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Elissa Sangalli

Elissa Sangalli | President

Elissa Sangalli is committed to working at the leading edge of values-based capitalism, building sustainable local economies that put people first.  As the President of Local First since 2007, she has brought together nearly a thousand businesses in West Michigan to collaborate in building a vibrant community that encourages sustainable business development.  As a consultant, speaker, and thought leader, she has stressed the significance of building social capital through the mutual investment of the local business, consumer, government, and philanthropic sectors.  Under these initiatives, West Michigan’s economy and brand has thrived, with nationally-recognized growth and the birth of new industries.  Elissa was named Grand Rapids Young Non-Profit Professionals Exemplary Executive in 2010, a BCorp Measure What Matters Champion in 2014, and has three times been named one of Grand Rapids Business Journal’s “Top 40 Under 40” business leaders. She is a 2011 Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Fellow and BCorp Ambassador.  In her free time, Elissa enjoys traveling, running, hiking, and crafting delicious locally-sourced meals.

When not at Local First, you might find Elissa at: jb and me, Art of the Table, Gazelle Sports, Celebration Cinema, Kingma's Market

Katherine Jandernoa

Katherine Jandernoa | Local First Program Manager

Katherine 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 and development director of Food Connects in Vermont, a nonprofit that works to increase access to healthy, locally sourced 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 with a concentration in global public health 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 Local First, you may find Katherine at:  the Fulton Street Farmers Market, Rock Paper Scissors, enjoying a date night at one of our many local restaurants, or exploring Meijer Gardens and Wilcox Park with her son.

Alice Jasper

Alice Jasper | Sustainable Business Program Manager

Community advocate, nature lover and science fiction enthusiast, Alice Jasper hails from Brooklyn, New York. Pursuing a somewhat dramatic change of scenery, Alice moved to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula where she attended Northern Michigan University and earned a Bachelor’s degree in English. Following graduation, Alice moved to Grand Rapids and put down roots. She began her career with the Grand Rapids YMCA and the Gilmore Collection where she led these organizations to foster social and environmental advocacy and implement programs based on a triple bottom line framework. Based on her understanding that community engagement is critical to a successful model of sustainability, Alice began working for the Lakeshore Ethnic Diversity Alliance in 2017 where she facilitated workshops and developed and implemented programs and consulting strategies designed to dismantle barriers to social equity in both the corporate and nonprofit sectors of local economies. As a professional innovator in program and policy development, Alice has applied her knowledge of the triple bottom line to mobilize communities to move beyond conversations about social and environmental advocacy and take action that will advance sustainability by way of policy reform and conscious, objective-enhancing consumerism. 

When not at Local First, you might find Alice hiking with her dog Penny-Apple, attending art shows and concerts with friends, playing pinball, punning and watching sci-fi movies with her cat, Dayze. 

Kathleen Roark

Kathleen Roark | Grand Rapids Membership Coordinator

Kathleen is a West Michigan native who moved to the Grand Rapids to study Business Administration and Communication at Aquinas College. Since moving to the area, Kathleen has fallen in love with the small town feel, communities, and unique businesses that comprise our city. Kathleen enjoys reading (coffee in hand), sipping craft beer, sharing food around the table, and kayaking in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Kathleen joined the Local First team in 2017 as the Grand Rapids Membership Coordinator. She is passionate about equitable local business practices, social justice initiatives, and perpetuating healthy community networks and relationships.

When not at Local First, you might find Kathleen at: Rowsters, Luna, Rebel Reclaimed, and Craft Beer Cellar.

Hanna Schulze

Hanna Schulze | Development Manager

Hanna is a graduate of Grand Valley State University and has lived in West Michigan for over a decade. She loves to travel and enjoys experiencing new cultures and traditions. Though Hanna has a penchant for adventure, her heart belongs to Michigan, especially in the autumn. Her favorite things to do are apple picking in local orchards, and backpacking around one of Michigan's beautiful national parks. Hanna’s love for all things local begins with her love of great food; she believes that the greatest friendships start in the kitchen. Hanna has been on staff with Local First since 2013, and is passionate about advocating for a place-based, sustainable economy because she values the relationships it builds between neighbors and businesses. She believes that buying and selling local goods fosters a sense of pride in one’s community and leads to a joyful and prosperous life.

When not at Local First, you might find Hanna at: Sanctuary Folk Art Gallery, Fulton Street Farmers Market, and Vertigo Music.

Mieke Stoub

Mieke Stoub | Marketing Manager

Mieke is a native of Grand Rapids and, as the daughter of two entrepreneurs, has a deep appreciation of locally-owned businesses and the unique challenges they face. Prior to coming to Local First, Mieke built a nine-year career as an esthetician. After graduating from Grand Valley State University, she took her passion for bringing out the beauty in a person's face and turned it into a passion for promoting the face of an organization. She is inspired by the ways local businesses in West Michigan come together in order to continuously build the community. Mieke enjoys hiking, biking, dancing, kayaking, laughing and doing almost anything if it's outdoors on a warm sunny day, but has also been know to ride her motorcycle on a drizzly 45 degree afternoon.

When not at Local First, you might find Mieke at: The Cheese Lady, Fulton Street Farmers Market, Rebel, or Rock Paper Scissors.