AMIBA benefits from strong leadership and an active Board of Directors who work in concert to advance the local movement.
Derek is a leader in community economic development with extensive success moving organizations forward by building on cross-cultural and cross-sector collaboration. He began his career in small business banking and over the past decade has been organizing local business communities, residents, and institutions to leverage both social and private capital for sustainable economic development.
Derek founded Neighborhood Grow, an alliance of local leaders working to establish equitable communities and vibrant neighborhood business districts, funded as a ministry of Cincinnati’s Episcopal Church Cathedral. He also served in leadership roles with the Urban League of Southwest Ohio, recently joined the board of Green Umbrella, the leading alliance working to maximize the environmental sustainability of Greater Cincinnati, and facilitates trainings and discussions around the county on asset-based community developmen
Della Rucker, AICP CEcD
Della has consulted, written and trained people nationwide in entrepreneurship, economic revitalization, urban planning and fostering meaningful public participation for close to 20 years. Della is the author of The Local Economy Revolution: What Changes and How You Can Help, Everybody Innovates Here and several other books and publications. Della is also a frequent speaker, having given over 100 keynotes, workshops and conference sessions across the US and Canada.
A serial entrepreneur and small business owner, Della is one of about 10 persons in the U.S. to hold professional certifications in both planning and economic development.
Board of Directors
Kristi Streiffert, President
Kristi was Managing Director of Local First in Durango, CO. After 10 years overseas and earning her MBA at University of Cyprus, Kristi bought and operates Wren Consulting, a local independent business in Durango.
She is interested in building communities that support locally-owned independent businesses as a path to an economy that values people, planet, and prosperity for all.
Thomas Barr, Local First Arizona
Thomas is the Executive Director for Local First Arizona, steering the programs and initiatives that engage over 3000 businesses across Arizona. Thomas guides the direction and execution of LFA’s major initiatives and key partnerships, as well as the collaboration of over 30 staff implementing work in entrepreneurship programs, small business advocacy, sustainability, urban development and community building.
Lily Brislen, The Food Connection
Lily holds a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology with a focus on food systems and community development from the University of Kentucky – Lexington. She is the first director of The Food Connection at UK, focused on enhancing production, distribution and consumption of Kentucky-grown and produced food on and off campus. She was the founding director of Think Local Umpqua in Douglas County, OR, one of the most successful smaller-town Independent Business Alliances.
George F. Farah, Hadley Farah & Anderson
George is a Partner at the law firm of Handley Farah & Anderson specializing in antitrust and human rights cases. In this role, he represents and advocates for consumers, businesses, farmers, unions and others injured by corporate abuses — often in class action lawsuits.
George’s volunteer work to advance democracy and human rights, including founding the nonprofit Open Debates to improve the presidential debate process, has earned appearances on Nightline, 20/20, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, FOX and Friends, MSNBC and dozens more television and radio programs. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and many other publications. Farah also has given talks about the political process and electoral reform issues at numerous colleges and universities.
Laury Hammel, The Longfellow Clubs
Laury is the President and CEO of The Longfellow Clubs of Massachusetts, which encompasses health and sports clubs, holistic health centers, children’s centers, and camps that serve 10,000 members. Honored by the Boston Globe as one of the top places to work in MA, Longfellow is a recognized industry leader in innovative business practices, environmental responsibility, and community service.
Laury has helped numerous local business coalitions get started. He founded the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) in 1988, Business for Social Responsibility in 1991 and co-founded the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in 2001. Laury directs the 1000+ member SBN and has developed innovative programs like the Boston Local Food Festival, the Sustainable Business Leader Program, and the Sustainability Leadership Summit. See our interview with Hammel for more.
Kristen Lavelett, Local First Utah
Kristen is the Executive Director of Local First Utah, a nonprofit organization that works to educate the public, government, and business owners themselves about the value and vitality of locally owned, independent businesses to our economy and communities. A former journalist, curriculum developer and playwright, Kristen now leads the “buy local” movement in Utah, advocating for independent businesses on state, county, and city levels in both urban and rural communities. Her expertise in branding, campaign coordination, and collaborative enterprises have spurred economic development through place making in her hometown of Salt Lake City, and across the state of Utah. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Urban Food Connections of Utah, the Granary District Alliance, and is an ex officio member of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Business Advisory Board.
Tom Lowenburg, Octavia Books
Tom has co-owned Octavia Books since founding the New Orleans bookstore in 2000, a year when only a handful of independent bookstores dared open. In addition to Stay Local!, the New Orleans AMIBA affiliate, he served on the boards of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and other independent bookseller groups. Tom testified before the Louisiana legislature, defeating a censorship bill that had already passed in the state Senate in 2010; and helped pass Louisiana’s e-fairness bill in 2016 to stop the preferential treatment of remote retailers.
Tom also co-founded of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, which works to advance community-based energy
Rebecca Melancon, Local Business Institute
Rebecca Melançon has more than 35 years of experience as a business owner and local leader. Rebecca is co-founder of the Local Business Institute. She was an early architect of the buy local movement and was a founding member of the Austin Independent Business Alliance (AIBA), serving as board vice president and then Executive Director from 2010 to 2020. She is an award-winning publisher and writer, former publisher of the Austin Business Journal and associate publisher of the Texas Observer. She co-founded The Good Life, a monthly magazine in Austin serving as publisher for more than 11 years. Recognized as a champion of the local business movement, Rebecca is an experienced spokesperson and a vocal advocate for change.
Colin Murray, Dane Buy Local
Colin is Executive Director of Dane Buy Local in Madison WI. Colin is known as a promoter of local business with over 15 years’ experience in locally-focused economic development. He has been involved with Dane County Buy Local from its initial formation in 2004 and served as President from 2010-2013. During that time he oversaw the organization’s growth from 450 to over 800 members. Murray is a Madison native and has served as Advertising Manager at Isthmus Publishing and Advertising Director for Shepherd Express in Milwaukee — both are locally-owned alternative weekly newspapers. He holds an Associates Degree from Madison College.
Jennifer Rubenstein, Louisville Independent Business Alliance
Jennifer started working for the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) in 2008 and became Executive Director in 2011. The organization has grown from 60 to close to 900 business members in that time. We act as a voice for independent businesses to local government, and we work to educate the community about the social and economic benefits of buying local.
Mary Alice Scott, Portland Buy Local
Mary Alice Scott is the Executive Director of Portland Buy Local (PBL) in Portland, ME. For nearly a decade, Mary Alice has worked on community building through advocacy and supporting local economies. Previous to her work with Buy Local, she worked to open the Portland Food Co-op, leading the effort to increase Member-Ownership from 500 to 3,600, and helping to raise over one million dollars in start-up funds. She is passionate about advocating for local businesses on a local and national level.
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