• 33 E. Midland Ave., #214, Paramus, NJ 07653
  • 201.614.4414

Governance & Administration

Meet the Trustees, Officers, and Staff of The Food Brigade Inc.

Our Board of Trustees and Officers

Karen DeMarco  

President & Co-Founder

Karen DeMarco, a licensed New Jersey real estate broker, is currently a Broker-Associate with Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Tenafly, New Jersey. Before her career in real estate, she worked as Operations Manager and Compliance Officer for the Bergen County branch office of a New York City stock brokerage firm, overseeing more than 1,500 client accounts and ensuring compliance with SEC regulations by over 40 brokers in the office.

Since 1999, Karen has also owned and operated several business with Food Brigade co-founder Carmine DeMarco, in the areas of government website software, Internet marketing and advertising, print publications, public relations, and political consulting. She has served as President of the Edgewater Chamber of Commerce, Executive Director of the Edgewater Business Alliance, and Secretary of the Dumont Chamber of Commerce.

Karen's history of volunteerism began in 1994, when she joined her future husband in volunteering with the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless (now Family Promise of Bergen County) at their Emergency Family Shelter in Englewood, NJ. Over the years, Karen and her family members continued their work for the homeless in Bergen County, serving as congregational coordinators for the EFS and staffing the walk-in dinner program at the county shelter in Hackensack, NJ. Karen is also Founder and past Chair of the Dumont Borough Stigma-Free Committee, a municipal government committee working to remove the stigma from mental illness so those in need will feel free to seek and obtain help. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees of NJ 211.

RECOGNITION: Karen's work in the fight against hunger and food insecurity has been recognized multiple times over the course of The Food Brigade's short existence. 2021: (1) Karen received a medal as a top honoree of the New Jersey State Governor's Jefferson Award for Public Service (referred to as the "Nobel Prize for Public Service"). The award's website states: "It is hard to imagine that any one individual has done more for the hungry in New Jersey, or has helped feed more residents on such a massive scale, than Karen DeMarco." (2) Karen was the First-Place Winner of the New Jersey Realtors® Statewide Good Neighbor Award, and was also the regional winner of the Greater Bergen REALTORS® Good Neighbor Award. (3) Karen was recognized by U.S. Congressman Josh Gottheimer as a Hometown Hero Award winner. 2022: (1) Karen was awarded the international Daily Point of Light Award by President George H.W. Bush's Points of Light Foundation. (2) That recognition was followed by her being named to the Points of Light Foundation's 2022 Inspiration Honor Roll. 2023: (1) Karen again received national recognition as a winner of the National Association of Realtors® Good Neighbor Award. (2) Most recently, she was the winner of the AARP Andrus Award for Community Service in New Jersey, with the organization stating that Karen "embodies the spirit and the essence of our founder, Dr. Ethel Percy Andrus".

Karen is often called upon by the news media for insight and comments about the state of food insecurity in New Jersey, and sought by other organizations as a presenter for seminars and conferences.

A lifelong resident of New Jersey, Karen is a former gymnast who opened her first business, a gymnastics academy for children, at the age of 19.

Karen currently serves on The Food Brigade's Fundraising, Donor Relations & Grants Procurement Committee and Governance & Nominating Committee.

Catherine Guinard  


Prior to joining the Board of Trustees, Cathy Guinard began volunteering with The Food Brigade during the summer of 2020 - sorting through donations, assisting on distribution days, and delivering to facilities and individuals who could not pick up at the physical location. Raised in Paramus, Cathy has always resided in Bergen County. After graduating from Paramus High School and William Paterson University, she was hired as an accountant by William Kay & Associates, CPAs in Wyckoff, NJ, and has worked there since 1996.

Cathy has volunteered with select local animal rescue groups and for Best Friends Animal Sanctuary based in Utah. Volunteering with Best Friends provided the opportunity to assist in various large scale adoption events and rescues. Cathy has traveled to the Mid-West to assist with a puppy mill rescue, and was deployed twice to Houston, TX for disaster relief assistance with aiding pets after hurricane Harvey.

Since 2005, Cathy has sung with Pro Arte Chorale (based in Ridgewood, NJ), and has been the manager for the non-profit chorale since 2015. She lives in Hackensack with her husband, Jason.

Cathy currently serves on The Food Brigade's Finance & Audit Committee.

Douglas C. Herrick  


Born and raised in Paramus, New Jersey, Doug and his wife Bina Dugan now reside in Maywood. Doug has three grown children, two grandchildren, and a dog named Cooper. Doug has been a Certified Residential Real Estate Appraiser for the past 21 years and is the owner of The Herrick Group, LLC.

Doug is a former President of the Maywood Rotary Club and currently serves as the Executive Secretary. He is a graduate of the BergenLEADS class of 2021. He served on the Maywood Borough Council from 2020-2022 and established the Volunteer Advisory Board and served as the President.

A former chef, he worked in the food service industry for over 20 years in gourmet and corporate catering. Doug was the Foodservice Director for the Bergen County Community Action Program where he ran the kitchen in the homeless shelter in Hackensack, the Bergen County Head Start feeding program and the SPICE Culinary training program. Doug continues to put his culinary skills to use through several Rotary events from fundraising to feeding people at the County shelter and raising money and food for local pantries.

Doug currently serves as the Secretary of the Board of Trustees for The Food Brigade and volunteers weekly as a “Road Warrior” delivering food to those suffering from food insecurity. He also supports Feeding America, Bergen Volunteers, and is a Rotary International Paul Harris Fellow.

Doug also currently serves on The Food Brigade's Communications & Public Relations Committee and is Chair of the Fundraising, Donor Relations, & Grants Procurement Committee.

Mohamed Ifraz Ilyas  


Branch Manager, Cross Country Mortgage, Rochelle Park, NJ;
Officer, Sri Lankan Muslim Association of New Jersey

Gertha Kelly  


Professor, Touro University, New York, NY

Hugo Palacios  


Realtor, Keller Williams Village Square Realty, Ridgewood, NJ

James Silvestri  


James Silvestri is Global Tax Director of impact.com, a senior executive whose areas of focus and experience include Global Multinational Taxation, Treasury, and Corporate Governance. A Certified Public Accountant in the State of New Jersey, Jim earned a BA degree in Accounting/Economics from Rutgers University, an MS in Taxation from Seton Hall University, and a Certificate in Mergers & Acquisitions from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.

Results oriented and highly experienced in such industries as telecom, technology, pharma, manufacturing, startups, and spin-offs, Jim has served as International President of the Tax Executives Institute, New Jersey Chapter. Jim resides in Wood-Ridge and Cape May, NJ with his wife Nancy and two daughters.

Jim currently serves as Chair of The Food Brigade’s Finance & Audit Committee.



Carmine DeMarco  

Carmine DeMarco

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As Executive Director, Carmine DeMarco holds overall responsibility for the day-to-day operations of The Food Brigade. He is the key management leader overseeing all aspects of the organization's operations, including volunteer management; fundraising; donor relations; grants procurement; inventory management and control; food sourcing and procurement; operations; client case management; bookkeeping and accounting; taxes and regulatory compliance; communications; public relations; and social media and Internet presence.

Carmine DeMarco earned a Juris Doctor (JD) degree at Boston University School of Law in 1987. He began his professional career as a commercial litigation attorney with the law firm Day Pitney LLP (then Pitney Hardin, in Morristown, New Jersey), and subsequently was a litigation associate at Cole Schotz PC in Hackensack before opening his own private practice. Retiring from the practice of law in 2000, Carmine has since operated several businesses with Food Brigade President Karen DeMarco, in the areas of government website software, Internet marketing and advertising, print publications, public relations, and political consulting. He also served as a Councilman in the Borough of Dumont, NJ, a member of the Dumont Planning Board and Board of Health, and President of the Dumont Chamber of Commerce. He is co-founder of The Food Brigade, and has served as the organization's Executive Director since September 2021.

Carmine's volunteerism dates back to 1992, when he first volunteered with the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless (now Family Promise of Bergen County) at their Emergency Family Shelter in Englewood, NJ. Over the years, Carmine and his family members continued their work for the homeless in Bergen County, serving as congregational coordinators for the EFS and staffing the walk-in dinner program at the county shelter in Hackensack, NJ. Formerly active in the Knights of Columbus, Carmine was named "Knight of the Year" by Pope Benedict XV Council #2355 in Cliffside Park, NJ for his work on behalf of the homeless.

A member of Mensa® and a classically-trained musician with an undergraduate degree in music education, Carmine enjoys long-distance running and is a Zen practitioner, having taken the Bodhisattva vows in February of 2018. A native of Hudson County, he has resided in Bergen County for over 30 years.

Food Brigade Food Sourcing Coordinator Stella Psihis  

Stella Psihis


Food Brigade Bergen-Central (Dumont) Pantry Managers  

Bergen-Central Distribution Center (Dumont)

Meredith & James Drobinske


Food Brigade Bergen-South (Ridgefield) Pantry Manager  

Bergen-South Distribution Center (Ridgefield)

Maria Strazemski


Food Brigade Hudson-Central (Union City) Pantry Managers  

Hudson-Central Distribution Center (Union City)

Santy & Jimmy Baez