Cathy Day, Climate Policy Coordinator

Cathy (she/her) has worked on agriculture and climate change for most of the last 20 years. Before joining NSAC, she taught in the Environmental Science and Studies and Sustainable Food Systems programs at Stetson University, where she also led implementation of the Sustainable Farming Fund. She holds a PhD and MS in Geography from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she researched how Nigerian and New Mexican farmers respond to multiple stressors, including climate change. Raised in Montana, her background includes time as a farm apprentice in Alaska, as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in Niger, and as an agricultural educator in New York, New Mexico, and Florida. She earned her B.A. in Environmental Studies and French at the University of Kansas. She studied in the CALS Crop and Soil Science program as a master’s student at Cornell University before earning a M.A.T. and a Biology Teaching Certificate.

Lindsey Farrell, Grassroots Coordinator

Lindsey (she/her) is a community organizer who holds a B.A. in Political Science with Minors in Spanish and Gender Studies from Temple University. Her organizing work spans from reproductive health to immigration justice and direct voter contact. As the only person of color in an all white family, she learned firsthand how inaccessible fresh food is to communities of color. Guided by personal experience, she is excited to help center communities and ensure everyone has access to quality resources.

Hamsa Ganapathi, Policy Fellow

Hamsa (she/her) holds an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment from Tufts University and a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Connecticut. Her passion for sustainable and equitable food systems began while she was volunteering on an urban farm in New Haven, CT. Since then, she has worked in many realms of the food system, from conducting USDA field work in Nebraska, to coordinating farm to school research initiatives, to advocating for climate-resilient agriculture funding in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. These experiences have shaped Hamsa’s commitment to developing policies and programs that facilitate the creation of a more sustainable food system.

Billy Hackett, Policy Specialist

Billy (he/him) holds B.A.s in Political Science and International Studies as well as a minor in International Development and Humanitarian Assistance from the University of Florida. He unearthed a passion for equitable food systems organizing in solidarity with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, spearheading a national student campaign to advance the Fair Food Program. Before joining NSAC, Billy returned to Immokalee as a health promoter when the rural town became an epicenter for the Covid-19 pandemic. These experiences, in addition to serving as international president of a community service nonprofit in college, have informed his commitment to amplify the voices of directly impacted, underserved communities in the policymaking process. Billy staffs the NSAC Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee, which focuses on key crop insurance, commodity, and competition issues.

Sarah Hackney, Coalition Director

Sarah (she/her) oversees NSAC’s overall organizational strategic direction, administration, management, and capacity-building. Previously, she served as NSAC’s Grassroots Director for nearly 8 years, working with NSAC’s member organizations and allies to empower and mobilize grassroots food and farm voices nationwide. 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.

Connor Kippe, Policy Specialist

Connor (he/him) grew up working in Michigan in agriculture and the food system – from picking weeds in fields, to driving the occasional tractor, working as a butcher, managing green roof installations, co-creating an educational farm, and helping advocate for and design a university food bank. He has spent time in North Carolina leading advocacy around food and energy systems’ impact on climate along with working with and centering harmed communities like farmworkers and residents living near CAFOs to develop equitable coalitions, campaigns, and policy. He has a B.A. from the University of Michigan in political science and environmental science, with a specialization in food policy. Connor staffs the NSAC Food System Integrity Committee, which focuses on key food safety, labeling, and livestock processing issues.

Sophia Kruszewski, Deputy Policy Director

Sophia (she/her) leads NSAC’s cross-team policy coordination and strategy efforts. She returned to NSAC after 4 years leading the Food and Agriculture Clinic at Vermont Law School, where she directed a team providing law and policy services to farmers, food entrepreneurs, and food system organizations. During that time, Sophia led the launch of the Vermont Legal Food Hub, a program that connects farmers and local food businesses with free legal assistance. Sophia previously served as a Senior Policy Specialist at NSAC; her DC experience also includes the Center for Food Safety, the White House Council on Environmental Quality, and the federal district court. She holds a BS in Environmental Science from the University of Michigan and a JD from Vermont Law School.

Michael Lavender, Policy Director

Mike (he/him) leads NSAC’s overall policy strategy and advocacy efforts. Prior to NSAC he was the Senior Manager of Government Affairs for the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food & Environment program, an NSAC member, and served for 3 years on the Organizational Council of NSAC. At UCS, Mike advocated for a science-based, equitable, healthy, and sustainable food and farm system. Previously, Mike served as a policy analyst at the Environmental Working Group and spent six years in the office of former Senator Herb Kohl (D-WI), where he worked on agriculture appropriations, dairy policy, and other farm and food policy issues. He has a B.A. in American history and French language from Marquette University.

Hannah Quigley, Policy Specialist

Hannah (she/her) holds an M.P.H from the University of North Carolina and a B.A. from NC State University. North Carolina is where she found her place in food and agriculture and more specifically in the synergies between promoting public health through a regional food economy. Her programmatic work has included designing and managing sliding scale CSAs and business development resources for food and farm entrepreneurs, while her policy design and advocacy experience rests in farm to school, healthy food finance initiatives, capital access, and urban agriculture. Her approach in the work seeks to disrupt power imbalances in policy design and decision making by centering community voices, particularly those that have been historically displaced or marginalized. She joins NSAC from Richmond, Virginia to staff the Marketing, Food Systems and Rural Development committee, which focuses on local and regional food systems, farm to school, healthy food access, and economic development.

Nicholas Rossi, Policy Associate

Nick (he/him) holds a B.S. in Environment and Natural Resources with a minor in English from the Ohio State University. His experience spans from working on environmental education and food insecurity in Iowa to traversing the Rocky Mountains as a Wilderness Ranger with the US Forest Service in Colorado.  Before joining NSAC, Nick worked on a small organic vegetable farm in central Ohio growing food and advocating for sustainable local food systems in urban environments.  These combined experiences inform Nick’s approach to sustainable agriculture especially as it relates to climate change and his commitment to building resilient food systems that appropriately address the needs of first-generation farmers and historically underserved farming communities. Nick supports the coalition’s policy campaigns across several issue committees.

Anthony J. Singh-Reynoso, Grassroots Fellow

Anthony (he/they) was born and raised on the Central Coast of California in Oxnard and has a background in food and farming education, farmers market development, and community organizing for housing rights and environmental justice. Anthony’s experience working in sustainable agriculture coupled with his family’s experience as agricultural laborers has instilled in them a commitment to work towards an equitable and sustainable food system. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies with a minor in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Grassroots Co-Director

Ariana (she/her) holds an M.P.A. and B.A. from the University of Washington.  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.  At NSAC she works to educate, connect, and empower grassroots food and farm groups in the northeast, leads on grassroots campaign messaging and materials, and develops organizing strategies and tactics for campaigns.

Kelsey Watson, Grassroots Co-Director

Kelsey (she/her) holds a B.S. in Environmental Studies and Sustainability & Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Michigan State University and has spent more than a decade doing work in food and agriculture. Her work with NSAC has relocated her to D.C. but she was born and raised in Michigan where she was most recently working with the Center for Regional Food Systems on developing An Annotated Bibliography on Structural Racism Present in the US Food System. She comes to policy work by way of wanting to understand how the policy decisions that immediately impact communities of color are made. Kelsey’s work is rooted in principles of racial justice, Black food sovereignty, and exploring individual relationships with food, land, and people. She is involved nationally with Minorities in Agriculture Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Black Urban Growers (BUGS) and currently serves on the NESAWG board of directors. At NSAC she implements grassroots campaigns, develops accountable community partnerships, supports incoming Coalition members, and staffs NSAC’s Diversity Committee.

Jesse Womack, Policy Specialist

Jesse (he/him) grew up working as labor on various farms and holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Masters in Food and Agricultural Law and Policy from Vermont Law School. After undergrad, Jesse served as an Americorps VISTA developing programing for local food farms and businesses in southern Minnesota. Jesse transitioned from that role to leading a nine-county agricultural resilience study while coordinating programing for the Feast! Local Foods Network. Most recently, Jesse worked with the Nature Conservancy in Ohio to improve water quality and carbon outcomes by promoting conservation practices to farmers.

Laura Zaks, Associate Director of Communications and Development

Laura (she/her) holds a Master of International Affairs degree with a focus on agricultural policy and economic development from Columbia University and a B.A. from the College of Letters at Wesleyan University. She has worked at the intersection of agriculture, economic development, nutrition, and public health for more than 18 years. She has experience advancing the goals of mission-driven organizations through nonprofit management, fundraising, and strategic communications for the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture, the Azuero Eco Foundation, and the International Planned Parenthood Federation, among others.

Our Founding Policy Director, Ferd Hoefner

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 as Policy Director from 1988 through 2016 and served as Senior Strategic Advisor from 2017-2020. He continues to mentor and advise the coalition in a consulting role.