Hanna (she/her) has been with the organization since 2013. Her commitment to supporting local businesses and those that demonstrate responsible practices is apparent in every decision she makes, from the local bank where her mortgage is held to the fitness studio she attends several days a week. Hanna is passionate about advocating for her neighborhood and sits on both the Garfield Park Neighborhood Association board and the South Division/Grandville Ave. corridor improvement authority. She loves to travel to new places and experience the dishes they’re known for – the spicier the better! In the summer, she prefers long hikes and backpacking trips to sitting in the office, but she is always happy to serve her Local First and Good For Michigan businesses.
When not at the office, you might find Hanna at: Life Addict Studio, Rising Grinds Café, or walking her dogs, Popsicle and Walnut, around the Garfield Park neighborhood.
Kathleen (she/her) joined the People First Economy team in 2017 to champion the development of a human-scale economy and our member businesses in the Local First program. Today Kathleen supports PFE with direction, leadership, and implementation of programs across the organization. Her small-town upbringing instilled the value of a place-based economy grounded in relationships. She works to build relationships with the business community and to provide value and benefit through businesses’ involvement in programs. Connect with Kathleen to learn more about our programs and PFE’s signature initiatives.
When not at the office, Kathleen:
- Sits on the American Independent Business Alliance (AMIBA) Board of Directors
- Champions the ‘Choose Local First’ message on AMIBA’s Steering Committee
- Is a frequent flier at Field & Fire (purchasing sourdough starter), Schuler Books and Baker Book House (getting her read on), and Southeast Market, as well as, Fulton Street Farmers Market (where she shops for local ingredients).
Alice Jasper (she/they) is a Multiracial-Black sustainability professional and outdoor enthusiast. Born and raised in Brooklyn, NY, Alice relocated to Michigan where she attended college in the Upper Peninsula before putting down roots in Grand Rapids. Today, Alice serves as Program Director for Good For Michigan; a state-wide economic development initiative that centers social and environmental sustainability and convenes Michigan’s B Corp Certified business community.
When not at the office, Alice:
- is the creator and host of “Color Out Here” a media project created in collaboration with WGVU and PBS intended to explore the opportunities and barriers to inclusion faced by Black, Indigenous, and People of Color in outdoor recreation and environmental stewardship.
- a board member of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks
- a goal 4 Alliance Council Member for Downtown Grand Rapids Inc
- a pinball witch in training
- hikes with her dog, Penny Apple
COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT MANAGER
Originally hailing from Eastern Michigan, Victoria (she/her) fell in love with the sense of community and local business scene offered in West Michigan. After she made the move to Grand Rapids in 2018, she found a home away from home at a small business, which instilled place-based values and began her path towards advocacy for equitable, people-first economies. After interning for the Local First program, Victoria officially joined the People First Economy team in 2021. She graduated from Grand Valley State University in April 2022 with a double major in Marketing and Management and a minor in Spanish. Victoria is eager to continue learning and growing in this space, all the while celebrating this vibrant community and its organizations.
While not in the office you can catch Victoria at Field & Fire Cafe (where she is determined to sample the whole menu), curled up on her porch with a good book, exploring trails, cities, and countries, and shopping throughout the Uptown neighborhood.
Arick Davis (they/them) is a local entrepreneur and business owner who joined the PFE team in 2023 to help support Michigan’s growing community of businesses seeking to be more sustainable and transparent. He is a graduate of Michigan Technological University and has served on numerous local nonprofit boards throughout his career.
When not at the office, you can find him enjoying a cup of coffee at Last Mile Cafe, a people-focused coffee company he started in 2021. He also enjoys running, boxing, yoga, and spending time with his family.
Sarah Chartier (she/they) is a passionate conduit of system change with a decade of experience in corporate sustainability. Her approach to change centers community care and focuses on prioritizing relationships, creativity, and collaboration. She is an experienced program manager and has successfully integrated sustainability and supplier diversity into operational and support services. Sarah’s known for her organizational skills, passion, creativity, collaboration, and ability to execute from vision to project sustainment.
As a lifelong learner, she has pursued her master’s in business administration and project management professional certification. Sarah has been a TEDx speaker, Emceed events, and appeared in promotional videos and local television and radio interviews. She is an engaged community member and has volunteered on multiple non-profit boards, including board president. Sarah has received numerous accolades for her work, most recently “Notable Leader in Sustainability” by Crain’s Detroit Business in 2022. Sarah volunteers her time supporting friends and small businesses needing organizational, administrative, or strategic support and recently joined the local mutual aid network in her community. Sarah is a born and raised Yooper who believes in putting people over profit. She is driven by the famous Fannie Lou Hammer, “nobody’s free until everybody’s free”.
When not in the office, you’ll find her outdoors with her beagle, gardening, biking, reading, or cooking a plant-forward meal of local produce.
Meghan Disselkoen (she/her) is a development professional who has been working in the non-profit space for over a decade. She utilizes her strengths in writing, language, and development strategy to uplift causes she most cares about. Since 2011, that has been local economic development and economic justice. Meghan is an experienced grant writer, fund development coordinator, and donor strategist. She is a volunteer at her church and local school system, and an enthusiastic farmers market patron.
When not at the office you might find Meghan at a local KDL branch, exploring a neighborhood park with her kiddos, MadCap coffee with cappuccino in hand, or scanning through the newest cookbooks at Schulers Books.
- Halla Maas (she/her) has been with the organization since 2023. As a Michigan native, her decisions to support local businesses is mirrored in how she interacts with the community by shopping local, attending art markets & food markets, establishing connections with her fellow neighbors in the Burton Heights area, & supporting other local non-profit organizations in the greater Michigan area. She tends to enjoy her time by immersing herself into the local parks and cultures that each neighborhood brings. She values creating connections and taking the opportunity to hear people’s stories. When she’s not at the office, this Barbie is:
Enjoying long hikes all over Michigan.
Spending time in her indoor and outdoor garden.
Paging through a good book on her porch.
Practicing yoga and meditation.
Lounging with her kitty.
BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER
Katherine (she/her) comes to West Michigan from the East Coast and brings over a decade of experience in local food systems and sustainability. Prior to joining Local First, Katherine was the co-founder, program director of Food Connects in Vermont, a nonprofit that works to increase access to healthy, local foods within Vermont’s schools. Jandernoa earned her master’s of arts in sustainable development from the SIT Graduate Institute and her bachelor of arts in international affairs from The George Washington University. Having lived in large urban centers, (Boston, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.), and small rural communities in Massachusetts and Vermont, Katherine loves all that West Michigan has to offer and is thrilled to call Grand Rapids home.
When not at the office, you might find Katherine at the Fulton Street Farmers Market, one of our many local restaurants, or exploring Blandford Nature Center and Wilcox Park with her sons.
Mieke (Mee-ka, she/her) is a storyteller, community builder, and daughter to self-employed parents. She has a background in nonprofit marketing and visual communications. In 2014, she started volunteering with the Local First program and fell in love with the mission, the people, and the work culture. Two years later, when the opportunity to tell the People First story full-time arose, she had to take it. Mieke is inspired by the ways Michigan businesses collaborate and loves to brag about the rad things they’re up to. She also loves hiking, backpacking, cooking, mountain biking, moto riding, laughing, dancing, and almost anything if it’s outdoors. If you’re unsure of how to say her name, she also answers to Meeks, Red Dawn, Biker Babe, and Dutch Strong Arm. Give her a trail recommendation or a new recipe next time you see her!
When not at the office, you might find Mieke at: The Cheese Lady, Fulton Street Farmers Market, Rebel, Rock Paper Scissors, in the woods, or on the road.