Esteban Arenas-Pino, Policy Fellow

Esteban is a recent Middlebury College graduate where he earned a B.A. in Environmental Policy. In undergrad he gained experience in issues of international environmental justice, sustainable development and international relations. His main areas of interest are international environmental law, climate change adaptation and mitigation, urban resiliency, and food security in the age of global warming.

Alyssa Charney, Senior Policy Specialist

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Alyssa holds an M.S. in Agriculture and Food Policy and an M.P.H from Tufts University.  She also has a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Vassar College.  As a FoodCorps member in rural Montana, Alyssa established and expanded a farm to school program, and she has worked on food and agriculture policy at the Center for Rural Affairs, New England Farmers Union, and the National Farm to School Network.  After interning with NSAC while in graduate school, she was the lead contributor to the 2015 Farmers’ Guide to the Conservation Stewardship Program. Alyssa staffs NSAC’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee.

Tiffany Guinn, Operations Coordinator

Tiffany completed her studies in 2010 and has since sought a firsthand understanding of various facets of the food system with the growing intent of advocating for equitable reform. Her experience spans cooking professionally, organic farming, food photography, local farm product procurement, and grant writing. Before joining NSAC, Tiffany completed an AmeriCorps VISTA service year with Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture Network where she worked to connect local farmers to their communities and resources needed to succeed. She holds a B.A. in English with a minor in photography from George Mason University.

Sarah Hackney, Grassroots Director

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Sarah works with NSAC’s member organizations and allies to empower and mobilize grassroots food and farm voices nationwide. She staffs NSAC’s Grassroots Council and facilitates its work developing grassroots advocacy campaigns. Raised in rural Florida, her prior work has included community-led efforts to improve small farm viability, increase fresh food access, and build leadership in rural communities in the Pacific Northwest.  She holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Dartmouth College.

Nichelle Harriott, Policy Specialist

Nichelle earned her B.S. in Chemistry and Environmental Science at Morgan State University and her M.S. in Environmental Science and Public Policy at George Mason University. She has spent her career providing decision-makers, stakeholder communities, and the general public with information needed to support sustainable, organic, and agroecological farming systems. Prior to joining NSAC, Nichelle worked for more than 10 years to advance scientific integrity and regulatory policy related to environmental and public health. Nichelle has led large coalitions and served three terms on the Environmental Protection Agency’s Pesticide Program Dialogue Committee. Nichelle staffs the NSAC Research Extension Education Committee, which focuses on research and organic agriculture issues.

Ferd Hoefner, Senior Strategic Advisor

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Ferd is a founding staff member of NSAC and has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture community for over 30 years. He led NSAC’s federal policy work from 1988 through 2016, and now serves in a mentoring and advisory role to the coalition. Prior to his work with NSAC, for nearly a decade he represented Interfaith Action for Economic Justice and its predecessor, the Interreligious Taskforce on U.S. Food Policy, on federal farm, food, and development policy. He has consulted with many NGOs and has served on numerous USDA advisory committees. A graduate of Oberlin College, he has also undertaken graduate work in ethics and economics at Wesley Theological Seminary and American University.

Wes King, Senior Policy Specialist

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Wes has worked on sustainability and food policy issues for ten years. He staffs NSAC’s Marketing, Food Systems and Rural Development Committee. Before joining NSAC in 2016, Wes spent the previous six years at NSAC member organization, Illinois Stewardship Alliance, working on food access, farmers markets and working-lands conservation policy; and leading efforts to create a more risk and scale appropriate regulatory environment for farms and local food businesses. Prior to that he worked for the Illinois Environmental Council. Wes holds an M.A. and B.A. in Political Science from the University of Illinois.

Reana Kovalcik, Associate Director for Communications and Development

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Reana supports NSAC’s policy and grassroots efforts by translating challenging policy language into digestible communications and by providing the development support needed for robust fundraising. Reana grew up in the Chicago area and earned her BA in Urban Policy from De Paul University. She later moved to NYC, where earned her MA in Urban Policy Analysis from The New School for Public Engagement. While there, she helped create healthier school food programs and policies for NYC children as part of the Wellness in the Schools team. Reana also served as Legislative Aide for Food Policy under New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, with whom she helped develop NYC’s first package of local food sourcing legislation in 2011.

Margaret Krome, Interim Coalition Director

Margaret has directed the Policy Program of the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute (an NSAC member organization) in East Troy, Wisconsin for 23 years.  In that role, she has helped develop state and local programs and policies supporting environmentally sound, profitable, and socially responsible agriculture. For over 20 years she led the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s annual national grassroots appropriations campaigns to fund federal programs.  Margaret helps coordinate a farmer-led watershed group in Southwest Wisconsin and has created a cultural relationship between conservation farmers and fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico. She also conducts workshops and webinars nationwide on grant writing and using federal programs to support sustainable agriculture and has collaborated with MOSES to educate farmers about risk management and crop insurance.

Marla Karina Larrave, Associate Director for Grassroots Advocacy

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Marla works with grassroots members to link identified priorities and needs with policy efforts and advocacy opportunities on a national scale. She facilitates NSAC’s work on equity within the food and farm system through the Diversity Committee and alongside member leaders. Having grown up in Los Angeles with deep farming roots in Guatemala, her previous experience includes progressing community-based and leadership initiatives with people of color, migrants and indigenous communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Marla holds an M.A. in International Development from American University and a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Kelly Nuckolls, Policy Specialist

Kelly holds an LL.M. in Agricultural and Food Law from the University of Arkansas Law School, a J.D. from Drake University Law School, and She has a B.A. in Political Science from Fort Hays State University. She previously worked at the University of Maryland and with the University of Delaware Cooperative Extension, where she helped farmers manage legal risks and understand federal and state laws that impact their operations. She staffs the Food System Integrity Committee.

Juli Obudzinski, Interim Policy Director

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Juli holds an M.S. in Agriculture and Food Policy from Tufts University.  She has researched regional food production capacities, coordinated federal grant programs on organic and specialty crop research, and helped develop a policy platform for expanding Iowa’s local food economy.  She staffs NSAC’s Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition, and also leads NSAC’s work on beginning and socially disadvantaged farmer initiatives.

Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Northeast Regional Organizer

Ariana works to educate, connect, and empower grassroots food and farm groups in the northeast.  She also co-owns and operates Here We Are Farm in Trumansburg, NY, growing vegetables for CSA and farmers markets.  She is active in her community as a chapter leader of Showing Up for Racial Justice and the National Young Farmers Coalition.  Before moving east, Ariana farmed and coordinated policy advocacy work for two NSAC member organizations in Washington state.  She holds an M.P.A. and B.A. from the University of Washington.

Kelsey Watson, Grassroots Fellow

Kelsey is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she recently completed a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability with focus on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. She has a particular interest in racial equity in the food system, black food and farming systems, and black land ownership. During university, Kelsey was heavily involved with the local chapter of Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences. She would like to continue to find opportunities within food systems advocacy work and pursue graduate school.