It Takes a Region Conference - 2015

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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
Bio coming soon!

Molly Anderson
Bio coming soon!

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
Bio coming soon!

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.

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.

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.

Stacia Clinton, RD. LDN., Is the Northeast Regional Director and on the National Leadership Team for the Healthy Food in Health Care Program, a national initiative of the global non-profit organization Health Care Without Harm.  She guides local and sustainable institutional purchasing and program development for the Northeast region. Stacia serves as the Project Lead for the Contracted Food Service Action Project, an effort of the network Farm to Institution New England.   Nationally she serves as an advisor to the organization on nutrition and educates on the impact of diet on individual and environmental health.   In addition to this, Stacia has extensive experience in the field of food service and clinical nutrition management with past positions in small and large scale health care facilities.

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.

Jessie Deelo is the Director of Sustainable Food Supply Chains at the Green America Center for Sustainability Solutions. She is responsible for the strategic direction and program management of cross-industry collaborations seeking to restore robust and reliable non-GMO supply chains for grains, meat, and dairy, while simultaneously enhancing organic and sustainable food systems. Jessie has 20 years of experience in sustainable agriculture and food systems work. In addition to her background in starting and managing commercial vegetable farms, she designed organic agriculture research and outreach programs at Virginia Tech, developed an incubator farm program in northern California, and consulted with farm start-ups in the Midwest. She currently serves on the steering committee of the Massachusetts Beginning Farmer Network. Jessie holds a Master’s Degree in International Agricultural Development from the University of California-Davis.

Derek Denckla
Bio coming soon!

Dennis Derryck
Bio coming soon!

Laura Edwards-Orr
Bio coming soon!

Jeff Farbman
Bio coming soon!

John Fisk
Bio coming soon!

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
Bio coming soon!














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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Karen Spiller lives in Eastern Massachusetts. She 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 has worked with diverse stakeholders, including community residents and businesses, state and local agencies, policy makers, corporations, foundations, community-based organizations, and healthcare providers. Karen also serves on the NESAWG Steering Committee.

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.

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.

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.