maggy Ureña and Jennifer Alise Flanders