Tyler Edwards, Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator
Tyler (she/her) is a passionate advocate from North Carolina who holds a B.S. in Biology and a Science and Society Certificate from Duke University. Tyler’s interest in agriculture deepened during the pandemic as she researched racial disparities in land ownership and the impacts of industrial agriculture. While working at Tierra Negra Farm in Durham, North Carolina, she cultivated relationships with farmers and community members who practice cooperative land stewardship. After moving to Maryland, she sought out new opportunities to study regenerative agriculture at several farms in the DC area. These experiences, her commitment to racial equity, and her love for storytelling drive her approach to grassroots advocacy.
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
Sophia Kruszewski, Deputy Policy Director
Michael Lavender, Policy Director
Carena Miles, Operations Manager
Carena (she/they) manages administrative operations for NSAC. They grew up plucking worms from the soil and wandering through cornfields on their grandparents’ rural farmland in central Virginia, where their curiosity for plants and the environment led them to earn a B.S. in Biology from Hampton University. Soon after they interned as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the U.S. Forest Service where they did everything from repairing bridges along the Appalachian Trail to teaching environmental education lessons within national parks. For nearly a decade Carena worked within the NYC metro area food system, managing farmers markets, running community gardens, launching healthy food access initiatives with the City of Jersey City, and advocating for some of the strongest environmental justice protection laws in the nation with Ironbound Community Corporation. During this period they received their M.A. in Food Studies from New York University where they concentrated on Black Agrarianism and Cooperative Economics. Carena lends their passion and motivation for sustaining and building equitable food systems to the survival, joy, and resistance of Black and migrant farmers and workers..
Hannah Quigley, Policy Specialist
Nicholas Rossi, Policy Specialist
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.
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.
Jesse Womack, Policy Specialist
Jesse (he/him) grew up working as a laborer 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 programming for local food farms and businesses in southern Minnesota. Jesse transitioned from that role to leading a nine-county agricultural resilience study while coordinating programming 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, climate, 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.
Neza Xiuhtecutli, Senior Grassroots Advocacy Coordinator
Nezahualcoyotl “Neza” (he/him) joins the NSAC team with almost 20 years of experience working in rural communities in Mexico and Central America and in the US South. His training in anthropology sparked his interest in a time-depth perspective of agricultural practices and their social implications across cultural and geographic realms. In his previous work, he served as an advocate for farmworkers in Florida and for a more sustainable food and economic system.
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.