Board of Directors
Félix Gardón Rivera (They/ Them/ Ellx)
Félix E. Gardón Rivera Is an interpreter/actor/artist/activist. Gardón is a queer economic justice activist and a language advocate and an experienced trainer and facilitator that has held various positions to develop new leadership and trainers in multiple topics on economic, gender, social, and justice. They were one of the co-founders and co-chairs of Queers for Economic Justice, worker/ owner of Caracol Language LLC, and Robert W, Maggs Designs LLC among others. They also worked as Director of Education/Advocacy for SAGE (Services and Advocacy for LGBTQ Elders,) Program Coordinator Specialist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry, where they developed the Standards for Cultural Competency for the Ryan White Tittle 1 programs in NJ, Director of Education for AVP, and direct service member of the SRLP collective providing language access services for legal clinics in NYC for the transgender community.
Felix is also an actor artist and co-founded the Puerto Rican Actors troupe Los Cuatro Gatos. For 15 yrs they were part of the Medicine Show Theatre, the oldest experimental theater group in NYC. They studied with the renowned Greek artist Omiros and has shown in various galleries in Philadelphia and NJ.
Jacqueline Gaskin (She/ Ella)
I am a woman Coop owner, PSFC member since 1984, Food Justice Activist, GWC graduate, life learner, mother, grandmother. I have been involved with coops since 1984 when I became a member of Park Slope Food Coop. I graduated from GWC. I am a community garden member. I attended several workshops for years & hosted a workshop for NYC NoWC. I earned a Leadership certificate from CSEA. I believe in the cooperative principles and look forward to utilizing my experience and skills to improve NYC NoWC by serving as a board member.
Joél Mejia (He/ El)
Mi Oh My Hydroponic Farms/ ICA Group
Joél Mejia, an artivist and mission-driven entrepreneur, is a beacon of innovation and community empowerment in the cooperative movement of Lenape land, now Kingston, New York. With a BA in Economics and an anticipated completion of the Next Economy MBA program in May 2023, Joél’s academic background is just the foundation upon which he builds his transformative work. His approach is not confined to traditional capitalist models but is instead guided by the principles of cooperative economics, the solidarity economy, and a vision for a new, inclusive economy.
As a founding member of Mi Oh My Hydroponic Farms, Joél has played a pivotal role in its evolution from a single hydroponic rack in his Bronx dining room to a thriving, worker-owned cooperative. The farm is a testament to sustainable urban agriculture, focusing on microgreens and mushrooms, and serves as a beacon for those interested in food sovereignty and economic independence through cooperative ownership.
Joél’s work extends to the Kingston Food Coop, where he serves on the executive team, specializing in vendor relations and branding. His efforts are crucial in fostering partnerships that align with the coop’s values and ensuring that the products offered reflect the community’s needs and the cooperative’s commitment to ethical sourcing and solidarity with local producers.
In addition to his work with the cooperative, Joél is actively involved with the Good Work Institute, collaborating with Kingston residents on a six-month journey to design a community fund aimed at benefiting the residents of Kingston. This initiative is a natural extension of his dedication to creating generational wealth and fostering economic resilience within the community.
Rooted in the wisdom of his Taino and Afro ancestors, Joél’s philosophy is a profound blend of ancient knowledge and forward-thinking, encapsulated by his dedication to AfroFuturism. His personal journey through minimalism, meditation, plant-based nutrition, and holistic practices underscores his belief in the decolonization of marginalized communities as a full-hearted commitment.
In his strategic role with the ICA Group, Joél applies his extensive experience in Communications, Marketing, and Digital Content Management to further the cause of employee ownership and cooperative business development. His diverse career, including his tenure as a high school media literacy teacher and co-founder of Things Are Changing Productions, underscores his lifelong dedication to elevating communities through education, cooperative economics, and cultural empowerment.
A staunch advocate for permaculture and Just Transition principles, Joél sees these frameworks as essential for redistributing power and deepening connections between individuals and the Earth. His engagement in agricultural cooperatives and community funds is a deliberate step in a multi-phase strategy aimed at shifting economic and cultural power away from oppressive systems, inspired by indigenous spiritual teachings.
As Joél continues his work with the ICA Group, the Kingston Food Coop, and the Good Work Institute, his commitment to sustainable, equitable practices marks him as a transformative leader, poised to reshape economic and social frameworks for the collective well-being.
Martha Montufar (She/ Ella)
Cooperative Home Care Associates
Martha Montufar is a data driven, workforce professional and an environmental justice and public health scholar. Martha’s life mission is to inform public policy through research to support her community. She has dedicated her time to uplift and support people in obtaining meaningful careers and make resources available to immigrant populations. A native from Ecuador and raised in the Bronx, Martha understands the impact of the intersections of identity, health, environment, and obtaining a livable wage on quality of life. Martha obtained a masters of science in Environmental and occupational health from the CUNY school of Public Health and is currently Director of Workforce Development at Cooperative Home.
Angel Pleasant (They/ Ellx)
Palante Technology Cooperative
Angel Pleasant is a queer, multiracial, Gullah-Geechee worker-owner at Palante Technology Cooperative, a worker cooperative that provides technology consulting services to nonprofit, progressive, social justice, and community organizations. Angel has been working in the cooperative/non-profit tech space for the last 7 years, starting in 2017 with Planned Parenthood of America, Centerlink, and PFLAG’s online community for LGBTQ+ teens, and continuing to support a long list of organizations in New York City and beyond. When they are not exhausted trying to solve the world’s problems through technology, they host community art gatherings teaching printmaking and fiber arts.
Franklin Salazar (He/ El)
Radiate Consulting NYC
Franklin Salazar has been in the cooperative space for 4 years. First as a member of the Sunset Scholars in Sunset Park and now with Radiate Consulting NYC. Originally from Colombia, Franklin has always been involved on his community and defended the rights of immigrants like himself.
Michelle Saenz (She/ Ella)
The Working World
Michelle was born in Chula Vista, California, a town along the US/Mexico border. Likely due to her experiences on both sides of the border, she developed an interest in economic inequality at a young age. This led her to study Latin American economic history in college. She then pursued a graduate degree in Urban Planning at Hunter College, with a focus on Marxist geography. She have worked in economic development and workforce development since then, most recently for The Working World as a Senior Project Officer.
Lesley Steele (She/ Ella)
Lesley Steele is a director, editor & producer of video art & documentary film. Originally a NYC native she obtained a BFA in Design Technology from Parsons The New School for Design & Masters in Directing from SVA.
In 2020 she was chosen to participate in Sundance’s Art of Editing Fellowship & subsequently appeared on DOC NYC’s “40 under 40” filmmakers list. Steele’s spark in experimental 16mm cinematography & analog editing is a driving force in her work. Her latest film By Way of Canarsie, is currently available on PBS POV Season 6, The Criterion Channel and distributed by Dedza Films and Kino Lorber. Steele’s filmmaking reflects the essence of nonlinear experimental storytelling & unorthodox approaches to visioning stories of the black experience & culture within the African Diaspora across the Caribbean & United States. During the civil uprising following George Floyd’s murder in 2020, she documented the late Floyd’s horse-carriage funeral on 16mm film in Austin.
In addition to curating a series of independent new work, Lesley is currently producing her first investigative feature doc about the state of mental health in Nebraska and its intersection with race and the carceral system in the United States. She is a member of Meerkat Media, a democratically run co-operative production company in Sunset Park, Brooklyn that produces artful & impactful films with an emphasis on ethical narrative storytelling, non-fiction and visual craft. Her previous clients include MoMa, MTV, Vogue, Nickelodeon, Spotify, Museum of Moving Image, TED, Buzzfeed and others. You can find Lesley via Brown Girls Doc Mafia, The Alliance of Doc Editors & Array Crew.
Nicole Rodriguez (She/ Ella)
Nicole is a bilingual WOC native to Washington Heights. As a first generation American, she has seen the effects of systemic inequality firsthand. She has worked with other worker cooperatives providing administrative support and dipped her toe in Finance when establishing a cooperative coffee shop in NYC. She is a self-taught bookkeeper with 3 years experience.
Mark Winston Griffith (He/ El)
Central Brooklyn Food Co-op/ CEANYC
Mark Winston Griffith is the former co-founder and Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), a membership-based, community organizing group based in Central Brooklyn.
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 black-run, community-based, financial cooperative.
Over the past two decades Mark has been the co-director of the New Economy Project, a prominent financial services reform organization; the Senior Fellow for Economic Justice and then the Executive Director at the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy (DMI), a public policy think tank; and the field organizer for the MOVE NY campaign, an effort to secure traffic pricing and sustainable transportation policy for the tri-state region. From 2011 to 2013 he taught a course in urban social issues at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. From 2013 to 2016 he taught a graduate course in community organizing at the Murphy Institute. He currently teaches a graduate course in Community Economic Development at Pratt Institute.
Mark has served on the leadership boards of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop, the National Black Food and Justice Alliance, the Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City, the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, Communities United for Police Reform, The City news site, and Free Speech TV.
Mark is currently a full-time journalist and media entrepreneur. He is the Associate Director of Free Speech TV, a national broadcast and digital news network, and is currently producing a podcast documentary on public safety in New York City. He is the co-producer and co-host of the award-winning documentary podcast series, School Colors, which was co-produced and distributed by NPR. For his journalism work, Mark was awarded the David Prize in 2022-2023, awarded each year to 5 “visionary” New Yorkers.
Mark graduated with a B.A. from Brown University, and an M.A. from the University of Ibadan (Nigeria). He is a first generation Jamaican-American and a native New Yorker. He lives in Crown Heights with his two teenage sons.
Co-Chair: Félix Gardón Rivera (They/ Them/Ellx), Coqui Interpretation
Co-Chair: Jacqueline Gaskin (She/ Ella), AdornMix Inc.
Treasurer: Nicole Rodriguez (She/ Ella), Wholehearted Bookkeeping
Secretary: Angel Pleasant (They/ Ellx), Palante Technology Cooperative