Board & Staff

Board of Directors

Sheila Akbar, Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local

Sheila Akbar is a co-owner of Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local, a small fresh market in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn that is in the process of transitioning into a worker-owned cooperative. Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local’s mission is to be a convenient and affordable source of fresh produce and quality meat, as well as to bring nutritious food options into the neighborhood, thereby fostering healthy eating habits and lifestyles. Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local is designed with community at its heart, and this is reflected in all aspects of its business – particularly in its aim to be a worker coop.

Sheila holds a BA and MA from Harvard University and two PhDs from Indiana University. She is also Director of Education for Signet Education, a Boston- and NYC-based tutoring, test prep, admissions, and organizational coaching company. Sheila is passionate about education, food, and social justice.

[Español] Sheila Akbar es copropietaria de Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local, un pequeño mercado fresco en Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, que está en proceso de transición a una cooperativa de trabajadores. La misión de Bed-Stuy Fresh and Local es ser una fuente conveniente y asequible de productos frescos y carne de calidad, así como traer opciones alimenticias nutritivas al vecindario, fomentando así hábitos alimenticios y estilos de vida saludables. Bed-Stuy Fresh y Local está diseñado con la comunidad en su corazón, y esto se refleja en todos los aspectos de su negocio – en particular en su objetivo de ser una cooperativa de trabajadores.Sheila tiene un BA y MA de la Universidad de Harvard y dos PhD de la Universidad de Indiana. También es Directora de Educación para Signet Education, una compañia de tutorías basada en Boston y NYC, y que ayuda con preparación de exámenes, admisiones y empresa de entrenamiento organizacional. Sheila es una apasionada de la educación, la comida y la justicia social.

Nicholas Bedell, TWU Local 100

I have years of experience as an educator/organizer in the labor movement. I have branched out to trying to organizing worker owned coops along side my educational duties and my organizing duties. I spent 20 years as an adult educator in labor education programs, majority for first generation immigrant workers. I am currently the director of education at Transport Workers Union and I am the lead organizer for the national bikeshare worker initiative.

[Español] Tengo años de experiencia como educador / organizador en el movimiento obrero. Me he diversificado a tratar de organizar cooperativas de propiedad de los trabajadores a lo largo de mis deberes educativos y mis deberes de organización. Pasé 20 años como educadora de adultos en programas de educación laboral, la mayoría de los trabajadores inmigrantes de primera generación. Actualmente soy el director de educación de Transport Workers Union y soy el organizador principal de la iniciativa nacional de trabajadores de bikeshare.

Carmen Dixon -NAACP LDF / BLM-NYC

Carmen Dixon is currently the Race and Policing Reform Organizer at the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Carmen was introduced to organizing as the daughter of two union workers and spent her childhood experiencing the impact of organized people power in the fight for worker justice. Previously she worked as a Faith and Policy Organizer at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies (FPWA). At FPWA, Carmen organized clergy to advocate for economic equity policy issues and launched the Women of Faith initiative, a network of women coming together across denominations to support various reforms impacting women and girls in New York City. Before joining FPWA, Carmen successfully directed the field campaign for the re-election of Melissa Mark Viverito, New York City Council Speaker. She received her Masters of Divinity with a concentration in children and family ministry at Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. Additionally, after journeying to Ferguson, Missouri in the aftermath of the Michael Brown police shooting, Carmen became involved in the Black Lives Matter movement and now helps lead the efforts of its New York City Chapter.

[Español] Carmen Dixon es actualmente el organizador de la reforma de la raza y la policía en el Fondo de Defensa Legal de la NAACP. Carmen fue presentada a Organizándose como hija de dos sindicalistas y pasando su infancia experimentando el impacto del poder organizado de las personas en la lucha por la justicia obrera. Anteriormente trabajó como Organizadora de Fe y Políticas en la Federación de Agencias de Bienestar Protestante (FPWA). En la FPWA, Carmen organizó clérigos para abogar por cuestiones de política de equidad económica y lanzó la iniciativa Women of Faith, una red de mujeres que se unen a través de denominaciones para apoyar varias reformas que afectan a mujeres y niñas en la ciudad de Nueva York. Antes de unirse a la FPWA, Carmen dirigió con éxito la campaña de campo para la reelección de Melissa Mark Viverito, Presidenta del Consejo de la Ciudad de Nueva York. Ella recibió su Maestro de Divinidad con una concentración en los niños y el ministerio familiar en el Seminario Bethel en St. Paul, Minnesota. Además, después de viajar a Ferguson, Missouri después del tiroteo policial de Michael Brown, Carmen se involucró en el movimiento Black Lives Matter y ahora ayuda a dirigir los esfuerzos de su Capítulo de la Ciudad de Nueva York.

Telesh Lopez – Caracol Interpreters

Telesh Pascual López (Maya/Kanjobal, Guatemala) co-founded Caracol Interpreters Cooperative in 2011 to bring her vision of culturally competent and highly skilled translation and interpretation to projects and organizations creating positive change in the world. The inspiration for Caracol came from Telesh’s participation in the groundbreaking work to secure rights for domestic workers in NYC, struck by the role that language access played in building powerful coalitions and policy change. In 2013, Caracol was recognized for its work by receiving a Champions of Economic Justice Award from the Brandworkers. In Spring 2012, Telesh completed a medical interpreting intensive course at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and now provides simultaneous interpreting services to various hospitals in NYC. She also provides interpretation for leadership development trainings, plays, movie documentaries, board meetings, and various national and international conferences for non-profit, social justice organizations. She has been an interpreter for 9 years and brings her full experience to Caracol. Prior to Caracol, Telesh worked in philanthropy, building her commitment to social justice organizations that focused on labor, education, community organizing, and coalition building. Additionally, Telesh was a co-op member for the Thirdroot Community Health Center in Brooklyn where she offered Reiki, carrying on her family’s multi-generational tradition of healing practices. As a child, Telesh emigrated from Guatemala to Los Angeles where she grew up, and later moved to NY, graduating from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a degree in International Marketing and Trade for the Fashion Industries

[Español] Telesh Lopez (Maya/Kanjobal, Guatemala) co-fundadora de Caracol Interpreters Cooperative en el 2011 para llevar su visión de la traducción y interpretación culturalmente competente y altamente calificado para proyectos y organizaciones que crean un cambio positivo en el mundo. Antes de Caracol, Telesh trabajó en la filantropía, construyendo su compromiso a organizaciones de justicia social que se enfocan en cuestiones laborales, de educación, organización comunitaria y la formación de coaliciones. Además, Telesh fue un miembro cooperativa de Third Root Community Health Center en Brooklyn donde ofrecia Reiki, continuando la tradición multi-generacional de su familia en las prácticas curativas. Cuando niña, Telesh emigró de Guatemala a Los Ángeles donde se crió, y más tarde se trasladó a Nueva York, donde se graduó en el Instituto de Tecnología de Moda con un grado en Marketing y Comercio Internacional para Industrias de Moda.

Adriana Mendoza – Sunset Scholars Tutoring Cooperative

I was part of the cooperative development team at CFL from April 2015 to October 2016. During my time at CFL, I took on the role of office manager for 4 worker cooperatives (Trusty Amigos, Sunset Scholars, Emigre and Maharlika) and as coop developer assistant. I was the main developer working with Cooperatives United for Sunset Park, a network of 6 worker coops in Sunset I’m a founding member of Sunset Scholars Tutoring Cooperative and have served in their General Advisory Committee (equivalent of a board). I’m also a part of their legal committee, where we oversee that the cooperative remains true to their mission, vision and operating agreement.

[Español] Fui parte del equipo de desarrollo cooperativo de la CFL de abril de 2015 a octubre de 2016. Durante mi tiempo en CFL, asumí el cargo de gerente de oficina para 4 cooperativas de trabajadores (Trusty Amigos, Sunset Estudiosos, Emigre y Maharlika) y como cooperativista asistente. Yo era el desarrollador principal trabajando con Cooperativas Unidas para Sunset Park, una red de 6 cooperativas de trabajo en Sunset Soy miembro fundador de Sunset Cooperative Cooperativa de Estudiantes y han servido en su Comité Asesor General (equivalente a un consejo). También soy parte de su comité legal, donde supervisamos que la cooperativa permanezca fiel a su misión, visión y acuerdo operativo.

Dana Skallman – Glocal

Dana has been working with technology for over 15 years. She is passionate about prioritizing the use of free and open software which empowers communities to build technology and contribute their work to the commons. Her work values providing the user with more control over their data and decreasing people’s reliance on centralized cloud sources. More recently, Dana has been studying permaculture, and is finding ways to apply these design principles to her work around technology systems. In her work with Glocal she supports the values of free and open source software and applies cooperative principles in a member-owned, democratic workplace.

[Español] Dana ha estado trabajando con tecnología por más de 15 años. Su enfoque es el uso de technologia que respeta privacidad y se desarrolla atravez de communidad. Esto permite que Dana trabaje en una manera que soporte sus valores dando mas control al usuario de su informacion y datos, reduciendo dependencias en los servicios comerciales. Más recientemente, Dana ha estado estudiando permacultura, y está buscando maneras para aplicar estos principios de diseño a su trabajo alrededor de sistemas tecnológicos. En su trabajo con Glocal apoya los valores del software libre y de código abierto y aplica principios cooperativos en su lugar de trabajo democrático y propiedad de los miembros.

Raybblin Vargas – Green Worker Cooperatives

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.

[Español] Raybblin Vargas tiene una sólida formación en organizaciones de base, organizaciones sin fines de lucro y mano de obra. Como organizadora de base, ha trabajado en campañas de justicia social locales y nacionales que incluyen la inmigración, la educación y la reforma de la justicia penal. Su trabajo sin fines de lucro incluye la escritura de subvenciones, investigación y análisis de políticas y desarrollo de capacidades. Como organizadora sindical, ha dirigido campañas legislativas y políticas para el 1199 SEIU / Healthcare Education Project y el TWU Local 100.Ella es graduada de la Academia Cooperativa de Trabajadores Verdes y ha lanzado Bits and Bites Tech Café en 2015. Actualmente, ella sirve en la Junta de Cooperativa de Trabajadores Verde y es la Coordinadora de Comunicaciones, mientras ella y su equipo trabajan en el crecimiento de Bits y Bites Tech Café.


Saduf Syal, Coordinating Director

Saduf is a Pakistani-American who grew up exploring the woods of Akron, Ohio.  She moved to New York City in 2000, where she has been working as a community organizer, direct service provider, and cooperative developer for over a decade within various community-based organizations throughout the city. Formerly, as Director of Make the Road New York’s workforce development services, Saduf launched and grew a unique workforce program that addressed the needs of immigrant communities through the integration of workers’ rights and occupational health and safety training, the building of strong partnerships with multiple entities such as other workforce organizations, government agencies, unions, and academic institutions, and finally, the co-development of worker cooperatives that aim to create quality jobs and offer living wages.  Saduf holds a BA from New York University and a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University where she focused on economic and political development and global labor issues.  As a strong believer in worker control and workplace democracy, she constantly dreams of an end to exploitation in every workplace.

Tamara Shapiro, Co-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, Co-Director of Programs

Pablo Benson Silva is a Puerto Rican activist and researcher who lives in New York City. He studied Sociology at the University of Puerto Rico and at the New School for Social Research. During Occupy Wall Street, he helped create the “Assembly in Spanish“ where he edited and co-founded a spanish-language newspaper called “Indig-nación”. After Hurricane Sandy hit New York he was the base coordinator for the mutual aid network called Occupy Sandy. Pablo is currently an ally of the Worker Cooperatives in the Rockaways project (W.O.R.C.s), and initiative that came out of Occupy Sandy and Movement Netlab that seeks to better understand techno-political movements in the U.S. context and to develop new ways to strengthen them.

Carmen Huertas-Noble, General Counsel

Professor Carmen Huertas-Noble is the founding director of the Community & Economic Development Clinic (CEDC) at CUNY School of Law. Prior to joining the CUNY faculty, she also served as a senior staff attorney in the Community Development Project of the Urban Justice Center (UJC). Professor Huertas-Noble plays a leading role in providing transactional legal support to worker-owned cooperatives in New York. Numerous community groups and attorneys have consulted with Professor Huertas-Noble on entity formation options and democratic decision making structures for worker-owned cooperatives. Most recently, she established a partnership between Mondragon USA and CUNY Law CEDC in support of unionized worker cooperatives. Professor Huertas-Noble earned her JD from Fordham University Law School, where she was a Stein Scholar in Public Interest Law and Ethics and served on the staff of the Environmental Law Journal.


Sheila Akbar, Chairperson

Adriana Mendoza, Vice Chairperson

Dana Skallman, Treasurer

Saduf Syal, Secretary