Fair Trade Towns USA’s leadership is made up of some of the most active and respected members of the movement. The National Steering Committee includes the leadership of the Fair Trade Federation, the Fair Trade Resource Network, and organizers from small and large towns who are on the cutting edge of community organizing at the grassroots, community level.The National Staff is comprised of the National Coordinator and the Grassroots Outreach Coordinator, both of whom are employed by Fair Trade USA, the leading third party certifier of Fair Trade products in the United States.
National Organizer, Fair Trade Towns USA
Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.
Billy Linstead Goldsmith
National Coordinator, Fair Trade Campaigns
Billy Linstead Goldsmith came to Fair Trade Towns USA from a seven year career in the grassroots environmental movement. As a Staff & Outreach Director with Clean Water Action, he recruited, trained and developed hundreds of grassroots organizers and facilitated campaigns on national, statewide, and local campaigns. He has mobilized fence-line communities, organized public hearings and other local actions to hold polluters accountable. Upon traveling with his wife, Rachel to Venezuela in 2006, Billy was inspired to focus his career on international justice and has embraced the opportunity to participate in the Fair Trade movement.
National Steering Committee
CO-FOUNDER & COMMITTEE MEMBER, FAIR TRADE ORLANDO & FAIR TRADE WINTER PARK
Scott currently serves as the Environmental Sustainability Manager for the City of Urbana, IL. Before moving he proudly promoted Fair Trade in Central Florida for over 5 years and helped connect the Buy Local movement in Orlando with the Fair Trade movement. Scott’s previous work also included the Orange County Environmental Protection Division where he served as Assistant Canvass Director for the Tampa office of the Fund For Public Interest. He also helped start the Fair Trade Universities campaign for Rollins College in Winter Park, FL where he recently received his Masters of Planning in Civic Urbanism.
Ryan Scott McDonnell
Executive Director, Boston Faith & Justice Network
Ryan has a deep belief that people of faith should be at the forefront of justice movements supporting the poor and the oppressed. Ryan has worked with humanitarian non-profit organizations in Liberia, South Africa and the United States. Before coming to the Boston Faith & Justice Network, Ryan managed a federally-funded program to integrate refugees in to Boston and surrounding areas. Ryan has a Masters degree in international development from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa and is an active public speaker and consultant on micro finance and refugee related issues.
Executive Director, Chicago Fair Trade
Nancy Jones was hired in 2005 by Oxfam America to organize a fair trade coalition in Chicago which, in June 2006, became Chicago Fair Trade with members from businesses, non-profits, faith groups, universities and individuals. With a Masters in Social Work from the University of Chicago, Nancy has spent most of her career as a grassroots community organizer in Chicago. Her four years in community development in El Salvador informs her work of building global relationships based on justice and mutual respect.
Founder, Fair Trade Houston and Director of Programs, Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition
Kendra Penry leads the Fair Trade Houston movement as part of her position as the Director of Programs with Houston Rescue and Restore Coalition. Prior to HRRC, Kendra received her Master’s Degree in International Affairs and Conflict Resolution from the George Washington University and her BA in International Studies from Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia for both of which she studied food distribution and social justice. Kendra joined HRRC, a non-profit dedicated to combating human trafficking through raising community awareness, in 2010. Since joining HRRC, Kendra has developed and delivered a variety of programs, including the Trafficking Prevention Program for youth, law enforcement trainings, and the Domestic Minor Trafficking Program. She spearheads the Fair Trade Houston movement as a way to educate community members about how they can impact human trafficking through conscious consumerism. Kendra also serves as a member of the board of directors with Ten Thousand Villages Houston.
CO-FOUNDER AND COORDINATOR, FAIR TRADE LOS ANGELES
Joan co-founded Fair Trade LA (FTLA) in 2005. FTLA is committed to the growth of the fair trade movement in the greater Los Angeles area, with 4 current Fair Trade Towns’ campaigns. Joan was active with the Justice and Peace Office of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 16 years where she promoted domestic anti-poverty and global solidarity programs, including fair trade. Joan has an MBA from Loyola Marymount University and prior work experience in the corporate sector. She has travelled to India, Thailand, Ghana, El Salvador and Honduras with Catholic Relief Services, experiencing firsthand development programs in agriculture, micro-finance, and Fair Trade.
Committee Member, Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition; Co-Owner, Fair Trade For All
Gail Bennett-Christian has over 15 years experience in the area of organizational development, adult-education and communication. She spent 7 years in Asia at a large educational organization overseeing educational quality and managing teacher training for 56 preschools. Since returning to the US, she has spent the past 6 years at a local company focusing on change management and work-site wellness. Gail was introduced to Fair Trade through her mother who was part of the team that brought the first Fair Trade retail shop to Southeastern Wisconsin in the 1980’s. She and her husband own a small Fair Trade retail shop and she enjoys her leadership role in the Milwaukee Fair Trade Coalition as they educate Milwaukee on the importance of buying fair trade through seasonal events and promotions such as the annual Milwaukee Fair Trade Crawl.
Fair Trade Campaign Director, Green America
Elizabeth O’Connell coordinates Green America’s Fair Trade Program, which aims to educate American consumers and businesses about the social and environmental impacts of many of the products we consume, and more ethical alternatives. She heads up consumer action campaigns in support of Fair Trade including the “Fair Trade Your Supermarket” Campaign and the “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” Campaign, which is pushing Hershey to remove child labor from its cocoa supply chain by shifting to Fair Trade certification. Elizabeth provides regular input on developing Fair Trade programs to ensure the highest standards of Fair Trade are maintained. She also runs the Fair Trade Pavilions at the Green Festivals which take place in 5 cities each year (NY, LA, SF, DC and Chicago). Elizabeth became involved with the Fair Trade movement in college and was a founding member of The Little Café, a Fair Trade, student-run café at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Foundation Manager, Untours Foundation; Chair, America's First Fair Trade Town Committee
Elizabeth runs the small but mighty Untours Foundation, where, in ’05, her boss and dear friend, Hal Taussig, suggested that they make Media, PA, a Fair Trade Town. She laughed at his idea, and the rest is history. Elizabeth delights in Media’s awesome America’s First Fair Trade Town Committee, which meets every Thursday morning, 50 weeks a year. In a former life, she directed an anti-hunger organization and co-directed, an organization that addressed US policy toward Central America. She was self-employed for a decade leading retreats and consulting on organizational development for businesses and non-profits. A long time peace and animal rights activist, Elizabeth focuses on sustainable development issues as the avenue to peace.
Overland Park, Kansas Fair Trade Town Campaign
Donna Owens, as a young mother with a demanding career, sought out opportunity to preserve trees & greenspace in a rapidly developing community & provide neighborhood leadership. After retiring from 30 years of corporate service, she served 8 years on city council. While in elected office, Donna attended a national meeting & toured Media PA, the first Fair Trade Town in U.S.
Overland Park has a successful fair trade store, which led to its Fair Trade Town campaign. Donna values a free enterprise system and sees Fair Trade as a valuable aspect in its broader context. Fair Trade is International Commerce, World Trade & Job Creation. As Rotarian involved in its youth exchange program, Donna sees world shrinking as we connect more easily around globe. Education of children on Fair Trade will ensure growth of the Fair Trade Town campaigns.
Founder & Chair, Fair Trade Teaneck
Dennis comes to the Fair Trade movement from his work on human rights at the Anti-Defamation League and at Kean University in New Jersey. In addition to serving the university as a professor of history, he directs its MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies, an interdisciplinary program that investigates the origins and memory of genocide among Native Americans and other indigenous groups, Rwandans, Cambodians, Bosniaks, Guatemalans, and far too many others. His research involves scrutiny of post-traumatic witness accounts and papers delivered on the subject in the UK and South Africa among other countries, as well as in journals and as book chapters.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, FAIR TRADE FEDERATION
As the Executive Director of the Fair Trade Federation, Renee manages the strategic, administrative, and programmatic aspects of the Federation. Prior to joining the Fair Trade Federation Renee was a buyer at Ten Thousand Villages, where she worked directly with producer groups to develop fairly traded products, build artisan capacity, and explore the impact of Fair Trade. As a Senior Performing Arts Fellow with the American Institute of Indian Studies, Bowers worked closely with traditional puppeteers and puppet carvers in Karnataka, South India. She has also lived and worked in Latin America, where she conducted workshops on the use of low-cost, locally available arts materials.
Bethlehem, NY Fair Trade Town Campaign
Anna McMahon is a native of the United Kingdom. A longtime supporter of Fair Trade, she was prompted to become an advocate on relocating to upstate New York in 2007, when she discovered that Fair Trade was less well known and established. Recognizing the significance of the Fair Trade Towns movement in raising the profile of Fair Trade in the UK, Anna decided to join Fair Trade Towns USA and started an active campaign in her new home town, Bethlehem NY, in 2009.
Anna particularly enjoys event-organizing for Fair Trade. For three years she has helped coordinate a popular “Alternative to Black Friday” Fair Trade Market, and she has been involved with numerous other community events. She also enjoys opportunities to share the Fair Trade message in local schools and is delighted to report growing support for ethical trade among Bethlehem’s Middle and High School students.
In addition to her Fair Trade work, Anna serves on the Board of her local environmental education center, and volunteers with the Albany chapter of US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants. She is married with two children, who are also proud advocates for Fair Trade!