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 a co-founder and co-coordinator of Q Gardens, a community garden in Flatbush, Brooklyn. From 2015-2021, Anne served on the board of the Brooklyn Queens Land Trust, where she led the design and implementation of numerous grant-funded projects to strength BQLT’s network of 37 community gardens. Since joining the CEANYC board in 2018, she has felt honored to collaborate with CEANYC board and staff to envision new ways of strengthening connections among solidarity economy sectors in NYC. She brings her experience in organizational development to her current role as chair of CEANYC’s Labor Committee. Anne’s 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.
Athena Bernkopf is a cross-pollinator tending to the intersecting roots of black and queer liberation, and land, housing, and healing justice. Raised in Bed-Stuy, their work as organizer and facilitator has taken them across New York City in roles such as cop watch and community safety trainer with Harlem Cop Watch, tenant rights and anti-displacement advocate at the Legal Aid Society, and core member of The Audre Lorde Project’s 3rd Space Wellness Collective. Currently they serve as Project Director at the East Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust (EHEBCLT), where they work to build out infrastructure for community ownership and tenant-led governance of land and housing. Athena represents EHEBCLT on the coordinating committee of the New York City Community Land Initiative (NYCCLI). They are also a member of the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives’ (NYCNOWC) Training Collective, where they facilitate popular education-based learning spaces that deepen capacity for sustainable, consensus-focused coop structures. Driven by a vision of cityscapes abundant in ancient trees taller and more common than skyscrapers, they are committed to co-creating urban futures whose foundations are rooted in mutual care, collective stewardship of resources, and being in right relationship with land.
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.
Guillermo Lara moved to New York City about 30 years ago and worked for about 20 years providing personal financial services including banking, insurance, retirement, and investment products, through several of the major known financial institutions. Previously in Colombia, Guillermo had worked in the manufacturing, commerce, and agricultural sectors of the economy, specifically in financial administration. The last seven years before his retirement from work in December of 2020, Guillermo served The Bronx and Harlem communities as a high school Math teacher. For nearly 8 years he has been on the Board of Directors and treasurer of Lenox Court HDFC, an affordable housing cooperative in Harlem where he proudly resides. He is working with the goal to make this cooperative a model for the affordable housing cooperatives in the community.
Mariana J Ortega is the Director of Information Technology and Operations for Cooperative Home Care Associates (CHCA) located at Fordham in the Bronx. Mariana has also served on the board of Up&Go since 2017. From 2012 to 2021 was a foster parent and participated on the Advisory board for Children’s Village. Mariana is from Guayaquil Ecuador and a graduate from NYU with Degrees in Business Administration and Information Technology and certified in Cisco and Microsoft technologies. With Over 25+ years of IT and Management experience Mariana supports and shares her skills and knowledge to promote support to CHCA and other values-aligned organizations.
Rania Dalloul is Palestinian-Lebanese, raised in Kuwait and currently based in New York City. She is the director of communication and fundraising at UHAB, a nonprofit that advocates for and creates community-controlled affordable housing. Her background is in urban research and practice, particularly around education, poverty, and housing among Palestinian refugees in Lebanon. She holds an MA in Theories of Urban Practice from the New School Parsons School of Design Strategies in NYC and BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Concordia University in Montréal, QC.
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.
Shaywaal Amin is a Vice President in the Nursing Home Division of 1199SEIU-
UHWE. Shaywaal has worked with 1199SEIU for 29 years and is currently the co-
chair of the Coop Exploratory Committee in Downstate Long-Term Care.
In his 29-year tenure with 1199SEIU Shaywaal has organized thousands of
workers into the Union, he has been an integral part of community / organizing
corporate campaigns, and staff development in 1199SEIU. Before devoting his work to the labor movement of 1199SEIU, Shaywaal worked at the Labor Research Association managing daily office operations, conducting research projects, and sales of the Publication Trade Union and the Economic Notes. Shaywaal is a poet, activist, and a visionary organizer who has spent time in the West African countries of Gambia and Senegal doing work with the operation crossroads. Shaywaal has several self-published poetic and musical works, and is the founder and Executive Producer of the artist / poet collective called Lucid Dreams Inc.
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 Sunset Park, Brooklyn.
María Alex García (Membership and Programs Coordinator) 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.
Belén Marco (Peer Educator) is a storyteller, educator and researcher born and raised in La Pobla de Vallbona, a small town near Valencia, to a working class family of agricultural workers. She learned through her upbringing that historical memory, local cultural practices, and collective care form the basis for community organizing. Belén comes to the solidarity economy movement with a background in communications strategy, design, and popular education, and has worked for community-based initiatives in Guatemala, Ecuador, and rural Appalachia. She’s currently the Narrative Strategy Director at the New Economy Coalition, a coalition of 100+ organizations building the Solidarity Economy in the U.S.
Elizabeth Polanco (Peer Educator) is a co-founder and worker-owner at NannyBee worker cooperative. NannyBee is a family of childcare cooperatives. Every worker-owned business in the NannyBee family shares superior caregiving standards and is committed to creating stable and dignified jobs.
Emilie Miyauchi (Peer Educator) is an educator and organizer working for the prosperity of solidarity economy enterprises in New York City and beyond. She helped to establish CEANYC in its early years of operation while serving on its board of directors and is now happily settled into her role as a Peer Educator in which she draws on direct experience organizing with CEANYC members to cook up education and training materials that support their groups to advance their visions of success.
Emilie designs programs to meet sector specific needs such as the Anti-racism and Gentrification Training for Food Co-ops and the GreenThumb Leadership Academy for community gardeners. With the Cooperative Leadership Intensive, she works with leaders from across all sectors of CEANYC’s membership to learn about each other, understand their inter-dependence, and ultimately break down sectoral silos to pursue a coherent strategy toward growing solidarity economy at the municipal level.
Emilie is also the member coordinator of the New Economy Coalition’s Educators Working Group which provides peer-support to a network of solidarity economy educators and links local work to national organizing strategies. She has always been deeply drawn to creative practice and stewardship of the commons and spent her early years in the arts, operating small farm businesses in the Hudson Valley, and teaching marine ecologies and economies onboard a wooden sailboat while traversing the eastern seaboard.
Jess Turner (Peer Educator) is a Black herbalist, urban farmer and educator helping marginalized communities build autonomy through land-based healing practices.
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.
Lauren Hudson (Peer Educator) – 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.
Nancy Ortiz-Surun (Peer Educator) was born and raised in the Bronx, the daughter of a proud Puerto Rican family of matriarchs, one of whom, her mother, was the proprietor of a storied florist shop in the Bronx. A graduate of both Lehman College and City College, Nancy worked for many years as a teacher with the New York City Department of Education. Nancy’s interest in the kitchen started with her desire to learn how to bake traditional Puerto Rican desserts, but as she grew older, Nancy learned to make dishes from other cultures represented in the Bronx. In addition to her work as a teacher and her participation in the founding and organizing of La Finca del Sur, Nancy is an accomplished multi-media artist and an adoring mother and grandmother.
Raina Kennedy (Peer Educator) is an organizer for the Central Brooklyn Food Co-op, a worker-owner at Brooklyn Packers, and a member of the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives’ Advocacy Council.
As a CEANYC Peer Educator, she has co-facilitated a workshop on anti-racism and anti-oppression with several New York City food co-ops. Outside of co-op work, she enjoys cooking elaborate recipes and attempting to grow tomatoes! In May 2019, she completed a Master’s degree in Food Studies at New York University, where she focused on policy, advocacy, and community food systems.
Sheryll Durrant (Peer Educator) is an urban farmer, educator, and food justice advocate. She has been the Resident Garden Manager at Kelly Street Garden since 2016, and is the Food and Nutrition Coordinator for New Roots Community Farm, managed by International Rescue Committee (IRC). Her work has included developing community-based urban agriculture projects, providing expertise and technical assistance for gardens within supportive housing developments, and she currently serves as Board President for Just Food. Sheryll has led workshops and spoken on issues related to urban agriculture for many key organizations, and was part of the 2019-2020 HEAL School of Political Leadership. As a former Design Trust fellow for the Farming Concrete project, she is now responsible for communications and outreach for the data collection platform that helps urban farmers and gardeners measure their impact. Previously, Sheryll spent over 20 years in corporate and institutional marketing.
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.