Board Member Profiles
Kenny Christianson, President
Serves on the Governance, Growth Planning, and Budget Committees
Kenny holds a Masters of Arts in Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration from Syracuse University. He is a lecturer of Economics at Binghamton University and Ithaca College and holds a position as Academic Consultant in the Office of Multicultural Affairs at Ithaca College. Kenny has been a member of Alternatives since 1992 and is committed, through his work on the Board, to meeting the needs of the underserved population in our area.
Alison Christie, Vice President
Serves on the Human Resources, Growth Planning, and Governance CommitteesAlison joined the Alternatives' Board in 2001. She enjoys many training opportunities available to Board members. Alison brings Marketing and Cooperative experience to the Board. She worked at Greenstar Cooperative Market for twelve years, during which she became Marketing and Member Services Manager. Alison is drawn to participate as a board member at Alternatives to support our vital and worthy mission and also because she is captivated by the cooperative movement and its capacity to transform peoples' lives and offer a democratic economic alternative in our capitalist economy. Alison is honored to be a steward for such a precious community asset.
Sujata Sidhu Gibson, Secretary
Serves on the Loan Policy, Governance, Growth Planning, and Member Services Committees
Sujata has been a member of the Credit Union for over 25 years. As a teenager she worked with Bill Myers, then CEO of Alternatives, as an intern and later as a paid part-time employee. After leaving the Credit Union, she went on to become a labor organizer and then after that to attend the University of Pennsylvania Law School as a public interest scholar. Sujata spent many years after graduating from law school working in Washington, D.C. for a big firm. At the firm, she specialized in government contracts and antitrust law, and worked extensively with not-for-profits. Now back in Ithaca, she has a practice dedicated to providing low cost legal services to local farmers, small businesses, and not-for-profits around the country.
Peter McCracken, Treasurer
Serves on the Growth Planning, Member Services, Budget, and Governance committees
Peter is a recent transplant to this area, having followed his wife to her new position at Ithaca College. He's excited about being more involved in a new community, especially through his participation with the Alternatives Board of Directors. In 2000, Peter and three others started a company in Seattle that provides services to libraries – including IC, Cornell and TC3. He's familiar with the challenges of starting and growing a small company, and believes that entrepreneurship, coupled with financial education and careful planning, can be an effective path to financial success for many. Peter looks forward to helping Alternatives achieve that goal for the people of Tompkins County and beyond.
Serves on the Budget and Loan Policy committees
Jim has been a member of Alternatives for many years. He has been on the board since 1997. Jim leads a quiet, private life.
Serves on the Human Resources and Member Services committees
Leon has been an Alternatives member for several years. As a former high school drop-out, he obtained his General Equivalency Diploma (GED) while serving in the United States Air Force. After being honorably discharged, Leon returned to high school, receiving a college prep regent’s diploma. Next, he attended college earning bachelor and master’s degrees. Recently, he completed the Small Business Development Center’s training program at Binghamton University. Leon's professional career began in corporate, but changed to higher education. Leon looks forward to working in collaboration as a team player on Alternatives' behalf for excellence in customer service and user-friendly methods to help meet your present and future financial needs.
Leonardo Vargas-MéndezServes on the Human Resources, Member Services, and Community Relations committees
Leonardo is the Executive Director of the Cornell Public Service Center (CPSC), and as such, is a member of Cornell University’s Division of Student and Academic Services’ senior management team. Leonardo is Co-Principal Investigator for the Cornell Upward Bound Program and is Co-Director of the Faculty Fellows-in-Service learning programs. He is Cornell University’s liaison to the New York Campus Compact Advisory Board, and a member of the founding Board of this statewide higher education membership institution. He is also a Carl L. Becker House Faculty Fellow at Cornell University.
In addition to his Cornell responsibilities, Leonardo has served on the boards of many Tompkins County non-profit agencies and governmental committees, including the Board of Trustees of the Tompkins County Public Library; the Founding Board of the Latino Civic Association of Tompkins County Inc.; the Ithaca Alliance for Community Empowerment; the Advisory Board of the Suicide Prevention and Crisis Service of Tompkins County; the Tompkins County Workers Rights Center; the Board of the Tompkins County Human Services Coalition; the City of Ithaca’s Board of Public Works; and the Board of Planning and Development; the Board of the Tompkins County Human Rights Commission; and the Board of Planned Parenthood of Tompkins County. He is currently a member of the Board of Directors of the Tompkins Community Action, and also a member of ATTAC International, Chile’s chapter.
Leonard enjoys being a Board member for Alternatives on many levels, and he and his family have been Alternatives members for many years.
Serves on the Community Relations and Member Services Committees
Brett has served as the Executive Director of the Community Arts Partnership since 2007. His career in arts administration includes programming, marketing, and collections management at art and history museums in New York and Ohio, as well as the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca. Brett and his wife Kerry live on the South Hill with their dogs Frances and Minchy. He holds a B.S. in Communications from Ithaca College’s Park School and an M.A. in Popular Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. When moving back to Ithaca, Brett immediately opened accounts with Alternatives, because its mission so perfectly aligned with his personal and professional values. He's particularly proud to be a member of an organization that advocates for financial literacy for all citizens.
Serves on the Supervisory Committee
Lana has been Executive Assistant at GIAC for over 10 years and is a long-time Ithaca resident. As a well-known and well-respected community leader, Lana has an unwavering desire to create positive and equitable environments for all. Lana's accomplishments and affiliations include: active member of the Calvary Baptist Church, panelist on childcare issues when Hillary Rodham Clinton and Assemblyman Martin Luster were featured guests to GIAC, member of Sister Friends Planning Committee since 2004, 2010 recipient of "20 Outstanding Women You Should Know in and around Tompkins County," and has volunteered for the Credit Union’s Free Tax Preparation program. Lana is also a past employee of Alternatives.
Gvozden grew up in Croatia and obtained his Bachelor of Science degree from the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing (FER) there. After the war, Gvozden moved to New York City, married, had two childen, and started working in the banking industry. In 2009 he and his family decided to move to Ithaca after wanting a change of lifestyle and a more locally-orientated community. In Ithaca Gvozden has opened his own IT consulting company, XOrca.
Serves on the Community Relations and Member Services committees
For the last five years, Dominic has been working in both rural and urban areas to reduce the amount of money households spent on energy. He co-coordinated three consecutive “Lighten Up!” campaigns which delivered an energy-saving light bulb to a total of 20,000 households, returning nearly $1 million in energy savings to Tompkins County residents. These campaigns were the largest of their kind in the Northeast and inspired similar campaigns elsewhere in the country. In his role as Community Energy Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Tompkins County, Dominic modeled Alternatives' “Path to Home Energy Savings” from Alternatives’ Credit Path. He also served for eight years on the Caroline Town Council and six years as Caroline’s Deputy Town Supervisor. Additional experience is as director for the Black Oak Wind Farm, a 20-megawatt community-financed wind energy project under development in Enfield, and on the Board of Directors of the Center for Transformative Action, an incubator and fiscal sponsor for a range of social entrepreneurship projects in Ithaca.