2020 Conference Planning Committee

The It Takes a Region Conference Planning Committee assists with:

  • Recruitment for Call for Proposals and conference attendees
  • Shaping the program: Reviewing sessions, input into plenaries
  • Helping to plan pre-conferences, caucuses and other programming
  • Connect us to local vendors (photography, childcare, growers, food producers) and sponsors

All Conference Planning Committee members get a free conference registration and are featured here.


Thank you to this year's participants for all your hard work!

ANNA Gilbert-Muhammad

Sis. Anna Muhammad is a backyard gardener that began gardening based on a request from her husband. After realizing that gardening assisted with lowering their food costs and provided some additional income, Sis. Anna began studying gardening more intensely. As a past Board Member of Gardening the Community in Springfield, MA, she began learning more about organic growing while serving her neighborhood at the same time. Sis. Anna is also a member of the Massachusetts Northeast Organic Association for 5 years and she currently works for NOFA/Mass as the Food Access Coordinator and Webinar Coordinator. She also graduated from their Beginning Farmers Program. Sister Anna wants to see all residents of the Mason Square Area and all communities in Massachusetts have the access they deserve to fresh, wholesome food and to assist all that wish to grow food in their homes.

Annalina Kazickas

As a Sr. Program Associate with the Wallace Center, Annalina is honored to work across multiple projects that support the development of local and regional food systems throughout the country. Currently, her main focus is developing and coordinating the Food Systems Leadership Network, a national peer learning community that connects current and emerging leaders, strengthens individual and collective leadership capacity, and fosters collaboration across communities. Prior to joining the Wallace Center, she spent two years living in Cape Town, South Africa where she first got involved in local food systems by working with a local food and farming initiative to develop and implement one of the city’s first Community-Supported Agriculture programs. Outside of work, Annalina enjoys being outdoors, going on long runs, meeting new people, and experiencing new cultures.

Eva Agudelo

Eva Agudelo is the founder of Hope’s Harvest RI. Since 2008, she has worked with beginning farmers, restaurants, retailers, farmers markets, non-profits, and hunger relief agencies, to improve community food security and bring about a food system that works for everyone. Eva started the National Incubator Farm Training Initiative through the New Entry Sustainable Farming Project, served as a FINI program officer at Wholesome Wave supporting incentive programs at farmers markets across the U.S., and most recently, was the Assistant Director of Programs at the Rhode Island Community Food Bank, administering federal nutrition programs and supporting Rhode Island’s statewide network of food pantries and meal sites. She holds an M.S. from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University and is a member of the Rhode Island Food Policy Council (RIFPC).

Jamie Christian

Jamie Christian is the Executive Director and founder of Lettuce Turnip the Beet Sustainability Collective©(2020) and co-founder and Executive Director of its predecessor Lettuce Turnip the Beet CSGA©(2015). LTBCSGA began as a school garden initiative and has bloomed into an organization that provides sustainability and regenerative agriculture education to schools and communities in South Western PA. Jamie teaches “attainable sustainability and agriculture” methods that illustrate how to use easily obtainable materials to build, cultivate, and sustain a beautiful life. She is a lifetime lover of food, agriculture, and the environment. In 2017 Ms. Christian moved on from a 15 year career in finance to the fulltime operation of LTBCSGA . She has continued her education through certification programs include Master Naturalist, Master Gardener, permaculture, mycology, solar and alternative energy, and biomimicry. LTBSC's current programs are Little Sprouts (birth-5yr), Farming Friends (K-8), and Sustainability Sleuths (3-8). BLOOM (Building Lives Outside of Our Military), a therapeutic and vocational transition program, will launch in the spring of 2021 and provide services to military veterans. She is also the co-director and co-creator of The Metavasi Project (a collaboration with The School of Mindful Arts, Pittsburgh PA) , a program that assists at risk middle school students with a successful transition to high school. Jamie is an advocate of education in sustainability, mindfulness, and farm to cafeteria/ farm to school programs for all pre-primary – secondary schools, her future endeavors are focused on changing education policy to support these initiatives. Jamie is a single mother of 2 boys (Christian 11yr and Crosby James 1yr), 2 dogs and a rabbit, she resides in South Park PA. She loves being a mom and teacher, meditation, cooking, gardening, music, dance, reading, the outdoors, and writing curriculum to share with her boys and students.

Jen James

Jen James has been working in non-profits since 2000. She's worked in farm-based organizations including The Food Project, Farm Aid and Codman Community Farm. Her passion and her strength is found in supporting others to do their best work. Returning to The Food Project as Managing Director allows her to combine her skills in leadership, group facilitation, organizational development and strategic thinking to foster organizational sustainability.

Lexi Neelis

This Rhode Island native has always been a foodie and after her first trip to a farmers’ market as a wee 20something year old, she became hooked on the idea that it should not be an out of the ordinary experience for anyone to get food from their home state. Eventually it clicked that she could spend her time solving the systemic barriers that prevent this experience and Lexi went back to school to study how to do that. Lexi graduated from University of Rhode Island in 2018 with a BS in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. While earning her degree, she worked with the Rhode Island Food Policy Council as Research and Evaluation Fellow and at the URI Hunger Center as part of the SNAP Outreach team. She has also worked as a regional food systems capacity building consultant, a farmers’ market welcome table manager, barista at a fair/direct trade coffee shop, a work study CSA member, and a restaurant server. Her multifaceted involvement with Rhode Island’s food system has given her a wide understanding of the specific needs of farmers, food buyers, and the varied needs of eaters from different socioeconomic backgrounds. Lexi is focusing her career around decentralizing food systems and strengthening local foodways. The definitions of food sovereignty and food security fuel her work and these values are at the core of her projects as the current Wholesale Access AmeriCorps VISTA at Farm Fresh Rhode Island. When not advocating for food justice, Lexi can be found adventuring around coastal New England or, more often, standing at her kitchen island in the west side of Providence, photographing her mise en place.

Lucecita Cruz

Lucecita Cruz is a Queer Anarchist Latinx farmer, organizer and food justice advocate from the Puerto Rican Diaspora that lives in New York City. They are fighting to protect front line communities who are affected by food injustice and climate change. They have organized with inter-generational BIPOC Queer and Trans folks around gender, race and food. Luz organizes in a way that combines, art, food and activism to better understand our current conditions and develop ways to help fix them. They believe in the liberation of Puerto Rico and of all peoples from their oppressors.

Nessa Richman

Nessa J. Richman, MPP is the Rhode Island Food Policy Council’s Network Director. She leads the Council in achieving its mission to promote an equitable, economically vibrant, and environmentally sustainable food system in Rhode Island. She works closely with the Council’s 25 volunteer members, state agencies, non-profit leaders, and other core partners to build coalitions that align resources, promote good food and agriculture policy, and execute high-impact projects and programs that fill critical gaps. Prior to joining the Council, Nessa founded and directed, Brightseed Strategies, a consulting firm that worked on national projects related to increasing healthy food access for low-income households, increasing capital access for food systems enterprise and infrastructure, and building institutional markets for locally produced, harvested, and manufactured food.

Ruth Goldman

Ruth’s 30 career spans the environmental, youth development and experiential education fields, both in the philanthropic and non-profit worlds. Her consulting practice focuses on critical environmental issues including climate change, food systems, green infrastructure, sustainable communities, and the role of urban youth in the emerging green economy. Ruth is the Consulting Program Officer at the Merck Family Fund for the Urban Agriculture and Youth Leadership program, a position she has held since 2011. Prior to this, she held contracts with the Barr Foundation and The Funders’ Network for Smart Growth and Livable Communities as well as numerous non-profits. Ruth holds a BA in Comparative Religion and Education from Dartmouth College and an M.Ed. from the University of Toronto. In 2014, she was elected to the School Committee in Newton, MA and now serves as Chair.

Sarah Turkus

Sarah Turkus is a farmer and organizer in RI and southeastern MA. She has been a coordinator of the Young Farmer Network of Southeastern New England, our local chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition, since 2014. Now entering her second decade as a farmer, Sarah is currently the farm director at Osamequin Farm, a fledgling cooperative farm and educational non-profit in Seekonk MA.

Tarshire Battle

Tarshire Battle is a native of Bostonian, has residing in Pawtucket, RI for 12 years. She is a self- taught artist, using this medium as catalyst for change for subgroups of people in our population such as the homeless, battered women, youths and returning veterans, who have experienced trauma. Over the years, she has collaborated with nonprofit organizations using art social change vehicle to address pressing social such as homelessness, mental health and addiction. She developed an art drop-in center while working at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans, collaborated with Boston’s MFA for guided tours of traumatized female veterans and two annual art shows showing casing talented homeless artist. She currently is employed as a contracted DOC Mental Health Discharge Planner, assisting individuals re- integrate into the community. She is the founder of Roots 2Empower, formerly Restoration Urban Farm of New England, a social enterprise to provide business and agriculture training for formerly incarcerated individuals. She holds a M.P.A from Northeastern University, a M.A. in Mental Health Counseling from Boston University and is an herbalist and Master Gardner.

Tatiana Abatemarco

Abatemarco is an interdisciplinary environmental and feminist researcher, focusing on sustainable food systems and using humanist and qualitative approaches. Her current work is on participant action research for rural food justice. She is also interested in the role of eco-arts in contributing to environmental consciousness. She received her doctorate in Natural Resources with a focus in Environmental Thought and Culture from the University of Vermont in 2011. She has a Masters of Arts in Philosophy from the University of Minnesota (2006) and a Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies and Philosophy from Green Mountain College (2004). Prior to joining Bennington College, Abatemarco was a lecturer in the Environmental Program at the University of Vermont, a Scholar in Residence at Green Mountain College, and an Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies at Paul Smith’s College. Her work has been published in Gender, Place & Culture and the forthcoming edited volume, Pragmatists and American Philosophical Perspectives on Resilience. Abatemarco is a Center for Whole Communities alumni (2016); has worked as a USDA grant evaluator for Adirondack Farm to School (2015-2016); and served as the President of the Board of Trustees for Northern Lights School (2015-2016). She is a founding member of the North Country Food Justice Working Group. Abatemarco is a visiting faculty member at Bennington for the 2019-2022 academic years.

Trixie Wessel

Trixie Wessel grew up on and around farms in northern New York State and now works as Operations Manager at Cricket Creek Farm, a small scale dairy farm and creamery in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Prior to coming to Cricket Creek, she worked as the CSA, Wholesale, and Transportation Logistics Manager at Red Fire Farm in Montague, Massachusetts. Trixie received her undergraduate degree in Government and Public Policy from Smith College and she is a current student at Vermont Law School, where she is working towards her Master’s degree in Food and Agriculture Law and Policy. Trixie’s life-long passion is preserving small scale agriculture and building community around farms, farmers, and food systems in rural areas. When not at the farm or working on school, Trixie coaches alpine ski racing for Northampton High School, and at Berkshire East Mountain Resort. She also enjoys cooking what’s in season, and spending time with her dog Roomba and her two farm cats, Sebastian and Runty.