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PDF Knowledge New England Food Hub Network: Exploring Options To Enhance Food Hub Collaboration & Increase New England Farm To Institution Sales
PDF Knowledge Value Chain Strategies for Source-Identified Minimally Processed Produce for the School Market
PDF Knowledge Tech Guide for Food Hubs
PDF Knowledge Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey - Executive Summary
PDF Knowledge Findings of the 2017 National Food Hub Survey
PDF Knowledge A Manager’s Guide to Food Hub Finances - Worksheet
PDF Knowledge A Manager’s Guide to Food Hub Finances
PDF Knowledge Findings of the 2015 National Food Hub Survey
PDF Knowledge Beyond Beauty: The Opportunities and Challenges of Cosmetically Imperfect Produce Report #3
PDF Knowledge Running a Food Hub: Lessons Learned from the Field
PDF Knowledge Overcoming Obstacles to Local Frozen Produce
PDF Knowledge Running a Food Hub Vol 2: Business Operations Guide
PDF Knowledge Food Hub Benchmarking Study 2014
PDF Knowledge FoodWorks - A Vision to Improve NYC's Food System
PDF Knowledge Buy vs Lease Cost Comparison Tool
PDF Knowledge Food Hub Benchmarking Study Report 2013
PDF Knowledge Food Hubs: Solving Local
PDF Knowledge EATING OUR PEAS & CARROTS: Strategies for Expanding K-12 Access to Fruits and Vegetables Through Supply Chain Innovation and Investment
PDF Knowledge Hudson Valley Food Hubs Initiative Research Findings and Recommendations
PDF Knowledge 2013 National Food Hub Survey Report
PDF Knowledge Key Findings from the 2013 Food Hub Survey
PDF Knowledge North American Food Sector: A Roadmap for City Food Sector Innovation and Investment
PDF Knowledge North American Food Sector: Program Scan and Literature Review
PDF Knowledge Intervale Food Hub Producers Manual
PDF Knowledge Great Falls Food Hub Feasibility Assessment
PDF Knowledge Central Indiana Food Hub Feasibility Study
PDF Knowledge Grand Traverse Regional Market Feasibility Study
PDF Knowledge Report on the Olympic Crossroads Meeting
PDF Knowledge The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing
PDF Knowledge Community Economic Development Impacts of the Rutgers Food Innovation Center
PDF Knowledge Central Minnesota Food Hub Feasibility Study
PDF Knowledge RFP for a Food Aggregation Facility Study Project
PDF Knowledge Central Oregon Food Hub Feasibility Study
PDF Knowledge An Annotated Bibliography of Publications and Resources on Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains
PDF Knowledge Food Hubs and Values Based Supply Chains: A Toolkit for California Farmers and Ranchers
PDF Knowledge A Practitioner's Guide to Resources and Publications on Food Hubs and Values-Based Supply Chains: A Literature Review
PDF Knowledge Regional Food Hub Resource Guide
PDF Knowledge Making Good Food Work Conference Proceedings
PDF Knowledge Understanding Local Food Transportation Costs
PDF Knowledge Building Successful Food Hubs: A Business Planning Guide for Aggregating and Processing Local Food in Illinois
PDF Knowledge Direct and Intermediated Marketing of Local Foods in the United States
PDF Knowledge Southern Wisconsin Food Hub Feasibility Study
PDF Knowledge Scaling-up Connections between Regional Ohio Specialty Crop Producers and Local Markets: Distribution as the Missing Link
PDF Knowledge The Common Market Feasibility Study
PDF Knowledge Vital Steps - A Cooperative Feasibility Guide
PDF Knowledge Values-Based Food Supply Chains: Strategies for Agri-Food Enterprises-of-the-Middle
PDF Knowledge Comparing the Structure, Size, and Performance of Local and Mainstream Food Supply Chains
PDF Knowledge Fresh Food Distribution Models for the Greater Los Angeles Region: Barriers and Opportunities to Facilitate and Scale Up the Distribution of Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
PDF Knowledge Values-Based & Value-Added Value Chains in the Northeast, Upper Midwest, and Pacific Northwest
PDF Knowledge Scaling Up: Meeting the Demand for Local Food
PDF Knowledge Innovative Strategies for Meeting New Markets
PDF Knowledge Community Food Enterprise: Local Success in a Global Marketplace
PDF Knowledge The Distribution of Local Food Through Consumer Cooperatives in the Northeast
PDF Knowledge Food System Infrastructure: Michigan Good Food Work Group Report
PDF Knowledge A California Network of Regional Food Hubs: A Vision Statement and Strategic Implementation
PDF Knowledge Food Hubs: The ‘Missing Middle’ of the Local Food Infrastructure
PDF Knowledge An Investigation into the Workings of Small Scale Food Hubs
PDF Knowledge Regional Food Hub Resources from USDA v1
PDF Knowledge Regional Food Hubs: Understanding Scope and Scale - Preliminary Findings - Public Markets
PDF Knowledge Regional Food Hubs: Understanding Scope and Scale - Preliminary Findings
PDF Knowledge Healthy Food Systems: A Toolkit for Building Value Chains
PDF Knowledge Ready to Grow: A Plan for Increasing Illinois Fruit and Vegetable Production
PDF Knowledge Local Food System Assessment for Northern Virginia
PDF Knowledge Regional Food Hubs: Linking producers to new markets

Conference Speaker Bios

Mark Ames - AQS Management Systems

Mark has over 30 years of experience in Quality Management, including active participation in the ISO Standards development process.

Bradley Austin - Whole Foods Market Southern Region

Bradley has been in the grocery industry for over thirty years. The last ten years he have been with Whole Foods Market, the last three located in the south region covering NC,SC,GA,AL,TN and MS in his current position as coordinator.

Samantha Benjamin-Kirk - USDA Farm to School Lead

Samantha Benjamin-Kirk is the Southeast Farm to School Regional Lead for United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). As a Farm to School Lead, Sam responsibilities extends across eight states: Alabama, Georgia, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi North Carolina, South Carolina, and Tennessee, ensuring State Agencies adhere to all federal rules and regulations associated with USDA Farm to School Program. In addition, Sam provides technical assistance and training to state departments, farmers, extension groups, and nonprofit organizations on integrating local food systems into Child Nutrition Programs. 

Erica Block - Local Orbit

Erika Block is the founder and CEO of Local Orbit, which supports the entrepreneurs who are rebuilding local and regional food systems. She is a PopTech Social Innovation Fellow. Prior to Local Orbit, Erika founded an entrepreneurial arts organization, producing cross-sector partnerships in the US, Great Britain and South Africa. She also led the renovation of a vacant building in Detroit into a theater, gallery and bar where she worked with vendors to source local food for events. Throughout her career, Erika has created collaborative environments that facilitate learning and action. Erika comes from a family of fruit peddlers, meat processors, restaurant owners and wholesalers.

Sean Buchanan - Black River Produce

Sean is the Business Development Manager of Black River Produce and evaluates long term expansion and reorganization for the company. Over the last 35 years Black River has become a leader in New England local food distribution focusing on conventional and organic produce, specialty products, sustainable meats, and local cheeses. He evaluates investments and internal business planning that intertwines branding, marketing, and strategic growth within the company.

Sean Buchanan graduated with a B.S. in Environmental Science from Virginia Tech in 1998. He soon ventured into cooking and focused his attention on modern American technique with regional ingredients.

Sean wrote and filmed Vermont Public Television's six episode series "Feast in the Making", connecting viewers to their local farmers, producers, and chefs. In 2008 Sean became the Executive Chef of Solstice at the brand new Stowe Mountain Lodge. At this luxury hotel Sean proved that farm to hotel can be profitable and that high volume is not a constraint to local foods if you are committed and willing to work one-on-one with producers and distributors.

He is is an advocate for local growers, producers, and small businesses that focus on building Vermont's agricultural community through its food system. Sean regularly sits on various state and nonprofit panels to help develop new innovations in small-scale agriculture.

Donna Burke-Fonda - USDA AMS

Donna graduated in 1981 from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science in Human Nutrition and Food Science. She has spent all of her United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) career working for the Agricultural Marketing Service. Her work in the field was as an Agricultural Commodity Grader, starting in 1989 with the Florida citrus inspection program, and later with the Richmond, Virginia field office. Donna came to work at USDA headquarters in January of 1999. She spent 12 years helping to manage the USDA inspection of military rations. Donna is currently the Assistant Section Head for the Specialty Crops Inspection Division’s Audit Programs Section, where she oversees the audit services provided to the fresh and processed fruit and vegetable industry.

Sharon Cech - Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College

Sharon Cech is the Regional Food Systems Program Manager at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College (UEPI), where she works on several strategies to strengthen regional food systems. A primary focus of this work explores regional food hubs as an avenue for supporting small farmers and local food economies that can also improve access to nutritious foods in underserved communities. Sharon has a BA in Environmental Studies from Bard College and an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA.

Ela Chapin - VT Farm Viability Program

Ela Chapin is Director of the Vermont Farm Viability Program, a program of the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board that provides business planning and technical assistance to farm and food businesses. She has been instrumental in facilitating expansion of the program, improving and creating new partnerships and driving significant quality improvement of program services over the past six years. Under Ela’s leadership the program has expanded professional development trainings for agricultural service providers in Vermont, including dozens of trainings and networking events, as well as designing and implementing a two-day National Farm Viability Conference in 2013 and a two-day statewide Access to Capital Conference in 2010. 

Carol Coren - Farm to Family Foods & Cornerstone Ventures, LLC

Carol Coren has been assessing and addressing food system and food security issues since she began advising microenterprise entrepreneurs seeking loans food businesses. She saw that her clients were affected by a food system that discounted locally grown foods, created market access barriers for small family farmers and prevented city residents from purchasing foods grown near their neighborhoods. She also witnessed how supermarket and grocery store closings accelerated economic declines in neighborhoods and small rural towns, hurt families and affected public health. As a member of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture, she became an advocate for improving food security and access in rural as well as urban settings.. Her early efforts focused on academic channels available to her through her work as a Community Development Specialist at the Oregon and New Jersey Food Innovation Centers. More recently, she has worked through Cornerstone Ventures’ business development initiatives. These have led to a St. Louis Food Hub Model linking a Food Distribution Enterprise to a local food focused Fields Foods grocery and, soon, to nearby year round greenhouses. For Coren and her partner Jeffrey Randol, this vertical model assures access to markets for local growers and food producers and access to fresh foods for consumers. It is set in a food desert and represents more than a business philosophy; it’s part of a deeply rooted social purpose that seeks to make a difference in rural as well as urban communities. 

In recent years, she has written on Compulsory Wine Cooperatives of Wisconsin, on New Opportunities for New Jersey Community Farmers Markets, and presented at EPA Brownfield Conferences on Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has also advised a number of businesses involved in food production, processing technologies, hydroponics, and aquaponics.

Carol maintains an active presence on the east and west coasts of USA. Recently, she has been as an advisor to FOOD ROOTS NW, to a NELA FOOD HUB in CA, to Veterans to Farmers in Denver and to ECO FARM COLLECTIVE which grows organic foods on brownfields using controlled environment agriculture technologies.

Tom Cosgrove - Farm Credit East

Tom Cosgrove has worked for the Farm Credit System for 16 years, including 7 at Farm Credit East. He works on some of Farm Credit East's larger lending relationships and business development efforts with Farm Credit East's 21 branch offices, and also coordinates Farm Credit East's efforts working with food hubs. Prior to his banking career, Cosgrove worked for the US Senate Committee on Agriculture Nutrition and Forestry as a staff member for Patrick Leahy. A graduate of Cornell University with an MBA from the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, Cosgrove grew up on dairy farm in central New York.

Nancy Creamer - Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Nancy Creamer is a Distinguished Professor of Sustainable and Community Based Food Systems at NC State University and a Co-Director of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (CEFS), which includes a 2000 acre sustainable agriculture research, outreach, and teaching facility. Dr. Creamer’s area of specialization includes farming systems research, organic production systems, and community-based sustainable local food systems. She provided leadership for a statewide North Carolina initiative engaging many diverse sectors and partners, resulting in a statewide action guide: From Farm to Fork, a Guide to Building North Carolina’s Sustainable Local Food Economy, and has spearheaded the development of many of the strategic initiatives identified in the report. She is currently PI for a USDA AFRI grant “NC Growing Together” focused on scaling up local food supply chains of meat, dairy, seafood, and produce in North Carolina. Dr. Creamer was appointed by the Governor to the legislated NC Sustainable Local Foods Advisory Council in 2009, and was Vice Chair of the Council. In 2012, CEFS received one of the highest awards given by USDA and was awarded a Secretary’s Honor Award for “Assisting Rural Communities in Creating Prosperity so they are Self-Sustaining, Repopulating, and Economically Thriving”. 

Jennifer Curtis - Firsthand Foods

Jennifer is the Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Firsthand Foods, a woman-owned, Durham-based meat company that markets and distributes pasture-raised, local meats throughout the state. Jennifer’s interest in the meat industry stems from her 25+ years working to build sustainable food systems and help small-scale farmers address economic and environmental challenges. Prior to founding Firsthand Foods, Jennifer worked for seven years as a consultant to the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at NC State University where she developed and directed the Centers' NC Choices initiative, a project that advances small-scale, pasture-based meat production and supply chains. And as the principal of Curtis Consulting, she’s had the privilege of working with a wide range of diverse clients throughout the country, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, Gerber Products Company, and the World Wildlife Fund. Jennifer has a Masters in Environmental Management & Policy from the School of Public Health at UNC-Chapel Hill.

Peggy da Silva - Consulting for Community

Peggy da Silva, MPH has over 30 years of experience in education and training, and is adept at helping organizations develop what she calls their “people infrastructure.” Drawing on the best theories in education, management and public health, she leads managers to understand how to motivate and retain staff people.

Peggy has created staff training systems for Head Start, WIC, Veritable Vegetable and Common Market Philadelphia, among others. Her skills include big-picture thinking on organizational development, and writing innovative and effective educational activities for specific groups of adult learners. She understands food hubs, and is passionate about supporting their work in building a sustainable food system.

Kate Danaher - RSF Social Finance

Kate Danaher is a Senior Lending Associate at RSF Social Finance. At RSF, Kate focuses on business development under the umbrella of Food and Agriculture. In particular, Kate is working to deploy RSF’s lending products to help build more resilient regional food systems in the U.S.

Leona Davis - Community Foodbank of Southern Arizona

Following almost a decade of work in the field of urban environmental sustainability in Tucson, AZ, Leona Davis joined the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona as Education and Advocacy Coordinator in 2010. Her love of healthy people, plants, and land brought her to food banking, where she has the honor of working every day with incredible individuals towards the common goal of building healthy, resilient communities. Leona has been dedicated not only to promoting local and regional food security and food systems, but also to building the national network of food banks dedicated to addressing the root causes of hunger. The Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona brought this emerging national network together in Tucson for the first time in September 2013 with the Closing the Hunger Gap conference. 

Dennis Derryck - Corbin Hill Food Project

Dennis Derryck is Professor of Professional Practice at The Milano School of International Affairs, Management and Urban Policy at the New School for Public Engagement. He has over 30 years of experience in both research and executive management positions, and he has been involved in three successful start-ups. His most recent start-up, now entering its fifth year, is the Corbin Hill Food Project (CHFP), a mission and values driven social venture that provides fresh food to those who need it most and with a long-term vision of sovereignty.

At Milano, he has taught a series of courses that cross programs and schools while creating, through collaboration, a range of social ventures at the New School. His teams won five Chase Community Development Competitions over an eight-year period, with one team going on to win the grand prize in Global Social Venture Competition (Goldman Sachs Foundation) in London. He has also been awarded a University Teaching Award. He currently is teaching a course on Food Hubs and Value-Based Supply Chains, and an undergraduate course, Introduction to Social Entrepreneurship: The Big Idea.

Despite an array of over 40 publications, he views himself as a practitioner who challenges himself in generating theory through practice. His most recently published article with Nevin Cohen, “Corbin Hill Road Farm Share: a hybrid food value chain in practice,” appeared in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development ( He is the former Chair of WE ACT for Environmental Justice and he is currently Vice Chair of South Bronx Economic Development Corporation (SoBro).

Dennis has a BSc. in Mathematics from Manhattan College, and MSc and PhD in Education Supervision and Administration from Fordham University.

Linda Jo Doctor - W.K. Kellogg Foundation

Linda Jo Doctor is a program officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation in Battle Creek, Michigan. In this role, she helps develop programming priorities, reviews and recommends proposals for funding, manages and monitors a portfolio of active grants, and designs and implements national grant initiatives, place-based work and multi-year projects.

As a member of the Food, Health & Well-Being team, her work focuses on the impact of environmental conditions on health equity. She co-leads the Food & Community Program, an initiative designed to transform food systems and the physical environments in places where children live, learn and play. In Michigan, Ms. Doctor co-leads the foundation’s placed-based work in Detroit focused on creating conditions so vulnerable children and families thrive. 

Previously, Ms. Doctor was deputy director for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Allies Against Asthma Program, housed at the University of Michigan School of Public Health. She also directed the Division of Prevention at the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, where she provided leadership for statewide health promotion and prevention programs and interagency initiatives. She has worked in substance abuse prevention including managing a national training and technical assistance system supported by the federal Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.

Ms. Doctor received her Master of Public Health from Boston University School of Public Health. She received her Bachelor of Science in social work from the University of Cincinnati, College of Community Services.

She has had leadership roles in several professional associations including the Prevention Network and the Association of State and Territorial Health Promotion Directors, and is a member of the American Public Health Association, and the Society of Public Health Education. 

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation, established in 1930, supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, southern Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Helen Dombalis - National Farm to School Network

Helen Dombalis serves as the Policy and Strategic Partnerships Director for the National Farm to School Network. She has researched the role of local and regional food systems in bolstering community economic development and now advocates for expanding access to local food, school gardens, and food systems education. Helen serves as a Policy Co-Chair for the American Public Health Association's Food and Environment Working Group. A native of Raleigh, NC, she received a Master of Public Health and a Master of Social Work from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Laura Edwards-Orr - Red Tomato

Laura Edwards-Orr is Director of Resource Development at Red Tomato, where she launched an innovative pilot with Kings Food Markets in NJ, designed to shorten the supply chain from farm to shelf within 24 hours. Laura also manages strategic planning, fundraising, web marketing and Red Tomato’s internship program.

Todd Erling - Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation

Todd is the founding Chief Operating Officer for Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation (HVADC), whose charge is to enhance the agricultural sector in New York’s Hudson Valley by assisting both new and existing agri-businesses, and supporting public policies that support New York State’s agricultural economy. Todd and HVADC have taken a leadership role in the Hudson Valley’s burgeoning local food movement, which is increasingly meeting the demand for local food from New York City area consumers. These efforts have leveraged over $30 million in project and program funding. This funding has supported various innovative initiatives, including an expansion of the Hudson Valley Food Hub, a public-private partnership to develop an LTL local food distribution network, a USDA Farm to School program that partners local school districts with the Culinary Institute of America and HVADC’s Incubator Without Walls Program that has assisted over 65 growing agribusinesses in the region. Todd’s experience also includes managing a community loan fund portfolio, and providing development financing for public and private housing and community development projects. Todd currently serves as an advisor on agricultural policy to US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, US Congressman Chris Gibson and US Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. 

Micaela Fischer - Michigan State Center for Regional Food Systems

Micaela Fischer is a Graduate Affiliate with the Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems. She is also a Master's student with the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State. Micaela’s current research is focused on food hubs and their role in developing a more diverse and resilient agrifood system. Micaela moved to MSU after five years as an analyst and campaigner focused on agricultural and environmental policy with the Pew Environment Group in Washington, DC.

John Fisk - Wallace Center at Winrock International

John Fisk, PhD, has an extensive history as a national leader in sustainable and equitable food systems work and currently serves as the Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International, based in Arlington, Virginia. Under Dr. Fisk’s leadership, the Wallace Center has emerged as a national force in food systems work utilizing a market-based solutions strategy for linking a larger number of people and communities to “good food”— food that is healthy, green, fair, and affordable.

Prior to joining the Wallace Center, Fisk served as board chairperson and later as Director for Programs and Development at Michigan Food and Farming Systems, a statewide sustainable food systems organization, where he lead work to mobilize values-driven markets for sustainably produced agricultural products. Fisk has provided food systems consulting to several Michigan-based organizations including the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. In his work with the Kellogg Foundation, he provided strategic leadership to the Food and Society Initiative (FAS) as well as grantee support and review and has directed the FAS Networking Conference for six years which has become one of the premiere conferences in the nation for advancing sustainable food systems change.

Fisk is a published author of agricultural research and has written several chapters on sustainable food and farming systems. He has served as a Fellow in the Donella Meadows Leadership Program for Systems Thinking at the Sustainability Institute and was also awarded a C.S. Mott Fellowship of Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University. Fisk holds a PhD in Crop and Soil Sciences from Michigan State University, a Masters in Agronomy from University of Missouri-Columbia and a Bachelor degree in Environmental Studies-Agroecology from the University of California-Santa Cruz.

Kate Fitzgerald - Fair Food Network

Kate Fitzgerald initiated the Food Assistance Program in the Texas Department of Agriculture under Agriculture Commissioner Jim Hightower with a mandate to reduce hunger while supporting a vital family-farm economy. The program's early successes included organizing SNAP (food stamp) certified farmers markets in low-income communities and designing a Farmers Market Coupon Program for WIC participants and the elderly that was a model for the now well-established national program run by the USDA.

In 1993, Kate founded the Sustainable Food Center (SFC) in Austin, Texas, developing programs whose successes continue to inform intelligent, sustainable food policy at the local state and national levels. The SFC's publication of Access Denied in 1995 was one of the first studies to bring widespread attention to the crisis of food deserts in American cities and led to the formation of the Austin-Travis County Food Policy Council.

Fitzgerald has done research on effective food retailing in low-income communities and worked with a North Philadelphia coalition planning a new grocery store with support from Pennsylvania's Fresh Food Financing Initiative.

In Washington, D.C. Kate served as Senior Policy Associate at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition representing more than 40 member groups on 2008 Farm Bill implementation, appropriations and food safety and child nutrition legislation in 2009 and 2010.

In 2010 she became an independent consultant and represents organizations working on sustainable agriculture, public health, and economic development through food enterprises. Her focus is on the development of national policies that work for government, community-based groups and citizens.

Noah Fulmer - Local Orbit

Noah is the former director and co-founder of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, a wholesale food hub that aggregates and delivers produce, dairy, meat and dry goods from 60 local farmers to 120 buyers each year, and is now the director of training and capacity building at Local Orbit. In addition to the food hub, Farm Fresh manages 10 neighborhood farmers markets, offering SNAP incentives and nutrition education programs for families and seniors; a 1,000 person multi-farm CSA delivered to workplaces and community centers; and a culinary and job training program where youth in the juvenile justice system transform local ingredients into shelf-stable products they sell at farmers markets and wholesale.

Marty Gerencer - Morse Marketing

Marty Gerencer has an extensive history with food businesses and regional food systems initiatives through community, state and national work. Since October 2002, Ms. Gerencer has owned and operated Morse Marketing Connections (MMC), a national food consulting agency that develops initiatives and networks to increase the supply of regionally produced food into the marketplace and to provide capacity building programs for communities, farmers, supply chains and food hubs. MMC also focuses on building greater awareness for the importance of agriculture and food systems to the nation’s economy and health. 

In 2005, MMC initiated a statewide collaboration with Michigan Department of Agriculture and Michigan Food & Farming Systems for Michigan's first statewide Buy Local Day. In 2008, MMC played a lead role in developing and launching the National Good Food Network (NGFN), an initiative of the Wallace Center. MMC serves as a strategic partner for the NGFN, and plays a lead role and community of practice convener in current NGFN projects including the NGFN Food Hubs Collaboration, and Financial and Business Literacy Evaluation, Training and Outreach for Beginning Farmers, in partnership Farm Credit, supported by USDA.

Gerencer is also co-convener of the Michigan Food Hubs Learning and Innovation Network, in partnership with MSU Center for Regional Food Systems, and is launching a Community Food Learning Network as part of the HEALTHY Muskegon project, both in Michigan, supported by Kresge Foundation and W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Prior to launching MMC, Marty spent 20 years at Gerber Products Company, where she worked with internal and external teams to develop and launch marketing and strategic partnership programs for the baby food, toddler and baby care businesses. Her undergraduate degree is from Ferris State University in Computer Science, and she graduated from the Master of Management program at Aquinas College in 1995. 

Mitch Gruber - Foodlink

Mitch Gruber is the Food Access Programs Manager at Foodlink, the Feeding America Regional Food Bank located in Rochester, New York. Mitch manages many of the initiatives that allow Foodlink to go beyond food banking, including 12 Farm Stands, a Mobile Market, and a Healthy Corner Store Initiative. He has helped Foodlink develop critical relationships with regional farms, processors, and food hubs in Central and Western New York. In addition to his work at Foodlink, Mitch is completing a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Rochester. His dissertation is about the municipality’s role in food distribution in 19th and 20th Century America. In his work at Foodlink and historical research, Mitch aims to demonstrate the ways that existing infrastructure can be used to create a more equitable food system.

Allison Hagey - PolicyLink

Allison Hagey is Senior Program Associate at PolicyLink and is based in Oakland, CA. Allison is a member of the PolicyLink Center for Health Equity and Place and the Food Access team, where she works to advance policy promoting health, social, and economic equity. She focuses on promoting strategies to improve health and counteract obesity, including improving access to healthy food and advancing policies promoting healthy neighborhood environments. Allison has been a key team member advocating for and advancing the Healthy Food Financing Initiative, a national effort to improve access to healthy food. She is leading the effort to create and maintain the nation's first online Healthy Food Access Portal to promote healthy food retail efforts. Allison holds a MPH from the University of California, Berkeley and a JD from the University of Texas at Austin.

Joanna Hamilton - CLF Ventures

Joanna Hamilton is a food systems researcher with skills in qualitative, spatial, and quantitative analysis. She is currently working for CLF Ventures on two food systems projects and completing the thesis portion of her masters degrees in agricultural policy and food systems planning at Tufts University. Her previous work experience includes managing coursework and programs for a Harvard Kennedy School professor and assisting with urban planting programs at the Urban Ecology Institute. 

Lauren Handel - Foscolo & Handel PLLC

Lauren Handel is an attorney in private practice with a focus on agricultural, food, and beverage law. She counsels clients on all aspects of law affecting food, beverage, and farming businesses. Lauren also represents clients in litigation and regulatory proceedings. After nearly 10 years of counseling and defending Fortune 50 companies at a large law firm, Lauren decided to put her skills and experience to work for independent businesses that produce the things she is most passionate about − good food and drink. She earned her law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and an LLM (master of laws) in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas School of Law. She is admitted to practice in New York, New Jersey, Maryland and the District of Columbia.

Gray Harris - CEI Maine

Gray Harris is the Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at CEI, a community development financial institution in rural Maine. Gray supervises all work in CEI’s agriculture and food system program, an integrated value-chain program whose mission is to support the growth of Maine’s sustainable agriculture sector and create access to healthy foods for all people, regardless of income. Gray is responsible for the management, development and deployment of Sustainable Agriculture Investment Funds and Healthy Food Finance Funds. In her role, she assesses sector needs and identifies specialized technical assistance and financing for agricultural and food system start-up and expanding businesses; sources and aligns investment-ready projects with CEI lending and investment staff; and develops program initiatives to positively impact the sector. She is a former director of the Maine State Farms for the Future program, a statewide business planning and grants program for Maine farmers. She participates in numerous action-oriented agricultural initiatives statewide, such as the Beginning Farmer Resource Network; and serves on the steering committee of Slow Money Maine, and the boards of the Farmer Veteran Coalition chapter of Maine, Wolfe’s Neck Farm, MOFGA Certification Services (organic), among others. Gray holds a M.A. in Community Planning and Development from the Muskie School of Public Service at USM and a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania.

Karen Hiniker Simons - Local Economies Project

Karen Hiniker Simons, principal, Hudson Varick Resources, is a food system and agriculture consultant working with businesses and non-profit organizations on policy, research and food system planning in the New York area foodshed. Karen is currently working on the Local Economies Project’s Hudson Valley Food Hub Initiative, which focuses on sustainable economic and community development through farming and food related businesses in Hudson Valley. Other recent food chain projects include research on the barriers of local food system financing in Hudson Valley, business development for a new dairy farm and processor, improving local school food procurement in a New York City private school and landscaping New York City’s food organizations.

Karen works closely with established organizations and start-ups to provide market research, strategic planning, business development and impact investing services. Karen has been an Executive Member of WellMet Group since 1999, a foundation that supports grassroots organizations in New York City. Previously, Karen spent 10 years managing investment portfolios for New York Life Insurance Company and MONY Capital. Karen holds a Masters in Business Administration and a Masters in Public Administration from New York University and is a Certified Financial Analyst. Karen is a Master Gardener intern and has been growing produce in backyards since she could hold a trowel.

Becca Jablonski - Cornell University

Becca Jablonski is a PhD Candidate in the Department of City and Regional Planning at Cornell University and a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture Doctoral Fellow. Her research and extension efforts focus on evaluating rural economic development initiatives and policies, with an emphasis on identifying strategies to improve agribusiness performance and enhance regional food systems. Utilizing interdisciplinary qualitative and quantitative methods, Becca is particularly interested in assessing the impacts of alternative food system initiatives and strengthened rural-urban linkages to participating farmers (with an emphasis on small and medium-scale), supply chain participants, and rural economies.

Haile Johnston - Common Market Philadelphia

Haile Johnston is a Philadelphia-based social entrepreneur who works to improve the health of rural and urban communities through food systems change. Along with his wife, Tatiana Garcia-Granados, he is the Co-Director and Co-Founder of Common Market, a nonprofit food hub that connects communities in the Mid-Atlantic region to sustainable, locally grown farm food. The couple leads a diverse staff of 18 at Common Market working toward their mission of expanding access of good food to all people. Common Market currently partners with nearly 80 farmers, adhering to a specific set of environmentally responsible production standards, and has a portfolio of more than 200 market-side partners as well. With the help of his wife, Mr. Johnston also founded the East Park Revitalization Alliance in the African-American community of Strawberry Mansion, where they have resided for 11 years. As a father of three, he actively pursues his core purpose to “repair the earth for our children and prepare our children for the earth.” Mr. Johnston is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business with a Bachelors of Science in Economics and a concentration in entrepreneurial management.

Ann Karlen - Fair Food

Ann Karlen is the founding Director of Fair Food, launched in 2000 to build a sustainable and humane local food economy by connecting regional family farms to the Philadelphia marketplace. In 2003, she launched the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market, a social enterprise business selling all-local products from over 90 family farmers and producers. She was a member of the Management Team that launched Common Market Philadelphia in 2008, a values-driven local foods distributor. Ms. Karlen consults with farmers and wholesale buyers to help build lasting business relationships, and serves on several advisory boards including Philadelphia’s Food Policy Advisory Council.

Cheryl Kollin - Farm to Freezer

Cheryl Kollin is Founder and CEO of Farm to Freezer, a social enterprise that she started in 2012 to tackle the dual problems of hunger and food waste. Farm to Freezer is a new brand of healthy, locally produced frozen foods for consumers and social service agencies that serve food-insecure clients. Cheryl is passionate about building sustainable, regional food systems. Prior to launching Farm to Freezer, Cheryl provided business consulting and educational programming to social enterprises to enhance their profitability while serving their social mission. Cheryl won the 2013 TEDxManhattan speaker challenge and introduced Farm to Freezer at the 2013 Changing the Way We Eat Conference in New York. She has also received Bethesda Magazine’s 2013 Green Business Award. Cheryl earned her MBA in sustainability.

Sandi Kronick - Eastern Carolina Organics

Since founding Eastern Carolina Organics in 2004, Sandi Kronick has been one of the leaders working to build a sustainable organic food system in North Carolina. By recognizing the need for viable production and distribution networks between organic farmers and their existing and potential customers, Sandi and the ECO team have forged new pathways of success for functional organic food systems. Sandi was honored in 2010 with a Triangle Business Journal "40 under 40" leadership award and currently serves as the Agribusiness representative on the Southern SARE Administrative Council of the USDA.

Kathy Lawrence - School Food FOCUS

Kathy Lawrence is Director of Strategic Development for School Food FOCUS, a national collaborative that leverages the knowledge and procurement power of large school districts to make school meals across the country healthier, more regionally sourced and sustainably produced. FOCUS aims to transform food systems to support students’ academic achievement and lifelong health, while directly benefiting farmers, regional economies, and the environment. Ms. Lawrence helped launch the FOCUS network, and now provides strategic vision and development of FOCUS procurement initiatives and coordination of work with various USDA departments, as well as oversight of legal research and communications. Ms. Lawrence advocates for the procurement power school districts can wield in support of children’s health and a triple bottom line commitment to food systems development. A long-time leader in the fields of food justice, local food systems development, and non-profit management, Kathy served as Executive Director of the National Campaign for Sustainable Agriculture and directed Just Food, the New York City-based non-profit organization she founded in 1995. She holds a BA in East Asian Languages and Culture from the University of Kansas and a Master of International Affairs, Economic and Political Development, from Columbia University. When she isn’t working, she loves to work in her perennial garden, sing cabaret (preferably in Italy!) and hike. 

Jacqueline LeBlanc - Yellow Wood Associates Inc and Feast Down East

Jackie LeBlanc, Junior Associate, joined Yellow Wood Associates, Inc. in January 2012. She has experience in research and analysis, sustainable city planning, event planning, outreach and marketing, and website development. Jackie also works with Feast Down East, a nonprofit helping bring local farmers to market in North Carolina. Jackie served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the City of Montpelier, where she helped implement a long term sustainable city planning initiative. Jackie has worked at the University of Vermont, where she also received a M.S. in Community Development and Applied Economics from UVM, and she completed a thesis on food hub development in Vermont. Jackie received a dual B.A. from Northeastern University in Boston and spent a semester studying abroad in Paris. Jackie lives in Wilmington, NC.

Alex Linkow - Fair Food Fund

Alex Linkow is Program Director of the Fair Food Fund, an impact capital fund from Fair Food Network that is investing in ventures that connect small and medium-sized, sustainable farms with the growing demand for local and regionally produced food. During his tenure with Fair Food Network, Mr. Linkow has assessed the opportunities to support farmers and local food entrepreneurs in the Northeast, built relationships with food system stakeholders in the region, raised grant and PRI capital, and launched the Fair Food Fund and two complementary business assistance programs: the Fair Food Consulting Corps and the Fair Food Business Boot Camp. Prior to beginning this role, Mr. Linkow focused on social entrepreneurship, sustainable food systems, and marketing strategy while earning his MBA and MS in Sustainable Systems through the University of Michigan's Erb Institute program.

Dr. Jill Long Thompson - Farm Credit Administration

Jill Long Thompson is Chair of the Board and CEO of the Farm Credit Administration. Dr. Long Thompson was appointed to the FCA Board by President Barack Obama in March 2010 and was designated Chair and CEO on November 27, 2012. Her term expires in May 2014.

Long Thompson also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of the Farm Credit System Insurance Corporation, which is responsible for ensuring the timely payment of principal and interest on obligations issued on behalf of Farm Credit System banks.

As head of FCA, Long Thompson also oversees the Agency’s ethics program. Her goal is to ensure that the Agency adheres to the highest ethical standards in carrying out its mission as the arm’s-length regulator of the Farm Credit System. For more information, see Ethics and Arm’s-Length Role. 

Long Thompson has many years of leadership experience. From 1989 to 1995, she represented northeast Indiana as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, serving on the Committee on Agriculture, the Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, and the Select Committee on Hunger. She also served as Chair of the Rural Caucus. 

Long Thompson has been dedicated to integrity in Government for many years. As a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, she introduced one of the nation’s first pieces of legislation banning members of Congress from accepting gifts; this legislation also expanded disclosure requirements for lobbying activities. 

From 1995 to 2001, she served as Under Secretary for Rural Development in the U.S. Department of Agriculture, where she oversaw an annual budget of $10 billion and a staff of 7,000 employees. In this position, she managed programs that provide services to the underserved areas of rural America. 

In addition, Long Thompson served as chief executive officer and senior fellow at the National Center for Food and Agricultural Policy, a nonprofit research and policy organization in Washington, D.C. 

The first and only woman nominated by a major party to run for Governor of Indiana, Long Thompson is also the first and only Hoosier woman to be nominated by a major party to run for the U.S. Senate. 

Long Thompson also has many years of experience as an educator, having taught at Indiana University, Valparaiso University, and Manchester College. She is also a former fellow at the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She holds an M.B.A. and Ph.D. in Business from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University and a B.S. in Business Administration from Valparaiso University. 

Long Thompson grew up on a family farm outside of Larwill, Indiana; today she resides with her husband, Don Thompson, on a farm near Argos, Indiana.

Linda Mallers - FarmLogix

Linda Mallers is the CEO and Founder of FarmLogix, She has worked in online technologies for the last 20 years, continually creating commerce and shared business communities that need, but cannot easily, find one another. She has an undergraduate degree in English from UW-Madison, and did her graduate work in Computer Science at the University of Chicago. A former Team USA triathlete and adventure racer, she is mother to four children and resides in the Chicago area.

Nicole Mason - Veritable Vegetable

Nicole Mason has worked in agriculture and sustainable food systems both nationally and abroad for over a decade. She currently manages the Community Involvement and Marketing Communications efforts at Veritable Vegetable, the nation’s oldest distributor of certified organic fruits and vegetables. She is also President of the Board of Ag Innovations Network, a group of expert facilitators dedicated to making our food and agriculture systems stronger. Previously, Nicole spent five years at Roots of Change, directing programs aimed at transforming California’s food system to a sustainable food system by the year 2030. Prior to moving to California, Nicole served as the Farm to Table Initiative Director at Earth Pledge, where she helped connect local farmers to markets in New York City. Nicole received a Bachelor’s degree in International Agriculture and Development from Cornell University. In her free time, she eats her way through San Francisco.

James Matson - Matson Consulting

James Matson serves as a business advisor with expertise in local foods, primarily with feasibility, marketing and business organization. Mr. Matson has twenty five years of marketing, developing, researching, writing, and teaching experience in management for private, government, and non-profit organizations. His experience includes working on local food projects throughout the U.S. and 20 foreign countries. He was the lead author of “The Role of Food Hubs in Local Food Marketing”, USDA Rural Development Service Report 73 published in January, 2013. He has owned and operated Matson Consulting, LLC since 2001. The firm has assisted food based business operations obtain millions of dollars in grant, sand lending financing. He holds a M.S. in Agricultural Economics.

Gary Matteson - Farm Credit Council

Gary Matteson knows agriculture first hand. Until recently he was a small farmer operating a greenhouse business in Epsom, New Hampshire. Matteson now works at the Farm Credit Council, the trade association for the nationwide Farm Credit System. He is an advocate for young, beginning, small, and minority farmer outreach programs. Matteson is responsible for spreading best practices for beginning farmer lending and training among Farm Credit Associations, generating new program ideas to benefit them. In addition to working directly with farm groups, Matteson is active in policy related to new entrants to farming. He now serves on the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. 

Amy McCann - Local Food Marketplace

Amy co-founded Local Food Marketplace (LFM) in 2009 to help level the playing field for local, sustainable food. LFM is the perfect blend of her two passions : local food and technology. As CEO, Amy focuses on bringing business best practices and innovative solutions to local food, including introducing the first and only white label mobile app for food hubs. Prior to founding LFM, Amy was the COO of a niche ERP technology company, leading record sales growth for over 5 years and a large-scale re-engineering efforts.

Amy holds a BSE from Princeton University and an MBA in Entrepreneurship and Sustainable Business Practices from University of Oregon. She is a board member and immediate Past President of Willamette Farm and Food Coalition, a Eugene-based non-profit. She was named a "20 under 40 Rising Business" by her peers in 2012. She lives and gardens in Eugene, OR with her husband, Matt, and two young children, Cameron and Elliott.

Angel Mendez - Red Tomato

Angel came to Red Tomato in 2002 with several years experience in warehouse managing for big box retailers. Today Angel handles transportation, trade logistics, finance and IT support.

Robin Morris - Mad River Food Hub

Robin Morris is the founder and director of the Mad River Food Hub L3C, a food enterprise business incubator whose mission is to support farmers and value added processors in growing their businesses. Located in Waitsfield, Vermont, the MRFH offers customers access to licensed, shared, processing rooms for production of both meat and vegetable value added products. Robin has 30+ years of business management experience in the private sector in Europe and the Americas, the last 15 years with multiple foods related businesses including CFO at American Flatbread Company.

Bu Nygrens - Veritable Vegetable

Bu Nygrens is co-owner and Purchasing Director of Veritable Vegetable (VV), located in San Francisco, California. Established in 1974, VV is the nation’s oldest distributor of certified organic fruits and vegetables. Since joining in 1978, Bu has contributed to the company’s reputation for integrity, advocacy and leadership. Woman-owned and operated, VV serves organic farms and independent retail businesses throughout California, Hawaii, and the Southwest. Veritable Vegetable promotes equitable and sustainable food systems for all people.

Kathy Nyquist - New Venture Advisors

Kathy Nyquist is founder and principal of New Venture Advisors, a business advisory firm specializing in the development of food hubs. Kathy is advisor to food hubs across North America including Blue Ridge Produce, where she serves on the Advisory Board. Kathy has over 20 years of marketing and strategic leadership experience with Fortune 100 companies. She served on the integrated marketing leadership team for a $5 billion product portfolio at Kraft Foods. Kathy previously managed accounts at Leo Burnett and Young & Rubicam, then the nation’s largest advertising agencies, developing national campaigns for Coca-Cola, Keebler, Frito-Lay and Miller Brewing. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, where she earned an MBA and the Dean’s Award for Strategy for achieving the highest academic record in Strategic Management. 

Nancy Nyquist - Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development

Nancy has worked for the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (MDARD) since March, 2006. Currently, Nancy is the Market Development Specialist in the Office of Agriculture Development. Her primary responsibilities include management of USDA Specialty Crop Block Grant Program, and MDARD’s Value Added/Regional Food System Grant Program and the Strategic Growth Initiative Grant Program. Additionally, she works on a number of rural and economic development issues on behalf of the department. She has served in several additional capacities with the department including positions in both the Executive Office and the Food and Dairy Division. Prior to joining the Department, Nancy worked for the Michigan Legislature. She served in a variety of capacities with the Michigan House of Representatives and Michigan Senate. Nancy holds a Bachelors of Business Administration from Northwood University.

Doug O'Brien - USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development

Doug O'Brien was appointed Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development. Prior to his appointment, O'Brien served as Senior Advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack and Chief of Staff to Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan. 

Before joining the United States Department of Agriculture, O'Brien served as the Assistant Director at the Ohio Department of Agriculture. In this capacity, he assisted the Director in administering the day-to-day operations of that department in such areas as plant industries, animal health, and its laboratories. In addition, he was responsible for developing the department's biofuels, bioproducts and renewable energy policy.

O'Brien has also served as Senior Advisor to Iowa Governor Chet Culver, Interim Co-Director for the National Agricultural Law Center in Fayetteville, Ark., and Senior Staff Attorney at the Drake Agricultural Law Center in Des Moines, Iowa.

He is former counsel for the U.S. Senate Agriculture Committee, where he worked on the 2002 Farm Bill.

He also served as Legislative Assistant for Representative Leonard Boswell, focusing primarily on Rep. Boswell's work on the House Agriculture Committee, and as a Clerk for Justice Jerry Larson of the Iowa Supreme Court. O'Brien graduated from Loras College and earned a Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Iowa. In addition, he holds a Master's Degree in Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas.

O'Brien, who was raised on a diversified farm in Iowa, has dedicated his career to agriculture and rural policy.

Carol Peppe Hewett - Slow Money NC

Carol Peppe Hewett is a passionate advocate for all things local - local farms, local food, local fuel and local financing. As a business owner, author, social entrepreneur and pioneer in the local finance movement, she believes “it’s not really about the money, it’s about the people.”

Since founding Slow Money NC (North Carolina) in 2010, she has catalyzed over 115 low-interest loans to 55 small farmers and local food businesses in North Carolina, building resilience in local foodsheds from the coast to the mountains. The loans now total nearly 2 million dollars. Her book, Financing Our Foodshed: Growing Local Food With Slow Money, tells the compelling, real life stories of twenty-two of those Slow Money entrepreneurs – folks who grow, process, distribute, and sell us local food - and the motivations behind the people in their communities who become their lenders. Financing Our Foodshed offers a blueprint for getting money moving to local food ventures in your area as well.

Carol sees hope in place-based strategies that build community and prosperity, while seeking to support and protect our precious ecosystems, and ultimately our planet.

Rich Pirog - MSU Center for Regional Food Systems

Rich Pirog is Senior Associate Director at the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University. His work includes developing a statewide food hub network, and providing oversight to new Center work groups and communities of practice. From 1990-2011 he was Associate Director and Program Leader for Marketing and Food Systems at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa. At the Leopold Center Pirog directed the Value Chain Partnerships (VCP) project, an Iowa-based network of food and agriculture working groups that provides technical assistance to farmer-led food businesses. Pirog's research and collaborations on local foods, food networks and communities of practice, food value chains, and ecolabels has been publicized and cited widely across the U.S. His recent writings include economic impact of local foods, food hubs, and building food value chains to address social change in the food system.

Erin Pirro - Farm Credit East ACA

Erin Pirro has been helping farmers large and small make their businesses run better since 2001. As a Farm Business Consultant for Farm Credit East with a background in agricultural economics, Erin's focus has been on benchmarking and profitability improvement - because sustainability means economics, too! At home, Erin's small family farm raises and markets sheep and wool products in southern New England.

Tina Prevatte - Firsthand Food

Having grown up in a small town in eastern NC as the daughter of two local business owners, Tina has been aware from an early age of the role that businesses can and do play in community and economic development. She spent her early career working with the US Environmental Protection Agency as an environmental engineer enforcing the Clean Air Act, effectively forcing companies to take responsibility for their environmental impacts. From this work, Tina was inspired to find more proactive ways to engage businesses in socially and environmentally responsible approaches. This led her to the dual degree program between UNC's Kenan-Flagler Business School and the Department of City and Regional Planning, where she received both an MBA and a MCRP. Tina is convinced that the power of business can be used to solve social and environmental problems. As Co-CEO of Firsthand Foods she is responsible for financial planning and management, directing sales and marketing efforts, building and maintaining internal business systems, leadership of day-to-day business management activities and decisions, and providing strategic direction toward long-term business goals. Tina also holds both a B.A. in Women's Studies from UC Santa Cruz and a B.S. in Environmental Engineering from UC Berkeley.

Molly Riordan - Common Market Philadelphia

Molly Riordan is the Special Projects Coordinator at Common Market, and leads several of its movement-building initiatives as well as its external communication strategy. She earned her Masters in Regional Planning with a focus on Economic Development and Food Systems from Cornell University in 2013.

Michael Roberts - The 11th Hour Project

Michael Roberts oversees the regional food systems and California Central Valley grants for the Ecological Agriculture program at the 11th Hour Project, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation. Michael joined the 11th Hour Project in 2011. Growing up in the Southeast, he has worked in organizing, sustainable biofuels, and occasional stints in outdoor recreation. Michael received his Master’s degree in Environment and Sustainable Development from University College London’s Development Planning Unit, where he investigated the role of community-led development strategies in producing a more fair and resilient food system. He is an advocate for urban agriculture and is active in community food projects local to his current home in Oakland.

Pam Roy - Farm to Table New Mexico

Pam Roy is Executive Director of Farm to Table, a New Mexico non-profit organization working on regional food and farming issues including community capacity building focused on equitable and nutritious food access; Farm to Cafeteria; linking institutions and restaurants to local farmers for fresh produce through food hub initiatives; and food and agriculture policy. She has over 25 years of organizational development experience for farmers' markets, direct market opportunities, and rural food retail initiatives both domestically and internationally. She works on related policy issues at the local, state and federal levels. She is director of the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council, serves on the Santa Fe Food Policy Council, was a governor's appointee to the NM Food Gap Task Force, and is a past Board member of Community Food Security Coalition and North American Farmers Direct Marketing Association.

Jesse Rye - Farm Fresh Rhode Island

Jesse Rye is the Co-Executive Director of Food System Enterprise at Farm Fresh Rhode Island. He works with leadership staff to oversee the Market Mobile and Veggie Box programs and direct the communications and financial management of the organization. He has experience on the community level as nonprofit manager; statewide as program director and communications specialist; and nationally as a researcher and advocate for cultural and creative enterprises. Jesse is determined, as a part of Farm Fresh, to grow a local food system that values the environment, health and quality of life of Rhode Island farmers and eaters.

Steve Saltzman - Self Help

Steve Saltzman leads the Healthy Food Systems Lending initiative at the Self-Help Credit Union, a national community development lender headquartered in Durham, NC with offices in California, Chicago and Washington, DC. Steve works closely with food hubs and food retail businesses and partners closely with the public and global health research teams at UNC School of Public Health and Duke University. He has extensive experience in the capital markets, having spent ten years raising venture capital and managing technology companies. He also spent five years teaching Civil Rights and Labor History at the University of Virginia and worked as a reporter for a daily newspaper in the Mississippi Delta covering African-American politics and rural poverty. Steve earned his undergraduate degree from Duke University and a Master of Arts from the University of Virginia.

Tony Serrano - ALBA Organics

Tony Serrano, General Manager of ALBA Organics: Tony joined ALBA in September 2008 with extensive experience in fruit, vegetable and custom livestock operations in California. He was born in Jalisco, Mexico and moved to the Watsonville, California at age three. He grew up on and around farming operations near Las Lomas (home to ALBA’s Triple M Ranch) and managed 1500 acres near Castroville following high school, including ranch operations in Marin County. He worked as Marketing Assistant at ALBA Organics from 2004-2006, then worked full-time managing kobe beef production in Marin before returning as general manager in 2008. He is working in partnership with farmer-vendors to focus on quality and value in their production for ALBA Organics. Tony and his wife Claudia have three children and live in rural Las Lomas. 

Jim Slama -

Jim Slama is the founder and president of, which encourages the production, marketing and distribution of locally grown and responsibly produced food and goods. expands the market for local farmers and food producers, by supporting trade buyers to purchase local food, training farmers, advancing the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) movement, and playing an integral role in public policy. He created the Good Food Festival and Conference, which is a leading gathering to advance the Good Food Movement with a trade show, policy summit, financing conference, school food summit, and food festival. Jim has helped many of the top trade buyers for local food connect with producers including Whole Foods Market, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Goodness Greeness, Aramark (Chicago Public Schools), SYSCO, Compass Group, Testa Produce, Lettuce Entertain You, McCormick Place, Midway Airport, Eataly, and more. Jim is the editor of Wholesale Success: A Farmers Guide to Selling, Post Harvest Handling, and Packing Produce. The manual gives small to mid-size growers technical assistance to help them develop the skills to sell produce into wholesale markets and over 6000 farmers have been trained using it as a primary reference. Jim has also helped launch three operating produce aggregation facilities, and each of these food hubs is working with farmers to sell product to wholesale buyers. The publication Building Successful Food Hubs is a guide for businesses to plan and create food hubs. In addition, has created the On-Farm Food Safety Project, which worked with the FDA, USDA, food buyers, food safety experts, and advocates for small to mid-size growers to create an free online tool giving farmers the ability to create a customized food safety plan that can help them get food safety certified. 

Evan Smith - Cherry Capital Foods

Evan Smith has over 35 years experience in international and domestic food distribution and logistics. Prior to joining Cherry Capital Foods as Chief of Operations in early 2009, he spent 8 years as the CFO of Food For Thought, a specialty food manufacturer. He serves on the Michigan Farm to Institute Network Board, the Traverse City Food and Farm Network, and is on the board of the Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance. 

Neil Stauffer - Penn’s Corner Farm Alliance

Neil became the first permanent staff member of Penn's Corner in 2007. With a background in organic urban agriculture, he views himself as a link between rural farmers and urban customers.

Kathryn Strickland - Food Bank of North Alabama

Kathryn Strickland is the Executive Director of the Food Bank of North Alabama. The nonprofit feeds the hungry today and works to end hunger tomorrow through improvements to the region’s local food system. Prior to her current role, Kathryn coordinated the Food Bank’s initiatives design to advance food and farming businesses in 11 counties of north Alabama. Projects included a revolving loan fund for local farmers, food policy council development, and a local food hub enterprise called the North Alabama Farm Food Collaborative.

Lesley Sykes - Red Tomato

Lesley Sykes spends her time buying fresh produce and selling to accounts throughout the Northeast. She came to Red Tomato from Tufts University’s Agriculture, Food and Environment Master’s program where she discovered the synergies between her family’s multi-generational produce business and her interest in sustainable supply chains.

Michael Taylor - Food and Drug Administration

Michael Taylor is Deputy Commissioner for Foods and Veterinary Medicine at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In this position, Taylor provides leadership and direction to the Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (CFSAN) and the Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). He also works closely with the foods-related programs of FDA’s inspection and compliance arm, the Office of Regulatory Affairs (ORA).

He is responsible for establishing a modern, science-based and prevention-oriented food safety program for domestic and imported foods. He also leads critical areas such as food labeling, nutrition, animal drug safety and effectiveness and scientific capacity. Mr. Taylor served previously in senior positions at FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as a research professor in academia, and on several National Academy of Sciences expert committees. He received his law degree from the University of Virginia and his B.A. degree in political science from Davidson College.

Kathlyn Terry - Appalachian Sustainable Development

Kathlyn Terry first came to Appalachian Sustainable Development in 2006 as the Business Operations Manager in charge of operating the organization's two social enterprises. Prior to arriving in Appalachia and starting her work with ASD she spent over 20 years in various business leadership roles in the for-profit sector. Kathlyn has been ASD's Executive Director since 2011, using ASD's broad experiences with education, economic development, and empowering people to make a difference in their own lives to develop farm, forestry, food access and youth development strategies in southwest VA and northeast TN.

Ben Tettlebaum - Conservation Law Foundation

Ben Tettlebaum is an attorney and the Rhodes Fellow with the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF). He works in CLF's Farm & Food Initiative within the Healthy Communities and Environmental Justice Program. For over ten years, Ben has worked as a professional educator, both in the United States and abroad. In the legal field, he has worked for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Santa Monica, California, and Earthjustice in Denver, Colorado. He clerked for the Honorable W. Duane Benton in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Ben graduated from Cornell Law School and Bowdoin College, and is admitted to practice law in Maine and Missouri.

Laura Theis - Local Food Marketplace

Laura Theis’ upbringing in a small farming town in western Wisconsin led her to value landscapes, the outdoors, and community involvement. After finishing a B.S. in Landscape Architecture at UW- Madison, through an AmeriCorps position in Ketchum, Idaho, Laura has been brought back ‘full-circle’ to farmers and community she grew up with. An integral founding member of Idaho’s Bounty Co-op and market manager for six years, Laura now work with Local Food Marketplace as a Technical Support Analyst helping markets across the States find success.

Sharon Thornberry - Oregon Food Bank

Sharon has been a grassroots organizer, trainer and advocate for community food systems, rural communities, and anti-hunger work in Oregon since 1986. She grew up on farms in Iowa and North Carolina and was very active in 4-H and Girl Scouts. Her work experience includes food service, retail grocery, and union activities. In 1979, she was a homeless mom with two small children. She served on the Board of Philomath Community Services, coordinating a food pantry for five years. She is active with United Methodist Church anti-hunger efforts. Sharon served on the Oregon Hunger Task Force for 16 years. She served on the board of the Community Food Security Coalition for six years and served three years as President. She serves on the board of Bread for the World and Bread for the World Institute. The sum of her experiences have come together to make her a passionate and knowledgeable community food security and anti-hunger advocate. She is the 2009 recipient of the Billi Odegard Public Health Genius Award from the Community Health Partnership of Oregon. She has worked for Oregon Food Bank for the past 15 years focusing on rural food systems and is the creator of “FEAST”, the nationally recognized community food systems organizing program.

She has been a resident of Philomath, Oregon for 28 years. She is an avid gardener and loves to share the cooking traditions learned in the farm kitchens of her youth with friends and family.

Jan Tusick - Mission Mountain Food Enterprise Center

Jan Tusick is the co-founder and Director of Lake County Community Development Corporation’s Mission Mountain Market Food Enterprise Center- a Food, Agriculture and Cooperative Development Center- The center provides a unique opportunity for area agricultural producers and food entrepreneurs in their business development by providing a USDA and FDA inspected shared- use processing facility with technical expertise and support. During the last 20 years Jan has effectively assisted food businesses, cooperative groups and value added agricultural ventures in their business development, providing business and market planning, capitalization development, feasibility analysis, and navigating the food regulatory world. She is a founding steering committee member of Grow Montana- a coalition of organizations that are focused on developing and pursuing policies that will strengthen Montana’s regional food economy.

Her agricultural background of 35 years gives her a solid foundation of understanding the agricultural economy and the challenges it faces. Jan holds a Bachelors of Science degree in Agricultural Science, from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA. She presently lives on an eighty acre sheep farm with her husband, Will, and their main production is natural lamb, which they direct market. As a committed agriculturist in Montana, Jan understands the challenges facing the small farmer today and is proactive in working hard to bring opportunities to Montana farmers and ranchers.

Darrow Vanderburgh-Wertz - Wholesome Wave

At Wholesome Wave, Darrow Vanderburgh-Wertz works to build strong regional food system infrastructure by connecting food hubs with debt and equity investment. Previously, she worked on food systems projects for the Commercial Lending division at Self-Help, a CDFI based in her hometown, Durham, NC. Darrow has an MPP from Duke and a BA from Yale.

Ellen Vollinger - Food Research and Action Center

Ellen Vollinger is FRAC's Legal Director, responsible for directing FRAC’s advocacy on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). She has a B.A. in American Studies from Smith College, an M.A.S.S. in Legislative Affairs from George Washington University, and a J.D. magna cum laude from American University’s Washington College of Law.

Her prior professional positions include Executive Director of the National Committee for Full Employment and attorney with the law firm Ross, Dixon & Masback.

John Waite - Western MA Food Processing Center

John spent 10 years working in developing countries with the Peace Corps and CARE doing small business development, has a Master's degree in economic development from Columbia University, and has been the Executive Director of the Franklin County Community Development Corporation in rural western MA since 2000. During that time they built and have operated a multiple use commercial kitchen that has served over 300 farmers and food entrepreneurs. Over the past few years they have started purchasing vegetables from local farms, freezing them and distributing them to schools in the region. John is a member of the Leadership Team of Farm to Institution in New England (FINE).

Mailee Walker - Claneil Foundation

Mailee Walker became executive director of the Claneil Foundation in 2007. Prior to joining the Claneil Foundation, she was vice president and communication/program officer of the Wells Fargo Regional Foundation. She previously served as executive director of the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program and project coordinator for the Neighborhood Improvement Initiative in California.

Mailee serves as a board member of Delaware Valley Grantmakers and The Philadelphia Award. She is a steering committee member of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders and an advisory board member of The Center for Hunger-Free Communities. She is a member of the Forum of Executive Women, Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy, and Asian Mosaic Fund Giving Circle.

Mailee earned a BA in Urban Studies from Stanford University and an MBA in Change Management from the Wharton Graduate School of Business. She is an alumna of the Coro Fellows Program, the Center on Philanthropy’s Jane Addams Fellowship, and Leadership Philadelphia.

Daniel Wallace - Sustainable Agriculture, CEI

Daniel Wallace is a Program Developer for the Sustainable Agriculture Program at CEI. Daniel sources and manages eligible projects in agriculture and healthy food sectors, assists with coordination of technical assistance and deal alignment, and participates in state, regional, and national agriculture and food system initiatives and networks. He has particular expertise working with independent grocers and food hubs to connect farmers to markets and to rebuild localized value chains. He holds a Masters in Community Development and Planning from the Muskie School of Public Service at the University of Southern Maine.

Sarah Waring - Center for an Agricultural Economy

Sarah has served as the Executive Director at the Center for an Agricultural Economy since February 2013, where she has the honor of working with an incredibly talented staff and board. Prior to this, she served as Program Director for the Farm & Wilderness Foundation, a 73 year old non-profit outdoor education organization. From 2007 to 2009, Sarah managed a comprehensive statewide campaign called Council on the Future of Vermont for the Vermont Council on Rural Development, which has led to the Working Lands Initiative and state wide investment on behalf of the State of Vermont. Sarah used to live and work in the rural Rocky Mountain West, where she traveled across the states, working with towns and communities interested in conservation, land use planning, and rural development. She worked prior to that with Bureau of Land Management in Washington, DC, in the Office of Land Use Planning and Science. Born and raised in Glover, Vermont, Sarah earned her B.A. from Haverford College, and her M.A.A. in Natural Resource Management from the University of Maryland. Although she has lived in various places on the East Coast and in the Rocky Mountains, Sarah is proud to call Vermont's Northeast Kingdom home.

Steve Warshawer - National Good Food Network

Steve Warshawer has been living and working in the local and regional food system arena in New Mexico since 1977. With his wife Colleen he farms near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Mesa Top Farm is a diverse farm including Ayrshire aged raw milk cheese, herdshares and beef. Eggs are produced year round, and poultry and vegetables seasonally. Steve oversees Beneficial Farm CSA, New Mexico’s oldest CSA, founded in 1994, a multi-farm virtual food hub with year round weekly distribution.

Steve works as Enterprise Development Coordinator for La Montanita COOPerative’s distribution center, helping farmers and food producers enter the supply chain and to build economically sustainable businesses. He is liaison to other food hubs for La Montanita as the COOP builds network relationships among hub and cooperative businesses in New Mexico and the Rocky Mountain Southwest.

Steve’s food system work led him to identify food safety requirements as barriers to opportunity and growth in the local and regional food sector. In 2009 he began a part time immersion in the food safety world looking to impact emerging legislation and regulation, and to establish programs and processes for food safety compliance that would enhance opportunity for local and regional market oriented producers.

Steve is a member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition's Food System Integrity Committee. He is a member of the United Fresh Produce Harmonized GAP Technical Working Group and Calibration Committee. He is in his second and final term as a member of USDA FSIS National Advisory Council on Meat and Poultry Inspection.

Steve is the project manager for Wallace Center's collaboration with USDA AMS in the development of a Group Food Safety Certification that is aimed to facilitate grower groups and food hubs in meeting current buyer and eventual regulatory requirements for food safety using the QMS (Quality Management System) approach.

Steve is a frequent presenter on food safety issues and programs for farmers and writes for the Wallace Center on Food Safety topics.

Heidi Weiderquist - Chipotle Mexican Grill

As Director of Quality Assurance and Food Safety for Chipotle Mexican Grill, Weiderquist works with supplier partners to uphold Chipotle’s high standards for food safety and quality at each point throughout the supply chain. Weiderquist is a graduate of Colorado State University where she earned a B.S. in Food Science and an M.S. in Animal Science with an emphasis in Meat Science and Microbiology. She was raised in a farming family in Colorado and is passionate about food safety and quality and the importance of sustaining family farms and maintaining local and regional food systems.

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