Board of Directors
Mass Local Food currently has a seven-member Board of Directors, including five officers and two at-large members. The co-op community elects the members of the Board at the annual meeting (usually held in February). Incoming Board members will each serve a three-year term.
The Board of Directors meets once a month, usually on the second Thursday after Distribution Day. This is a closed meeting.
We are pleased to introduce our Board of Directors.
Mae Zagami, President
Mae Zagami grew up in Somerville and attended Boston State College (now part of UMass Boston). She worked for New England Mutual Life Insurance Company, where she held positions in Policyholder Services and Marketing. She was ultimately promoted to Second Vice President before leaving the company in 1994.
While working at New England Life, Mae turned her design hobby into a business. In 1989 she launched Creative Designs in Kitchens & Baths, in Stow, specializing in kitchen and bath design and remodeling. An avid fan of the Boston Red Sox, the Boston Celtics, and the New England Patriots, Mae enjoys watching and attending sports events. She currently resides in Hudson with her husband, Bob, and they have two daughters.
Andrea Coyler, Vice President for Producers
Andrea grew up in Binghamton NY and is a graduate of Centenary College of New Jersey with a degree in Communications. While there she agreed to a blind date with a Navy plebe for the Army/Navy game. Andrea worked in advertising in Washington DC and she and Tom married 3 days after his graduation. They had 3 children and Tom deployed as a pilot 3 times to Vietnam (coincidence?). In their 20th year of marriage they moved to Massachusetts and bought Greenwood Hill Farm in Hubbardston.
Restoration of 1836 home took up a lot of their time and Andrea secured a job as a costumed interpreter at Old Sturbridge Village to help increase her knowledge of how their house should be restored. Andrea brought home 6 Sturbridge sheep that needed a home to keep the pastures clear that first year and that started the sheep business. They have been raising fine wool “merino” sheep since 1986 which Andrea uses in her yarn business and Southdown sheep for meat.
Greenwood Hill Farm has been a producer for Mass Local Food since their second year and Andrea is pleased to represent the producers on the board of directors.
Sheryl Vaillette, Vice President for Customers
Sheryl Vaillette has a degree in education from Fitchburg State College and taught at the elementary and preschool levels for seven years. She was the Central MA Coordinator for Massachusetts Parents Anonymous (now Parents Helping Parents) for fourteen years. Sheryl completed the Expanded Food and Nutrition Program offered by the UMass Extension Service and also taught a puppet-based, hands-on nutrition curriculum while working at the preschool. She currently serves as co-chair of the local chapter of the MA Green-Rainbow Party and developed and implemented a “Buy Local” campaign for North Central MA with the Nashua River Green-Rainbow chapter. Most recently, Sheryl helped start the Westminster Farmers’ Market.
Sheryl became aware of Mass Local Food while co-planning the Westminster Farmers’ Market. At that time, she was growing increasingly concerned about our food system, climate change, globalization, peak oil, and social isolation. She was intrigued by MLF’s plan to utilize local, sustainable growers and to implement a small-scale distribution system. Because she is passionate about good food, informed customers, and the right to choose a local delivery system over a global one, Sheryl thinks volunteering for Mass Local Food is the perfect fit for her.
Jane Ranley, Treasurer
Jane Ranley grew up in Westminster with lots of memories of growing and canning vegetables from the family backyard garden. After receiving her BA in Social Work and a MS in Rehabilitation Counseling, she worked for 10 years in a vocational rehab program for special needs adults in Boston. Jane left her job to raise her 2 sons and work with her husband, Tom in a medical packaging business. They also ran a quick copy business for several years in Holliston, MA.
When their youngest son graduated from high school, Jane and Tom moved to Lunenburg to be near Jane’s parents. While attending the Westminster Anniversary Parade, Jane saw an ad for Mass Local Food and joined the co-op in November, 2009. A few months later, she started volunteering on distribution day, helping with the meat check-in and sharing the driving duties to bring orders to the Holden site each month.
Jane believes strongly in supporting local farms and thinks Mass Local Food is an excellent way to show that support.
Leota Mayr, Secretary
Leota lived in Leominster through her early years and when she graduated from St Bernard’s in Fitchburg, she traveled in Europe for a while and lived in Germany where she had relatives. That is where she discovered her love of fine chocolate.
A retired teacher, Maureen holds a BS in Elementary Education and a Masters in Reading. Reingold School in Fitchburg was her second home from 1977 until 2010. She taught Special Needs, third and fourth grades.
When she came back to the States, she worked in the insurance industry for about 20 years. She learned a lot, enjoyed her time there and made many friends but it was time to do something different. Her sister had purchased a chocolate shop in Boston and needed a manager. That was different enough so she stepped into another role. She really enjoyed the retail aspect of the job, loved decorating the shop for different holidays and started to make some of the chocolates they sold. She took an online course through Ecole Chocolat because half of what she made did not turn out well and she needed some fine tuning.
The shop eventually closed and she spent 6 years with a wonderful elderly woman as housekeeper/companion and then retired when that job ended. Leota said: “I never had problems filling up my time; I was busy starting my own chocolate shop, but I did want to volunteer with a group I felt had an interest in the greater good. I was selling chocolates at a local craft fair and met Rachel Gonzalez; she introduced me to Mass Local Food and the rest is history.
Norma Chanis, Member at Large
Norma Chanis attained an MBA in Organizational and Environmental Sustainability from Antioch University NE in 2012 and is currently working on Health Coach Certification through the Institute for Integrated Nutrition. Prior to deciding to leave corporate America for something more meaningful, she worked at State Mutual/Allmerica for 20+ years and then for several software companies. She’s currently working part time for Mobile Health Consumer, a California based company using Smartphone Technology to deliver smarter healthcare.
Attending school and volunteering with organizations focused on community gardens, healthy cooking, nutrition, town planning, and reuse and recycling initiatives has given her wonderful opportunities to connect with others who want to make a difference locally. Norma feels that as individuals we can be overwhelmed and feel as though they cannot make a difference but, as a group, we have so much more power for change. She and her husband Steve became members in 2012, and are enjoying the wonderful local goodies MLFC can provide and they look forward to what the future holds for them and for MLFC.
Madelyn (Lyn) Schmidt, Member at Large
Madelyn (Lyn) Schmidt has a BS in biology from Northeastern University and a PhD in Immunology and Virology from the University of Massachusetts Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences. She is currently an associate professor at the University of Massachusetts Medical School.
Lyn grew up in Western Massachusetts and spent many summers helping her grandmother pick and can local fruits and vegetables. Fresh eggs were always obtained from a local chicken farm.
She was a member and treasurer of the Cedar Swamp Food Coop in Westborough MA for many years before the group disbanded. She has always been concerned about our food system and the increasing use of pesticides and antibiotics for large scale food production. Working with Mass Local Food Co-op seems like a natural addition to her interests.