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2016-2017 Network Leadership Institute Participants

We are excited to welcome a wonderful group to participate in the first Network Leadership Institute!

Andrew Bahrenburg

Andrew BahrenburgAndrew Bahrenburg is the Organizer and Advocate for Rural Vermont, an organization that advocates for economic justice for Vermont's family farmers and the communities they feed. After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science from Macalester College, Andrew spent his early years in politics, first as a campaign staffer, and then as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill. Andrew returned to his native Vermont in 2013 to earn a Certificate in Sustainable Farming from the University of Vermont, and work on a number of small, diversified farms. He then served as an instructor in UVM’s Farmer Training Program, and helped to co-found the Vermont chapter of the National Young Farmers Coalition. When he is not eating and growing food, or talking to people about eating and growing food, Andrew enjoys traveling, hiking, fishing, and the company of his dog, Lucille Bahrenburg.

Andrew was a Vermont delegate to the 2015 New England Food Summit. 

Raheem Baraka

Raheem BarakaRaheem Baraka is the founder and Executive Director of Baraka Community Wellness (BCW), a nonprofit community based organization with a mission to close the gap on health disparities and reduce healthcare costs as they relate to preventable chronic diseases within vulnerable and at-risk populations.

Prior to founding BCW, Raheem served as the Director of Fitness for the Massachusetts General Hospital’s Community Health Centers and was responsible for health promotion and intervention programs ranging from employee wellness initiatives to community wide holistic behavioral programming. In addition, he trained clinicians and providers on exercise and health coaching and how to effectively communicate, deliver, and implement these non-clinical prevention approaches to patients.

Raheem is actively involved in population health through on the ground prevention activities within Boston and serves as a member of the Community Healthy Living Initiative for Head Start and a Healthy Boston Ambassador for a joint project with the Boston Public Health Commission and the Boston Alliance for Community Health. 

Raheem was selected as Massachusetts delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Jesse Delia

Jesse DeliaJesse Delia works at Common Ground High School, Urban Farm, and Environmental Education Center in New Haven, Connecticut. Managing the school’s Environmental Leadership Program, Jesse works with students and teachers to develop and facilitate project-based work into the curriculum, incorporating real world content from the farm, site, and city focused on social and environmental justice. Jesse has been at Common Ground since 2012 working as an environmental educator and then the Community Programs and Outreach Manager.

Before Common Ground, Jesse spent five years working in the environmental education field in both urban and rural places and completed her master’s degree at Cornell University in Natural Resources with a focus on urban environmental education. Jesse is passionate about creating learning opportunities that inspire connection and social change. Outside of work Jesse loves to bake, tend to her bees, and have adventures with her dog Sadie. 

Jesse was a Connecticut delegate to the 2015 New England Food Summit.

Lin Geng 

Lin GengLin Geng is from China. He has been living in the U.S. for 14 years and has worked in restaurant industry for 14 years in many positions such as kitchen helper, cook, cashier, and sushi chef. He is an organizer of the Pioneer Valley Workers Center in Northampton, MA where he works on the Wage Theft campaign: “Stop Wage Theft #413” aims to pass a local bill that would suspend business’ license for violations of wage law or other labor law, until the business fixes it. 

Lin Geng majored in Liberal Arts and graduated from Greenfield Community College this summer. He likes photography and movies, and spends time biking and taking pictures outside. 

Lin Geng was a Food Chain Worker delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Shannon Grimes

Shannon GrimesShannon Grimes is Farm Viability Associate at Maine Farmland Trust, where she manages nutrition incentive programming, including coordinating the Maine Local Foods Access Network and working with a variety of organizations and markets within the state and region. She has been working with Maine Farmland Trust for a little over two years and is involved in outreach and policy for the organization as well.

Growing up in New Zealand and Montana, Shannon loved wandering through the woods and soaking in the sunshine, but is now quite happy to be living near the ocean in Maine (the only trouble is that not enough people in the Midcoast know Lindy Hop swing dancing). She also enjoys cooking and experimenting with local food, and once upon a time updated her own blog, Dancing Tree Kitchen. Shannon is especially interested in learning more about agroforestry and integrating trees into our food system.

Shannon was an Emerging Leader delegate to the 2015 New England Food Summit and a Maine delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Maleah Gustafson

Maleah GustafsonMaleah Gustafson serves on the Board of Directors and Executive Committee of Central Mass Grown, a “buy local” organization focused on promoting local agricultural products, education, and networking opportunities between producers and consumers to help build a more sustainable food economy throughout the region. She is also the founder and administrator of Central Mass Local Food, a virtual community to share resources, events, advocacy, and volunteer opportunities related to food and farms in central Massachusetts. 

Maleah earned a Master of Education, focused on service-learning and leadership, from the University of Massachusetts Amherst (Higher Education Administration), and a Bachelor of Arts (Psychology, Leadership Studies) from Marietta College. She has worked professionally as a volunteer coordinator in healthcare; in educational outreach for the United Way; with experiential learning from elementary to higher education; and is an alumna of AmeriCorps (City Year RI and Mass Campus Compact*VISTA) and the Commonwealth Corps in Massachusetts.

Maleah is an experienced practitioner of volunteer engagement, program management, and community development. She is passionate about creating change, helping others, and developing networks to improve economic and community health. Always a supporter of local food, her interest really took off when she became a parent seeking out the healthiest foods for her family. She enjoys visiting farmers’ markets, spending time with her family, traveling, and following figure skating.

Kaitlin Haskins

Kaitlin HaskinsKaitlin Haskins is the Communications Coordinator for Farm to Institution New England (FINE). She has been working in the food system since 2009. Prior to joining the FINE team, Kaitlin coordinated projects for Upper Valley Farm to School Network and marketing for FarmPlate. She has served on the board of directors for the Upper Valley Food Co-op and the Windham Orchestra. 

A native of Michigan, Kaitlin graduated from Butler University in Indianapolis with a bachelor’s degree in arts administration and music with a focus on sustainability. While at Butler, she co-founded the Butler Campus Farm. Visit for more. Kaitlin lives with her husband and their critters in southern Vermont.

Kaitlin was a Crosscutting delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Lesley Heiser

Lesley HeiserLesley Heiser leads Cultivating Community’s communication and development efforts. She started and is growing their small magazine on the food system, Plenitude.

Lesley began learning about the struggles of disadvantaged peoples in her twenties when she worked as an intern at the National Campaign Office of Amnesty International and subsequently moved to Bolivia and co-led the first international research effort and reporting on the impact of the war on drugs on Bolivian citizens. She began working in communications and development for nonprofit organizations in 1994, first as a staff writer, then as a senior staff writer at Johns Hopkins University. Since then, she has combined her passion for human rights with building her skill-set around communications and fundraising. She also earned a Master of Fine Arts in fiction writing and has grown a second vocation as a writer.

Lesley hopes to take advantage of her participation in the FSNE Network Leadership Institute to support other participants’ work in communications and fundraising and to grow her skills and contacts so she can be a more effective and highly published writer about the local, sustainable food system.

Benjamin Hill 

Benjamin Hill Ben Hill lives in Portsmouth, New Hampshire and began his work as the Network Coordinator for the New Hampshire Food Alliance in July. He works with food system stakeholders throughout New Hampshire to increase connectivity and coordination aimed at improving the viability of New Hampshire food and agriculture.

Ben first became involved with agriculture and food systems work during his undergraduate studies at Appalachian State University. Surrounded by a thriving small-scale agricultural community, his engagement with local producers and distributors pushed him to pursue employment in the agricultural sector after completing his B.S. degree. Ben went on to work for agricultural businesses and non-profit organizations in the southwestern and northeastern United States. He considered his future prospects in agriculture, and since his student loans weren’t going anywhere and there was no family land, Ben decided to pursue graduate education in agriculture as part of a dual-degree program between the University of Hohenheim in Stuttgart, Germany and the University of Natural Resources and Applied Life Sciences in Vienna, Austria, completing his M.Sc. in Agricultural Sciences. This experience provided Ben with a profound knowledge of agronomy and soil science, while simultaneously exposing him to models of food production and distribution quite different than in the United States.

Noel Kayo 

Noel Kayo Noel Kayo hails from Connecticut, where he is a Medical Doctor trained in cardiovascular disease risk prevention. His research focuses on nutrition, especially plant based nutrition, exercise, smoking cessation, and other life style interventions to prevent cardiovascular diseases. He has been very athletic since his teen years, and continues to “walk the talk” through a regimen of regular aerobic exercise. He is an advocate of health equity through collaborative research studies aimed at identifying elements that contribute to healthcare disparities. As a fervent advocate for the medical profession, he works to influence healthcare policies that result in more autonomy for doctors in clinical medicine. By supporting doctors who work with patients every day, Noel believes patients will have more positive experiences, and physicians will be more motivated to continue practicing. 

Noel was a Crosscutting Trailblazer* delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Anna Muhammad

Anna MuhammadAnna Muhammad serves on the Springfield Food Policy Council’s Urban Agriculture Committee as the Community Garden Coordinator, as well as the Vice Chair of Gardening The Community, a youth leadership development and urban agriculture organization. She also works with NOFA as the Food Access Program Coordinator.  Anna has been a resident of Springfield, Massachusetts for nine years and is an avid gardener. She helps families that live in economically stressed areas (due to racism, classism, and poor economic conditions) achieve food security and access to nutritious food. It is her goal to make her community a decent place to live by providing clean, nutritious and accessible food.

Anna was a Massachusetts delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Isa Mujahid

Isa MujahidIsa Mujahid, founder of CTCORE (Community Organizing for Racial Equity) - Organize Now!, is a native of Bridgeport, Connnecticut. CTCORE-Organize Now! is committed to reducing racial inequities through a combination of racial justice programming and community organizing. Isa has been involved in community organizing in Connecticut for almost 15 years. He began his work with ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) in Bridgeport, and later organized with the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) of Connecticut and FaithActs for Education in Bridgeport. Food justice is a new area and issue for Isa, and he is eager to learn how to best lead and develop leaders to build a powerful food justice movement in Connecticut. 

Isa was a Connecticut delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Sarah Schumann 

Sarah SchumannSarah Schumann is a fish worker, fisherman, writer, and advocate. Her fisheries activities take her from Bristol Bay, Alaska, where she has worked as a salmon cannery machinist for the past nine summers, to the waters of Narragansett Bay, where she fishes for conchs, quahogs, oysters, and razor clams. Her advocacy activities include developing a climate change adaptation blueprint with Rhode Island's fishing industry and coordinating the activities of a small nonprofit, Eating with the Ecosystem, that works to apply the principles of ecosystem science to the New England seafood system and marketplace. She worked with the University of Rhode Island to write the book "Rhode Island's Shellfish Heritage: An Ecological History," published in 2015.

Jr Neville Songwe

Jr Neville SongweJr Neville Songwe is the President and Founder of Joneso Design Inc., a product design and development firm. He is also the Executive Director of Urban Ventures Inc., a non-profit organization providing technical assistance to start-up entrepreneurs and micro businesses in Rhode Island. He hopes to use his expertise to assist growers/farmers to become better entrepreneurs and increase access to healthy and affordable food in urban communities.

Jr Neville was a Crosscutting Trailblazer delegate to the 2016 New England Food Summit.

Rebecca Story

Rebecca StoryBecca Story, Master of Science, Registered Dietitian, Licensed Dietitian, is a Nutrition Specialist with the New England Dairy & Food Council and is based in New Hampshire. In this role, Becca is responsible for supporting school nutrition programs, providing nutrition education, resources and networking opportunities for health and wellness professionals, as well as executing and supporting local campaigns to increase the visibility of New England dairy foods.

In her previous position she spent nine years addressing food insecurity as Coordinator for Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters program at the New Hampshire Food Bank. Through this role she helped expand the localized program statewide through networks and collaborations. She bore witness to the challenges and success stories of individuals and organizations affected by food insecurity throughout New Hampshire. She also has three years of experience educating emerging nutrition professionals in community nutrition and food service management. At the University of New Hampshire she served as Adjunct faculty for the Dietetic Internship Program and helped to support concepts of sustainable food systems, food insecurity, livable wages throughout the Internship programming and courses.

Becca earned a Bachelor of Science from the University of Connecticut, and completed her Dietetic Internship and master’s degree at the University of New Hampshire. She is an active member of the New Hampshire Dietetic Association and its Board of Directors, having served as President, Treasurer, and Professional Development Chair. She is a student mentor for community nutrition experiences with local and distance dietetic and nutrition programs.

Cecily Upton

Cecily UptonCecily Upton has led the design and execution of FoodCorps’ programming since its earliest days, turning what was once just an idea into a powerful reality that now spans 18 states, 160+ site partners, 205 service members, and more than 550 schools. As VP of Innovation and Strategic Partnerships, she oversees the development of external partnerships critical to supporting and expanding their impact; pursues and pilots programs to help improve, adapt, and evolve their program model; and leads cross-departmental projects that maximize efficacy, drive revenue, and position FoodCorps to capitalize on opportunities for achieving next-level impact and systems change.

Cecily cut her teeth in school food work as the co-creator of a marginally successful garden experiment at her high school in Maine. A decade later, after stints in arts management and farming in Italy and India, she returned to school food, first managing Youth Programs with Slow Food USA and then co-founding FoodCorps. Cecily earned  her Bachelor of Arts from Bowdoin College, her Master of Arts from New York University and lives in Maine with her husband and daughter, who are probably getting sick of her annual exclamation, “I think our vegetable garden should be bigger next year!"

Daniel Winans 

Daniel Winans Dan Winans is a Lecturer at the University of New Hampshire (UNH) within the Hospitality Management Department offered through the Peter T. Paul College of Business and Economics. He has also been the Director of UNH’s undergraduate Dual Major in EcoGastronomy since 2008. EcoGastronomy is an interdisciplinary field of study that includes, but is not limited to: agriculture/food production, food distribution, cooking, hospitality management, food culture/history, food justice, food sovereignty, nutrition, and the overall art and appreciation of food.

Daniel is a 2007 graduate of The University of Gastronomic Science in Colorno, Italy, where he earned his Master of Food Culture. In 1999, he graduated with highest honors from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. Dan did his undergraduate work at UNH, graduating in 1993 with a Bachelor of Science in Hotel Administration. At age 11, Dan started baking bread and selling it to the neighbors. At 13, he began working on a farm that grew tomatoes and tobacco. At 16, he landed a job in the local supermarket deli. He is a member of Chefs Collaborative and Slow Food as well as the faculty advisor for the UNH Slow Food Chapter. He lives in Durham, New Hampshire with his wife and four young children, the real food mongers. His fruit and vegetable gardens offer inspiration from May through November.


* “Trailblazers” are Crosscutting delegates invited to participate in the New England Food Summit (2015, 2016) by the Ambassadors.