Katherine Bessey is the Assistant Project Manager for CDI’s Business Ownership Solutions (BOS) and Cooperative Food Systems programs. She has a Masters degree in Policy Planning, and Management with a concentration in sustainable development and geospatial analysis at the Muskie School of Public Service. Prior to CDI, Katherine worked as an Associate Research Analyst for Group Dimensions International for eight years where she specialized in program evaluation, policy analysis, and data analytics; she contributed to external evaluation studies in international development for the World Bank, African Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. As an undergraduate, Katherine double majored in mathematics and the arts at Smith College. She spent two years in Italy completing a “Farm to Table” internship, during which she expanded her skills and knowledge regarding sustainable agriculture, sustainable systems and business development, and the importance of the food system as a cultural focal point of society.
Jason Brady is a Cooperative Development Specialist under CDI’s NEROC Program focusing on Eastern Massachusetts. Prior to joining CDI Jason was a founding member of the Nickel City Housing Cooperative in Buffalo, NY and a community organizer with the advocacy organizations Sierra Club, BlueGreen Alliance and the Florida AFL-CIO. His experience coordinating volunteer outreach, developing volunteer leadership, and managing administrative and legislative advocacy campaigns around environmental and energy policy has contributed to progressive victories for the environment and working families. Jason is a graduate of the University at Buffalo, SUNY with a BA in Environmental Studies. In his spare time he enjoys exploring the outdoors, cooking vegan treats and seeing the world through his son’s eyes.
Rob Brown is the Director of CDI’s Business Ownership Solutions (BOS) program. BOS promotes employee ownership and works with business owners and their employees to facilitate conversions. He was part of the advisory group that successfully converted three retail businesses into the Island Employee Cooperative, which is now the largest worker co-op in Maine and the second largest in New England. Rob participates in several national networks promoting the strategy of employee ownership conversion and best practices in the field, including as a 2015 DAWI Cooperative Developer Fellow and as a member of the Workers to Owners Collaborative. Rob joined CDI in 2012 as the Maine Housing Program Manager in CDI’s NEROC program, working to convert investor-owned parks into resident-owned cooperatives. He has a diverse background in community organizing, communications, non-profit and for-profit business development, and public policy development and advocacy. Rob studied economics and public policy at the University of Maine and College of the Atlantic, specializing in rural and community economic development, and has completed the Maine Association of Nonprofits’ Executive Leadership Institute. Prior to joining CDI, Rob was the founding Executive Director of Opportunity Maine, a statewide organizing, research, and advocacy nonprofit focused on education and workforce development, energy, economic development and tax policy. Rob lives with his wife and son in Northport, Maine.
Thomas Choate is a Cooperative Development Specialist in CDI’s NEROC Program. Thomas’s background includes time as a research analyst, natural builder, carpenter, and a developer. This has included work with the Reinvestment Fund Development Partners, Dr. Susan Wachter, co-director of Penn Institute for Urban Research and Professor of Real Estate at Wharton, QBL Real Estate, a national consultancy for municipal and cultural development partnerships, and Carolina Common Enterprise. Most recently, he provided business planning, investor relations, project management, and “deep green” land planning as a consultant for community-minded real estate developments, large and small, and similar projects in Asheville, NC. Originally from Austin, Texas, Thomas studied Latin American Politics at Southwestern University and received a masters in City Planning from the University of Pennsylvania. He enjoys time with his family, cooking, fermenting, dancing, gardening, and music.
Doug Clopp is the Director of Development and Communications at CDI. He has over two decades of experience working in both the non-profit and for-profit sectors focusing on developing advocacy campaigns, strategic partnerships, fundraising, communications, legislative advocacy, and grassroots organizing. Throughout much of Doug’s career, he has been engaged in advancing democracy reform efforts at the state and national level. Prior to joining CDI, Doug served as the national Director of Outreach for FairVote, responsible for advancing electoral systems change including Maine’s landmark effort to adopt ranked choice voting for all state and federal races. He is the former Director of Strategic Partnerships and Deputy Director for Program for Common Cause, where he was responsible for developing partnerships with national and state organizations to support the organization’s programmatic and campaign goals surrounding campaign finance reform, governmental ethics, and corporate accountability. Earlier, Doug served as State Communications Director for Repower Maine, the state affiliate of Al Gore’s national Alliance for Climate Protection focused on advancing comprehensive clean energy and climate change legislation. He has served as the Director of Governmental Affairs for the Consumers for Affordable Health Care Foundation dedicated to achieving access to quality, affordable health care for all. Doug worked for many years on campaign finance reform in Maine, including the passage of the Maine Clean Election Act, the nation’s first comprehensive public financing system, in his role as Democracy Program Director for the Maine Citizen Leadership Fund. His private sector experience includes serving as the Vice President for Strategic Partnerships at Union Atlantic Electricity, a competitive electricity provider devoted to advancing a labor economy. When not at work, Doug enjoys fly fishing for Maine’s native brook trout, sailing the Maine Coast with friends, organic gardening, cooking, ultimate frisbee, and playing a mean game of bocci on the beach.
Julia Curry is a Cooperative Development Specialist in CDI’s NEROC program focusing on Vermont. Before joining CDI, Julia worked for over a decade as a cooperative specialist with multi-family affordable housing cooperatives in Burlington, VT. She came to the realm of cooperatives with a background as an organizer in union, interfaith, and community organizing contexts. She has also served on the board of City Market/Onion River Cooperative since 2011, including two years as board president, leading the board through the co-op’s process of building a second store. Julia earned an M.A. in Political Science from Johns Hopkins University with a focus on social movements. She loves helping people grow and connect by working together.
Andy Danforth is Director of CDI’s NEROC Program, manages its cooperative housing programs, and serves CDI’s clients as its finance and valuation consultant. He has over thirty years of diverse experience in real estate, finance, systems, non-profit governance, and social outreach. He is a co-founder and Managing Director of Circinus Group, which is a portfolio social lender and commercial conduit and provides financial and systemic consulting services to the international residential finance community. During his career, he has been an executive of two public companies, worked with 10 of the 20 largest US banks and Wall Street brokerages, served as a Liquidating Officer of the FDIC, and has assisted local lenders, government agencies, Indian tribes and regional non-profits. Internationally, he has worked on projects in Canada, Australia, the UK, and in several South Asian countries. He spent over 10 years as an adviser to the Mexican National Workers Housing Fund, and to several international NGOs on the practical application of Shari’ah (Islamic law) to micro lending programs. Andy has a long history of non-profit involvement. He is former President and Secretary, and a continuing Trustee of The Cooperative Fund of New England (www.coopfund.coop), a unique revolving fund that lends to cooperative enterprises and community non-profits throughout New England. He is a founder of its sister fund, the Cooperative Capital Fund of New England, the first known venture capital fund targeted toward cooperative enterprises, as well as number of other non-profits in housing and education.
Jonah Fertig-Burd is a Cooperative Development Specialist with the Cooperative Development Institute in the Cooperative Food Systems programs. He works with farmers, food producers, cooks, distributors, and community members to develop democratic businesses. He is a co-founder and board member of the Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative and has served as a development coordinator for the nation’s first farm & sea-to-institution cooperative. He also works with New American farmers, assisting them in developing cooperatives and helped Somali Bantu Farmers in Lewiston form New Roots Cooperative, the first New American owned cooperative and farm in Maine. Previously, he co-founded Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland, Maine and helped develop it into a successful worker-owned cafe. He has been involved in community gardening organizing in Portland and New York City and has taught gardening and cooking in schools and afterschool programs in the Portland area since 2003. He also co-founded the Greater Portland Community Land Trust in Portland and was a founding member of the Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, as well as the Cooperative Design Lab. He is a facilitator for the Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute, as well as a speaker at statewide, regional and national conferences about cooperatives in the food system. He lives with his partner and two kids at Celebration Tree Farm in Durham, Maine.
Marcel Gagne is a Cooperative Development Specialist in the Business Ownership Solutions (BOS) program. BOS works with business owners to help them consider whether conversion to a co-op would meet their needs, and with employees and community members to facilitate conversions to worker and/or community-owned cooperatives. Formerly, he was with Western Maine Community Action doing workforce and business development under the Jobs Driven National Emergency Grant (JD-NEG) in Androscoggin, Oxford, Franklin, Kennebec, and Somerset counties of Maine. He has an extensive background in workforce development (WMCA/CareerCenter/DHHS), community and economic development (a decade with CEI), training and talent development for non-profit and for-profit business, and as an advocate for education and life-long learning in Androscoggin County. Marcel studies leadership and organizational development at the University of Southern Maine at Lewiston/Auburn College, and is currently involved in the creation and implementation of the Institute for Continuous Improvement (ICI), a community/economic development process, in partnership with the Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which is focusing on bringing the principles of LEAN to eliminate waste and foster productivity through the development and empowerment of the current workforce and to promote LEAN leadership. He serves as a board member on the Lewiston-Auburn (LA) Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, is a board member and treasurer of Community Credit Union, and is Chair of USM’s LA College Community Advisory Board.
Noémi Giszpenc, CDI’s Executive Director, manages the day-to-day activities of the organization. She began her career as an economics researcher at the World Bank, worked as an editor at the Nonprofit Quarterly, a magazine for nonprofit managers, and became a principal at Ownership Associates, Inc., a consulting firm in Cambridge, MA specializing in developing an ownership culture at employee-owned firms. As part of earning a Master’s in Community Economic Development from Southern New Hampshire University, she did a thesis on the creation of a cooperative economy in the Northeast, including the practical development of an interactive cooperative directory, which has now evolved into the Data Commons Cooperative (datacommons.coop). She has a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
David Gowler is CDI’s virtual office manager. He has experience with buying clubs and retail food co-ops going back to the 1970s. David was a founding member and original Board member of River Valley Market in Northampton, Massachusetts and worked for 7 years as their database administrator. At River Valley Market, David was also one of the primary Union organizers and served as Union steward, representing fellow workers with UFCW local 1459. Other community work includes helping to found WXOJ-LP, Valley Free Radio in Northampton and for 15 years working as a program producer for community and student run radio station WMUA in Amherst, Massachusetts. David currently resides in Somerville, MA and serves on the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Somerville.
Omar Hassan works as the Cooperative Marketing and Development Assistant with the Cooperative Development Institute in the Cooperative Food Systems program. Born in Somalia and raised in Kenya, Omar speaks Maay Maay, Af Maha, and English. He provides translation and interpretation support to Somali farmers throughout New England. He works with farmers and community members to develop democratic businesses, assisting them in developing cooperatives, and supporting them as they access local markets. He works closely with New Roots Cooperative Farm, an operation owned by Somali Bantu farmers in Lewiston, Maine, the first New American-owned cooperative farm in Maine. He is currently enrolled at the University of Southern Maine where he is pursuing a degree in Social and Behavioral Science with a minor in Sustainable Food Systems. He lives with his wife and two children, Isra and Fithi in Lewiston, Maine.
Sarah Martin is a Cooperative Development Specialist under CDI’s NEROC Program focusing on Western Massachusetts and Vermont. She went to college at Plattsburgh State, studying English with a concentration in writing. While in school, she worked with the Literacy Volunteers on campus, a group that assisted with teaching basic literacy and English as a second language. She is a member and regular volunteer for the ROTA Gallery and Studio cooperative in Plattsburgh. Sarah began working in the NEROC program as an intern doing primarily administrative and organizational tasks such as helping to create a universal online filing system for all of CDI’s ROC parks. Since becoming a CDI employee, she has continued to do administrative work, job shadow on the field and work on various projects, particularly those dealing with financial reporting, past due collections reports and in depth research.
Margaret Miley is CDI’s Cooperative Business Director, as of June 2019. She serves our business clients throughout our network in expanding their ventures, developing their cooperative management practices, and supporting co-op networks.
Margaret has a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MS in business and has worked at the intersection of entrepreneurship and economic justice for over 20 years. She has developed models of sustainable business while promoting responsive economic policy. Margaret has launched businesses and a variety of economic development projects; integrating community organizing, business training, workforce development, incubation spaces, lending, nontraditional leadership development, and worker-ownership. She has shared this applied research in micro-economies throughout Massachusetts with officials determining economic policy on the state and federal levels.
Margaret was the founding CEO of Valley Home Care, a home healthcare worker cooperative in Lowell, Mass in the 1990s. More recently, she was the founding director of the Midas Collaborative, a statewide nonprofit network improving the financial security of low and moderate residents across Massachusetts through incentives, training, programs, applied research, and public policy advocacy to address the inequality crisis.
She has served on a number of public/private regulatory and leadership councils at the state and national levels, including the Massachusetts Asset Development Commission. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women awarded Margaret an Unsung Heroine Award in 2017. She has spoken nationally and is the author of a number of publications on the topics of community-based economic development, entrepreneurship, adult training, and asset-building.
Melissa Mullineaux is a Cooperative Development Specialist for CDI’s NEROC Program in Maine. Melissa received her Associates degree studying behavioral sciences through Granite State College and her BA in social work through the University of Southern Maine. Melissa has worked in Portland, Maine as a social worker for the past 8 years, where she has been working with communities and individuals struggling in homelessness, poverty, mental health issues and substance abuse. She earned her Master degree in Policy Planning and Management with a track in Sustainable Development and Geospatial Technologies and a graduate certificate in Community Planning and Development in May of 2016. While earning her graduate degree, Melissa remained working as a Cumberland County mental health emergency response crisis worker and did various work for the Association of State Wetland Managers in Windham, Maine and the Center for Business and Economic Development in Portland, Maine. Melissa has lived in Maine on and off for most of her life. She has a passion for equity for all and environmental issues. Melissa enjoys the outdoors and nature and spends much of her spare time with her friends and family.
Libby O’Flaherty is a Cooperative Development Specialist under CDI’s NEROC program. Prior to joining CDI, Libby worked with the Prison Birth Project and Community Action’s Family Center, providing wrap-around care to high needs families in Franklin and Hampden counties, as well as the first point of contact for evacuees to Franklin County following Hurricane Maria in 2017. Libby has developed a workshop on compensatory options for rural survivors of Intimate Partner Violence which has been presented to the Department of Health, among others. Libby is a graduate of Tufts and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and resides in Franklin County, MA.
Annik Paul is a Cooperative Development Specialist under CDI’s NEROC Program focusing on Vermont. Annik obtained her M.A. in Sustainable Development from SIT Graduate Institute and wrote her thesis on planning and designing a volunteer-based organization. She spent a year volunteering with Transition Putney (Vermont) designing a framework for a sustainable, resilient, and socially just community. Her focus was on localizing the food system by supporting and creating community gardens, farmers’ markets, buying clubs, a low-income CSA, and a food pantry. She received her B.S. from Worcester State University as a double major in Accounting and Finance. Prior to joining CDI, she worked for the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity/Mobile Home Program as a Resident Organizer.
Colleen Preston is a Cooperative Development Specialist under CDI’s NEROC Program. She is the staff representative to the CDI Board. She is a past President of Cranberry Village, a ROC in Massachusetts, and has been elected to the ROC USA Board. She studied journalism at Virginia Tech and George Washington University, spent several years as a programmer and systems analyst for Honeywell, worked as a reporter for the Attleboro Sun Chronicle for 10 years, ran a rare and used bookstore for 18 years, and has served on numerous committees and boards.
Arthur Sabiti is a Cooperative Developer with CDI’s Cooperative Business Services (CBS) and Cooperative Food System’s (CFS) programs. Arthur has worked for both public and private agencies in Rwanda including the United Nations Capital Development Fund where he worked as a financial inclusion technical advisor. He has supported over 416 financial cooperatives to develop their structure, including governance, by-laws, membership, product design, management and business planning services. Arthur brings to CDI progressive leadership experience in development finance and social justice programs. His professional experience in Africa includes project management, managing financial inclusion sector supported projects, Small Medium Enterprise support funding design and farmers value chain financing design. Arthur worked at Global Communities International (USAID funded) where he administered a Cooperative Performance Index tool for 30 district cooperatives, assessing needs and providing gap-filling interventions. Since coming to the US, Arthur has worked at Preble Street in Portland, Maine as a case worker and has served on the Board of Directors for the Intercultural Community Center (ICC) in Westbrook, Maine where he is currently Executive Director. The ICC serves over 100 3rd-8th grade children of new Mainers( predominantly) with educational support services that include English language, school homework support and physical education. Arthur holds a Master of Arts in International Economics and Development from the Catholic University of Louvain and a BA in finance from the University of Rwanda. Arthur has also completed the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Training Program on Rethinking Financial Inclusion. He is adept in written and verbal communication, skilled in public speaking and is fluent in English, French and Kinyarwanda.
Jeremiah Ward serves as a Cooperative Development Specialist under CDI’s NEROC Program. He has worked for a number of cooperatives in different sectors in the United States and has conducted extensive research on agricultural and worker cooperatives in Mexico. Jeremiah also has expertise in the field of urban development. He obtained his MA in Community Development and Planning from Clark University and specializes in HUD’s HOME and CDBG programs, as well as other urban development initiatives.
Jeanee Wright is a Cooperative Development Specialist in CDI’s NEROC Program, focusing in Maine. She has over 20 years of training experience and ten years of cooperative development experience. Prior to joining CDI, she spent 7 years serving on the Board of Directors in her cooperative, where she led a committee to plan and execute a project to replace failing water, sewer and electrical systems in the community. Her involvement and knowledge from that experience led her to a position as an Organizational Development Specialist with ROC-NH (ROC-NH provides assistance with funding, training and education to more than 120 resident-owned communities in New Hampshire) where she focused on developing leaders in other resident-owned communities to identify, plan, fund and construct projects that ultimately stabilized community infrastructure. She also collaborated on and facilitated boot camp curricula designed to strengthen tools and processes to manage the role of operations managers and other maintenance volunteers. Jeanee is also experienced in acquisition, financing and post-purchase technical assistance. She is passionate about leading others to solutions through good action planning and commitment.