The Board of Directors is responsible for leading the Co-op and guiding the organization. They have been elected by the member-owners to act on their behalf. The Board is committed to absorbing the membership’s needs and wants, with a goal of making the best possible decisions for the organization as a whole.
Elections for the Board of Directors take place at our spring general membership meeting each year. Each member is elected to serve a two-year term, which commences at the July Board meeting following elections. The Board is composed of anywhere from 9 to 11 positions.
The Board of Directors is responsible for governing the Co-op. They are elected by member-owners to act on their behalf, with the goal of making decisions in the best interest of the collective organization and community. Board of Directors elections take place at our annual spring General Membership Meeting. Each Director serves a two-year term, starting the summer following elections.
Board meetings are always open to the public. To learn more about attending a Board meeting, please email [email protected].
Click here to learn more about the board of directors summary of responsibilities and core competencies.
Board of Directors
Chad Hooper, Board President | term ends June 2023
Chad moved to South Philadelphia in 2016 and settled in East Passyunk Crossing after falling in love with the city’s food scene. He is proud to live on the coolest block in South Philly and has a multitude of incredible neighbors. One of them, former board member Carolyn Huckabay, got Chad involved in the Co-op and he came aboard as our 1,000th member-owner in 2018.
Chad is the Controller for the Wilma Theater. He is also the Executive Director of the Professional Managers Association, a national membership association advocating on behalf of leaders and emerging leaders in the federal government. He works with agencies and Congress to promote good governance and enhance leadership throughout the Civil Service. Chad is Board Treasurer for the Federal Employee Education & Assistance Fund, the only charitable nonprofit devoted solely to providing emergency financial assistance and scholarships to civilian federal and postal public servants and their families. Chad is also a Lifetime Member of Federally Employed Women, a professional organization working for the advancement and professional growth of people of marginalized genders in federal service while also working to end sex and gender discrimination. He is a member of the American Society of Association Executives and Reclaim Philadelphia.
For a dozen years, Chad served in the Treasury department, most recently as National Quality Director. He also instructed transformational leadership courses for new and current managers throughout the nation. Prior to joining the civil service, Chad was a program director for a community health center and worked with several nonprofits, shelters, and his local food co-op to organize a comprehensive safety net for 35,000 indigent people living with chronic or terminal illnesses. After studying at the University of Hawaii, the University of Montana, and New England College, Chad holds a master’s degree in forensic accounting and a bachelor’s degree in economics. Chad splits his free time between baking for his husband, Max, and overparenting their cats, Crinkles and Porchester.
Mita Banerjee, Board Vice President | term ends June 2023
Originally from the Lehigh Valley, Mita has lived in Philadelphia for 9 years, 7 of which have been spent in South Philly. She bought a house four years ago in South Philly, just a few blocks from the Co-op. She has been a member of the South Philly Food Co-op since 2017 which is important to her because it encompasses a community of members who strive to bring fresh, local and sustainable food to our neighborhood. She has been on the Board of the South Philly Food Co-op for the past two years, and this past year has had the opportunity of being the Vice-President. Mita believes that co-ops are essential to providing a cozy neighborhood place where people can get environmentally health-conscious food at an affordable price. Mita is a Data Analyst, with a background in biology (Lafayette) and computer science (Rutgers). She has been in the field of software quality assurance for over 20 years with an emphasis on health care analytics. She has two daughters, one who is a doctor in Boston and one who is a middle school teacher in Los Angeles. Outside of work, she loves to go on long walks with her dog, Rocky, and enjoys practicing and teaching yoga. Mita likes to be involved in her community by hosting block parties and participating in Philly clean-up and tree-planting days. With all this in mind she wants to sustainably contribute to the evolving community of the South Philly Food Co-op through engagement and inclusiveness.
Maria Cortese Hering, Board Treasurer | term ends June 2022
Maria has spent the last 10+ years studying food: who has access to it, its implications on health, and how its production intersects with our environment. She completed her MPH from Penn in 2019, focusing on the connections between agriculture, nutrition, and climate change. Though her focus has been primarily global, she was born in South Philly and settled back here in 2000. She believes much can be accomplished by acting locally and thinking globally and she wants to bring her passion for food and commitment to her community to the co-op. In addition to her MPH, Maria holds a BA in Film from Temple and an MA in African Studies from Ohio University.
Professionally, Maria has worked in media and communications for the last 25 years. Maria is currently the Manager of Global Data and Communications for the Office of Global Support Services at Penn. In her spare time, Maria is an avid bread baker. She loves to feed people and she shares this hobby with her family and friends. She lives in South Philly with her husband, daughter, and 3 cats. They have been members of the co-op since 2013.
Professionally, Maria has worked in media and communications for the last 25 years. Her career started in Kenya where she designed a video program for an international NGO. She then made her way to LA working in film and video. Upon her return to Philly she was a coordinating producer for the Documentary History Project for Youth with the Scribe Video Center and served as coordinator for the Philadelphia Independent Film and Video Association (PIVFA). Currently
Maria manages data and communications for the Office of Global Support Services at Penn.
Maria co-founded the Friends of Kirkbride and was on the PSCA education committee. She is a member of the Passyunk Gardens and currently volunteers weekly with SEAMAAC for COVID- 19 related food distribution.In her spare time, Maria is an avid bread baker. She loves to feed people and she shares this hobby with her family. She lives in South Philly with her husband, daughter, and 3 cats. They have been members of the co-op since 2013.
Eliza Kinsey, Board Secretary | term ends June 2023
Originally from upstate New York, Eliza has lived in the Passyunk Square neighborhood of South Philadelphia since 2014. As a member of the South Philly Food Co-op, she serves on the Food Justice and Equity Committee and joined the Board in July 2019. Eliza is a public health researcher, who has published extensively on food insecurity, nutrition disparities and diet-related chronic disease. She has worked on issues related to local food access and federal nutrition assistance programs for more than 10 years and is passionate about making healthy food available to all. Prior to her research career, Eliza worked on several organic farms, managed an urban farmers’ market and worked on local food policy issues with the Baltimore Food Policy Initiative. Currently she is completing a postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. She is also a Lecturer at Jefferson University’s College of Population Health. Eliza holds both a PhD in City and Regional Planning and a Master’s in Public Health from Penn. In her free time, Eliza enjoys baking, reading novels and exploring the woods with her husband and their mostly well-behaved dog, Remy.
Colleen Forshee, Director at Large | term ends June 2022
Born in Pittsburgh, PA and raised in New Jersey, Colleen and her husband and 3 children travelled the world for the 21 years, moving 12 times, courtesy of the United States Army. Colleen credits these travels and friendships with fellow military families (who are a cross-section representation of our country) to her eagerness to learn about different cultures, foods and traditions. Following her husband’s retirement from the army, they bounced around Pennsylvania for a bit, launched their kids, until they finally settled into home-sweet-home, Philadelphia, 5 years ago. Colleen lovesthis south Philadelphia vibrant community of varied cultures and ethnicities. There is so much opportunity to bring our community together and what better way through our common basic thread of food. As a board member, Colleen believes she will be able to serve her community. Colleen has a Bachelor’s of Science in Physical Education from Rutgers University as well as a Bachelor’s of Science in Nursing from Mary Hardin-Baylor University. Colleen is a registered nurse and works in the clinical research field. She enjoys running as well as cooking meals and sharing a bottle of wine with her husband.
Wanda Johnson, Director at Large | term ends June 2022
Wanda was born in Baltimore, MD and moved to Philadelphia in 2000. She has lived in the Queen Village neighborhood for the last 19 years. Her career is in health care as a certified nursing assistant and mobile phlebotomist. She has three children and eight grandchildren.
Wanda does a lot of volunteering in outreach. In 2015 she volunteered with the World Meeting of Families to welcome the Pope to Philadelphia. Her position was to work alongside the secret service, checking people as they came in, which she loved doing. Wanda is an active volunteer in her neighborhood and is a Block Captain, where she tries to bring positive things to her neighborhood and her community. She also helps support the food bank in her community as a volunteer. At Christmas time, Wanda takes Santa Claus to each child’s house for Christmas to give them a toy. Her goal is to have each child wake up with a smile on their face for Christmas.
Wanda is also an election official, where her position is with the majority inspection for the Board of Elections. Wanda joined the South Philly Food Co-op in 2019 as a member owner. That same year, she volunteered doing tabling with the outreach committee, which she really enjoyed! Wanda loves talking and meeting new people, letting them know about the Co-op. She likes to promote the Co-op by letting people know how important the Co-op is to the community and the benefits the Co-op is going to offer to the community.
"The Co-op is going to be much more than just a store! It will be a center for the community."
Jenn Ladd, Director at Large | term ends June 2023
Originally from the Philadelphia suburbs, Jenn Ladd has lived in South Philly on and off since 2015, and bought a house here in 2019. To her mind, the co-op fills one of the neighborhood’s few voids: Even with wonderful bodegas and markets scattered throughout the area, having a full-service grocery store with everything from dark chocolate to organic chicken nuggets to mirin in walking distance has been life-changing. That this store cares about its customers and fostering community is a dream. Jenn is a journalist who has covered food and drink for most of her career, including in her current role as a food reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer, but she’s written about everything from turkey farms to architectural firms. Reporting has given her an education in business, food, culture, real estate, and history — and how the relationships between those things can create and contribute to a vibrant community. Those factors help make South Philly so special, and she believes the co-op plays an important role in furthering that.
A Procik, Director at Large | term ends June 2022
A moved to Philadelphia in early 2018 and quickly found a place at home in South Philly. Originally from Chicago, they’ve lived and organized in communities across the Midwest, Mid Atlantic and New England. They’ve managed policy campaigns on issues including climate change, economic policy, mental health, public education, voter turnout, voting rights, workers' rights and civil rights. They've also managed organizing programs on independent expenditure and coordinated local, state and federal electoral campaigns. At the beginning of their career, A built a bi-state grassroots, member-led multi-issue and multi-tactical political startup, with a 501(c)(3), 501(c)(4) and Political Action Committee. Two and a half years later during Pennsylvania’s 2018 election cycle, they joined a team of five that managed one of the largest youth organizing programs in the history of the country. Now as a member of the Mayor’s Office they consult City agencies on executing strategic large-scale community engagement projects and manage an organizing 101 training program for engagement practitioners. Practicing restorative justice with the end goal of mass liberation, they’re a human-centered design advocate that approaches engagement from an equity, accessibility and trauma-informed perspective. A is a proud kitty parent and hot sauce connoisseur.
Sharon Ulak, Director at Large | term ends June 2023
Sharon moved to Philadelphia in 2010 to attend Temple Law School. She instantly fell in love with the city and made it her home. Throughout her legal career she has focused on local public service by working for both the City and the School District. Sharon bought a home in South Philadelphia in 2019 with her husband, Josh, and joined the Co-Op in 2020 because she loves grocery shopping and wanted to further her investment in the local community. She is also involved with City Fit Girls and the Philadelphia Bar Association’s Wellness Committee. She is passionate about community building and making wellness accessible and equitable to all.
When Sharon is not in a courtroom or cooking, she can be found going for irresponsibly long runs, racing triathlons, or petting strangers’ dogs on the street. She is also a foster for Fishtails Animal Rescue and is devoted to her perfect cat child, Carrie.
Colleen Walsh, Director at Large | term ends June 2022
Colleen grew up in South Jersey and graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a BA in Sports, Entertainment, Event Management. After graduating she stayed in Rhode Island for 9 more years and moved back to South Jersey in 2014. In 2017 Colleen and her husband moved to South Philly and fell in love with their neighborhood (Lower Moyamensing).
She became involved with the Co-op in the Spring 2019 and quickly learned the important role this store will have in the community. The South Philly Co-op is important to her because it allows the South Philly community to be involved in the local economy in a direct and democratic way. The co-op will grow and strengthen the local community by keeping funds circulating locally and invites us to listen to the many different voices in our neighborhood.
The Co-op & Colleen are a great fit. She is energetic, creative and loves interacting with people. She discovered at a young age the importance of family, friends, and neighbors coming together to celebrate and support each other and it’s when she realized she wanted to create experiences. Colleen launched White Pine Events LLC in December 2019.
When she isn’t planning and executing memorable events you can find her watching true crime documentaries, enjoying game night with friends or visiting breweries with her husband.
Zaire DuRant-Young, Director at Large | term ends June 2023
To Zaire, South Philly is synonymous with community. Food is one of the many things that connects us, yet many neighbors lack access to quality, affordable, healthy food options.
For the first twelve years of his life, Zaire lived in a food desert in inner city Baltimore. His family shopped for food every other week, and it was stressful. It required lots of planning, and they only bought processed, shelf-stable foods to eliminate waste. Local produce was not available or fresh enough to last. There was no time or money to explore new cuisines or products from local farms and businesses. Reflecting on his experience, Zaire sees how much it impacted his relationship with the food he eats, the nutrition it gives him, new flavors as a gateway to celebrating different cultures, and his overall sense of connection to his community, near and far.
Zaire sees parallels between the neighborhood he grew up in and some neighborhoods in South Philadelphia. Zaire has experienced firsthand that access to quality, local foods, and products makes a big difference in not just health, but overall quality of life. As a member of the Board of Directors Zaire looks forward to helping others understand, appreciate, engage with, and invest in the Co-op as a driver of both individual and collective health, equity, and prosperity. As our health and food systems experience unprecedented stress, Zaire believes community-driven organizations like our co-op are imperative to building resilience for our future.