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2018 – 2019 Board of Directors

posted on Thursday, March 28th, 2019

Kristy van Beek, President

Kristy van Beek comes to Karma with 13 years of retail expertise, having worked with many professional retail skin care brands. Kristy is known professionally for having strong skills in sales, marketing, training, merchandising, and strategic business planning. 
In her spare time, Kristy dedicates her time to her two rescue dogs, and many volunteer organizations including Karma, METTA Housing Cooperative, Canadian Ski Patrol, Redemption Paws, and vegan outreach activities. 


Jocelynn Rodrigues, Vice President

Hey. My name is Jocelynn and my pronouns are they/them.

I have been a Karma member since moving to Tkaronto in 2017. Collaboration and cooperation are my jam. What I love about co-ops is that they are vibrant, resilient, and deeply rooted in/informed by community.

The Dish With One Spoon Wampum belt, a covenant between the Haudenosaunee and the Anishnaabe to peaceably share the Land and nature’s gifts, espouses deep cooperativism and I reflect on what it might mean to be a food co-op on these lands. How might we uphold and strengthen this covenant, together? I seek to engage with what it means to live and do work as a settler upon the traditional and contemporary unceded territories of the Haudenosaunee (Huron-Wendat, Seneca), Ojibwe (Mississaugas of the Credit river) and Métis peoples. I give thanks to the many Indigenous communities throughout the world who have brought forth and continue to steward cooperative energy since time immemorial. Chi Miigwetch. I am equally grateful to the many visionary African Americans who demonstrated, and continue to do so, the loving and liberatory nature of cooperatives. Check out Jessica Gordon Nemhard’s foundational work and book Collective Courage: A History of African American Cooperative Economic Thought and Practice. I exist in the space I do today because of all those who held space before me. And for that, I am deeply grateful and perpetually inspired.

I am passionate about life, nature, vibrational living, and the brilliantly deep interconnectedness within and beyond this planet. I bring an eclectic mix of skills from accounting, to social work, to Reiki, to Permaculture (recognizing and honouring the contemporary and traditional Indigenous wisdoms that these teachings stem from), and beyond. I love to cook and eat plant-based foods, brew kombucha, laugh, play soccer, smell soil, connect and learn from plants, sing, create music, and dance in all the ways. I am into DIY vibes and repairing/up-cycling objects; founding the Vancouver Fix-It Collective in 2015, and I make my own household products, among other things. Nature and the cosmos are my teacher. I am continually inspired by, and in awe of, nature and the built-in abundance that it operates from and I wonder how we can translate this abundance into our experience in this now moment – particularly within co-ops. I currently work as a Reiki energy healer, holding space for folks to remember who they have always been. Each day I continue to dive deeper into remembering who I am, and why I am here. It is a journey of love. I am thankful to all those who came before me (and will continue after me) to co-create Karma into what it is – thank-you to everyone – your efforts inspire me. I am excited to serve on the Karma Board and I look forward to more collaborating. Come say hi!


Rosemary Frei, Secretary

Rosemary has a BSc in agriculture from the University of Alberta and an MSc in molecular biology from the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary She retired in 2016 from a long career as a medical journalist and pivoted to become a full-time volunteer, activist and journalist. Her articles appear in outlets ranging from Rabble.ca to BoingBoing.com. She does Kundalini yoga regularly to keep up her joy quotient. Rosemary has served on boards for other organizations ranging from the Canadian Science Writers’ Association to the Wilderness Adventurers of Ontario. She joined Karma Coop in January 2018 and looks forward to contributing to Karma’s double-stranded DNA of strengthening both social consciousness and food security.


Donald Altman, Treasurer

I first joined a food co-op store – Don Vale (Karma II) – in the fall of 1976. Very early on I became involved in the volunteer management of the co-op which has been the pattern for all my involvements. Then, when it folded, I joined Bain Food Co-op around 1980; and when it folded, I joined Karma around 1986 or so. As well, I was amongst a group which tried to start a supermarket co-op in the Regent Park area of Toronto in the early 1980’s. I have taken a leadership role – mostly treasurer – in all these organizations. At Karma Food Co-op I have been a board member and treasurer, and I have been on the Finance Committee continuously since 1991. Most recently I was the Finance Committee Chair.

At the ONFC, trade name of the OFFCC (Ontario Federation of Food Co-operatives and Clubs, Inc.), I have been on the finance committee since 1979 serving as member, treasurer and mostly as chair. I have also served several terms on the board.  

I also have many years’ experience on the boards of other co-operatives and credit union including what is now Alterna Savings and Credit Union, the Worker Ownership Development Foundation, the Church Isabella Residents Co-operative, and The Co-operators Group Limited. I have a lifetime achievement award from the Ontario Co-operative Association, am a life member of the Co-operative Housing Federation of Toronto, and a 25-year achievement award from the Ontario credit union system. I also have been awarded the Gary Gillam Award for social responsibility from the credit union system.   I passionately believe that co-operation is the business model between capitalism and state socialism that provides the best alternate model for people involvement and the control and the distribution of surplus. I want to change the system, and I do that by volunteering and supporting co-operative organizations. Karma is one of these organizations.


Reece Steinberg, Strategic Planning

Reece is a college librarian, winter squash enthusiast, amateur cabin-builder, occasional advice columnist, and several-times-weekly shopper at Karma. He joined the Co-op as a working member shortly after moving to Toronto in 2015, and has participated in store cash and opening, outreach, events, strategic planning, inventory and other activities. As Planning Secretary, he is interested in working with other members and staff to build upon Karma’s strengths, focusing on effective strategies for keeping Karma a sustainable and community-minded cooperative with a solid future.


Lindsey Shorser, Technology Secretary

Lindsey is a sessional instructor at the University of Toronto, an avid cyclist, and amateur drummer. Since joining Karma last year, she has enjoyed using Karma’s products to make sourdoughs and fermented vegetable dishes. Her previous board experience includes various university-based organizations and committees of the Canadian Mathematics Society. She has also been involved with non-profits such as Ve’ahavta, the Daily Bread Food Bank, and the Kensington Market-based Who’s Emma Collective. Currently, Lindsey is serving as Technology Secretary on the Karma Board of Directors and coordinating the website redesign project.


Tom Smarda, Director

Tom Smarda spent ten years during the ’70s hitch-hiking around North America, playing music from the Yukon to Guatemala, from the east coast to the west coast, in Canada, as well as the United States. Exposed to many cultures, witnessing the ongoing destruction of the Earth, hand-in-hand with increasing poverty and injustice, inspired him to write songs that hopefully can constructively and compassionately address some important universal concerns. He believes that we can house, clothe and feed one another without destroying the Earth in the process for future generations.