Board of Directors:
Originally from Southampton, NY Alison Fritz moved to Philadelphia in 2002 to join AmeriCorps VISTA for a post at Simon Gratz High School working with inner-city youth. Since then, she has worked for several regional non-profits and moved from education and program development into the fundraising arena, most recently as a grant writer for WHYY and now as Associate Director of Donor Relations at Fox Chase Cancer Center. Alison was introduced to the co-op movement during her first years in Philadelphia as a member of Weavers Way. She moved to the Passyunk Square neighborhood with her husband Dan Pohlig in 2008 and was instantly drawn to the community building efforts through her civic association. In April 2010, Alison convened a meeting about establishing a co-op, and together with her new friends and neighbors, helped found the South Philly Food Co-op initiative. She currently serves as President of the Board, and member of the Operations and Outreach committees.
Maria Camoratto earned her Master of Architecture degree at NJIT and has spent her career strengthening communities with better housing and facilities. Currently she works as the Director of Real Estate Development for Norris Square Civic Association in Kensington. Her work focuses on projects that have a positive impact on the neighborhood such as affordable housing and childcare centers. Previously she was a Peace Corps Volunteer in El Salvador and a Senior Project Manager for Limited Equity Cooperative Development at UHAB in New York City. Maria moved to Philadelphia from Brooklyn 2 years ago and purchased her great grandfather’s home in South Philadelphia. She is also a yoga practitioner and certified yoga instructor. In her personal life she grows flowers, herbs and vegetables at home and makes a serious effort to eat locally raised whole foods.
Mary Beth Hertz is a Technology Teacher for grades K-6 in North Philadelphia, education blogger, social media enthusiast and strong believer in the power of democratic leadership. A South Philadelphian for the last 9 years, she grew up in Westchester County, NY and graduated from Oberlin College in Oberlin, Ohio, where she became deeply involved in student co-operatives. Mary Beth immediately fell in love with Philadelphia and attended the University of Pennsylvania to complete her teaching certification and began teaching in Philadelphia. She has taught in Southwest Philadelphia and West Philadelphia and is passionate about education and innovative and student-centered approaches to learning. She also holds a Master’s Degree as an Instructional Technology Specialist from Saint Joseph’s University. The time she has committed to the co-op has been one of her most rewarding experiences since moving to Philadelphia. In her free time, she enjoys running, reading and long brunches with friends.
Jay Tarlecki is a mechanical engineer, carpenter, and persistent do-it-yourselfer. En route to an engineering doctorate at University of Pennsylvania, he took a permanent detour to attend trade school and learn woodcraft. Blending woodworking with his engineering background, he went into business building off-the-grid homes, traditional timberframes, and wheelchair accessible treehouses for public parks and arboretums across the country. Jay currently works as an energy efficiency consultant and systems analyst. Although he now spends his days combing over calculations and computer programs, he still jumps at the opportunity to get back to the job site and solve problems in the field. Fortunately, his fixer-upper South Philadelphia home provides that opportunity constantly. Jay enjoys playing guitar, brewing beer, biking, eating his vegetables, and living simply.
Cassie Plummer has a Doctor of Pharmacy degree from Purdue University as well as a Masters of Public Health from Drexel University. She currently works as a consumer medical writer. She brings strong communication and organizing skills as well as knowledge about community building and program development to the South Philly Food Co-op. She grew up in a small town in Maine and is an active volunteer in the Philadelphia Area Disc Alliance (PADA), an organization focused on playing the community-driven sport of ultimate frisbee. Naturally, the community aspect of a food co-op is very important to her. After her post-graduate work at Jefferson Hospital, Cassie moved to Boston and quickly realized how much she missed Philly. She has now lived in South Philly for 10+ years and enjoys baking tasty treats to share with neighbors at co-op events.
Erika got to know Philly as a city of neighborhoods as a canvasser in 2004. She then moved to Philly in 2005 and bought a house in Point Breeze in 2010. She currently works as web editor for the Philadelphia Public School Notebook, an independent, nonprofit news service that covers the Philly public schools. Erika became interested in education during college at The George Washington University where her work-study job was with the Neighborhood Tutoring Program in the D.C. Public Schools. Erika grew up in Erie, Pa. and first encountered co-ops by shopping at and then joining the Whole Foods Co-op. She served on the legal/finance committee and as interim bookkeeper for the South Philadelphia Food Co-op because she wants to bring the things she valued from Erie to her new neighborhood: community, learning, and access to fresh and healthy food.
Joseph F. Marino has the privilege of being a fourth generation South-Philadelphian. Joe’s academic background includes undergraduate studies at Temple University in Rhetoric and Communications and graduate work in Library Science at Drexel University with a minor in Archives through Temple’s School of Urban Studies. Joseph has ministered as Director of Music, Our Lady of Mount Carmel Roman Catholic Church, Philadelphia, PA since 1995. He is the founding Co-Chair, Board of Directors, of the East Passyunk Crossing Civic Association. Joe serves as President of the Central South Philadelphia Civic Association Alliance, representing nine neighborhoods in South Philadelphia, serves on the Advisory Council for Neumann-Goretti High School, the PA Board of Pharmacy, as Secretary of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus, and recently formed the steering committee for the Italian American Museum of Philadelphia. Joseph’s views on sustainability can be summarized as: LEAVE SMALL FOOTPRINTS! A “force of nature” Joe resides in the home his family has owned for over 100 years with his nineteen year old cat Francie.
John Raezer is a Philadelphia native and has lived in South Philadelphia for 3 years. He plays an active role in the community through his work with the Passyunk Square Civic Association, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Next Level Sports. He is a graduate of Harvard College and The Wharton School of Business, and works in corporate strategy for Comcast. As one of the founding members of SPFC, John is passionate about the role that co-ops can play in creating a more cohesive and vibrant community and takes a strong interest in helping guide the development of young organizations. In his spare time, John enjoys running, eating/drinking at BYOs, scootering on his Vespa and making fresh guacamole. One of John’s favorite quotes is “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Josh Richards moved to Philadelphia in 2003 to study law at the University of Pennsylvania. He has lived in New York, Vermont, Germany, Australia, and China, but, after meeting and marrying his amazing wife Amy, decided the place he most wanted to settle was South Philadelphia. Josh and Amy, their daughter Sophie, their dog Archie, and their cats Jasper and Moses bought their house on a tree-lined block of South Philly in 2007. Josh currently works as a litigator at the Center City law firm Saul Ewing, where he focuses his legal practice on higher education law and appellate practice. In addition to serving on the Co-op’s Board of Directors, Josh has been a member of the Co-op’s Legal/Finance committee since its first meeting. Josh has been shopping at food co-ops since the only way he could get up and down the aisles was in a stroller and plans to keep shopping at them until the only way he can get up and down the aisles is with a cane. He is thrilled to serve his community by doing his part to open and sustain the South Philly Food Co-op.
Julia Koprak was born in Brooklyn, NY and spent her childhood at committee meetings and in the aisles of the Flatbush Food Coop. After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania, she worked and traveled for 3 years in Asia. Julia was inspired by the availability of fresh, affordable food, even in developing nations, and made it her mission to promote healthy food access upon her return to the United States. She now works for The Food Trust to develop fresh food retail options in low income, underserved areas. She has also worked as a teacher and freelance photographer and writer. Julia enjoys practicing various foreign languages, biking along the Schuylkill, crafting recipes with the veggies from her CSA share, and endlessly hunting for the perfect bowl of noodles.
Stephanie Rupertus was introduced to South Philadelphia in 2003 while getting her bachelor’s degree in Film and Media Arts from Temple University. She lived in a small row home near 11th and Federal Streets and fell in love with the culture of the neighborhood. After working in the entertainment and public relations industries in Los Angeles, Stephanie found herself back in South Philadelphia in 2008. The colorful people, access to public transportation, and the walkable nature of the neighborhood convinced Stephanie to purchase a home off Passyunk Avenue. Stephanie is extremely invested in the neighborhood, both financially and personally, and enjoys building relationships within her community. In addition to volunteering for the co-op, she works with a small group of neighbors to solve issues of safety, beautification and neighborhood unity. Stephanie is a site host for Wimer’s Organics CSA and has been since its founding three years ago. Stephanie was a member-owner of CoOpportunity – Santa Monica’s Cooperative Natural Grocer – while living on the West Coast. From her experiences there, Stephanie knows firsthand how a co-op will benefit the South Philadelphia community. Stephanie works in training and leadership development for a corporation in Center City. She has experience in public relations, communications and training. She shares her home with her husband Jeff and dog Hugo.