Please join us in welcoming the third annual cohort of Food Solutions New England's Network Leadership Institute! We are honored to be joined by them in the work of strengthening our regional food system network.
Kimberly Acosta is a 2016 graduate of the University of New Haven, with a B.A. in Psychology with a concentration in Community/Clinical and a minor in Global Studies. She is currently serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA at New Haven Farms. She became interested in learning more about food systems after attending the CTCORE-Organize Now! Food Justice Network meetings. She wonders what a just and equitable food system would look like, and hopes that the FSNE Leadership Institute can help her explore this further, and develop the skills and knowledge necessary to participate in the creation of that system.
Lily lives in Portland, Maine and has been growing in food justice advocacy for some time. She first became interested in this sphere of activism in Worcester, MA in 2012 when creating guerilla community gardens and dumpster diving with group of friends. Following college, she took on a self-study of permaculture which she finally got a certificate in this past year in a design course with the Resilience Hub. Lily has interacted with the food system as a farmer, restaurant worker, fishmonger, and now as an educator. Her current position began as a FoodCorps member at Cultivating Community and graduated into the Schools & Youth Program Coordinator, supporting local schools with garden-based education, cooking and nutrition education, cafeteria happenings, and other food security initiatives.
Michelle is the founder of Natural Creola, contributed to NYC food blog, The Black Forks, and worked for several years with Farm Fresh RI in Business Development/Marketing helping farmers expanding their businesses and now consults with farms, including the African Alliance of RI and others in the South. She has been invited to speak at several conferences including the Just Food Conference at Columbia University, the Black Farmers & Urban Gardeners Conference in both Harlem and Atlanta and served as VP of the Rhode Island Women in Agriculture. Michelle is also back at her love of music and was recently given the opportunity to open for The Roots from the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon! A foodie at heart, Michelle looks forward to hosting a farm-to-table series showcasing foods of the African Diaspora and releasing the Natural Creola cookbook combining her love of food, music and culture in late 2019.
Sarah is the Farm to Plate Network Manager at the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund. She provides support to many Farm to Plate Network groups, including the Food Access Cross-Cutting Team and the Education and Workforce Development Working Group, and manages additional projects such as tracking population indicators for the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan. She previously worked at the Center for Agriculture and Food Systems at Vermont Law School as a project manager, and before that lived in the Boston area, where she held positions at farmers’ markets and in environmental outreach. She lives in South Royalton, VT, on a sheep farm, where she is learning animal care and farm management in her free time.
Apolo J. Cátala Gámbaro
Apolo J. Cátala Gámbaro is an avid gardener and urban farmer committed to sustainable gardening and farming as a means for expanding access to nutritious and locally grown produce and fruits as well as teaching and inspiring others to do the same with the goal of creating successful urban farming enterprises and rewarding urban home or community gardens. Mr. Cátala Gámbaro holds degrees from Hobart College 80’ and Northeastern University School of Law 84’. Before transitioning to farming, Mr. Cátala Gámbaro practiced law on a broad range of areas, including an emphasis on empowering community in connection with small businesses and affordable housing and commercial real estate development. Mr. Cátala Gámbaro manages the Oasis on Ballou Urban Farm, a community centered urban farm operated by the Boston based Codman Square Neighborhood Development Corporation.
Jessica Gorhan, MPH and public health consultant, specializes in food access projects statewide. She has owned Gorhan Public Health Consulting for a year and is affiliated with Greater Nashua Food Council, NH Hunger Solutions, and GateHouse Treatment Center. In the last year she has worked with Justin Munroe of Grow Nashua to successfully co-found Greater Nashua Food Council using the collective impact model. She has also worked with NH Hunger Solutions on the Breakfast Challenge to improve breakfast consumption. She specializes in nutritional medicine and recently has worked with clients in addiction recovery. She believes that lives can be healthier, happier, and more productive when everyone has access to good nutrition.
Rachel Harb is the Program Specialist for Massachusetts Farm to School (MFTS), a statewide organization that strengthens local farms and fisheries and promotes healthy communities by increasing local food purchasing and education at schools. She leads farm to school trainings across the state and is the lead organizer for MFTS's professional development programs such as the Mass. Farm & Sea to School Conference and the newly established Mass. Farm to School Institute. In previous positions, Rachel expanded and institutionalized local food purchasing programs for UMass Amherst Dining Services and the Chicopee, MA public school district.
Omar Hassan works as the Cooperative Marketing and Development Assistant with the Cooperative Development Institute in the Cooperative Food Systems program. Born in Somalia and raised in Kenya, Omar speaks Maay Maay, Af Maha, and English. He provides translation and interpretation support to Somali farmers throughout New England. He works with farmers and community members to develop democratic businesses, assisting them in developing cooperatives, and supporting them as they access local markets. He works closely with New Roots Cooperative Farm, an operation owned by Somali Bantu farmers in Lewiston, Maine, the first New American-owned cooperative farm in Maine. He is currently enrolled at the University of Southern Maine where he is pursuing a degree in Social and Behavioral Science with a minor in Sustainable Food Systems. He lives with his wife and two children, Isra and Fithi in Lewiston, Maine.
Jake is from Vermont and started his work in the food and agriculture world at age 11 shoveling stalls on a dairy farm. Currently, he works for Salvation Farms coordinating a workforce development program using surplus crops to train marginalized community members in food handling and manufacturing. Along with this, Jake works on a farm raising pastured poultry and volunteers on his town’s ambulance. In forays away from his home of Vermont, Jake had the opportunity to study public policy at the University of Michigan and work on a number of environmental and political campaigns. He aspires to combine his love of farming and food with his belief in the need for system-level change to foster a more equitable, resilient food system.
Joey Listro has 10 years experience working in the local food and agriculture sector. He's a blend of farmer, teacher, and food activist. Joey got his start in Maine working on an organic farm through AmeriCorps where he designed and implemented an apprenticeship program for high school students. He's a former Incubator Farmer at the Community Farm of Simsbury where he launched a small-scale vegetable CSA and potato chip business. He served as Education Coordinator at Urban Oaks Organic Farm in New Britain for their after-school garden enrichment programs from 2011-2014. He spent two years managing a 100+ acre educational farm in New Milford, before returning to his hometown of New Britain as the founder of ROOTS where he works on a variety of urban agriculture projects. Joey serves on the steering committee of the New CT Farmer Alliance and is an active member of the Coalition for New Britain's Youth.
Tariana V. Little
Driven by science, storytelling, and social justice, Tariana V. Little’s work embodies what she calls “intentional creativity for social change.” She is a Doctor of Public Health candidate at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, where she is launching FooFii, a startup to connect families in need to food resources. She is also co-founder and CEO of EmVision Productions, a media agency focused on social impact storytelling for leaders and organizations. A civic leader in her native Boston, MA, Tariana was a Harvard Kennedy School Rappaport Fellow at the City of Boston Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics and the Office of Food Access, served on Mayor Walsh’s SPARK Boston (2016-17) millennial leadership and engagement council, and serves on the Big Sister Association of Greater Boston's Diversity Board. Connect with her @TVLENSES.
Daniel lives in central Maine where he raises certified organic seed crops, perennials and grafted nursery stock with his family at Blackbird Rise. His path in agriculture has allowed him to work throughout New England across a range of settings including urban public schools, city government, community farms, and public and private colleges—and taught him that he is most grounded in the intersection between farming, education and community. Off-farm, Daniel is the Educational Programs Director for the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) where he helps support new and established organic farmers, gardeners, apprentices and eaters with a range of workshops, events, comprehensive training programs, mentorship and networking opportunities. He also works closely with other service providers across the state and country to improve services and opportunities that support the long-term success of Maine farmers.
As an Environmental Studies major, focused on Religion/Philosophy, Onne learned early on the significance of cultivating good habits within communities in order to make sustainable change. Onne has experience working with Farm Fresh RI on both Community Access and Food System Enterprise efforts. She first came on board as a summer AmeriCorps VISTA for the Healthy Foods, Healthy Families nutrition education program, then returning as a year-long AmeriCorps VISTA. After completing that year, she moved over to the Packhouse where she gained experience in operations for Food System Enterprise. Today, she is back in nutrition education, bringing with her a renewed perspective on the full circle of our local food system. The overall Farm Fresh motto of connecting local food to local people aligns with Onne’s personal outlook on encouraging positive change.
Hailing from the Midwest, Leilani has been living and growing in Massachusetts since 2011. They grow food, have designed and installed landscapes, and teach people of all ages how to grow plants and care for the earth through an environmental and racial justice lens. Leilani is passionate about community building and organizing. When their hands are not in the soil, Leilani can be found bopping around Boston on their trusty two-wheeled, non-motorized steed named, "Big Red" experiencing all that life has to offer. Leilani is Filipinx and proficient in Spanish. They work as a food justice organizer and youth coordinator at GreenRoots in Chelsea, MA.
Daniel is the Community Food and Outreach Specialist for the northeast office of the National Center for Appropriate Technology, a non-profit advancing sustainable solutions in energy and agriculture since 1976. Before he was trying to address systemic issues in the food system, Daniel ran is own business as an outreach consultant helping organizations connect with their communities. With a master’s degree from Antioch University New England and years of government work in the National Park Service and the Peace Corps, Daniel is primarily a community development worker with skills in education, outreach, strategic planning, facilitation and project management. Daniel and his wife, Anne, dream of owning land and building a small homestead to practice land stewardship while raising children, plants and animals.
Susan Rezendes is the Administrative Assistant for the African Alliance of Rhode Island (AARI). AARI promotes unity within the African community of in Rhode Island. Susan assisted in developing many of the AARI programs to include, annual Health Summits, Community Gardens and Healthy Cooking Demonstrations. She grew up around the cranberry bogs of Cape Cod, MA where her food sources included an abundance of seafood that were not tarnished with additives. A lover of the outdoors, Susan is no stranger to fishing and cooking various types of shellfish, and snacking on wild berries. Her Cape Verdean relatives grew and preserved fruits and vegetables and cleaned fish they had caught in their back yards. Healthy foods were everywhere. Susan is active in her community. She is the Secretary of the NAACP Providence Branch and a member of the Veteran of Foreign War Ladies Auxiliary.
Kelly is a Food Justice Organizer with the racial justice organization CTCORE. She is from Oregon and now lives in New Haven, CT. She has been involved in food systems work for 5 years including working on several small-scale farms in Colorado, practicing canning, and studying food justice. She is currently researching a Food Justice Guide for Connecticut and managing a Mobile Market. She loves anything that falls in the intersection of food and social justice. Kelly also enjoys reading and is trying to learn the guitar!
Courtenay is a food safety specialist with UNH Cooperative Extension. After working as an intern with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service in the Office of Food Safety, she was inspired to use her technical science background to educate the public. In her current role, Courtenay provides risk-based food safety education and training for institutional foodservice professionals, food retailers, commercial fruit and vegetable growers, food processors, and consumers throughout the southern region of New Hampshire. She is an advocate of marginalized communities and uses her background and passion to reach those most vulnerable in the food system. Courtenay enjoys spending time with her family and dog, beautiful weather, music, Zumba, and watching tennis.
Andrea Solazzo is based out of Burlington, Vermont where she works for the Vermont Foodbank. In her work she organizes the Northern Vermont gleaning program, works with area food shelves on nutrition education and fresh food distribution and helps coordinate state-wide local food purchasing programs’ Vermonters Feeding Vermonters and Pick for Your Neighbor. Additionally, Andrea supports the Foodbank through diversity and inclusion work, advocacy and client engagement initiatives. Prior to her four years at the Foodbank, she organized delegations to international conferences for UN-affiliated NGO’s around climate justice and food sovereignty issues, owned an agriculturally focused study abroad organization and had active leadership in various community organizing campaigns around livable wages. When not working you can find Andrea biking with friends around Vermont, swimming in Lake Champlain, cross-country skiing in the woods or most likely cooking for hours in her kitchen while listening to NPR.