2021 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!

Maryan Isack

Maryan Isack is a recent alumna at the University of Southern, Maine where she graduated cum laude with her B.S in Health Sciences and a double minor in Food Studies and Holistic and Integrative Health, in May of 2020. Maryan has had several years of involvement regarding food justice work as early as the age of 14. She has previously been involved in several of Cultivating Community youth programs such as the Youth Growers program, Grown Intern, and Food Warriors program throughout her high school days. Maryan has also been a former youth participant in NESAWG's 25rd, 26th, and 27th past annual conferences. Maryan continued to further her passion for being involved in food systems organizations by becoming a Research and Food Policy intern for the Cumberland County Food Security Council during her last year as an undergrad student, where she was able to assist the Cumberland County Food Security Council to increase food access for vulnerable people in our region by working with various networks to strategize, initiate, innovative solutions to hunger by advocating, sharing information and resources, and taking collective action. Furthermore, she was able to assist the organization with their Closing the Hunger Gap with Local Food Initiative, which is designed to map and assess the ways local food is being used to create greater food access for vulnerable people. Maryan is continuing to maximize her impact in the food systems world as she is now a graduate student at the Friedman School for Nutrition Sciences and Policy at Tufts University, where she is pursuing her Master's degree in Nutritional Sciences and Policy. Maryan has a strong passion for food security and dismantling health disparities, through the field of nutrition. Maryan plans to go into the health care/public health field by attaining her Registered Dietician credentials where she hopes to continue to advocate for food justice and food security for a healthier tomorrow where food will be seen as medicine and a human right.

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).

Francesca Gallo

Francesca is a program coordinator based in Providence, RI with experience in the fields of community development, food systems, design and the arts, political campaigns, education, and animal welfare. Francesca is a systems thinker, artist, and relationship-builder committed to systems transformation through deep listening, grassroots leadership, antiracism, and the shifting of power to communities. Francesca currently serves as a member of the DEI Advisory Committee at Urban Greens Co-Op, a Grant Reviewer for the Northeast SARE Technical Committee, and a member of the Rhode Island Farm to School Collaborative’s Education/Garden working group.

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.

John Wang

Over the past 15 years, John has committed himself to the work of The Food Project (TFP) – youth development, sustainable food systems change, deep work rooted in community. He is also an anchor circle member of a national youth and food justice organization called Rooted in Community (RIC) that supports regional and national gatherings for and led by youth to learn from each other, and build solidarity in the food justice movement. John hopes to bring the wisdom that he's gained from working in partnership with youth and a depth of experience in imagining, implementing, and iterating food systems change.

Kayleigh Mazzocoli

I’m Kayleigh and I am from the East Coast but living in Alaska. I work in tourism and events and I have a passion for the outdoors and good food. Every day I aim to focus on combining my work and hobbies to create sustainable food systems for everybody while ensuring we all have a good time in the process!

Lisa Watts

Lisa Watts manages communications for the Rhode Island Food Policy Council. She has recently returned to Rhode Island after 25 years in Ohio and North Carolina. She has worked as a magazine editor and nonprofit communicator on missions ranging from public health to STEM education to greenways. When not at her desk, Lisa loves to be outdoors on a run, bike ride, or walking her two mutts.

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.

Michael Rozyne

Michael Rozyne is founder and evangelist of Red Tomato, a regional food hub based in Providence, RI that sources from 40 mid-sized fruit and vegetable farms and distributes to supermarkets. In 1986, he co-founded the fair trade food company Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative. He is project manager for the Farming & Food Narrative Project, a 5-year social science research project aimed at effective communications with a public audience.

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.

Nina Wolff Landau

Nina Wolff Landau is the Program Associate of Research & Evaluation for the Rhode Island Food Policy Council where she helps advance the Council's mission to build a more resilient and just food system. Nina leads the Council's evaluation work, including RIFPC’s annual stakeholder survey and evaluations of our food access pilots. They also take on secondary research projects on topics related to food policy, food justice, and more. Nina is committed to fighting for mutual liberation and is active in environmental and social justice movements in Providence, Rhode Island. She can often be found baking, making Shrinky Dink jewelry, and spending time with her partner and their puppy.

Onika Abraham

Onika 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.

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.

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.

Thea Upham

Thea Upham moved to Providence in 2004 to attend Johnson & Wales University and graduated with a degree in Food Service Entrepreneurship with a concentration in Sociology. She has spent the past 15 years working with food in different capacities — as a chef, farmers market vendor, and farm hand, and now non-profit staff — and has always been mindful of linking her work to the larger local food system. She firmly believes that the decisions we make about what we eat and where it comes from can have great impacts on the health and welfare of our local community. She is currently the Director of Programs & Operations at Farm Fresh Rhode Island, and Vice-Chair of the RI Food Policy Council, where she is able to use her business degree in combination with her experience out in the field to support growers, food producers and community members across Rhode Island.

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.