People of AMIBA
Click any linked name to jump directly to their biography and photo.
Board of Directors
Kristi Streiffert, President; Business Development, Durango, Colorado
Thomas Barr, Executive Director, Local First Arizona, Phoenix, Arizona
Lily Brislen, Executive Director, the Food Connection, University of Kentucky-Lexington
George Farah, Partner, Handley Farah & Anderson
Laury Hammel, Executive Director, SBN Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts
Kristen Lavelett; Executive Director, Local First Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah
Tom Lowenburg, Owner, Octavia Books, New Orleans, Louisiana
Rebecca Melancon, Founding Member, Austin Independent Business Alliance, Austin, Texas
Colin Murray, Executive Director, Dane Buy Local, Madison, Wisconsin
Jennifer Rubenstein, Executive Director, Louisville Independent Business Alliance, Kentucky
Mary Alice Scott, Executive Director, Portland Buy Local, Portland, Maine
Derek Peebles, Executive Director
Derek is a leader in the field of community economic development with extensive success moving organizations forward by building on cross-cultural and cross-sector collaboration. He started his career in small-business banking and for over 10 years has been organizing local business communities, residents, and institutions to leverage both social and private capital for sustainable economic development.
Most recently, Derek founded Neighborhood Grow, an alliance of local leaders working to establish equitable communities and vibrant neighborhood business districts, funded as a ministry of Cincinnati’s Episcopal Christ Church Cathedral.
He also served in leadership roles with the Urban League of Southwest Ohio, recently joined the board of Green Umbrella, the leading alliance working to maximize the environmental sustainability of Greater Cincinnati, and facilitates trainings and discussions around the country on asset-based community development.
Della G. Rucker, AICP CEcD Communications Manager
Della has consulted, written and trained people nationwide in entrepreneurship, economic revitalization, urban planning and fostering meaningful public participation for close to 20 years. Della is the author of The Local Economy Revolution: What’s Changes and How You Can Help, Everybody Innovates Here and several other books and publications. Della is also a frequent speaker, having given over 100 keynotes, workshops and conference sessions across the US and Canada.
A serial entrepreneur and small business owner, Della is one of about 10 persons in the U.S. to hold professional certifications in both planning and economic development.
Board of Directors
Kristi Streiffert, President
She is interested in building communities that support locally-owned independent businesses as a path to an economy that values people, the planet and prosperity for everyone.
Thomas Barr is the Executive Director for Local First Arizona, steering the programs and initiatives that engage over 3000 businesses across Arizona. Thomas guides the direction and execution of LFA’s major initiatives and key partnerships, as well as the collaboration of over 30 staff implementing work in entrepreneurship programs, small business advocacy, sustainability, urban development and community building.
Lily also is part of AMIBA’s speakers bureau and generates rave reviews for making her presentations and workshops memorably fun as well as informative and productive. She has written for rural development groups on many aspects of localization and entrepreneurial development. She also serves on the board of the Community Farm Alliance.
George F. Farah is a Partner at the law firm of Handley Farah & Anderson specializing in antitrust and human rights cases. In this role, he represents and advocates for consumers, businesses, farmers, unions and others injured by corporate abuses — often in class action lawsuits.
Laury Hammel is the President and CEO of The Longfellow Clubs of Massachusetts, which encompasses health and sports clubs, holistic health centers, children’s centers, and camps that serve 10,000 members. Honored by the Boston Globe as one of the top places to work in MA, Longfellow is a recognized industry leader in innovative business practices, environmental responsibility, and community service.
Laury has helped numerous local business coalitions get started. He founded the Sustainable Business Network of Massachusetts (SBN) in 1988, Business for Social Responsibility in 1991 and co-founded the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies in 2001. Laury directs the 1000+ member SBN and has developed innovative programs like the Boston Local Food Festival, the Sustainable Business Leader Program, and the Sustainability Leadership Summit. See our interview with Hammel for more.
Kristen Lavelett is the Executive Director of Local First Utah, a nonprofit organization that works to educate the public, government, and business owners themselves about the value and vitality of locally owned, independent businesses to our economy and communities. A former journalist, curriculum developer and playwright, Kristen now leads the “buy local” movement in Utah, advocating for independent businesses on state, county, and city levels in both urban and rural communities. Her expertise in branding, campaign coordination, and collaborative enterprises have spurred economic development through place making in her hometown of Salt Lake City, and across the state of Utah. She is a member of the Board of Directors for Urban Food Connections of Utah, the Granary District Alliance, and is an ex officio member of the Salt Lake City Mayor’s Business Advisory Board.
Tom also co-founded of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, a local non-profit that works to advance community-based energy.
Rebecca Melancon spent 29 years in publishing, owning three publications with her partner. She was a founding member of Austin Independent Business Alliance, a board member for 9 years and executive director for 10 years. She is from New Orleans.
Colin Murray is Executive Director of Dane Buy Local in Madison Wisconsin, a position he’s held since February 2013. Colin is known as a promoter of the local business community with over 15 years’ experience in locally-focused economic development. He has been involved with Dane County Buy Local from its initial formation meeting in 2004 and served as President from 2010-2013. During that time he oversaw the organization’s growth from 450 to more than 700 member businesses. Under his direction, Dane County Buy Local now boasts nearly 800 members. Murray is a lifelong member of the Madison community, working on behalf of Dane County businesses and non-profits throughout his career. He served as Advertising Manager at Isthmus Publishing and Advertising Director for Shepherd Express in Milwaukee — both are locally-owned alternative weekly newspapers. He holds an Associates Degree from Madison College.
Jennifer started working for the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) in 2008 and became Executive Director in 2011. The organization has grown from 60 to close to 900 business members in that time. We act as a voice for independent businesses to local government, and we work to educate the community about the social and economic benefits of buying local.
Mary Alice Scott
Mary Alice Scott is the Executive Director of Portland Buy Local (PBL) in Portland, ME. For nearly a decade, Mary Alice has worked on community building through advocacy and supporting local economies. Previous to her work with Buy Local, she worked to open the Portland Food Co-op, leading the effort to increase Member-Ownership from 500 to 3,600, and helping to raise over one million dollars in start-up funds. She is passionate about advocating for local businesses on a local and national level.
Jeff has spent 20 years helping communities build vital local economies and support local entrepreneurs. Milchen co-founded AMIBA three years after pioneering this organizing model in 1998, directing the Boulder IBA in Colorado. Milchen has provided presentations and workshops for more than one hundred organizations and conferences.
Milchen previously was a successful small business owner in Vermont and Colorado. He is the author of “Building Buy Local Campaigns that Shift Culture and Spending” and his commentaries have appeared in Business Week, Washington Times, Washington Post, S.F. Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, and dozens more publications.
Jennifer served as Outreach Director for the nation’s first Independent Business Alliance in Boulder, Colorado for two years before leaving to help launch AMIBA in 2001 in response to address broader interest in the Boulder IBA’s success.
Jennifer hails from a family with a four-generations-old family law business in rural Minnesota. She currently engages in her community of Bozeman, Montana as chair of the city’s InterNeighborhood Council. Jennifer received her BA degree from the University of Michigan and Masters in Communication from the University of Colorado.