We are grateful to have the support and advice of a talented and passionate group of individuals. We meet bimonthly to discuss strategy and tactics, as connected to our broader vision of creating a robust and resilient community and a thriving, creative, innovative and inclusive economy.

Megan Briggs Lyster

Megan Briggs Lyster

Director of Innovation Programs, Center for Community Engagement | Amherst College

Megan Briggs, adjunct assistant professor of social entrepreneurship, received a B.A. degree with a focus in family and developmental psychology from Hampshire College and an M.A. degree with a focus in social entrepreneurship education from Prescott College.
She has spent the past twelve years working with both non-profit and for profit enterprises in the Pioneer Valley, and has been teaching courses in social entrepreneurship and soft goods design at the Hampshire College Lemelson Center for the past four years.
Her other interests include karate, systems thinking, and understanding how people learn.

Nina Smolyar

Nina Smolyar

Director of Operations | Pioneer Valley Local First

Nina follows her life value and personal drive to counteract the excesses and limitations of imperfect economic and political systems, as human nature continues to evolve. She has held many paid positions, worked with many different groups and dedicated many volunteer hours at organizations that: grow environmental stewardship, level the playing field for disadvantaged social groups, benefit children and families, and give rise to expression and experience of beauty, truth, connection and empowerment.
True and sustained social progress and peace ultimately require a conscious transformation of our increasingly globally-integrating economic web system, one node, region, practice, and preferably several, at a time. She is determined and passionate about making a contribution to visionary economic reform and systemic social change work.
Her personal mission and professional objective is to integrate sustainability, social justice and strategic economic development for the well-being of all ~ integrity in business, governance and politics.

Andrew Stachiw

Andrew Stachiw

Worker-Owner | Toolbox for Education & Social Action (TESA)

Andrew Stachiw is a a worker-owner at the Toolbox for Education and Social Action (TESA), a worker-owned cooperative located in Western Mass and Chicago. TESA's mission is to make people’s lives more just and democratic through the use of participatory education. At TESA, Andrew wears many hats, but his chief responsibilities are curriculum development, research and development, and organizational finances. Through his role as a curriculum developer, Andrew has worked on half a dozen cooperative academies and incubator programs as well as creating democratic education tools for a whole range of organizations, from War Resisters League to International Rescue Committee. Furthermore, Andrew was a producer in TESA and GRITtv's recent documentary film Own the Change: Building Economic Democracy One Worker Co-op at a Time. Andrew is a passionate educator who is a licensed high school teacher in MA and an adjunct in the Farm and Food Systems program at GCC where he teaches cooperative economics at Franklin Country House of Corrections. Andrew also serves on the Advisory Board at the Pioneer Valley Worker Center.

Todd Trebour

Todd Trebour

Program Coordinator | UMass Arts Extension Service (AES)

Todd Trebour is an arts manager, educator, theatre artist and operatic performer based in Easthampton, MA. Todd is the Program Coordinator of the UMass Amherst Arts Extension Service (AES), where he teaches in AES' arts management degree and certificate programs, and stewards the Arts Entrepreneurship Initiative. Through the Arts Entrepreneurship Initiative, Todd works with community arts organizations, local cultural councils, and city planners to bring professional development training programs to artists. He also connects artists and arts-based businesses with interns at UMass Amherst and the Five Colleges.
Todd was the marketing and development director at Chester Theatre Company, a professional summer theatre company in the mountain town of Chester, MA. He served as treasurer for Northampton-based c3, a creative community collective. In other community-based work, Todd served as project development consultant for Art At Work-Holyoke, a project part of the national initiative Art At Work.

Jen Turner

Jen Turner

Change Management Consultant & Connector

Jen is a catalyst for change within organizations - during a growth or turnaround transition - by becoming a partner of the business. Like a true partner, she hammers out business ideas and questions and implements and executes these ideas in collaboration with the organization's leaders.
She also works to facilitate collaborations between individuals and resources as well as assist others seeking a new approach to their lives and goals. Networking is not easy and it takes work - she knows because she's done it and continues to do it!
Jen wears many hats - her favorite of which is mother to two beautiful children. As a working mom with small kids, she knows how difficult life/work balance can be.

MJ Viederman

MJ Viederman

Director of Communications | Mind and Life Institute

MJ has worked for more than 20 years in branding and strategic communications for leading brands with a focus on corporate social responsibility, entrepreneurship and social change. These brands have included both for-profit and non-profit social change organizations including Lindblad Expeditions/National Geographic, Honest Tea, Odwalla, Miraval, The Better Fish, Stonyfield Farm, Verite and Goodweave, to name a few.
MJ's firm for students, TRU2U, works to incubate young student change-makers across the Five College Consortium in Amherst, giving them real communications and marketing work from brands that matter. Issues we grapple with range from climate change, organic agriculture, sustainable fisheries, supply chains and human trafficking, and many 21st century challenges.
At the Mind & Life Institute, many of these 21st century challenges are being explored through academic research and with practitioners at the intersection of science and contemplative studies. Issues from education and social justice to addiction, secular ethics, leadership, mindfulness and other areas help to address Mind and Life's mission to reduce suffering and enhance human flourishing.
Specialties: Corporate social responsibility, branding, cause-marketing, strategic partnerships, social entrepreneurship, PR and digital communications.