About Us

CPA is a pioneering social-purpose cooperative, whose mission is to deliver near-term benefits to members, while building a new vehicle for social change.

CPA stands for Community Purchasing Alliance:

Community because we are, at our very core, a community of diverse members. We are the synagogue down the street, the church in your neighborhood, the school up the road.

Purchasing because we are entirely owned and controlled by member community institutions who purchase with us. Our responsive and nimble community makes property management easier.

Alliance because we realize that we’re stronger aligned together than apart. Together we negotiate better deals with higher quality service all while investing in sustainability and worker equity.

So, no, CPA is not a co-op of CPA accountants. We are instead a co-op of accountability.

Our Story

In the fall 2010, Martin Trimble, Lead Organizer at the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN) and Metro IAF, held a series of individual meetings with faith leaders in Washington DC. In meeting after meeting, Martin sat in church and temple basements and listened while faith leaders complained that their increasing facilities costs, especially utilities, were breaking their budgets and taking money away from serving their community and mission. These meetings inspired Martin to ask a simple question - if a group of faith institutions purchased electricity together, would electric companies give a discount?

Within months, Martin had teamed up with Felipe Witchger and a local energy law firm, and together they brought together 11 faith institutions to test their theory. To everyone's surprise, the group negotiated a contract that would save over $100,000 in just one year. The experiment worked!

Over the next couple years, the group grew to over 100 organizations across DC, Maryland, and Virginia including institutions of all faiths, non-profits, affordable housing entities, and large charter and independent schools. The group also started purchasing environmentally-friendly renewable energy and still collectively saved over $340,000.

In 2013, participating institutions re-invested some of the money they had saved to explore the possibility of forming a member-owned cooperative business. By early 2014, the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) officially founded as a social-purpose cooperative that is wholly owned by its member community organizations.

At this time CPA leaders began to ask another important question - if group purchasing works for electricity, can it work for other services? By the beginning of 2015, CPA had answered this question with a resounding, "Yes!" CPA has successfully saved money in more than 10 service areas that community institutions need like janitorial, trash hauling, landscaping, solar development, copier leasing, and supplies purchasing.

Today, CPA continues to innovate and serve community institutions in new and exciting ways. We hope you will join us to save money and do good...together!

Hear from Our Members

Our Leadership Team

Jessica Johnson, DC Regional Director

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Barleh “Jessica” Johnson is the Regional Director for the Community Purchasing Alliance. Jessica brings 13 years of management, sales, and contracting experience working in the for-profit, non-profit and government sectors. Most recently Jessica led a team at Education Data Systems, Inc. where she assisted with the procurement of $2 million in annual contracts. She also managed and oversaw the daily operations of the TANF program that enrolled over 1,500 program participants each year. Jessica’s focus at CPA will be on growing our membership in the MD-DC-VA metro region and building new programs to meet the needs of new members. Jessica holds a bachelors degree in Political Science and International Studies from Elmira College in NY and Masters in Social Work from the University of Pennsylvania.

Joe Naroditsky, Senior Associate for Solar Programs

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Joe is the Senior Associate for Solar Programs at the Community Purchasing Alliance. His career has been dedicated to the sustainability and solar energy fields for over 10 years.  With a focus on solar energy, Joe has played key roles in the project development and management of nearly 8 MW of PV installations.  In 2007, Joe was a co-founder of FUSE, a 501 (C)(3) nonprofit organization that engaged faith communities in education and advocacy for renewable energy. In 2010, he was a founding member of BAM Energy Group, a solar installation startup firm which he helped lead to successful contracts with Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and the Archdiocese of Newark, NJ.  Joe holds a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology from New College of Florida.

Laura Pyatt, Outreach & Membership

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Laura is the Outreach Manager for Community Purchasing Alliance. She joins the CPA team after recently opening the Durham Co-op Market as their Marketing Manager. From 2012 to 2014, she served at the Marketing and Events Manger at Fullsteam Brewery. Prior to that, she lived in DC and was a manager at Georgetown Cupcake as well as serving two years as an Art Teacher for several DC public charter schools. She was attracted to teaching after graduating from Duke University in 2007 and worked in the Dominican Republic for a year as a Teacher in a bilingual school.

Lauren Greenspan, Operations Manager

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Lauren is the Operations Manager of the Community Purchasing Alliance. Prior to joining the CPA team, Lauren worked for Duke University where she focused on continuing education programs for religious leaders and alumni of Duke Divinity School. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Philosophy and Religion from Truman State University and a master’s degree from Duke Divinity School in Theological Studies.

Felipe Witchger, Executive Director, Community Purchasing Alliance

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Felipe is the Executive Director and Co-Founder of the Community Purchasing Alliance. Felipe leads the cooperative efforts of the 140 participating educational, religious, and community institutions in the greater Washington DC metropolitan region. Prior to CPA, Felipe directed a multi-family energy efficiency initiative at Stewards of Affordable Housing for the Future (SAHF). From 2010 to 2012, Felipe worked as the Lead Organizer for Energy and Partnerships at Groundswell. During this time he collaborated with the DC Sustainable Energy Utility and partnered with IAF to design and organize an innovative community energy program that mobilized $5 million in clean energy. Felipe developed his expertise in energy markets as an associate on the Climate Change and Clean Energy Team at IHS Energy (formerly Cambridge Energy Research Associates). Felipe holds a bachelor’s degree in Energy Studies and Economics from the University of Notre Dame.

Our Board of Directors

Paul Hazen, President

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Paul became the Executive Director of the Overseas Cooperative Development Council in February 2012. Prior to joining OCDC, Hazen was CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based National Cooperative Business Association. Under Hazen’s leadership, NCBA’s cooperative development portfolio grew from $8 million to over $30 million annually. During his 25-year tenure with the organization, he held key positions, including chief operating officer, vice president of public policy, vice president of member services and director of consumer cooperatives. Hazen is the one of the founders of DotCoop, the top-level domain for cooperatives around the world. In demand for his cooperative expertise, Hazen speaks frequently at national and international forums on the role of cooperatives in community and economic development. In 2001, he was named CEO Communicator of the Year by the Cooperative Communicators Association. A native of Wauzeka, a rural community in western Wisconsin, Hazen holds a B.A. in economics and finance from the University of Wisconsin.

Ellen Agler, Vice President

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Ellen has been serving Temple Sinai as its executive director since 2008. Ellen’s previous professional experiences include running facilities and programs for Jewish and healthcare organizations meeting the needs of seniors in the Washington area. Ellen attended the University of Michigan as an undergraduate, and returned there to pursue a master’s degree from the School of Public Health. As executive director, Ellen has responsibility for the temple’s administrative activities ranging from financial matters to staffing, coordinating logistics for the busy congregation, and taking care of the temple building.

Troyann Watson, Treasurer

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Troy has more than 10 years of finance and executive leadership in one of DC’s most vibrant congregations — Emory Fellowship. She oversees the operations at Emory, including the finance committee, which she chaired for several years. Ms. Watson also brings more than 20 years experience in health care administration.

Rev. Tom Knoll, Secretary

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Tom is the Pastor of First Trinity Lutheran Church. Reverend Knoll was the Executive Director of Community Life Services from 1982-2002, a social service ministry started by First Trinity. Tom has also served parishes in North St. Louis, and Bogota, New Jersey. Currently Reverend Knoll is the President of Capital Area Asset Building Corp., Treasurer of the United Lutheran Appeal, Vice President of the Lutheran Planned Giving Consortium, President of Trinity Landholding Corporation and President of CFLS Restaurant Inc. Rev. Knoll has served on the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness and is a frequent speaker on poverty and homelessness issues.

Irma Rivera

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Irma serves as the Deputy Director for Operations at the Center for Community Change. A leading national social change organization whose mission is to build the power and capacity of low-income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better. Irma has more than a decade of organizing experience working on immigration reform and voter engagement campaigns. Over the past two years Irma has shifted form issue campaigns to working on facilities and operations. She is excited that CPA provides a community and a platform to develop the leadership of operations staff.  And… as she loves to tell folks, “The savings are also great!”

Faida Fuller

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Ms. Fuller is the COO at Friendship Public Charter School. Prior to her current role as COO, Ms. Fuller served as CFO at Chavez Schools and in a number of roles at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) including Program Manager of the Direct Loan and Credit Enhancement Program, Fiscal Officer for the Race to the Top Grant, Fiscal Director of the Division of Elementary and Secondary Education, and most recently as Director of the Office of Public Charter School Financing and Support.  She was a Vice President at both BB&T and Citibank as a commercial lender primarily serving the non-profit sector before her transition into education. Ms. Fuller earned her B.A. in Economics at Spelman College and her MBA from Kenan-Flagler Business School (UNC) with a concentration in Sustainable Enterprise. Passionate about the environment, Ms. Fuller spends her free time outdoors as much as possible with her husband and children.

Martin Paul Trimble

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Martin has been the Lead Organizer working with VOICE since 2004.  Martin is also a consulting organizer with the Washington Interfaith Network (WIN), the Metro IAF affiliate in Washington, DC.  Martin is a senior staff person with Metro IAF and supervisors their affiliates in North Carolina. Martin has expertise in affordable housing and real-estate development, community finance, and earned-income strategies for organizing.  He was instrumental in the creation of the Opportunity Finance Network. Martin has organized with the Industrial Areas Foundation for 20+ years in Philadelphia, PA, Wilmington, DE, Washington, DC, and Northern Virginia.

Advisors and Additional Steering Committee

Hays Witt, Partnership for Working Families

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Hays Witt is the Deputy Director at the Partnership for Working Families. Hays provides strategy and organizing leadership at the Partnership.  He directed the Transforming Trash campaign, and convenes the Partnership’s program to shape the Future of Work.  Before joining the Partnership, Hays led a groundbreaking campaign to create good airport jobs at LAX.  He has 15 years of experience in labor, political, community, and environmental justice organizing, with a particular emphasis on connecting grassroots leadership development with policy advocacy. Hays helps advise CPA on our waste strategy, helping us increase the positive social, environmental, and community impacts of our work.

Steve Dubb, The Democracy Collaborative

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Steve Dubb is Director of Special Projects and Senior Advisor to the President at The Democracy Collaborative and has been with the Collaborative since 2004. Current projects include leading the Collaborative’s Anchor Dashboard Learning Cohort team and promoting the development of community wealth building policy. Steve was deeply engaged in the development of the Evergreen Cooperatives initiative in Cleveland, Ohio. Since then, Steve has supported a number of cities (Atlanta, Baltimore, Denver, Jacksonville, New Haven, New Orleans, Pittsburgh, and Washington, DC) with feasibility studies and consulting projects that seek to identify ways that area anchor institutions can leverage their purchasing strength to help create community-owned businesses and/or better support existing businesses in low-income neighborhoods. Prior to his work at the Collaborative, Steve worked with the International Office of the United Steelworkers and served as the Executive Director of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit association that provides education and technical assistance to university and community-based housing and retail cooperatives.

Rosemary Mahoney, CoMetrics

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Rosemary Mahoney is the former CEO of CoMetrics. Prior to joining CoopMetrics, Rosemary worked as a consultant on international cooperative development projects and cooperative business development projects in the United States. She was a founding partner of MainStreet Cooperative Group, LLC., director of New Venture Development for Cooperative Solutions, LLC., executive director of Cooperative Development Services (CDS) and Regional Director for Volunteers in Overseas Cooperative Assistance in the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary. At present, Rosemary serves on the boards of directors of the National Cooperative Business Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association, National Cooperative Grocers Association Development Cooperative, Thanexus, Inc., dotCooperative LLC, The Cooperative Foundation and NCB Capital Impact. Rosemary formerly served on the boards of directors of NCB (formerly known as the National Cooperative Bank), Cooperative Development Institute and CooperationWorks.

Neil Seldman, Institute of Local Self-Reliance

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Neil Seldman is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the Institute for Local Self Reliance (ILSR) where he provides technical assistance to cities, community groups and businesses in the field of sustainable resource management. ILSR’s mission is to provide innovative strategies, working models and timely information to support environmentally sound and equitable community development. Since 1974, ILSR has championed social equity and building local self-reliance, a strategy that underscores the need for humanly scaled institutions and economies and the widest possible distribution of ownership. Dr. Seldman has pioneered developments in processing, building deconstruction and small scale manufacturing from recycled materials. He is a founding member of the National Recycling Coalition at the First National Recycling Congress and the Grass Roots Recycling Network. He is known as grassroots organizer who, “shows communities how to fight against and how to fight for the sustainable solution to solid waste and economic problems.” Dr. Seldman was a manufacturer in New York City and a university lecturer in political science before co-founding the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in the Adams Morgan neighborhood of Washington, DC.

Boris Sigal, New Haven Works

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Boris Sigal is the Director of Business Development at New Haven Works. Boris focuses on building closer relationships with the regional business community, making sure that the services offered by New Haven Works makes hiring qualified New Haven residents as easy as possible for local businesses. Before coming to New Haven in 2012, he served as the Director of Finance and Operations at Groundswell, a social enterprise in Washington DC focused on the intersection of energy and community economic development. There he oversaw financial, legal, human resources, and IT and worked on procuring and managing service contracts with local, state, and federal government, for-profit businesses, and community institutions. Over the last year, Boris has worked closely with Yale University and the City of New Haven on strategies to increase the participation of local businesses in the supply chains of New Haven’s large institutions and businesses. He’s worked closely with Yale Procurement and the business development community to identify and implement immediate opportunities to shift spend, and to develop tools, policies, and partnerships to support local procurement growth. Boris has his MBA from the Yale School of Management.