It Takes a Region Conference - 2015

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Keynote Speaker Shirley Sherrod
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Presenter, Staff, & Steering Committee Bios

Onika Abraham is a NESAWG Steering Committee member. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. A founding member of Black Urban Growers, Onika has had her hands deep in soil for years.  She has trained at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She is currently the Director of Farm School NYC.

Peter Allison is the Network Director for Farm to Institution New England (FINE), a six-state collaboration working to strengthen the food system by increasing use of New England-grown and processed food by institutions. Peter’s organizing approach draws on 30 years of experience running innovative sustainability initiatives with business, government and non-profit entities. His food systems work began as a farm to school coordinator at his kid’s school in Hartland, VT. So jazzed by the experience, he founded the Upper Valley FTS Network in 2008, which led him to FINE in 2011. Peter has an MA in environmental policy from Tufts University. He has dabbled in gardening, raising chickens, pigs and bees, but mostly leaves that to the pros.

Lazaro Alvarez Andrade, 55 years old, is originally from Mexico City and has been in the United States working as a dairy farmworker for the past three years. This is his first time living in the United States and he has no family here. Mr. Alvarez has a bachelors degree in Business Administration from the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Mexico City. In Mexico, he worked for a  pharmaceutical company as a manager. He came to the United States after being laid off. Mr. Alvarez is  married and has two grown children who are in college in Mexico City. When Mr. Alvarez first came to the United States he began working in the dairy industry as a milker. He has learned to milk and work with large livestock at five different NYS dairy farms—both large and small. He is a member of the Workers Center of Central NY and active in their May First Agricultural Committee, fighting for dairy worker's rights. "I think we should be considered human beings so that we are taken into consideration and better-prepared so that the new generations aren’t treated the way we are currently."

Molly Anderson recently started a job at Middlebury College in Vermont, where she is coordinating a new Food Studies Program and teaching. She is especially interested in the right to food, sustainability metrics, pathways to a food system transition, and power in the food system. She engages with food systems work from the local to international levels through writing, research and partnerships.

Jim Barham is an Agricultural Economist for USDA’s Rural Development agency. He joined USDA in 2007 where he has worked to improve marketing opportunities for small and mid-size producers through a combination of research, technical assistance, and grant support. He has presented research and published a number of articles on regional food hubs, food value chains, local food distribution, and foodservice procurement.  He is also currently on the management team of USDA’s “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” Initiative – a USDA-wide effort to support the development of local and regional food systems.

Andy Barker is the Social Mission Strategy & Policy Manager at Ben & Jerry’s. He works on projects that bring the Company’s core values to life, especially in the areas of Fair Trade and Non-GMO sourcing, food policy, equity and democracy. In recent years, he has represented Ben & Jerry’s in a variety of multi-stakeholder efforts to strengthen and grow non-GMO supply chains for grains, meat, and dairy in the Northeast and the US. Andy is based in Burlington, Vermont, and his favorite flavor is Boom! Chocolatta.

Hilary Baum is a producer of educational programs and public awareness campaigns. She is project director of the American Sustainable Business Council’s national Rethinking Fracking campaign and coordinator of Chefs for the Marcellus, which mobilized chefs and restaurant owners, purveyors and producers to protect New York from fracking. Founder of Baum Forum, a pioneering series of conferences on critical food, farming and energy issues, Hilary serves on GrowNYC/Greenmarket’s governance committee and the NYS Sustainable Business Council’s steering committee. She is coauthor of Public Markets and Community Revitalization.

Amanda Behrens manages the Maryland Food System Map Project for the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future, which aims to geographically assess and improve the food system in Maryland. Previously, she worked with an organic farm and a growers cooperative in Montana. She holds a master’s in public health and an M.S. from Tufts University.

Linda Berlin has been with the University of Vermont (UVM) since 1992. She is currently the Director of UMV's Center for Sustainable Agriculture, and is an Extension Associate Professor with a focus on food and food systems issues.  Her primary research and outreach interests relate to food access and Farm to School.  She holds a M.S. in human nutrition from Cornell University (1990) and received her Ph.D. in the area of  “Agriculture, Food, and Environment” from Tufts School of Nutrition Science and Policy (2006). Her work includes co-facilitating the Vermont Sustainable Agriculture Council and co-chairing the Vermont Farm to Plate Food Access Cross-cutting Team.

Ali Berlow is the founding executive director of the non-profit, Island Grown Initiative. She is the co-publisher of Edible Vineyard magazine and author of two books from Storey Publishing: The Food Activist Handbook - Big & Small Things You Can Do to Help Provide Fresh, Healthy Food for Your Community, and The Mobile Poultry Slaughterhouse: Building a Humane Chicken Processing Unit to Strengthen Your Local Food System. She lives between southern Vermont and Martha's Vineyard, MA.

Andy Bichlbaum Notorious mischief-makers the YES MEN (Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno) are an activist duo known for their outrageous interventions at business events, on the internet, television, and in the streets. Armed with nothing but thrift store suits, the Yes Men impersonate big-time corporate evildoers in order to draw attention to their crimes against humanity and the environment, helping to raise awareness and build public pressure for change. These irreverent tactics (“identity correction”) have a proven track record of hijacking the public dialogue worldwide about the issues of the day – free trade, global capitalism, and now the end of a livable planet, and have called out such heavyweights as the World Trade Organization, Dow Chemical, Exxon Mobil, and Halliburton, as documented in their previous award-winning films, The Yes Men and The Yes Men Fix the World. Now, The Yes Men Are Revolting adds to their hit list some of the biggest climate criminals, hilariously targeting such planet-plundering entities as Shell Oil, Gazprom Oil, and the US Chamber of Commerce. As a result of their two decades of work, the YES MEN have discovered that tackling hard-boiled issues with huge dollops of laughter is a powerful tool for change, and now they want everyone to get involved in the fight.

Gary Bloss is a NESAWG Steering Committee member. He lives in Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania. He has over 30 years experience in the field of community planning and landscape architecture, including watershed conservation, greenways, open space, and trails. He has co-managed an organic vegetable farm and CSA since 2006.

Joanne Burke is the Thomas W. Haas Professor in Sustainable Food Systems at the University of New Hampshire. In this role, Dr. Burke provides leadership to engage the University community in efforts to advance sustainable agriculture, food choices, nutrition, food justice and social well-being on campus, and at the state and regional levels. She is one of the authors of the 2014 A New England Food Vision. As a faculty member in the UNH Nutrition Program in the College of Life Science and Agriculture, she teaches food system related courses and has integrated sustainable food systems theory and practice into the UNH graduate level dietetic internship.

Erica Campbell is the Vermont Farm to Plate Network director. The Farm to Plate Network is a collective impact collaborative consisting of over 350 organizations working together to strengthen Vermont’s food system and reach the goals of the statewide food system plan. Prior to this job, Erica led the development of the Regional Food System Plan for Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. She is involved with several other planning processes and networks, including American Planning Association’s Food Interest Group (FIG) leadership team, Food Solutions New England, and her local planning commission. She also founded a local food council in 2007.

Kate Clancy is currently a food systems consultant, Visiting Scholar at the Center for a Livable Future Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota (she resides in University Park, Maryland). She is the deputy director of the USDA-funded five-year Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast (EFSNE) systems project in the Northeast United States, and engaged with many initiatives including Agriculture of the Middle and It Takes a Region. She was a member of the Institute of Medicine committee that recently published a framework to assess the health, environmental, social, and economic effects of the US food system.

J. Stephen Cleghorn, PhD is "Farmer Emeritus" at Paradise Gardens and Farm, a 50-acre farm in Jefferson County, PA. He founded it in 2005 with his late wife Dr. Lucinda Hart-González and farmed it until 2013, at which point he leased to tenants who are expanding upon what he and Lucinda started. Since 2010, Dr. Cleghorn has been educating and warning the public about the public health and environmental impacts of unconventional drilling for shale gas. His story appears in two films – Triple Divide and Dear President Obama: Americans Against Fracking in One Voice. After his wife died in 2011, Dr. Cleghorn placed a conservation easement on his farm that honors her legacy by setting it aside for organic farming, forever. The easement also declares certain Rights of Nature that prohibit any activity like drilling for shale gas that might harm natural communities and ecosystems present at the surface and below his farm.

Lynn Colangione is a NESAWG Steering Committee member. She lives in West Newton, Massachusetts, and is the CFO for a family-owned retail hardware business. Lynn has a MS in Agriculture, Food, and the Environment from the Tufts School of Nutrition, Science and Policy. She has worked in the wholesale food industry as a transportation/logistics coordinator, an import/export trader, and a salesperson. After serving as the first Director of Development for Red Tomato, a regional wholesaler, Lynn served as treasurer on its board of directors for six years.

Norm Conrad is the Northeast Regional Director for the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT) based in Forty Fort Pennsylvania. NCAT conducts the USDA ATTRA project of sustainable agriculture and energy information. Over the past two years he has worked with the national and regional non GMO project teams as a knowledge support member on non-GMO feeds and crop production issues. Norm has over 30 years experience as an agronomist and farms hay and grain crops in the central Susquehanna Valley.

Jerry Cosgrove combines a farming background, legal experience and a long history of nonprofit work and public service. Currently he is affiliated with Ag-Visory, LLC and he consults on a range of agricultural, conservation, farm transfer and rural development issues. His clients include Equity Trust, Grow NYC, Hawthorne Valley Farm, Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation, the Western New York Land Conservancy and other individual farm businesses and farm families in the Hudson Valley. He has written a number of publications including Your Land is Your Legacy, An Estate Planning Guide for Farmers and Ranchers; Agricultural Economic Development for the Hudson Valley; and Drafting Conservation Easements for Agriculture.

Derek Denckla is an impact investor, strategic advisor and serial social entrepreneur. He advises for-profit and non-profit companies for sustainable success. He has directed Slow Money NYC since 2011 – a community of over 1000 members linked through networking events that aim to increase capital and investment in sustainable food and farm business, such as our successful Food + Enterprise Summit.  Denckla manages Foodshed Investors NY, the first angel investor network dedicated to funding small, local and sustainable food business.  He provides private equity and sustainable business consulting through his firm, Denckla Projects, advising and investing in such companies as Egg Restaurant,, Brooklyn Food Works, Red Hook Community Farm, Local Farms Fund, Blue Marble Organic Ice Cream, Greenbelt Condos and several others. Denckla writes and speaks widely on impact investing in sustainable food and farms.

Niaz Dorry is the Coordinating Director for the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). NAMA has been leading the work to make sure fisheries and seafood are included in the conversations, planning, and implementation of strategies for just and sustainable food systems. She is based in Gloucester, Mass., the oldest settled fishing port in the US. Niaz has been working to advance the rights, economic sustainability and ecological benefits of community based fishermen for over 20 years. Time Magazine named Niaz as a Hero For The Planet for this work. She’s truly believes we are “Stronger Together," which is why she serves a diverse, cross-cutting set of organizations in various capacities including the National Family Farm Coalition, Granite State Fish,, American Sustainable Business Council, New England Grassroots Environmental Fund, and Food Solutions New England.

Laura Edwards-Orr is the Executive Director of Red Tomato. She began her career in family farm activism at the Cambridge, MA based non-profit Farm Aid where she staffed and managed a national farm crisis hotline, developed a web-based platform to  connect thriving farmers with farmers in need and penned a monthly consumer advice column “Ask Laura.” Laura has worked as a free-lance writer and consultant to many organizations working to promote the role of farmers within their core values. At Red Tomato, Laura spent seven years learning the ins and outs of the entire operation before stepping into the role of Executive Director, in partnership with Founder Michael Rozyne, in 2015. As her first sales initiative, Laura helped to develop Red Tomato’s Freshness Initiative which brands short supply chains based on a 24 hour turnaround from farm to retail shelf through mainstream distribution channels. Since then, Laura has also been instrumental in developing Red Tomato’s most recent program – a direct store/school delivery program that brings together farm-fresh produce from five states to 40+ retailers and institutions in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

Jeff Farbman, Wallace Center Senior Program Associate, has had a diverse set of work experiences, each of which has given him skills he calls upon daily in his Wallace Center work. He manages communications for all Wallace Center initiatives, and is a key member of the National Good Food Network (NGFN) team. His NGFN webinars are a popular and well-respected technical assistance service, and he is deeply involved in studying food hubs across the country. Previously, Farbman was a programmer of a Navy simulator, and database-backed dot-com website. He has also been a teacher (high school physics), a photographer and a farmstead cheesemaker. He has combined his love for tech with his love for good food, and his desire to live sustainably in his work for the Wallace Center. He graduated cum laude from Brandeis University with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology.

John Fisk currently serves as the Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, based in Arlington, Virginia. Under his leadership the Wallace Center has emerged as an innovator in food systems, utilizing an enterprise focused strategy for linking a larger number of people and communities to healthy, green, fair and affordable food.  Prior to the Wallace Center, John worked with Michigan Food and Farming Systems and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Susan Futrell has been involved in food and sustainable agriculture endeavors for over 35 years. She spent 25 years in distribution, sales and marketing with Blooming Prairie Warehouse, a Midwest organic and natural foods wholesale cooperative, and two years with UNFI. She has been Director of Marketing for Red Tomato since 2005, involved in marketing, brand development and the Eco fruit program. She has been part of the Domestic Fair Trade Association since it's founding, and co-chairs an IPM Center Organic-IPM Working Group.

Steve Gilman farmed organically for more than 30 years in the Saratoga, NY area, growing for farmers markets, restaurants, and later a CSA—sometimes wondering why he ever was a poli sci major. Since 2007 he has worked on organic farming and food system initiatives as the policy coordinator for the seven state chapters of the Northeast Organic Farming Association, Interstate Council (NOFA-IC). He also leads the NESAWG Food Safety Work Group.

Ora Grodsky co-founded Just Works Consulting in 2000 to provide organizational development services to mission-driven organizations. Since then she has guided hundreds of groups through successful processes. She received a master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and is a graduate and former academic dean of the New England School of Acupuncture. Ora lives in the Boston area with her husband, dog, cat, and (when she is lucky) her two young adult daughters and occasionally their friends.

Vern Grubinger is an extension professor at the University of Vermont. Vern has worked with farmers for decades on issues related to sustainable food production. He is an Extension specialist and coordinator of the Northeast SARE program.

Joan Gussow, Mary Swartz Rose Professor Emerita and former chair of the Columbia University Teachers College, Nutrition Education Program, lives, writes, and grows organic vegetables on the west bank of the Hudson River.  Long retired, she is still co-teaching her course nutritional ecology at TC every fall.  She is author, co-author or editor of five books including The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, This Organic Life and her latest book, published in November, 2010,  Growing, Older:  A Chronicle of Death, Life and Vegetables.

Kaitlin Haskins is the Communications Coordinator for Farm to Institution New England. She has been working in the food system since 2009. Prior to joining the FINE team, Kaitlin coordinated projects for Upper Valley Farm to School Network and marketing for FarmPlate. She has also served on the board of directors at her local food co-op. A native of Michigan, Kaitlin graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis with a bachelor’s degree in Arts Administration and Music. While at Butler, she co-founded the Butler Campus Farm. Kaitlin lives with her husband and their critters in Vermont. Visit for more.

Elizabeth Henderson farmed at Peacework Farm in Wayne County, New York, producing organically grown vegetables for the fresh market for more than 30 years. She is a member of the board of directors of NOFA-NY, co-chairs the policy committee, and writes on sustainable agricultural issues.

Clare Hinrichs is a rural sociologist working at Penn State University. She is interested in how interdisciplinary research, teaching and practice can converge to address food systems sustainability transitions and foster social justice. She is one of four faculty leads for Penn State’s new university-wide Food Systems Program and Student Farm Project. She currently serves as the “Quality of Life” representative on Northeast-SARE’s Administrative Council.  In 2013, she was President of the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society, a professional interdisciplinary association committed to making ethical considerations central in the study of food and agriculture issues.

Becca Jablonski is a Special Assistant Professor of Food Systems and Community and Economic Development in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. She has served as a Fellow with the USDA's National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a Visiting Scholar with the USDA's Economic Research Service, an Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County, and as part of a small team commissioned by the USDA's Agricultural Marketing Services to build a methodological framework to evaluate the economic impacts of food hubs. Becca’s research and extension efforts focus on evaluating rural/regional economic development initiatives and policies, identifying strategies to improve agribusiness performance and enhance regional food systems. She is particularly interested in assessing the impacts of alternative food system initiatives and strengthened rural-urban linkages to farmers, supply chain participants, and rural economies. Becca holds a PhD and B.A. from Cornell University and an MS from the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies.

Diana Jerkins has been involved in multiple roles with educational institutions, state and federal governments and non-profit organizations in supporting the advancement of sustainable agriculture in the US and internationally. Currently, she is the Research Director for the Organic Farming Research Foundation in California, leading their efforts to provide direct funding to researchers and farmers and ranchers to conduct scientific research and educational advancements for organic producers. For eleven years, Dr. Diana Jerkins was a National Program Leader with the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA). She managed competitive programs in the areas of mitigation and adaptation to climate change, managed ecosystems, small and mid-sized farm prosperity, rural development. Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Jerkins directed the Center for Regenerative Studies (CSRS) at Cal Poly Pomona in Pomona California. CSRS is an educational and residential intentional community where students learn and live in a sustainable environment based on internal building, energy, water, and food systems.

Hugh Joseph is an Assistant Professor (adjunct) at Tufts University in the Agriculture, Food and Environment Program of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. He currently teaches a graduate course on Food Systems and Sustainable Diets. Via ISED Solutions he also leads a national technical assistance program targeting refugee beginning farmer programs. His current research focuses on (a) instructional methodologies for refugee beginning farmers, (b) quality attributes of direct-marketed produce, (c) food systems theory and practice, and (d) sustainable dietary guidance.  He spearheads Tufts ‘Sustainable Diets Working Group’ that is developing a framework-based process to guide and promote consumer-based food-system change via sustainable diets.

Ann Karlen is Executive Director of Fair Food, founded in 2000 to build the local food economy by connecting regional family farms to the Philadelphia marketplace. In 2003, she opened the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market, Philadelphia’s first local food grocery store. Ms. Karlen is Faculty Director of the University of Vermont’s Food Hub Management Certificate Program, and is currently a member of Philadelphia’s Food Policy Advisory Council.

Ruth Katz is NESAWG's Director. She has worked on farm and food issues, in education, advocacy, program development and fundraising roles for over twenty years.  She co-founded Just Food, a NYC organization focused on direct markets, urban farming, food education, farm and food justice, and training-of-trainers.  She served as its executive director from 2000-2006.  She's also worked in staff and consulting positions with Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Farm Aid, Karp Resources, Mothers & Others for a Livable Planet, the United Nations Development Program and the Rauch Foundation. Ruth lived in Gabon, Central Africa, for three years as a Peace Corps volunteer, an experience that kindled her interest in these issues. She has a master's degree in International Development and Social Change from Clark University.

Tom Kelly is the founding director of the UNH Sustainability Institute and the Chief Sustainability Officer. Dr. Kelly collaborates with faculty, staff, students and community members in the development of policies, programs and practices related to the Sustainability Institute’s four educational initiatives in biodiversity, climate, culture, and food. Dr. Kelly has been working in the field of higher education and sustainability for more than twenty years in the US and abroad. Current activities include working with UNH colleagues and many related partners on projects across the university’s curriculum, operations, research and engagement (CORE) activities, including developing regional approaches to sustainable food through Food Solutions New England.

Sophia Kruszewski is a policy specialist at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), a grassroots advocacy organization based in Washington, DC.  Sophia leads the coalition's work on food safety, focusing in particular on FDA's new rules under the Food Safety Modernization Act. She has also worked on conservation, climate and energy, and crop insurance issues. She holds a law degree from Vermont Law School and a B.S. in environmental science from the University of Michigan.

Kathy Lawrence is a NESAWG Steering Committee member. She lives in Pine Plains, New York. Kathy is program director for School Food FOCUS, a national collaborative leveraging the procurement power of large urban school districts to make school meals healthier and strengthen regional food production. A national consultant and educator on sustainable ag and food systems, she was executive director of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and founding director of Just Food (NY).

Tracy Lerman is NESAWG’s Communications Manager. She has worked in the sustainable agriculture movement since 2003, as an organizer, policy advocate, and researcher. She previously worked at the Organic Farming Research Foundation as the National Organizer, mobilizing organic farmers on federal policy issues, and as a project consultant for Hudson Valley-based food and farming organizations. Tracy has a master's degree in Community Development from the University of California, Davis. She lives in Kingston, NY, and serves as the volunteer Co-Convener of Poughkeepsie Plenty Food Coalition, an anti-hunger, grassroots advocacy organization.

Arthur Lerner is a NESAWG Steering Committee member. He lives in New London, Connecticut. He has been active in the fields of sustainable agriculture and food systems since he was a student at Hampshire College in 1991. He has participated in projects to grow farms and gardens in both rural and urban areas, and endeavors to connect environmental stewardship with social justice and public health. He co-founded FRESH New London in 2004.

Amy Little is NESAWG’s Policy Director. She has been organizing for social change on the local, state, and national levels for more than three decades, doing community organizing, coalition building, legislative and electoral campaigns.  She founded the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, has been a Senior advisor for members of Congress, was national staff for Citizen Action/US Action and Progressive Action Network, and coordinated national field work on three Presidential campaigns. Amy lives in the Hudson Valley of New York.

Allen Matthews has worked for years in strengthening local food and farming systems by developing alternative markets for farmers and promoting the use of sustainable agriculture practices. Prior to becoming the Director of Sustainable Agriculture at Chatham University in 2011, he was Farm Viability Coordinator at the Center for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Vermont after completing the CommunityFARM initiative with PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture. His work with the family farm has been highlighted nationally, in a publication “The NEW American Farmer. For the past five years, Matthews has worked with farm/forest owners to develop forest grown shiitakes as a viable crop for diversified farms.

Ken Meter is one of the most experienced food system analysts in the U.S., integrating market analysis, business development, systems thinking, and social concerns. Meter holds 44 years of experience in inner-city and rural community capacity building. His local economic analyses have promoted local food networks in 108 regions in 38 states and Manitoba. He developed a $9.85-milllion plan for local food investment for the state of South Carolina, and produced statewide food system assessments for Alaska, Mississippi, Indiana, Ohio, and Minnesota. He has written several food hub feasibility studies. Meter was co-author of the upcoming USDA Agricultural Marketing Service Toolkit for measuring economic impacts of local food development, and serves as contributing editor to the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development.

Qiana Mickie is the CSA Network Manager at Just Food, a non-profit that supports community leaders in their efforts to increase access to locally grown healthy food in New York City neighborhoods, especially in historically marginalized communities. She is also active in advocating for sustainable and equitable food/farm policies on the local, regional, and federal level. In addition to being a Steering Committee member of NESAWG, she is an Interim Coordinating Committee member of the Alliance for Food and Racial Equity (AFRE) and serves on the Diversity Committee of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Qiana plans to earn her Food Hub Management Certificate from the University of Vermont in October 2015. She is one of only 25 students in the inaugural cohort and the program is the first of its kind in the country. Qiana also has BS in Marketing from Hampton University.

Josh Mumm is the Volunteer and Outreach Manager for Common Cause New York. Josh is a native of Central New York who has been working with community, labor, and faith-based organizations on progressive campaigns and public participation for several years. Shortly after moving to Buffalo, NY, in 2009 Josh began working for the Buffalo, NY, Jobs with Justice affiliate and was responsible for member communications, coordinating fundraising programs, and deepening engagement and participation of the group's individual and organizational members. He then spent two years as a political and legislative organizer for a large public worker union in Buffalo and New York City. In the fall of 2014, he temporarily moved back Upstate to run a field program for a State Senator which reached over 75,000 doors in less than two months. Josh received his Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Ithaca College, in Ithaca, New York, while publishing scholarly research and an ASA Resource Manual for Teaching Work and Family Sociology to undergraduates.

Carolyn Mugar
Bio coming soon!

Abbie Nelson is the Education Coordinator for Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont (NOFA VT) and Director of VT Food Education Every Day (VT FEED), a statewide farm to school project. Abbie has been working in Vermont schools linking food, farm, and nutrition education for nine years. Her role has focused on connecting school food service personnel with local farmers, helping farmers with agricultural education on their farms, training school food service personnel on using local foods, and teaching school staff how to introduce new foods to students. One of her current interests is helping farm to institution stakeholders identify their core food system values, and then developing strategies to act on them. Abbie has been a masters level teacher for over 25 years in regular and special education, and worked on a diversified organic farm for several years.

Riley Neugebauer is a Farm to Campus Project Coordinator for Farm to Institution New England (FINE), and lives in midcoast Maine.  She serves as the Project Coordinator for the Maine Food for the UMaine System initiative and has worked with many others to develop the Farm to Campus Network of New England.  She also serves on the Farm to Institution Maine Steering Committee and the Maine Scaling Up Workgroup that focuses on better understanding the needs for technical assistance, capital, and resources to assist farms in selling to more wholesale markets.

Curtis Ogden is a senior associate with the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC) based in Boston, through which he provides collaborative capacity building support to social change leaders, organizations, and networks. Curtis has worked on several food system initiatives, including Food Solutions New England, Vermont Farm to Plate Network, Rhode Island Food Policy Council, Connecticut Food System Alliance, Boston Collaborative for Food and Fitness, and the Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture and Sustainability

Anne Palmer is program director in the Food, Communities and Public Health Program at the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University. She is also a Consumption team leader for the Enhancing Food Security in the Northeast project.

Jeff Piestrak was directly engaged in food production and supply chains for many years. Now he plays a supporting role through his outreach work at Cornell University’s Mann Library and consultancy/leadership activities with community and regional food systems groups. That includes helping those groups find, use, and share information relevant to their work and advocacy. He is a leader on the NESAWG Research and Assessments Working Group and the Northeast Food Knowledge Ecosystem (NEFKE) project, currently working on WealthWorks value chain development, which builds and protects community assets in an inclusive and systems-oriented manner.

George Reistad Since joining the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute as the Assistant Policy Director in August 2013, George has helped empower and educate grassroots stakeholders on numerous sustainable agriculture and food system policies, including the 2014 Farm Bill, the Food Safety Modernization Act, multiple federal conservation programs, and several State of Wisconsin policies surrounding local foods. George has helped plan the annual Cover Crops Conference hosted by Michael Fields and the Natural Resources Conservation Service of WI. He also currently coordinates communications functions for the Community and Regional Food Systems Project and co-chairs the Diversity Committee of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, where he is working closely with other NSAC members and staff to build a racial equity lens into the Coalition's strategic planning, policy-setting process, and policy issue committees.

Nessa Richman As Research and Development Coordinator for Farm to Institution New England (FINE), Nessa Richman manages the Shared Metrics Project. The Project provides data-based information across the marketing chain from production to consumption and across three institutional sectors: schools, colleges and hospitals. Nessa has been dedicated to building economically vibrant, socially equitable, and environmentally sustainable food systems that benefit agricultural producers, healthy food enterprises, and consumers of all socio-economic levels for over 20 years.

Diana Robinson is the Campaign and Education Coordinator of the Food Chain Workers Alliance since February of 2012. The daughter of immigrants from Colombia and the Dominican Republic, she previously worked at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, which represents over 23,000 grocery store workers in New York. At Local 1500, Diana played dual roles as a worker organizer and the Food Policy Coordinator of the Building Blocks Project for Good Food, Good Jobs, and Good Health. She was a leader of the union's 2011 campaign to organize Target workers in Long Island. Diana graduated from Queens College with a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science. Diana is a member of the Brooklyn Food Coalition governing board and correspondent for the Spanish language radio show Comunidad y Trabajadores Unidos.

Sarah Rocker is a PhD candidate in Rural Sociology in the department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education at Penn State University. Her interests lie at the intersection of sustainable agriculture, food systems and community development. Her research focuses on the use of social network analysis as a tool for understanding social and community dynamics in regional food value chains. Sarah is a member of the NESAWG Northeast Food Knowledge Ecosystem group and a founding steering committee member for the North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN).

Steven Rosenberg is Executive Director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust and Sr. Vice President of Scenic Hudson, Inc. Scenic Hudson has conserved 35,000 acres, including more than 95 family farms, and has created more than 40 parks and preserves along the Hudson River.  Steve is leading Scenic Hudson’s campaign to secure New York City’s and the Hudson Valley’s supply of fresh, local food by conserving the region’s most important farmland.  Steve serves on the national board of the Land Trust Alliance. He graduated with honors from the George Washington University law school and received his B.A. from Northwestern University.

Betsy Rosenbluth is the Project Director for Vermont FEED at Shelburne Farms. As Project Director, Betsy helps provide leadership and coordination to advance the mission of Vermont FEED, a farm to school project of NOFA-VT and Shelburne Farms. Betsy also provides backbone support to the Vermont Farm to School Network and coordinates the Northeast Regional Steering Committee of the National Farm to School Network.

Annie Rowell comes to her position as Vermont First Coordinator at Sodexo after over three years working as a Program Manager at the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, Vermont.  Her work in Hardwick focused on creating new markets for Vermont farms by creating a line of local fresh cut and frozen vegetable products, focusing specifically on Vermont and regional wholesale markets. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Middlebury College in 2011, majoring in Political Science. In addition to her role at Sodexo, Annie is a member of the Craftsbury Town Planning Commission, Secretary of the Craftsbury Village Improvement Society, Stage Manager for the Craftsbury Chamber Players, and cellist in the Porter Brook String Trio. She also has her Vermont Real Estate license with Peter D. Watson Agency, based in Craftsbury, Vermont.

Michael Rozyne is the founder and executive director of Red Tomato, a decentralized food hub that represents 40 Northeast fruit and vegetable growers. Before that, Michael was the co-founder of Equal Exchange. Michael also serves as chair of the NESAWG Steering Committee.

Johanna Rosen is the Community Organizer and Communications Coordinator for Food Solutions New England. Jo also works with Equity Trust, developing a program to address land tenure issues facing urban agriculture and supporting the Farms for Farmers program. She has over 15 years of farming experience and returned to her home state of Massachusetts after 11 years in Philadelphia, where she co-founded and was Director of the Mill Creek Farm, a non-profit educational urban farm. Jo is on the Board of Grow Food Northampton, is a senior fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program, and served on the Mayor’s Food Policy Advisory Council in Philadelphia, as well as other boards. She holds a BA from Smith College and a Master of Environmental Studies from the University of Pennsylvania with a Certificate in Land Preservation.

Kathy Ruhf is currently NESAWG Senior Fellow. She coordinated NESAWG from 1992-2012 during which she led various food system projects and wrote about the “food movement” and regional food systems. Kathy is also Senior Program Director at Land For Good. She lives and works out of western Massachusetts.

Caitlin Salemi, a Program Assistant at the Local Economies Project (LEP), supports the organization’s long-term planning process, program design, and grants administration and portfolio development. Prior to joining LEP, Caitlin was Coordinator of the NYC Food Forum where she co-produced a Mayoral candidate forum on food issues and supported the Coordinating Committee’s efforts to advance racial equity within the Forum. Previously, as General Coordinator, Caitlin organized the activities of the member-led Food Systems Network NYC. Caitlin holds a Master of City and Regional Planning degree from the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University.

Jill Slater, Executive Director of the Lower Hudson Long Island Resource Conservation & Development Council, works toward facilitating distribution of regional produce via barge down the Hudson River. She recently produced a summit for stakeholders in the Hudson Valley to advance farmland protection and farm viability over the next decade. Jill is also a sustainable food systems consultant who is passionate about building community around food.

Karen Spiller is principal of KAS Consulting, providing mission-based consulting with a focus on resource matching and strategic planning for health and equity-focused initiatives. She works with diverse stakeholders, including community residents and businesses, state and local agencies, policy makers, corporations, foundations, community-based organizations, and healthcare providers. Karen serves as the Massachusetts Ambassador of Food Solutions New England and also serves organizations in various roles that include Sustainable Business Network, Greater Boston Sickle Cell Association, and NESAWG as a Steering Committee member.

Anim Steel is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Real Food Challenge, a campaign to re-direct $1 billion of college food purchases towards local, fair, and sustainable sources within 10 years.  Prior to Real Food Challenge, Anim led national initiatives at The Food Project in Boston and was a consultant with Economic Development Assistance Consortium.  Anim holds a B.A. in Astrophysics and History from Williams College and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.  He is the recipient of a Prime Mover Fellowship for movement-building and an Echoing Green award for social entrepreneurship.  Born in Ghana, Anim grew up in both West Africa and Washington, DC.

Heidi Stucker has worked in various aspects of agriculture and food systems in Massachusetts for the past decade. She has worked as a farmer and manager of a Community Supported Agriculture program, and has consulted on non-profit community food projects in the greater Boston and Lawrence areas. She completed master’s studies at Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning programming, where she focused on food system planning. Her research and projects focused on healthy food financing policy, food enterprise opportunities in Boston neighborhoods with limited health food outlets, and New England food business incubator infrastructure and programming. She is currently working with the Metropolitan Area Planning Council as a lead planner in Massachusetts’ food system plan ( that is shaping a vision and recommending state food policy improvements and advancements. 

Dorothy Suput is the founder and executive director of The Carrot Project. The Carrot Project is changing our food and agriculture economy by helping farmers and food processors extend their commitment to sustainability to their business practices. Dorothy’s has a BS from Purdue University and a Master’s degree from Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning program where she focused on sustainable agriculture and non-profit management.

Peter Ten Eyck is the president of Indian Ladder Farms, Inc., an apple orchard, storage, cider mill and retail farm market located two miles west of Voorheesville, NY.  He is a graduate of Cornell University and lives on the farm with his wife Rose-Marie. He is the tenth generation of the family living in the Capital District and the farm is in its 99th year of growing pears, blueberries, and raspberries as well as over 40 varieties of apples. Besides his farming duties Mr. Ten Eyck is appointed to the Apiary Industry Advisory Committee and New York’s Apple Research and Development program by the Commissioner. He is also is on the advisory board of the New York Center for Agricultural Health and Medicine. Other past services include 15 years on the Board of Education of the Voorheesville Central School District, former Member and Chairman of the Deans Advisory Council of the New York State College of Agriculture and Life Science at Cornell, and Director of the New York State Agricultural Society. In 2001 he was named “Trustee Emeritus” after 12 years of service as a Trustee of Cornell University.

Alison Tocci is NESAWG’s  Conference Organizer. After 30 years in the publishing and non-profit sectors in NYC, Alison Tocci now lives in central Massachusetts where she is president of Meet the Future, LLC, which provides strategic consulting, business plan development and sales strategy for small businesses and start-ups.  She and her husband own the Bull Run, a farm-to-table restaurant and entertainment facility in Shirley, Massachusetts that has been in her family for 70 years. The property features award-winning seasonal menus in 7 different dining rooms with two concert venues where local, national and international acts are presented weekly.

Tlaloc Vasquez is the Northeast Regional Coordinator of the Real Food Challenge. Many of Tlaloc's formative life experiences are related to growing up as part of a large Mexican-American family in and around the neighborhoods of Long Beach, CA. He brings a wealth of organizing experience from his tenure at the University of California Los Angeles, where he received his B.A.'s in International Development Studies and Chicana/o Studies. While in school, Tlaloc involved himself as an active advocate of student/labor solidarity, Chicana/o Studies, Latina/o students in higher education, environmental justice, Raza Studies for K-12, transfer students, undocumented immigrants, and food justice. Partly as a product of how and where he was raised, Tlaloc feels passionately that access to real food is a necessity, not a privilege.

Jennifer Wilkins, PhD, RD, is the Dana E. Falk Professor of Practice in the Department of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health at Syracuse University. From 1993 to 2014, she was a senior extension associate in Cornell University’s Division of Nutritional Sciences. Jennifer developed the nation’s first regional food guide – the Northeast Regional Food Guide – and recently updated it, MyPlate – Northeast. While a Kellogg Food and Society Policy Fellow she began writing "The Food Citizen," a monthly column for the Albany Times Union, which ran from 2006 to 2011. She has held leadership positions in several nutrition and food systems organizations.

Mark Winne was the executive director of the Hartford Food System (1979–2003), a Connecticut nonprofit food organization, where he developed the City of Hartford Food Policy Council (1993) and the State of Connecticut Food Policy Council (1998). He co-founded the Community Food Security Coalition, was a Kellogg Foundation Food and Society Fellow, a Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Visiting Scholar, and a member of the U.S. delegation to the 2000 Rome Conference on Food Security. He is the author of Closing the Food Gap: Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty and Food Rebels, Guerrilla Gardeners, and Smart Cookin’ Mamas.