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Board member profiles

Kenny Christianson, President

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

Alison 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

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

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.  

Jim Fravil

Jim has been a member of Alternatives for many years. He has been on the board since 1997. Jim leads a quiet, private life.



Leonardo Vargas-Méndez

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.  

Lana Milton
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 Dokic
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.

Maria Klemperer-Johnson
I moved to Ithaca in 2000, and became a member of Alternatives shortly thereafter. As a woman working in a traditionally male-dominated trade, I have experience with the challenges faced by women in the workforce, especially in non-traditional jobs. As a working mother, I co-manage a household of eight with two working parents, and have learned to navigate the financial challenges of raising a large family. 

I bring to the Board two perspectives: from one perspective, I am a member of the population Alternatives aims to serve – a lower income woman with a micro-business startup. From the other, as a business owner trying to serve a social mission while maintaining a sustainable business, I am in an analogous situation to Alternatives. My understanding of both the needs of the underserved and the complexities of maintaining financial solvency while serving a social mission will serve me well on the board.

Dr. Aloja Airewele
I was born and raised Nigeria, and trained as a family physician at Obafemi Awolowo University, practicing for eight years before switching to pastoral ministry in 1996 while living in London. Here in Ithaca, I served as a legislative liaison to Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton for four years. I am presently the President of the Tompkins County Library Board of Trustees. Lately I have worked as the Director for the Homeless Services program of the American Red Cross. 

I am eager to contribute my knowledge of this community and the various human services agencies in any way to help Alternatives grow and become more effective in realizing its goals.

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Laurie and Zoe Hill

Our family's strongest connection to Alternatives started at the Student Credit Union branch at Fall Creek Elementary School. Zoe started as a Saver and I as a Teller five years ago. Zoe is a regular depositor. I started putting money into my savings account on a more regular basis when we realized that it would be a good place to have a vacation account - one we didn't have a debit card or checkbook for. We saved enough for a trip to Zurich to visit friends on sabbatical and then the fast train to Paris.


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