Council

COOPERATIVE COUNCIL MEMBERS

The Cooperative Council is the democratically elected governing body of Urban Greens Co-op Market. Each of the following council members owns one membership interest in the Co-op. Each of them is a volunteer and is not paid for their time working with the Co-op.

Carol Auer

Carol’s desire to promote local food systems, sustainable agriculture, and environmental stewardship led her to apply for a position on the Council. She recently retired from the University of Connecticut after a research career focusing on crop ecology and plant gene flow. Some of the skills that Carol brings to the Council include grant writing and project management. Previous volunteer activities included working on a town conservation commission where she advocated for public open space, habitat protection, and environmental education. She currently lives in East Providence.

Zaida Hernandez

Zaida has lived mostly in Providence since the age of thirteen. She has spent her career working in the nonprofit field, acquiring her Masters Degree in nonprofit management at age of 45, which was a challenge and an achievement she’s very proud of. She presently works at a local clinic as a Behavioral Health Coordinator.

Zaida’s love for healthy food in vulnerable communities became her passion when she herself became ill from unhealthy eating. Since then she has worked for Farm Fresh at the Broad Street Market educating children on healthy foods, participated in community gardens, volunteered for Urban Greens, and presently volunteers weekly at a farm. She believes that access to healthy affordable food for everyone is a human right.

Zaida is also active with the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and is on the advisory board for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Her skills and knowledge from over 20 years in the nonprofit field have given her a plethora of experiences with people from different backgrounds and cultures, and her strengths are in organizing, outreach, translating, and her passion for people. She brings to the UG board diversity, a voice for the Latino community and other vulnerable communities in Providence, and to help ensure that sustainable healthy food is available in urban communities in RI.

Viennie Chanthachack (Secretary)

Viennie is excited to be back in Providence’s West End neighborhood, where he first found his roots in Rhode Island, and joins Urban Greens as a council member providing guidance on all things HR and employee experience after initially serving on the co-op’s hiring committee. He brings 8 years of experience working with both startup and corporate organizations to create and administer programs that empower teams to do their best work. His most recent experience comes from his time at Apple, supporting and growing their retail store teams in the Greater Boston and Rhode Island area. Outside of Urban Greens, Viennie currently works full-time in recruiting at HubSpot, a software-as-a-service company based in Cambridge, MA, and spends his personal time exploring Providence’s growing food scene. A native of Massachusetts, Viennie graduated from the College of the Holy Cross with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and earned a master’s degree in Human Resources Management from Emmanuel College.

Jennie Msall

Jennie has lived in the Federal Hill neighborhood of Providence since 2018, when she moved to Providence after a decade in Massachusetts. She became interested in cooperative business models as a founding board member of the Dorchester Food Coop, an initiative to start a community owned grocery store in Boston. Jennie has also worked as a farm advocate at Farm Aid, providing technical assistance to farmers navigating financial challenges and weather-related disasters. She also previously worked as a supply chain coordinator at Equal Exchange’s fair trade banana company.

Jennie currently works as a business consultant at a cooperative development organization, ICA Group, where she supports business owners in transitioning their businesses to employee ownership. In this role, she provides financial analysis and technical assistance to build financially sustainable cooperatives that provide lasting benefits for workers and communities. Jennie is excited about the opportunity to bring her passion for cooperatives and food systems change to the Urban Greens Board. Since she works remotely, she is also eager to be more involved in the neighborhood and build community with Urban Greens members. In her free time, Jennie likes to cook, ride her bike, and make art.

Gian Facenda (Treasurer)

Gian Facenda is a born & raised Rhode Islander, residing in East Providence, after a far away move from his childhood home in Pawtucket.  A long time foodie, he went to school for Food Marketing & for the past 8 years plus, has worked for a leading Distributor of Natural & Organic Foods throughout North America in Providence.  When not attempting to recreate episodes of Chopped at home, Gian enjoys traveling with his wife Lauren, kayaking, Cold-brew coffee, biking & going to the beach. He looks forward to helping Urban Greens say “Hi Neighbor” to the new neighborhood, customers & most importantly friends.

Julius Searight

Julius is a local chef fighting to end hunger in his own community one plate at a time. He believes that everybody should have access to healthy and affordable food, and is excited to join the Urban Greens board to support this goal. Julius lives in Providence and currently works as an on call chef with Crossroads RI, and as the manager of the Sankofa Market, a farmers market in Providence’s Elmwood neighborhood featuring local vendors offering culturally relevant produce and goods to the residents of South Providence. Grassroots Community Organizing and Grassroots organizing and hunger relief is work that he has been doing for many years here in the Providence community with many different organizations, including volunteering as a teenager at the South Providence Neighborhood Ministries food pantry and after-school programs, and working for the Youth 4 Change Alliance of Rhode Island. Most recently, Julius served on the board of West Elmwood Housing for 5 years. Prior to his current positions, Julius also founded and managed Food4Good, a food truck that served as a mobile soup kitchen and socially-conscious food truck, with all proceeds from food truck sales going to support the mobile soup kitchen.

Jena Gaines (Vice-Chairperson)

Jena was born and grew up in Newport. She completed an MA and PhD in European history at the University of Virginia, and then taught at Mount Holyoke College and Western Michigan University.  After changing careers and moving back to Rhode Island, she began volunteering at Urban Greens and the Fertile Underground Grocery, where she learned about food insecurity and community gardening. She believes that every community needs a co-operative grocery store like Urban Greens, that supports local farms and offers affordable and healthy food.  In addition to working with Urban Greens, she toils as a proofreader and copyeditor, serves on the governing board of Bell Street Chapel and volunteers (with her dog) with Beacon Hospice.

Seney Chang

Best described by her friend that she’s “resourceful” and knows how to get things done. Seney has significant experience in for-profit, nonprofit and governmental work; most recently, she works at the Providence Public School District and the CCRI Foundation. Previously, she was a research assistant for the Providence City Council, where she served for more than a decade. Before that, Seney was a Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island marketing and community relations representative. She earned her bachelor’s degree at College Unbound under Charter Oak State College, where she studied community development, focus on food sustainability. She has previously served on the board of College Unbound, Cambodian Society of RI, and Center for Southeast Asians.

Born in the family that once owned retail businesses, rice and orange farming in Cambodia, Seney joined Urban Greens as one of the founding members in 2012, and has volunteered in various outreach efforts that made her feel closer to home. Seney resides at North End with her two sons.

Marc Popkin

Marc was born in Providence, RI, and after attending schools in Massachusetts and Tennessee, and working in the film industry in California, Marc returned to Rhode Island and made it his home. In 2012, Marc graduated from Roger Williams University School of Law and settled in Providence, in Luongo Square in Federal Hill. Marc is a proud, contributing member of his vibrant, diverse neighborhood. In addition to his law practice, Marc is a conscientious entrepreneur. Marc completed the Leadership Rhode Island program in 2016 and has previous board experience with the Contemporary Theater in Wakefield, RI. He is particularly passionate about environmental and food issues impacting people in his local community.

Christian Vialva

Christian currently serves as the Associate Brand Manager for HealthSource RI, where he works to ensure that all Rhode Islanders are aware of and have access to high-quality, low or no cost health coverage through digital marketing tactics. Prior to this, Christian has served in marketing and communications roles for non-profit organizations, start-up companies, and larger corporations.

Through his work experience, Christian has gained strong skills in crafting compelling and engaging content for distribution across digital channels as a means to increase awareness and drive customers to take desired actions. Christian has also gained experience in event planning, using digital analytics to drive marketing decisions, and building and managing communities through social media marketing and intends to bring this wealth of experiential knowledge and skills to his role on the board.

By joining the board, Christian hopes to advance Urban Greens’ mission of offering access to healthy and affordable locally-sourced food to communities in the surrounding area who may not have had access to that in the past. He wants to be a board member to reflect, serve, and support Urban Greens’ customers and owners who identify as part of a marginalized community.

Christian emigrated to the U.S. in the early 2000s and has called Rhode Island home since. He has been living in the West End for the past 5 years. Christian enjoys cooking, watching British panel shows, and has recently started studying Korean.

Sarah Turkus

Sarah is the farmer and director of Osamequin Farm, a cooperative farm and educational community space in Seekonk MA. She also co-organizes the Young Farmer Network, which has been bringing young and beginning farmers together for collaboration and education in RI for a decade, under her guidance since 2014. She’s been a farmer since moving up to Maine with a car load of tomato plants the day after she graduated from college, where she majored in religion and wrote her thesis on food ethics and issues within the sustainable food movement.

Sarah cares deeply about food, how it affects our bodies, the bodies of the people who grow and prepare the food, the systems of oppression that limit and shape our food system. She has centered her adult life around building meaningful community: at her previous farm, Sidewalk Ends, through her work organizing YFN, and now at Osamequin Farm, a project which she envisioned and then brought to fruition. The particular strengths Sarah would bring to the Board are her meticulous attention to detail, written communication skills, big picture visioning, her commitment to efficiency, and her connections to the food and farming community. She lived in Providence for seven years before crossing the border to move onto her farm in MA.

Philip Trevvett (Chairperson)

Philip works at Harvard Medical School in the Center for Biomedical Informatics. He has lived primarily in Providence since 2002. He has volunteered with farming & food businesses and organizations such as Red Planet Vegetables, Beltane Dairy Farm, and Farm Fresh RI, and is an avid community gardener. He believes strongly in the need for regional food systems and local infrastructure and sees food co-ops as a key piece of the puzzle.

Janet Villanueva-Williams

Janet is a life-long Rhode Islander who thrives in a collaborative work environment. Her goal in life is to expend positive energy onto others and to make a difference so our friends and neighbors have a chance to have a great life. She is committed to her work as a city high school principal and is always eager to learn. Janet is grateful for all experiences and wants to do whatever she can to help Providence be safe, strong, and healthy.

Janet is currently in her 12th year as principal of a local high school called The Met. At The Met, Janet has worked with disenfranchised youth and families and is skilled with establishing great working relationships. She has championed her school community of learners and leaders to obtain incredible opportunities in and out of school.

She wants to be on the board to help the community be stronger, healthier, and loved. Food is essential and knowledge is power. Janet is most excited about marketing Urban Greens to the Latinx community, and helping Latinx families be more health conscious is her primary goal.

Janet currently lives on the Federal Hill and West End line. She has a pug named Sophie and a cat named Freddie. Along with her family, she enjoys taking many walks and runs throughout the neighborhood.

Council Meeting Minutes