Staff


Cathy Day, Climate Policy Coordinator

Cathy 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.

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, Associate Director of Operations and Events

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 Associate

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. Billy helps staff the NSAC Farming Opportunities and Fair Competition Committee, which focuses on key crop insurance, commodity, and competition issues.

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.

Nichelle Harriott, Senior 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.

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.

Gabrielle Lewis, Grassroots Fellow

Gabrielle (she/her) holds a B.S. in Biology with concentrations in Microbiology and Humanitarian affairs from James Madison University. Following her undergraduate studies, she served as a Fulbright student researcher at the University of Lagos in Nigeria where she continued her work with the HHMI SEA-PHAGES program searching for novel bacteriophages and serving as a teaching assistant for the UNILAG SEA-PHAGES program. After returning to her hometown in Virginia she nurtured her love for the land, building community, growing and eating good food. In the last year she has participated in several beginning farmer programs in the D/M/V. She is now focused on learning all she can about the Virginia native landscape, agroforestry, and restoring and decolonizing her relationship with the land we live with.

Kelly Nuckolls, Senior 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.

Nicholas Rossi, Policy Fellow

Nick 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.

Ariana Taylor-Stanley, Associate Director of Organizing

Ariana 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, Associate Director of Partnerships and Engagement

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 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 holds a Master of International Affairs degree with a focus on agricultural policy and poverty reduction from Columbia University. She has worked at the intersection of agriculture, economic development, nutrition, and public health for 18 years. She has experience advancing the goals of mission-driven organizations through nonprofit management, fundraising, and strategic communications for a range of organizations, including Northeast Farm Access, 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.