Initial Start-up Board




Damon Lawrence ( is a 27 year veteran of the Los Angeles City Fire Department and is a avid organic gardener. Damon became interested in cooperatives when he stumbled into the Alberta Food Co-op while on a family trip to Portland OR. The concept of Long Beach Grocery Cooperative came out of a community concern about the alarming number of grocery store closures and the lack of access to a natural foods market to many areas of Long Beach CA. Damon has spent the last 4 years educating himself on food co-ops and the cooperative movement in general. Damon has visited several Food Co-ops in preparation to lead the effort to open Long Beach's first modern food co-op. Damon believes cooperatives and the cooperative principals will play a big role in our new economy and that LBGC will be a great economic asset to the Long Beach community.  He also believes the store will broaden the exposure of the cooperative movement in the Southern California area. Damon has been a driving force in the quest to open a grocery co-op in Long Beach.


Rachel de Jong( has been a resident of Long Beach for 7 years and is the former vice president of the Rose Park Neighborhood Assoc. Prior to that she lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years. Rachel’s first became interested in the co-op movement after seeing a shift in the grocery stores that were opening in her Long Beach neighborhood. Conversations with her neighbor, Damon Lawrence, confirmed for her that Long Beach could greatly benefit from creating their own grocery co-op. She has been a part of the LBGC efforts from the beginning and is a founding board member. Rachel works in the Entertainment Industry and also enjoys scuba diving and experiencing all that Long Beach has to offer.



Steven Passmore ( is a founding member of the Long Beach Grocery Co-op, dedicated to bringing a member owned grocery co-op to Long Beach. He co-founded the urban agriculture advocacy group Long Beach Grows in 2010. He was the farm director of Long Beach Grow's Unity Farm, a one acre cooperatively run urban farm,  the first farm co-op in Long Beach. He was the president of the steering committee of the Wild Oats community garden, Long Beach Organic's largest community garden. Dr. Passmore has served on the board of directors of the Long Beach Community Garden Association (LBCGA) and the Rose Park Neighborhood Association (RPNA). He received a Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular and cellular biology from Cornell University, and was a Damon Runyon -Walter Winchell fellow at Harvard University. He has served as the president of Bioinsight, Inc., a Massachusetts biotechnology company, and science director of Optagen Biotechnology, LLC. He was Sr. Research Scientist at CSULB where he also occasionally taught, including courses in Microbiology and Molecular Genetics.





Michelle Engelman Berns is a transplanted Texan Mom of 4 grown grown-ups, and MeMaw to 5 beautiful grandchildren. Her husband Chris (also a LBGC Member Owner) is a helicopter mechanic and die hard Judas priest fan. Our rescued/adopted fur-children The Precious 15 year old chinahua, our girl BooBoo the wonder dog and Dennis the goofy Boy Boxer fill our days and nights with snugly adorable bliss. Michelle who comes to LBGC as a current member of North Coast Food Co-op, a super successful 2 store co-op in Northern California. Michelle states “I am a Board Member of the new start-up Long Beach Grocery Co-op because I want to see the community come together in a way that only a Food Co-op can provide; with health, wealth, positive employment benefits, sincere appreciation of community members, and real and fundamental growth for our city through the partnerships that a Co-op creates. At my core, I am a photographer, writer, painter, film buff, gardener and seed saver. In the real world I'm an Art and Custom Frame consultant. My Passion is film-making, but mostly I like to plant things in the ground and watch them grow. Michelle's Motto? Be nice, know your food, buy art and handmade things and pay it forward.” Michelle was chosen to represent LBGC at the 2016 Up and Coming Up and Running Food Co-op conference in Bloomington Indiana. 



 For the past decade, Joyce de Brevannes has been a passionate food advocate. She has worked closely with countless shoppers, brands and retailers through her marketing and community outreach work with Whole Foods Market, the Non-GMO Project and currently, Erewhon Organic Grocer and Cafe. She recently moved to Long Beach and jumped at the chance to be involved with the Long Beach Grocery Co-op. "The mission of a co-op brings together everything I deeply care about:  seasonal, organic produce; supporting local artisans and purveyors; protecting workers' rights and benefits; promoting sustainable agriculture; providing transparency, accessibility, and education; and inspiring the collective spirit to build an engaged and thriving community...what could be better?"



Miles McNeeley was born and raised in Long Beach. He is a graduate of the Long Beach Unified School District, Long Beach City College and CSULB. Miles has an incredible amount of appreciation for the sense of community that exists in Long Beach. When he first heard about the concept of a grocery Co op opening in town, he was initially most drawn to the idea of everyday people in the community getting together and taking ownership in something as important and basic as food. Miles holds a Master of Social Work degree and works at a local Children’s Hospital. He is commissioner, and former Chair, of the City of Long Beach Human Relations Commission. 



Tonya Williams



Amara Omoregie  



 Sheila Anderzunas