Board & Staff

Board of Directors

Raybblin Vargas

Raybblin Vargas has a strong background organizing in grassroots, nonprofits, and labor. As a grassroots organizer, she has worked on local and national social justice campaigns that include immigration, education, and criminal justice reform. Her nonprofit work includes grant writing, research and policy analysis, and capacity building. As a union organizer, she has led legislative and political campaigns for 1199 SEIU/Healthcare Education Project and TWU Local 100. She is a graduate of the Green Worker Co-op Academy and has launched Bits and Bites Tech Café in 2015. Currently, she serves on the Board of Green Workers Cooperative and is the Communications Coordinator, while she and her team work on growing Bits and Bites Tech Café.

Jamila Kahn

Jamila Khan is a geek in everything they do; including theater, activism, comics, puppetry, and technology. They have been part of Palante Technology Cooperative since 2010, and a co-owner since incorporation as a cooperative in 2011. A queer trans Muslim punk, Jamila loves that they get to use their geeky skills in support of so many wonderful organizations.

Zara Serabian-Arthur

Zara Serabian-Arthur is a non-fiction filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. In both her independent and commissioned work, she is committed to helping others tell their stories and using media strategically as a means to shift narratives and support social justice movements.

Zara is a co-writer/co-director of the collective’s award-winning feature documentaries, Stages and Brasslands, as well as many independent documentary shorts, including Consensus and Into the Streets. She has also directed, produced and edited dozens of commissioned short films, collaborating closely with non-profits, foundations and grassroots organizations, including the Tenement Museum, the Participatory Budgeting Project, Ford Foundation, Rosa Luxembourg Stiftung and Make the Road New York among many others. Alongside her filmmaking work, Zara worked as a teaching artist and arts program administrator in schools and community centers across New York City for over ten years. She has been a member of Meerkat Media Collective since 2006.

Rachel Isreeli

Rachel is a Brooklynite, social worker and cooperative developer at the Center for Family Life in Sunset Park. Rachel brings a feminist and trauma lens to the cultivation of worker leadership and anti-exploitative work opportunities through direct work with coops and training community organizations to develop coops in their communities. Rachel has been organizing for over a decade at the intersection of gender, labor and sexuality, including around sex work, gender-based violence, LGBTQ homelessness, transgender migrant workers, and immigrant-led worker cooperatives.

Jasmine Vasandani

Jasmine Vasandani has worked in the US and abroad in the fields of entrepreneurship, design, urbanism, public policy, cooperatives, and more. She has experience consulting with government agencies, nonprofits, cultural institutions, startups, and small businesses. Jasmine has also been a business owner of two businesses, one that was launched recently through the New Museum’s design and technology incubator. They received an MA in Theories of Urban Practice from Parsons School of Design and wrote their thesis on science fiction as a cooperative strategy.

Carlos Daniel Martinez

Is a student and worker-owner based in Sunset Park. Along with others he formed a affordable tutoring business (cooperative) that could help students excel in their academics within the Sunset Park community. As of September 2015 Sunset Scholars launched, a tutoring cooperative, that gives the community quality, affordable tutoring so that adults and children in this community can close an educational gap. He is also part of the board of Alianza CUSP Inc which is a local network of coops based in Sunset Park.

Shilpa Nandwani

Shilpa Nandwani is a queer community chef who believes that communities deserve access to healthy, nutritious, and culturally relevant food. Through her four years of experience as an educator of mathematics, she is able to spread her enthusiasm and cooking skills around healthy eating to youth and grown-ups, alike, in a strategic and empowering way. She uses her involvement as a grassroots organizer to fight for justice against fascism and capitalism, in every part of her life. Shilpa serves as the regional coordinator for the International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines, is a 4.0 Essentials & Tiny Fellow, Green Worker Cooperative Academy Graduate, and is a holder of a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Elementary Education. Shilpa is also founding member of Khao’na Kitchen, LLC worker cooperative.

Staff

Saduf Syal, Coordinating Director, NYC NOWC

Saduf has worked within various community-based organizations throughout New York City for over a decade as a community organizer, direct service provider, and cooperative developer.   Prior to joining NYC NOWC, she focused on building competent workforce development services that aimed to address the needs of immigrants through integrating workers’ rights and occupational health and safety training, narrowing the gap between communities and other workforce organizations, government agencies, unions, and academic institutions, and finally, through working with community members for the development of worker cooperatives that seek to create quality jobs with living wages.

In her current role at NYC NoWC, she hopes to contribute to building a strong network and movement of worker cooperatives in the city.  Saduf holds a BA from New York University and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University where she focused on Latin American, Caribbean and South Asian studies, economic and political development, and global labor issues.  She is Pakistani-American and a strong believer in worker control and workplace democracy.

Tamara Shapiro, Director of Programs

Tamara Shapiro is co-creator of the InterOccupy network, which has facilitated democratic, interactive conference calls that have led to regional and national actions, conferences and multi-city events. Later, Tammy helped initiate Occupy Sandy and now works on two projects that grew out of that network: Rockaway Wildfire, and Worker-Owned Rockaway Cooperatives (WORCs) a worker-owned coop incubation project with residents hit by the hurricane. She also works for the Murphy Institute for Labor Studies.

Pablo Benson-Silva, Director of Membership & Communications

Director of Membership and Communications at the New York City Network of Worker Cooperatives, the trade association of worker-owned business in the New York metropolitan area and the local affiliate of the USFWC. Born and raised in San Juan Puerto Rico, he moved to the New York City more than a decade ago. He is also a partner at Movement Netlab, a cooperatively governed think-do-learn tank on network social movements. Since summer 2017, Pablo serves on the Board of Directors of the US Federation of Worker Cooperatives. He studied Sociology at the University of Puerto Rico and at the New School for Social Research and more than occasionally dabbles in teaching.

Christina Fox, Operations Manager

Christina is an industrial social worker who is passionate about grassroots labor organizing, with a dedication to anti-oppressive practice. She holds an MSW from Columbia University School of Social Work, focused in social enterprise administration, international social welfare, and services to immigrants and refugees. Just before joining NYC NOWC, she collaborated with migrant workers in Queens to form a successful Community Job Center; there she collaborated with workers to create democratic and collective operating structures, as well develop creative strategies and popular education tools to improve wages, health and safety, and job quality in the construction industry.

Christina was born and raised in Southern California and comes from a mixed Dominican/American background; spending much of her youth in the Dominican Republic, she is ultimately “ni de aqui, ni de alla.” She is enthusiastic about joining the NYC NOWC team and excited to put her interest in cooperative economics into practice in the trade association. Christina is a nerd for systems and human resources, and is committed to making sure that the back end of the network is poised to reflect and support the magic of its members, the local cooperative movement, and beyond.”

Andrea Jácome, Program & Communications Associate

Andrea Jácome is an herbalist, writer, cultural organizer/educator, and descendant of farmers, weavers & hustlers from the coasts and mountains of so-called Colombia and Ecuador. Coming from a background in cultural organizing as the former Creative Director at Girls Rock Philly and other art/educational projects in Philly and Colombia — she comes to NYC NOWC with an interest in storytelling & design as a means of stewarding a culture shift guided by cooperation over competition, collectivism over individualism, eco over ego. She carries a BA in History & Latin American Studies from Swarthmore College. She is also the creator behind Cocarosa Apothecary.

Officers

Rachel Isreeli, Chairperson

Shilpa Nandwani, Vice Chairperson

Jamila Khan, Treasurer

Saduf Syal, Secretary