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.
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
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 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, 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.
Jazmyne Brooks, Emerson Fellow
NSAC is proud to be partnering with the Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellowship program for 2022 as a policy site host.
Jazmyne is originally from Slaton,Texas. Most recently, Jazmyne completed a Master of International Development with a Global Environmental Change and Adaptation certificate at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Her lived experience and background in grassroots organizing cultivated her interest in community-based solutions. As an Emerson Fellow, Jazmyne looks forward to learning about various pathways to developing food systems that center and nurture our communities, health, and environment.
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.