The Grassroots Team
Get to know the team at Grassroots below. As we get closer to opening, we'll be adding additional team members. (To learn more about job openings, visit our careers page.)
ZACK SHEPPARD, GENERAL MANAGER
With an education in Fine Art Painting & Graphic Design at Miami University, and a work history in small business management, Zack Sheppard joined the cooperative grocery movement in 2011 when he opened the start-up MOON Co-op in his hometown of Oxford, OH. Serving first as Front End Manager & Systems Administrator, he went on to accept the role of General Manager after the loss of the Co-op’s previous General Manager, and successfully guided the store through a major financial crisis and stabilized a struggling business. After a little under two years at MOON, Zack moved on from Ohio in late 2012 looking to expand his understanding of the food co-op industry. He took a role with the larger, more established, Berkshire Co-op in Great Barrington, MA and for the next five years he served as Grocery Manager, Operations Manager, and then as interim General Manager- where over the course of a few months he guided another Co-op through large leadership transition, and financial crisis with great success, taking a business on the brink of bankruptcy to the highest profits in the history of an organization dating back to the 70’s. After training Berkshire’s incoming General Manager, Zack moved on to find a new challenge. His search lead him to a start-up Co-op in central Virginia with tremendous potential, and he started as General Manager of Grassroots Local Market in April of 2018. Outside of work Zack is passionate about midday weekend naps, plaid shirts, “nerd things”, and has an odd fixation on staying hydrated.
OLIVIA LIGHTLE, FRESH TEAM MANAGER
Olivia Lightle, M.A., was the Assistant Director of Program Innovation at a world class YMCA in the Catskills prior to deciding to move back to central Virginia with her husband. While there, she initiated new and/or improved programming, trained instructors and oversaw activities in the Teaching Kitchen, greenhouse, beekeeping, and aquaculture programs. Olivia is committed to developing sustainable systems to ensure food security, accessibility and equity. Olivia has entrepreneurial experience as a spice merchant and worked as a chef’s assistant in a gourmet and local food market. With an acute awareness of how important it is to use local sources for food, she has had experience vending and buying from a variety of farmers’ markets and values the quality and taste that comes from eschewing the 1500-mile diet. You will likely find her scoping out local growers at farmers’ markets, CSAs, farms, and other venues to find unique and delicious foods to bring to Grassroots Local Market. She and her husband have camped around the United States two times and look forward to another opportunity to do so. Her hobbies, naturally, include gardening, kayaking, hiking, music, cooking, and reading.
Charles "Kody" Rogers, Operations Team Manager
Kody began his professional career in IT client services at Dominion Resources in Richmond Virginia. During his time there he assisted in a company wide windows 7 upgrade, managed digital valve controls for nuclear power plant and completed his Six sigma blue belt training. Kody attended Radford University (2012-2014), majoring in business administration before transferring Virginia Western Community College (VWCC) where he found his passion in natural and organic foods. He then researched natural foods in the Roanoke area and found Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op; this name would later be shortened to Roanoke Co+op. He was hired as a grocer, quickly moved to a cashier, cross trained across all departments, and within a year became the Assistant Manager of Roanoke Co+op Downtown. Kody sports a jack-of-all-trades mentality and is excited to be back in the co-op environment!
Kate Jenkins, Outreach Coordinator
Kate Jenkins is a Virginia native who grew up in Concord, about 15 minutes east of Lynchburg. Kate resides off Rivermont Avenue with her fiance, Erik, and rescue dog, Indie. Kate is an avid cyclist, gardener and backyard chicken keeper. Kate holds a Bachelor of Science from Longwood University and brings over 15+ years of sales, marketing and customer relationship management experience to our team. She is a long-time advocate of the growth and revitalization of downtown Lynchburg and enjoys making an impact in her community. Kate was brought on by the Grassroots Board of Directors to ramp up the store’s marketing and outreach efforts leading up to the store’s first day of operation.
The Board of Directors
Grassroots Local Market is governed by a Board of Directors, elected by the co-op membership. Board members are unpaid, and serve a three-year term. The Board meets regularly, and its chief function is provide oversight and ensure that Grassroots is fulfilling its mission and abiding by its values.
Ashley Kershner is the Executive Director of Downtown Lynchburg Association. Ashley was named a 2016 “Top 20 under 40” by Lynchburg Business Magazine, and has created numerous award-winning marketing campaigns including “Lynchburg is for Locavores” for the Lynchburg Community Market and the “This is Lynchburg: Welcome Home” video, in collaboration with the Lynchburg Office of Economic Development. In her time as the Marketing Coordinator for Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, she created Food Truck Thursdays and Movies in the Park, and she has been involved in fundraising efforts for Endstation Theatre Company, Grassroots Local Market, and the Academy Center of the Arts. She has also served on the Young Professionals of Central Virginia and James River Arts Council boards.
Dan Hague is a serial entrepreneur, founding several successful companies and restoring commercial and residential properties throughout downtown Lynchburg. He is a downtown Lynchburg resident, and is active in the neighborhood historic society. Dan is a long time proponent of local, natural and organic foods going back to a health crisis in 1984, having experienced personally what a natural diet can do in restoring and maintaining good health. Dan has been chair of the Grassroots steering committee (and now Board of Directors) since its inception, helping guide its rapid transition from concept to near reality at an accelerated pace.
Dave Poole is a business owner downtown with 30+ years of experience in restaurants and rehabilitation. His interest in downtown (here in Lynchburg and Staunton) has been enhanced by service to non-profit and community organizations along with volunteer and service club membership. He is a mechanical engineer, with extensive experience in HVAC systems, restaurant development and construction. He brings a broad spectrum of skills and history in small business development and start up. Most recently, he is the owner of the downtown restaurant Depot Grille. Dave is passionate about serving on Grassroots board of directors as this much needed project will bring good/healthy, reliable foods to downtown and further the vibrant community.
Gary Morris is the owner of GME Medical Supply, Inc. in Lynchburg, Virginia. In business for 18 years, he has adapted to changing market trends to better serve his customers. As a native of Lynchburg, Gary feels the local population should be served by local providers. In addition to Grassroots Local Market, Gary sits on the board of directors for the Central Virginia Alliance for Community Living, a local non-profit providing services for the elderly and adults with disabilities. Gary believes that ‘being part of a community means taking an active role in the community’.
Jennifer lives with her husband and two children in a historic home on Rivermont Avenue, where they enjoy their chickens, goats and a large garden. She is an entrepreneur with more than 15 years of experience in social and environmental sustainability. Her company, Strategic Sustainability Consulting, provides support for organizations as they seek to integrate social, economic and environmental considerations into their planning decisions. Jennifer has served on multiple non-profit Boards in the past, serving both in "at large" positions as well as in elected positions. She currently serves as the President of the James River Council for the Arts and Humanities, where she is responsible for guiding the organization to fulfill its mission of promoting public art in the local communities.
Stephanie Atkinson is a New Jersey native and 4th generation small business owner. She currently owns four specialty retail shops in the downtown area utilizing a combined 12 years of experience in managing, merchandising, planning, and marketing. Understanding that a successful ‘shop local’ experience involves community partnership, Stephanie has leveraged her businesses to promote Lynchburg organizations. Believing that organic growth is the key to a uniquely successful Downtown, Stephanie carries over 40 local artisans allowing her commercial spaces to be a springboard for their growth. As someone who listens to customers each day she knows that shoppers are moving away from ‘big box’ chains and would love the challenge to help shape an independent market. Her passion is providing a real shopping experience with unique products and a personal interaction.
Tremayne Edwards is a graduate of Liberty University, where he studied English Literature and Fine Arts. Following his education, Tremayne became employed with the City of Lynchburg's Parks and Recreation Department. In this position Tremayne worked with all ages and backgrounds in the Lynchburg Community, helping to make active and educated citizens through programs promoting social equity, health, and wellness. Tremayne is currently employed with the Academy Center of the Arts as their new Box Office Manager. Outside of his professional career, Tremayne serves as a Board of Directors for Grassroots Local Market, Improv Instructor/participant with Lynchburg Parks and Recreation, community volunteer to various causes, and nanny to all.