Veg Fruits Unity

Co-op Board, Staff, and Advisors


Joseph Bryant, President. Joseph is managing partner at JE Bryant & Associates LLC, a specialized construction and consulting firm headquartered in Syracuse. He has over seven years of experience working in the construction industry. With a strong commitment to the community in Syracuse Joseph has received numerous awards for Civic engagement and business development on the Southside of Syracuse. He also serves as Board President of the Southside Community Coalition Inc., a leading nonprofit organization supporting business and cultural development on the South Salina Street corridor. Joseph is a Syracuse native, product of the Syracuse city school district and has studied at Syracuse University and Pace University.

Howie Hawkins, Secretary/Treasurer. Howie has been active in movements for peace, justice, the environment, and independent progressive politics since 1967. He attended Dartmouth College and served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the early 1970s After college, Howie worked as a carpenter in New England and helped start up a construction workers’ cooperative that specialized in solar and wind energy installations. He moved to Syracuse in 1991 to be Director of CommonWorks, a federation of cooperatives working for an economy that is cooperatively owned, democratically controlled, and ecologically sustainable. For the past fifteen years he has worked at UPS where he is a member of Teamsters Local 317, and active the national Teamster rank-and-file reform caucus, Teamsters for a Democratic Union.

Steven Coker, Board Member. A Syracuse native, Steven Coker is an Economic Development Specialist with the Onondaga County Office of Economic Development.  Prior to this, he has held management positions with Upstate Medical University and Syracuse University.  Over the course of his diverse career, he has been a business owner, he served as President of the Minority Contractors’ Association of CNY and served as an assistant district attorney in Brooklyn, NY.  A tireless community advocate, he has chosen to not only speak out on issues that impact the community, but has also assisted several organizations with drafting policies and procedures to improve the community’s standing.  Steven received his bachelor’s degree from Wagner College on Staten Island, NY and a juris doctorate from the Nova Southeaster University in Fort Lauderdale, FL.

Barry Wells, Board Member. Barry is an author, speaker, higher education consultant, award-winning educator, and social entrepreneur. He is President/Founder of College Success Solutions, a higher education consulting firm. Prior to founding College Success Solutions, he was Senior Vice President and Dean of Student Affairs at Syracuse University. During his tenure, the Division of Student Affairs became a national leader in higher education as measured by its professional accomplishments, including 50 state, regional, and national awards. Wells held 9 other administrative positions during his career at Syracuse University.


Brandi M. Woolridge, General Manager. Brandi has lived and worked on the South Side of Syracuse since relocating to New York State from Western Massachusetts in 2011. As a wife, mother, student at Onondaga Community College, and advocate for economic empowerment, Brandi has engaged her local community with empowering servitude. Whether it is serving as a waitress at a local soul food restaurant, a community volunteer, or a study coach for local middle and high school students, Brandi is passionate to see her community heal and thrive. Brandi’s belief that “Together, we will…” along with her daily community involvement, motivates her in serving as the General Manager for Eat To Live Food Co-op with the desire to promote economic empowerment and community collaboration.


Frank Cetera, Advisory Council. Frank works as a NYS Senior Business Advisor and educator with the Onondaga Small Business Development Center at Onondaga Community College. Frank has degrees in Sustainable Systems Science and Forestry, and practices cooperative leadership and membership as an owner and volunteer of a food coop, Board Member of a credit union, and resident of a housing collective.

Don DeVeau, Advisory Council. Don is currently the Marketing & Member Services Coordinator for the Syracuse Real Food Co-op, a cooperative grocery store. He learned his marketing skills while President and CEO of his own farm and construction equipment businesses located in the Syracuse and CNY area for over 30 years. He has held leadership positions in local community member based organizations, which helps him with understanding the needs and desires of members. He is a graduate of Alfred State College; attained the rank of Eagle Scout with the Boy Scouts of America; was President of the Board of Directors of the New York Farm Equipment Dealers Association and Board member and one of the founding fathers of the New York Farm Show. Don has been and presently is a consultant to various businesses throughout the State of New York.

Mike Farrugia, Advisory Council. Mike is active with the Syracuse chapter of SCORE, and has over 30 years of experience owning, managing, and consulting with conventional supermarkets and grocery stores. He previously owned and operated individual stores, as well as a small chain consisting of four supermarkets. Mike has proven experience in increasing store profitability and in all phases of business ownership, and a thorough understanding of budgeting and all financial statements utilized in operating profitable businesses. He has attended the Food Executive Program at Cornell University and took masters-level courses in financial and managerial accounting.

Pravin Gupta, Advisory Council. Pravin is a retired executive who currently volunteers with SCORE and is also on the Board of other non-profit organizations.  His experience includes management consulting and banking with leading organizations in New York and subsequent assignments with small andmedium-sized businesses as CFO and Treasurer.  Pravin has an MBA from Columbia University.

Meagan Weatherby, Advisory Council. Meagan is Program Sustainability & Outreach Coordinator for Cooperative Federal Credit Union in Syracuse. Her duties include grants management, project development and sustainability, program administration and reporting, and overseeing marketing and outreach functions. Meagan joined the credit union staff in 2007 after 2 years as its Grant Writer through AmeriCorps*VISTA. Meagan has volunteered with the food co‐op project since 2008, working on outreach and business planning committees; she is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Syracuse Real Food Cooperative (Jan. 2014 – current). Meagan earned a dual BA in English and Women & Gender Studies from Syracuse University in 2005.

Eat to Live Food Co-op

2323 South Salina Street

Syracuse, NY 13205

Phone: 315-214-5999


Wednesday – Saturday: 12 PM – 6 PM