The Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City (CEANYC) strengthens and expands community-led, democratically-controlled initiatives — from worker, financial and consumer co-ops to community land trusts and gardens, mutual housing, and low-income housing co-ops. Our goal is to build an economy based on values of social and racial justice, ecological sustainability, cooperation, mutualism, and democracy.
The growing discontent with income inequality and the oppression and misrepresentation of marginalized people is compelling people to consider alternatives to the current winner-take-all paradigm. The movement, paired with the emergence of new technology creates a unique opportunity for CEANYC.
Leveraging digital tools to collect data, corral volunteers, and organize cross-sector programs, CEANYC is able to unite co-ops under a single banner. In the short term, they learn from one another, empower one another, and amplify each others’ impact. In the long-term, they unite to form a political voice and demand systemic change.
Alicia Portada is the Director of Communications and Community Engagement at Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union. With over 13 years of experience in credit unions, Alicia has successfully led initiatives and campaigns to connect credit unions with communities in NYC to provide affordable financial services, financial workshops, and actively spread good banking practices and financial rights. AmeriCorps alumni and former financial counselor, Alicia’s work on outreach and engagement is concentrated in the underserved and immigrant communities. Alicia is the co-Chair of New immigrant Community Empowerment that provides resources to recent immigrants to empower them to navigate the U.S system. Alicia, who is originally from Peru, holds a Bachelor’s in Economics and a Master’s degree in Public Administration from Baruch College
Anne Schoeneborn is the co-founder of Q Gardens and serves on the board of the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust (BQLT), which is a grassroots non-profit that preserves 37 community gardens throughout Brooklyn and Queens. Since 2016, Anne has chaired BQLT’s grants committee, leading proposal development and managing the implementation of several cross-garden, grant-funded projects. Her paid work is in public health and she believes deeply in the power of community gardens to bring neighbors together, improve mental and physical health, and increase community resilience.
Charlotte Bell hails from Northeastern Pennsylvania and has lived in New York City since 2008. She is the Director of Post Purchase and Preservation at Habitat for Humanity NYC, as well as the Loan Officer for the Habitat for Humanity NYC Community Fund. Prior to joining the team at Habitat NYC in 2016, Charlotte worked in co-op preservation at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB). She is also an urban gardener and a member of Red Shed Community Garden in East Williamsburg. Charlotte is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia, and holds a master’s of science from The New School in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management.
Fran Sanhueza came to NYC to attend The New School in 2013 from Santiago, Chile. She majored in Food Studies, focusing on food policy and social justice. She’s always had a strong interest in food, community, and understanding systems. She took a job at the Bushwick Food Coop as Community Outreach & Engagement Manager and now as General Manager, where she has learned more and more about Cooperativism and the Solidarity Economy. Outside of her cooperative work, she has had the privilege of being a research and writer assistant for the EXPO Milano 2015: USA Pavilion; a UNICEF Volunteer for an HIV/AIDS workshop at the World Jamboree in 2007; and many other projects. On her days off she participates in two community gardens and serves on two different Advisory Boards in the Bushwick community. Through all her experiences she has found she is the most engaged while working with teams focused on strengthening community bonds and working towards social justice.
Mark Winston Griffith is a nationally recognized thought leader, community organizer and journalist. A native of Crown Heights, Mark is the co-founder and Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), a membership-based, community organizing group serving the neighborhoods of Bedford-Stuyvesant and North Crown Heights. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism where he teaches a course in Urban Social Issues. In the early nineties, Mark co-founded the Central Brooklyn Partnership, a community organizing group that focused on economic justice issues, and was co-founder of Central Brooklyn Federal Credit Union, which at the time was the nation’s largest community based financial cooperative. He currently serves on the boards of the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, Little Sun People Early Childhood Education Center, the Riders Alliance, and Free Speech TV. Until recently he was on the boards of the Center for an Urban Future and the Center for Working Families.
Rajesh Kottamasu is a public interest designer whose values and perspectives have been shaped by his involvement in cooperatives. He has spent nine years living in housing cooperatives in Brooklyn and Cambridge, is a ten-year member of the Park Slope Food Coop, and worked for several years in collaboration with the Meerkat Media Worker Coop, in addition to being a member of the Meerkat Media artist collective. Across these groups, he has worked in support of mission-oriented initiatives articulating goals, clarifying terms of membership, structuring and planning budgets, and recruiting new members. His day job is designing processes and services for a cancer hospital, where he draws from from prior experience in service design, urban planning, teaching, filmmaking, and graphic design
Ryan Hickey has been organizing for social justice since 2010. After completing his Masters in Political Theory from the London School of Economics, he joined Picture the Homeless (PTH) as their housing organizer in 2013. From his first day on he was learning about community land trusts (CLTs), mutual housing associations (MHAs), and other non-speculative, cooperative housing models. He spent a large portion of his time working within the New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI), a citywide coalition co-founded by PTH and New Economy Project whose goal is to incubate and foster the growth of CLTs and other non-speculative housing models in NYC. In addition to sitting on NYCCLI’s Board, he also co-chaired the Education and Outreach workgroup, where he gave countless workshops on CLTs and helped develop Trustville – the nation’s first board game about CLTs and MHAs. Together with PTH members and the coalition partners, he helped create innovative popular education material on CLTs that are still used today. Since then, he’s been involved with the Ridgewood Tenants Union and other citywide housing justice work. Most recently, since early 2020, he has been the Project Director of the Cooper Square CLT.
Sadé Swift is a queer Black Dominican who has been organizing for 10+ years. They were born and raised in Washington Heights and now reside in the Bronx. They are a worker owner and co-founder of two worker-owned cooperative businesses, Cards by De, a stationery cooperative and Rebellious Root, a consulting cooperative working towards justice and social change through training, curriculum design and intentional conversations. Sade is also the Advocacy Council Coordinator for the NYC Network of Worker Cooperatives (NYCNOWC) and has served as NYCNOWC’s board treasurer as well as a member of its HR and Auditing Committees. They believe that a big part of the worker coop sector’s recent development has been deepening its understanding of the cooperative ecosystem and through growing base building and partnerships. They are currently on the US Solidarity Economy Network (USSEN) board and are a member of their Communications Committee.
Ali Issa (General Coordinator) For over a decade he has taken part in a variety of fights for social justice and has worked to connect the dots across issues. He previously worked with War Resisters League, organizing against police militarization and helping build cross-community coalitions in cities around the country, in addition to building solidarity with movements in Iraq and across the Middle East. He has also worked with the Urban Justice Center’s Street Vendor Project, organizing alongside vendors fighting for their rights in all five boroughs. Most recently, Ali worked with New Economy Project as lead organizer with the Public Bank NYC coalition, pushing to make public money work for the public good. Originally from Iowa, Ali holds a Master’s degree in Arabic Studies from the University of Texas at Austin and is the author of the book Against All Odds: Voices of Popular Struggle in Iraq. Ali is a committed fan of improvised music and lives in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.
Lauren Hudson (Peer Educator) Lauren Taylor Hudson (PhD candidate in Earth and Environmental Sciences at the CUNY Graduate Center) is an urban geographer who writes about anti-capitalist organizing among women in New York City. Her dissertation research focuses on how collective work between women changes the urban landscape, ultimately creating a sense of ‘movement space’ for Solidarity Economy practitioners. Lauren is a collective member of SolidarityNYC, a volunteer collective that works to connect, support and promote NYC’s solidarity economy through mapping, community-based research and public education. She is also a Cooperative Economic Alliance of NYC (CEANYC) co-founder, and has created and facilitated workshops, trainings, and gatherings for cooperative leaders since 2016.
Zara Serabian-Arthur (Peer Educator) is a founding member of Meerkat Media, a filmmaking collective and worker cooperative formed in 2005. In her work with Meerkat Media, she produces, directs and edits films in collaboration with non-profits and movement organizations, also taking a leadership role in the group’s facilitation, strategic planning, and educational projects. She is also a member of SolidarityNYC, a volunteer collective that works to connect, support and promote NYC’s solidarity economy through mapping, community-based research and public education. Zara is passionate about the worker cooperative movement, and the interconnected projects of building local solidarity economies and fighting for broader social justice goals.
Lida Shao (Peer Educator) is an educator with over a decade of experience in youth development and food democracy. Currently a collective member and owner at Our House, an owned housing cooperative in Brooklyn, she is also a first year medical student. When not studying, lida is working the land–growing vegetables, raising chickens, keeping bees, composting organics, collecting rainwater, and building a mini-farm in the city. She is proud to be a martial artist, a foodie with interest in raw foods, a winter bicyclist, and a multi-lingual New Yorker. Raised in a politically active family, she continues the tradition with an especial interest in prison abolition and ending sexual violence in our lifetime.
Jim Johnson (Peer Educator) has been in small business for over 40 years, over 20 of which were working with and for worker, food, and other types of co-ops. He spent ten years at a DC-area worker co-op as a software engineer and worker-owner, serving three years as president. Since 2009, Jim has been a full-time freelance co-op developer, specializing in worker co-ops and the converting conventional businesses to worker-ownership. Jim serves the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives’s (USFWC) Co-op Clinic as a Peer Advisor, actively providing technical assistance to worker co-ops, start-ups, and conversions. He’s also a co-founder of the Democracy At Work Network (www.dawn.coop), the technical assistance service of the USFWC from 2011 thru 2018. Between 2015 and 2019, he served as a staff consultant at KDC Cooperative Solutions, a federally-funded non-profit that has been supporting co-op start-up and development since 1999. Jim is a graduate of the CooperationWorks! Training for Cooperative Development Practitioners, and served several years in the CooperationWorks! leadership as Chair of CW’s Networking Circle. He’s also a member of the Grassroots Economic Organizing media collective, which has been chronicling the worker co-op and solidarity economics movements in the US and around the world for over thirty years. He’s also currently a sustaining member of the USFWC.
Griffen Jeffries (Peer Educator) is a facilitator and somatic practitioner who brings deep listening and integrity to all aspects of the work he does. Griffen draws on diverse facilitation and somatic training to partner with individuals and organizations in transformational processes. He offers a variety of group facilitation, with a particular focus on Theater of the Oppressed and other body-based practices. His facilitation experience includes trainings and processes uprooting white supremacy and patriarchy, working with a wide range of communities (youth, trans, multi-racial), and facilitating internal organizational development processes. His focus is on facilitating processes that catalyze change at personal, interpersonal, and systemic levels. He arrived at this work through his own healing journey including ongoing re-connection to body. He brings his experiences and identifies as a queer and trans person of European descent and works to be accountable and in authentic solidarity towards liberation and healing for all – individually and collectively.
maría alex garcía (Peer Educator) is Geography PhD candidate at Rutgers University and an Andean feminist critical geographer and educator. She writes about anti-capitalist feminist solidarity economics. Her work focuses on the ways that transnational migrations change landscapes and speculates about openings for economic autonomy, internationalist, anti imperialist solidarity and care. Her work weaves the transnational space between NY and Ecuador and within the peripheries of New York city’s internal Global South. Her foundational experiences and lessons about building solidarity economy were born from the successful struggles against the US Free Trade agreement in Quito, Ecuador (1999-2000) where she migrated from to the U.S two decades ago. This is the foundation of her practice, community work and research within her immigrant communities in Queens, New York.
She is one of the co-founders of Caracol Language Cooperative and is a co- creator of Comité de mujeres feministas EcuaYork and is a participant of Centro Corona’s community work and education programs where she contributes with thinking, theory, language interpretation, programs, writing and political education curriculum.
Jess Turner (Peer Educator): see Board of Directors
Raina Kennedy (Peer Educator): see Board of Directors
Emilie Miyauchi (Peer Educator): see Board of Directors
Cheyenna Layne Weber is a writer and organizer who elevates the needs of people and the planet over profit. For 20 years she has worked with social justice, environmental, and community organizations in every capacity from volunteer to executive director. In addition to her role as a co-founder and advisor to CEANYC, she is a co-founder and member of SolidarityNYC, where she led the creation of the first online interactive map of New York City’s solidarity economy, and an Associate Member of the editorial collective Grassroots Economic Organizing (GEO). Previously she spearheaded the creation of the New Economy Coalition while executive director of the New Economy Network, served on the Board of Directors at Lower East Side People’s Federal Credit Union, and helped start five worker cooperatives from Occupy Wall Street’s tenure in downtown Manhattan.
Clifford N. Rosenthal served from 1980-2012 as CEO of the National Federation of Community Development Credit Unions (now, Inclusiv). He drafted the original concept paper calling for a CDFI fund and served in the leadership of the CDFI Coalition for two decades. From 2012-2014, he launched and managed the Office of Financial Empowerment of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Trained as an historian, he is the author of Democratizing Finance: Origins of the Community Development Financial Institutions Movement (FriesenPress). The Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco published his study, Credit Unions, Community Development Finance, and the Great Recession. Cliff has served as visiting scholar at The New School and Brooklyn College. He has received the highest awards of the National Credit Union Foundation, the Opportunity Finance Network, and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development, among others. In 2019, he was inducted into the African-American Credit Union Hall of Fame.