Omar founded Green Worker Cooperatives out his love for personal and community transformation, a passion for democracy and the environment, and a commitment to blazing trails and making another world possible. Omar has over 12 years of experience in business development focusing on cooperatives and green business with an equal number of years of experience as a social justice organizer and advocate focusing on challenging environmental racism, economic injustice, and sexism. He co-curated the New York City portion of the BMW Guggenheim Lab, a project of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. His writings have appeared in numerous books, blogs, and articles and he has been featured in several documentaries, including Leonardo DiCaprio’s environmental documentary “The 11th Hour”. Omar has received numerous awards for his work, including the Rockefeller Foundation’s Jane Jacobs Medal for New Ideas and Activism and has been featured in Ebony Magazine’s annual Power 100 list. He holds a Masters degree in Environmental Science from Miami University of Ohio and a B.S. from Morehouse College where he also founded the organization Black Men for the Eradication of Sexism. Omar also enjoys making things grow as a loving father, husband and gardener.
Rafiah Vitalis is a “Bronxite” that has a long history of work in the non-profit sector and is profoundly committed to the areas of community development, sustainable solutions and social initiatives. This dedication has led her to a number of community leadership roles and international partnerships, since she believes in making an impact that results in implementing long lasting, transformative change in underserved communities, by building prosperity for the lives within them.
Previous examples of her work include co-founding “Daughters of the Diaspora” a rites of passage program for African American girls, organizing tutoring and teaching test preparation for continuing education adults at Bronx Community College and recently she became the co-founder and worker-owner of The Bronx-based worker cooperative Diaspora Destinations, a travel planning service for socially conscious and community-based travel experiences throughout the African diaspora. Rafiah was thrilled to lend her expertise and assistance to the Green Worker team and references the quote by Ghandi which states “the best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in Mathematics from Lehman College and holds a M.P.A. from The College of New Rochelle where she received The Nelson Mandela Award.
JANVIEVE WILLIAMS COMRIE
Janvieve has been a human rights organizer most of her life. She is originally from Panama and migrated to the US about 10 years ago, she has also lived and studied in Toronto Canada. Janvieve is committed to racial and gender justice, and to this end has worked at organizations such as the US Human Rights Network, the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights, and founded the Latin American and Caribbean Community Center. Janvieve is a believer that good campaigns, actions and programs need good messaging and storytelling, which is why for the past 5 years she has been specializing on communications and media. She is a radio producer and broadcaster and organizes film festivals, all with the end of getting stories and messages out.
Janvieve is the proud mother of a toddler and enjoys motherhood to the most. She is also a doula and co-owner of the mother owned cooperative Ginger Moon.
Board of Directors
Kevin has been a program officer for the New York Foundation since 2002 where he manages a portfolio of active grants for start up organizations that focus on community organizing and advocacy. He also oversees the Foundation’s Capacity Building Program that includes workshops, small grants, and individual technical assistance requests. Kevin is also an adjunct instructor at Hunter College Graduate School of Urban Affairs and Planning and the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies. Kevin has served on the board of directors of Green Worker Cooperatives since 2006. Kevin also serves on the board of directors of the North Star Fund, Neighborhood Funders Group, and La Lutta New Media Collective. Prior to his work at the New York Foundation, Kevin was the Executive Director of Community Training and Resource Center, a housing preservation organization. He provided leadership to a staff of tenant organizers working to improve housing conditions for low-income New York City renters. Kevin holds a bachelors degree in sociology and urban studies from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor and received a Masters of Urban Planning degree from the New York University Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service.
Co-Founder & Worker-Owner, B-Blossom Catering Cooperative
Coop Academy Graduate
Manuela has been a Bronx resident for over twenty five years. She is a highly motivated entrepernuer and self-starter with years of experience as a chef and caterer, specializing in healthy foods. She is a co-founder of B-Blossom, a worker-owned catering cooperative providing healthy prepared foods for special events. Through B-Blossom she seeks to reaize her goal of improving the health and economic development of the Bronx, especially among women.
Jon Santiago works with schools and community based organizations to create technology education programs that are hands-on, engaging, and promote knowledge in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). Prior to co-founding the HTINK Cooperative he co-created the NSF supported GreenFab program in the South Bronx, which introduced high school students to digital design and fabrication in the context of environmental sustainability. Jon has helped start “Young Maker” programs in New York City and Newark, NJ, that get middle school and high school students interested in electronics, computer programming, design, and fabrication. Jon has also worked with MakerBot Industries to develop 3-D printing curriculum and professional development workshops for teachers. He is part of the adjunct faculty of the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, where he teaches undergraduates in the Integrated Digital Media department. Jon graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology(MIT) where he worked with the FabLab program, a global initiative to bring digital fabrication laboratories to communities around the world.
Our Extended Team
Chick Foxgrover is the CTO of the American Association of Advertising Agencies (the 4A’s). An experienced technology and interaction design professional, Chick has worked independently and for large companies alike. He currently working on building a knowledge sharing community for technologists working in creative industries through the 4A’s and believes strongly in the creative potential of cooperative activity.
MICHAEL L KELLY
Michael Kelly is a graphic designer, sometime writer and adjunct associate professor of Communications Design at Pratt Institute. A graduate of Pratt himself, he has done work on his own and with others for clients large and small, including Weleda North America, Lara Knutson, M&M Environmental, Ariel Investments, New Visions for Public Schools and Art Off the Main. As part of his course load at Pratt, Michael co-directs Design Corps, a class in which students produce pro-bono design work for non-profits. He lives, works and often runs in Brooklyn.