American Independent Business Alliance

People of AMIBA

 Click any linked name to jump directly to their biography and photo.

  

Board of Directors

 Colin Murray, President; Executive Director, Dane Buy Local, Madison, Wisconsin  

 Kristi Streiffert, Vice President/President-elect; Business Development, Durango, Colorado

 Laury Hammel, Treasurer; Executive Director, SBN Massachusetts, Boston, Massachusetts

 Jennifer Rubenstein, Executive Director, Louisville Independent Business Alliance, Kentucky

 Lily Brislen, Executive Director, the Food Connection, University of Kentucky-Lexington

 Derek Peebles, Director, Economics of Compassion Initiative, Cincinnati, Ohio

 Tom Lowenburg, Owner, Octavia Books, New Orleans, Louisiana

 George Farah, Partner, Cohen, Milstein, Sellers & Toll, PLLC

  

Executive Director

Derek Peebles

Derek Peebles

Prior to becoming AMIBA’s Executive Director in July of 2019, Derek Peebles led the Economics of Compassion Initiative in Cincinnati, Ohio, ECI is a small economic justice advocacy group that engages the public – both secular and religious – in conversations around the vision of a compassionate economy that is local, resilient and neighborhood based. Derek also partnered in the Cincinnati Independent Business Alliance and Xavier University’s student-led business consulting program.

Derek is a servant-leader with advanced education in organizational leadership and public relations with 10 years of experience and success building organizational capacity, organizing and educating communities while creating jobs.

Board of Directors

Colin Murray

Colin Murray

President

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.

Laury Hammel

Laury Hammel

Laury 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.

Lily Brislen

Lily Brislen

Lily Brislen holds a Ph.D. in Rural Sociology with a focus on food systems and community development from the University of Kentucky – Lexington.  She is the first director of The Food Connection at UK, located at the University of Kentucky, focused on enhancing production, distribution and consumption of Kentucky-grown and produced food both on and off campus. She was the founding director of Think Local Umpqua in Douglas County, Oregon, one of the most successful smaller-town Independent Business Alliances.

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.

Jennifer Rubenstein

Jennifer Rubenstein

Jennifer started working for the Louisville Independent Business Alliance (LIBA) in 2008 and became Director in 2011. Under her leadership, LIBA has grown from 60 to over 700 business members. LIBA educates the public about the advantages of buying from locally-owned, independent businesses, promotes the Keep Louisville Weird campaign and holds the Buy Local First Fair, Shift Your Shopping Contest and Louisville Brewfest annually in addition to other campaigns. Jennifer holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Louisville with a major in Marketing and was included as a “40 Under 40” by Business First Louisville in 2012. She was born and raised in Louisville, Kentucky, where she lives with her husband Mark, daughter Katie and two sweet hound dogs.
Kristi Streiffert

Kristi Streiffert

Kristi Streiffert was Managing Director of Local First in Durango, Colorado. After ten years overseas and soon after earning her MBA at University of Cyprus Kristi bought and operates Wren Consulting, a local independent business in Durango.

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.

Tom Lowenburg

Tom Lowenburg

Tom Lowenburg has co-owned Octavia Books since founding the New Orleans bookstore in 2000, a year when only a handful of independent bookstores dared open. In addition to Stay Local!, the New Orleans AMIBA affiliate, he served on the boards of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance and other independent bookseller groups. Tom testified before the Louisiana legislature, defeating a censorship bill that had already passed in the state Senate in 2010; and helped pass Louisiana’s e-fairness bill in 2016 to stop the preferential treatment of remote retailers.

Tom also co-founded of the Alliance for Affordable Energy, a local non-profit that works to advance community-based energy.

George Farah

George Farah

George F. Farah is a Partner at the law firm of Cohen Milstein 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.

Farah’s volunteer work to advance democracy and human rights, including founding the nonprofit Open Debates to improve the presidential debate process, has earned appearances on Nightline, 20/20, CBS Evening News, NBC Nightly News, FOX and Friends, MSNBC and dozens more television and radio programs. His articles have appeared in The Washington Post, The Boston Globe and many other publications. Farah also has given talks about the political process and electoral reform issues at numerous colleges and universities.
Jeff Milchen

Jeff Milchen

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. ChronicleChicago Tribuneand dozens more publications. 

Jennifer Rockne

Jennifer Rockne

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.

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