Eric J. Deeble, Policy Director

Eric is a large animal veterinarian (University of Pennsylvania, 2013) who prior to joining NSAC worked in the US Senate on farm and food policy with the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). His commitment to sustainable, equitable, and just food systems comes from his time with farmers, ranchers, dairy producers and the people who make sure the food they produce is safe, affordable, and available to everyone in their own community. Prior to his veterinary career, he worked in the not-for-profit sector ensuring safe housing conditions for elderly and disabled persons.

Tiffany Guinn, Operations Coordinator

Tiffany holds a B.A. in English with a minor in photography from George Mason University. After completing their studies, they sought a firsthand understanding of crucial facets of the food system with the growing intent of advocating for equitable reform that most benefits communities of color. Their experience spans professional cooking, organic farming, food photography, product procurement for small markets, outreach coordination, grant writing, and more. Before joining NSAC, Tiffany completed an AmeriCorps VISTA service year with a member organization in Mississippi where they worked along side local farmers and helped connect them to volunteers, their communities, and to resources they needed to succeed. 

Billy Hackett, Policy Fellow

Billy 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.

Sarah Hackney, Coalition Director

Sarah 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.

Michael Happ, Policy Specialist

Michael comes from a 7-generation farm family in Illinois. Though farming was not his calling, Michael works to make it easier for farmers to be good stewards of the land, staffing NSAC’s Conservation, Energy, and Environment Committee and Climate Change Subcommittee. Prior to joining NSAC, Michael worked at the National Wildlife Federation and in the office of former Representative Tim Walz (D-MN). Michael is a graduate of Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he studied Political Science and Education.

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.

Ugo Ikoro, Grassroots Fellow

Ugo’s background in public health has shaped her interest in health and food equity, and has been strengthened by her experiences working among communities committed to changing the food system for the better. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology with a minor in history from UNC Chapel Hill, where she worked with community-based projects and research domestically and internationally and spearheaded an ethnographic project on the justice-based responses to food access in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area. Her work in serving young women in South Africa reinforced her determination to address systems of inequity among vulnerable populations, and ultimately led her to organizing projects around food system issues as an intern for Self-Help’s Healthy Food Retail Program as well as a volunteer for farm collectives in NC and NY. Ugo is fascinated with place-making and the role that community plays in shaping resilient food geographies. She hopes to continue a career dedicated to community-level policy in the future.

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.

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, Deputy 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.  Since 2011, she has led the coalition’s federal policy work on beginning and underserved farmers – primarily expanding access to land, credit, markets, technical assistance, and crop insurance. She staffs NSAC’s Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee. 

Daniela Solis, Communications & Development Fellow

Dani’s academic background in food systems has shaped her interest in the role of institutions and social organizing in changing food systems, while her lived experience continues to drive her passion to cultivate empathy and love within them. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Urban Studies and minor in Food Systems from UC Berkeley, where she served as the chair of the BFI undergraduate student council, spearheaded the undergraduate campaign against UC Berkeley’s pouring rights contract with PepsiCo, and co-authored a comprehensive report on food systems education.  Dani is fascinated by the power of policy and place and hopes to pursue a career in food systems planning for underserved communities.

Candace Spencer, Policy Specialist

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Candace is a “Double Gator” and earned both her B.A. in Environmental Science and J.D. from the University of Florida, as well as a Certificate in Environmental and Land Use Law. She previously worked at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she developed a new program area in the Conservation Clinic focused on environmental justice and community economic development and engaged in local urban agricultural policy. Candace is passionate about equitable food systems and land ownership, particularly Black owned agricultural land and addressing food apartheid. She staffs the Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee.

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 Coordinator

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.

Cristel Zoebisch, Climate Policy Associate

Cristel holds an M.A. in Food Studies from New York University, where she focused on food and agricultural economics and policy, and she earned her B.A. in Economics from the University of Texas at Austin. Her graduate thesis analyzed three farm bill programs that support beginning, socially disadvantaged and veteran farmers and ranchers. Her previous work includes participating on a program evaluation team for the NYC Mayor’s Office of Food Policy, conducting food policy advocacy and educational activities for a national nonprofit organization, and consulting.