skip to Main Content

Liz Wiley
Executive Director
Ext: 116

Liz Wiley comes to the Marion Institute with a diverse background focused on environmental and social sustainability.  Originally trained as a biologist, she helped pioneer methods to rescue mass stranded whales and dolphins, investigated the impact of noise on killer whales and logged thousands of hours identifying and mapping the location of critically endangered North Atlantic right whales.  While passionate about environmental protection, her experience as a woman in science led to a greater commitment in improving the lives of underserved women and the need to form healthy communities that combine environmental and social needs.  It was through her work at Bristol Community College (BCC) that she was able to develop and expand these principles through grant initiatives focused on workforce development and the green economy.

Most recently, Liz was the Food Security Lead at Spherical Analytics and Impact LABS where her work with farmers, fisheries and aquaculture focused on live piloting IoT technologies and designing, developing and marketing enterprise grade blockchain-enabled platform solutions.

Liz received her MS in Organizational Management and Leadership from Antioch University-New England, where her thesis focused on the ‘Role of Women in Creating and Maintaining Sustainable Communities’.  She has taught courses at Boston University and BCC and is a certified yoga teacher.  Liz and her family; Dave, Luke, Nathan live in Wareham.

Adam Davenport
Grow Education Program Manager
Ext: 119

Through the Grow Education program, Adam designs, manages, and connects residents to use the school based-community gardens.  His BS in Civil Engineering, Certificates in Integrative Nutrition and permaculture, and experience working as a SpEd. science teacher have helped develop his expertise in designing interactions between the ecological and social worlds.  In addition to his part-time role as Grow Education’s Garden Operations Manager, he is the co-Founder of Terra Cura, a Design and Consulting firm focused on regenerative social and ecological systems.  His interests range from philosophy to physics but center around nature.  In his free time he is rock climbing, practicing yoga, or traveling to experience and learn from worldwide cultures.

Christy Mach Dubé
Director of Engagement
Ext: 118

Christy comes to the Marion Institute with over 15 years of experience as a strategic advisor to philanthropists, nonprofits, and political candidates. She has deep experience in the fields of nutrition and food security, gender and racial equity, education, policy, and philanthropy promotion. Most recently, Christy served as the Vice President of Programs at the Eos Foundation. Professionally, she is most proud of contributions made to secure passage of Breakfast After the Bell legislation, which ensures low-income children across Massachusetts have daily access to a nutritious school breakfast.

Christy holds a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree from Middlebury College. She enjoys World War II historical fiction novels, coaching soccer, speaking French, and gathering with friends. Christy lives in Marion with her husband, their three children, and sweet pup, Scooby.

Jessica Frank
BioMed Program Manager
Ext: 115

Jessica (Webb) Frank has been steeped in the business and practice of mind/body medicine since 2011. Her diverse career began as a journalist and editor in New York City before she pivoted to the travel and hospitality industry, spending ten years as a professional luxury yacht crew member. She landed in New England – by boat – and began establishing new roots in her personal passion: the natural health industry. For five years, she owned and operated Anchor Yoga, a thriving meditation and yoga studio in Mattapoisett, MA. During that time, she founded her own non-profit, Project Wheel House, serving marginalized communities on the Southcoast with trauma-sensitive mindfulness and yoga programs.

Jessica is certified to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) through Brown University’s Mindfulness Center and holds numerous adjunctive certifications. She is most proud of her work teaching the Path of Freedom prison mindfulness program to people who are incarcerated.

Jessica is deeply committed to the ongoing practice of self-awareness and believes this is the key to greater compassion, growth, and lasting joy. When she’s not working, Jess is either meditating, camping, paddleboarding, or spending time with her husband, Dave, and their dog, Molly.

Rita Higgins
Director of Food Access and Innovation
Ext: 111

Rita Higgins has a diverse background in food and non-food related work ranging from forestry, to a professional career in landscape design, to local politics as a member of the Nantucket Select Board, to experience as a small food producer in Ireland and Upstate New York. Rita’s focus has been on the human connection to land through the built environment, a focus she has explored through landscape design for over 15 years.

Five years ago, the essential nature of our connection to the land, to each other, and our impact on the environment through food became a motivating inspiration for her to become more involved in the world of food. This was coupled with the opportunity to take over an Upstate NY family-owned garlic farm and kitchen operations for a winter – an opportunity which highlighted the massive systemic supply chain issues that can prohibit small, local producer success and prevent eating healthfully, seasonally, and sustainably.

She brought these experiences and observations with her back to Nantucket and founded Pip & Anchor and 100 Mile Markets – two businesses that focus on making finding and buying local food easier.

Rita is a graduate of McGill University where she studied Environment and International Development.

Liz Russell
Development Associate
Ext: 114

Liz Russell has worked in the nonprofit sector since 2002 and within development and grantmaking for most of those years. She is passionate about social and environmental justice and feels privileged to rejoin the Marion Institute as Development Associate. In addition to development, Liz brings experience in diversity and inclusion work, program coordination, financial and systems management, contract administration, and event planning. 

A Midwesterner at heart, she was born and raised in a small farming village in Illinois before moving to New York City to study Anthropology and Archaeology at Hunter College. While there, she was invited to participate in a life-changing archaeological dig near Lincoln, New Mexico, where she met her husband. They currently live in Marion, MA with their two children and many pets.

Nate Sander
Grow Education Program Manager
Ext: 119

Nate brings a unique blend of experience amassed from more than 20 years of work in the education, non-profit, and agriculture sectors. His unique skill set will help to strengthen Grow Education’s reach and impact as school gardening programs expand and deepen across the Southcoast.  He was most recently working with Round the Bend Farm where he wore many hats over nine years; working with land-based farming systems, community building, sustainable design and construction, beekeeping, and finally as the Education Manager leading field trips, presentations, tours, workshops, professional development, service learning, overnight camps, and curriculum development. He spent several years teaching and running afterschool and summer programs in Seattle and moved back to the east coast after completing a three-year pilot with Seattle Public Schools and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation that focused on school and community partnership collaboration and alignment.

Nate is originally from Atlanta and graduated from Appalachian State University with a Bachelors of Fine Art.  He loves traveling, spending time in the wilderness, gardening, live music, and making stuff.

His passion for sustainable community health, environmental stewardship, equitable food access, and experiential education will act as catalysts to support regional efforts to create healthier futures for our students.

Christopher Silva
Marketing & Communications Manager
Ext: 117

Chris is a native south coaster having grown up in Fairhaven, MA and is excited to be back in the area to lead the marketing and communications efforts here at the Marion Institute. After having lived and worked in Boston, New York City, Provincetown, and most recently Martha’s Vineyard, he has settled in nicely at his new digs in New Bedford; a historic tenement three family in the city’s center. He graduated from The Massachusetts College of Art and Design with a BFA in graphic design and has mainly worked in the publishing design space ever since. An avid gardener, he has great respect for Mother Nature and the lessons she shares as well as a deep appreciation for holistic approaches to life’s challenges. He lists Buddhist practices and meditation as well as yoga and fitness among some of his interests.

Abigail Smith
Human Resources Manager
Ext: 113

Abby graduated with a B.A. in Anthropology and minor in Women’s Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and has a personal interest and commitment to social justice and quality compassionate healthcare. Prior to working at the Marion Institute, Abby’s experience as the office manager at a chiropractic office developed her belief in a multi-faceted holistic approach to health and wellness encompassing mental and physical wellbeing as well as nutrition. Away from the office, you can find her gardening, reading, cooking, and spending time with her family.

Christine Smith
Southcoast Food Policy Council Program Manager
Ext. 110

Christine began her social justice career working in Taiwan to help migrant workers from all over Southeast Asia. Upon her return to the U.S.A., she worked in a soup kitchen for Catholic Charities in Maryland. After several years of seeing injustices in the social and economic support systems, Christine moved from direct service to educating people on social justice concerns and legislative advocacy issues. She worked in advocacy and organizing both at the state-wide level in Maryland and Idaho. Christine also worked in partnership building on justice issues at the international level for Catholic Relief Services. Christine moved to Massachusetts to be closer to family and work for the social justice and restoration of our world. She enjoys hiking, off-road bicycling, traveling, learning how to garden, and the beach.

Shalynn Brooks
FoodCorps Service Member

Shalynn Brooks (Shay) is a first year Foodcorp Member at the New Bedford Public Schools. She is originally from Fall River, Massachusetts, where she graduated from Bristol Community College with an associates in Liberal Arts – Social & Behavioral Science. The summer after graduating, she joined the YWCA food injustice group, and shortly after became a board member for GroundWorks SouthCoast. Being in the transfer program, Shay was able to swiftly begin attending Bridgewater State University, and is now working towards her Bachelors in Social Work. At both schools, she had chosen electives that had to do with food injustice and food sustainability, but that was not her only connection to those subjects. Growing up with personal experience pertaining to food insecurity pushed her to look more deeply into the environments of those in her own community, and promote civic engagement to those in her personal life. While trying to find a new job that aligned more with her future pursuits she found FoodCorps Program and is excited to fulfill both a student and teacher role. 

Even though the city is so close to her hometown, Shay is excited to finally be able to explore New Bedford and learn more about the history as a new resident. Her favorite place to eat is Celia’s and visit West Beach when the weather allows it. Outside of work she loves writing poetry, playing her guitar and finding new recipes to cook. 

Jennifer Frates

Jennifer Frates
FoodCorps Service Member

Jennifer Frates, born and raised in Acushnet. Always have had a passion for cooking and loved working restaurants. Graduated in 2007 from Old Colony RVTHS from the Culinary Arts Program, and when on to get an associates at BCC in their Culainary Arts Program. After moving around for 6 years to collect cooking experience in fine dining establishments in Philadelphia, NYC, and Provincetown, returned home to New Bedford. I’ve always had an interest in farming, farm to table cooking and was first exposed to these concepts while working in Philadelphia. I have fallen back in love with living near the water, close to fresh seafood, coastal farms, and have found new interest in sailing and surfing. On the weekends I’m most likely found taking my kids on some combo of wheels on bike paths, swimming at a beach, or finding a new trail to hike (and look for Pokémon! )

Olivia Rother
FoodCorps Service Member

Olivia was raised in the Pioneer Valley of MA where her appreciation for locally grown food began. She worked on a farm in high school where she further developed her understanding of the importance of sustainable agricultural practices. Olivia attended college in Washington, DC. where she earned a Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Nutrition Sciences. She is currently working towards her Health Coaching Certificate. Olivia recently returned to New England and is excited to connect with the land and people on the South Coast.

Olivia is passionate about preventative and holistic health. She enjoys assisting people who want to make lifestyle changes to improve their health and wellbeing. Olivia values spending time in nature and meeting new people.

Back To Top