The National Team Grows!

Courtney Lang June 8, 2012

In February 2012, Fair Trade Towns USA invited four new members to join its National Steering Committee: Joan Harper, Scott Tess, Ashley Fessler, and Elizabeth O’Connell. Each member brings creative ideas and new perspectives to the table, continuing to spread the Fair Trade movement throughout the country with their unique and invaluable experiences. Prior to these fresh faces, the committee consisted of a team of seven people from various backgrounds, such as Fair Trade USA, Fair Trade Federation, Fair Trade Resource Network, declared or in-progress Fair Trade Towns, faith-based organizations, and more, all cooperating and working towards the similar vision of a Fair Trade nation. You can find stories and biographies of all current members of the National Steering Committee here.

Joan Harper

Joan co-founded Fair Trade LA (FTLA) in 2005.  FTLA is committed to the growth of the fair trade movement in the greater Los Angeles area, with 4 current Fair Trade Towns’ campaigns. Joan was active with the Justice and Peace Office of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles for 16 years where she promoted domestic anti-poverty and global solidarity programs, including fair trade. Joan has an MBA from Loyola Marymount University and prior work experience in the corporate sector. She has travelled to India, Thailand, Ghana, El Salvador and Honduras with Catholic Relief Services, experiencing firsthand development programs in agriculture, micro-finance, and Fair Trade.

Scott Tess

Scott serves on the Steering Committees for the City of Orlando and nearby City of Winter Park, FL. He has been promoting Fair Trade in Central Florida for over 5 years and has helped connect the Buy Local movement in Orlando with the Fair Trade movement. He is currently working to connect the local Labor and Farmworkers movements with the Fair Trade movement. Scott currently works for the Orange County Environmental Protection Division and has served as Assistant Canvass Director for the Tampa office of the Fund For Public Interest in the past. Scott is currently exploring the possibly of starting a Fair Trade Universities campaign for Rollins College in Winter Park, FL where he is pursuing a Masters of Planning in Civic Urbanism.

Ashley Fessler

Ashley spent the last year in Honduras working as a Development Volunteer in The Peace Corps. Upon returning she is continuing her work in the Fair Trade movement as a memebr of Media PA’s Fair Trade Town Committee. She initially became involved in Fair Trade after graduating from West Virginia University in December 2009. She worked with the committee on fundraising and community activities to raise consumer awareness about Fair Trade products and the meaning behind them. Before leaving for The Peace Corps, she created an interactive Fair Trade Cirriculum and presented it to the 3rd grade classes at Media Elementary. She plans to improve the curriculum and continue to work with the local schools in hopes to get the children excited about Fair Trade. She is looking forward to seeing the community come together for future Fair Trade events and especially the Fair Trade Live event that will be hosted in Media this coming October.

Elizabeth O’Connell

Elizabeth O’Connell coordinated Green America’s Fair Trade Program, which aims to educate American consumers and businesses about the social and environmental impacts of many of the products we consume, and more ethical alternatives. She heads up consumer action campaigns in support of Fair Trade including the “Fair Trade Your Supermarket” Campaign and the “Raise the Bar, Hershey!” Campaign, which is pushing Hershey to remove child labor from its cocoa supply chain by shifting to Fair Trade certification. Elizabeth provides regular input on developing Fair Trade programs to ensure the highest standards of Fair Trade are maintained. She also runs the Fair Trade Pavilions at the Green Festivals which take place in 5 cities each year (NY, LA, SF, DC, and Chicago). Elizabeth became involved with the Fair Trade movement in college and was a founding member of The Little Cafe, a Fair Trade, student-run cafe at New York University’s Stern School of Business.


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Courtney Lang, National Organizer | Fair Trade Campaigns

Courtney Lang brings over 5 years of community organizing to Fair Trade Towns USA, building both the Local Food and Fair Trade networks in Vermont. As Local Food Coordinator with City Market/Onion River Cooperative, Courtney worked with local producers, institutions and consumers to grow the local food system and organize a strategic model for community engagement through farm tours, workshops, and local food challenges. Like many in the Fair Trade industry, Courtney was inspired to take action in Fair Trade when she witnessed child-labor first hand in Costa Rica. As a founding member of Fair Trade Burlington, she has worked with economic development organizations, businesses, and consumers to build awareness of Fair Trade among Vermonters. She also worked with a Fair Trade USA licensee, Vermont Coffee Company, as Friend Ambassador where she united the story of Fair Trade to every purchase of coffee.