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SFPC Community Advisory Board (CAB)

The SFPC CAB consists of stakeholders from different sectors of the food system and represents towns across the region from Fall River to Plymouth. The CAB has been meeting monthly since September 2021 to create a thriving, inclusive, and culturally diverse regional food system in which we all benefit from healthy, accessible, and affordable foods.

Adele Sands, Chair

Adele Sands is a Project Manager at Left Field PM, creating project timelines for constructions projects. She is the former Superintendent/Director of Bristol County Agricultural High School in Dighton. She has previously worked as the Director of Student Services in both vocational and traditional schools. In all of her administrative roles, Adele has seen how food insecurity directly impacts families, particularly how it affects students’ ability to access their education. This is one reason why Adele is so committed to the work of the SFPC.

Emily Breen, Co-Chair

Emily is a Wareham resident of 3 years, having moved to the Southcoast after graduating from Northeastern University in 2019 with a B.S. in Human Services and a concentration in Food Systems and Public Health. She is passionate about health equity and racial, environmental, and food justice. Emily works as a Grant Program Officer at Health Resources in Action, a Boston-based public health institute. She loves exploring the beautiful Southcoast, reading, and photography.

Current CAB members

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Diana Bullard
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Larry DeSalvatore
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Marissa Perez-Dormitzer
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Judi Duveen
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Darlene Dymsza
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Wendy Garf-Lipp
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Joana Goncalves
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Victoria Grasela
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Deirdre Healy
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Jane Howard

Jane Howard
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Tracy Gerety –Ibbotson
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Katlynn Kisla
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Pam Kuechler
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Sarah Labossiere
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Dale Leavitt
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Alison LeBert
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Tom LeClair
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Leimary Llopiz
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Jim McKeag
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Phillip Messier
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Jacob Miller
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Susan Murray
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Stephanie Perks
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Gioia Persuitte
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Lisa Rahn
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Marlene Cerritos-Rivas
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Erik Rouseau
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Karen Schwalbe
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Rob Shaheen
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Dana Siles
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Vanila Silva-Roque
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Laura Smith
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Stephanie Taylor
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Rich Vacca
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Interested in joining the CAB? Please email sfpc@marioninstitute.org or call 508-748-0816 x110. New members onboard annually in January however you will be waitlisted until winter.

In Honor of Peter Muise, former Chair of the CAB

Peter MuiseIt is with heartfelt sadness and gratitude that we remember and honor Peter Muise, the Southcoast Food Policy Council’s (SFPC) Community Advisory Board Chair. Peter passed away on July 6, 2022 after a courageous, 19 year-long battle with cancer. Peter was a tenacious advocate for the betterment of the Southcoast, whether the issue was homelessness, education, regional resiliency, or supporting new business ventures. Those who had the pleasure of working with him know how he approached each issue, even cancer, with humor, determination, patience, thoughtfulness, and love.

When the pandemic began in early 2020, Peter began attending our weekly SFPC emergency response meetings. He also started calling me after each meeting and emailing me in-between the meetings to ask questions, propose ideas, and offer feedback. As the rate of food insecurity rose on the Southcoast, so did Peter’s responses, concerns, and interest. It was an easy decision for our newly formed SFPC Community Advisory Board (CAB) to elect Peter as its inaugural Board Chair, a position he enthusiastically accepted and performed this past year, often from an infusion chair or in the car driving to and from treatments in Boston. We also acknowledge his amazing wife Robin for all her support and attentive listening as she was always bravely by his side for all of these discussions and meetings.

Peter’s support and mentorship was instrumental as we developed the core infrastructure of the SFPC and the policies and procedures that will guide us long into the future. I am honored and grateful to have shared this experience with him. You can read more about this remarkable man and his many achievements here.

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Susan Murray


Susan is the Executive Director of the Southeastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership (SEMAP), a nonprofit that supports equitable access to local, healthy food and sustainable farming practices across Southeastern MA. Susan also owns and manages Flying Carrot Farm in Dartmouth with her husband, Tony, growing vegetables sustainably and raising chickens on pasture. She has been involved in local food system work for the last decade, previously working for both Coastal Foodshed in New Bedford and The Livestock Institute of Southern New England in Westport. Susan has a Bachelor and Master degrees in wildlife biology, with a focus on bat ecology. 

 

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Dana Siles


Dana has been a professional wedding, event, and portrait photographer since 1998 and saw the need for food recovery in her industry. In 2014, she co-founded Feeding Our Neighbors, an initiative to educate fellow event professionals about the law and the need for donating unused food after events. In 2017, she joined Rescuing Leftover Cuisine’s (RLC) mission to redistribute surplus food to feed people, not landfills. RLC crowd-sources community members as “Rescuers” to transport food from businesses to nearby nonprofits that serve people facing hunger and food insecurity, using their custom-built web application to make it easy for businesses to donate surplus food. Dana is available for public speaking commitments to educate professionals and businesses, non-profits, institutions, schools, and other groups about laws, tax incentives, and logistics regarding food donation. Her goal is to collaborate with and help unify local organizations and initiatives to collectively eliminate perfectly good surplus food from going to waste, while providing accessible and dignified hunger relief.

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Alison LeBert


Ali LeBert is the Manager of Community Health and Wellness at Southcoast Health. In her role, she oversees the organizations community benefits activities, such as the community health needs assessment process and program development in collaboration with partners to improve health equity and overall wellness throughout the South Coast. She holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and a Masters Degree in Health Care Administration and Management from Salve Regina University. She is a lifelong South Coast resident and a proud mom of one daughter and three fur-babies.

 

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Katlynn Kisla


Katlynn is a Registered Dietitian whose career is rooted in dietetics; applying science to prevent/manage disease and promote health. Her work experience has been heavily centered around the community and food access. Katlynn practices through a grassroots, whole-body perspective, and integrates components of well-being and sustainability. Deeply passionate about the natural world, Katlynn seeks to combine professional training with care for the earth, and is committed to supporting the expansion of the local food system in Southeastern, Massachusetts. Outside of work, she enjoys being outdoors (hiking, kayaking, gardening) as well as cooking, thrifting, and making art.

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Jane Howard


Jane Howard became interested in nutrition when expecting her first child. Jane was a stay-at-home mom of six children for 20 years. About 20 years ago, she began focusing on holistic science. She was an active member of La Leche League for 10 years.  Jane is concerned about food equity and food waste and feels the most important human right is to have access to healthy whole foods. Jane thinks community education is essential for the physical and mental health of people, as well as the health of the planet. Jane discovered The Marion Institute at the beginning of the pandemic with the monthly Bio-Bites program. As an avid gardener, Jane wants to get involved in all The Marion Institute programs to help spread the word about their work. Jane and her husband recently established Mattapoisett as their residence after visiting for over 50 years.

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Joana Goncalves


Joana B Goncalves was born and raised in Cabo Verde and immigrated to the US at age of 22 in 2001. Joana’s goal as a Community Health Worker and Lead CAC at the New Bedford Health Department is to ensure that the minority population and non-English speakers always have a voice and access to all important information and resources such as Health care, food security, community events, and more in our community in their own language taking into consideration cultural background. Joana holds a Certification for Community and Medical Interpreter (CV Creole, Portuguese, and Spanish) from Bristol Community College, she is a Community Health Worker and a Certified application Consular for MassHealth and Health Connector. Joana is also on the Human trafficking task force with the New Bedford police department, a Board member of the Cape Verdean Recognition Committee, and a Member of the Cape Verdean Association of New Bedford.

 

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Judi Duveen


Judi Duveen grew up in Illinois, served in the US Navy, then lived and raised a family in New York on Long Island. She moved to Massachusetts in 2020 and is a retired IT Project Manager, having worked chiefly in health care and later public radio. She became passionate about the environment as a key to the future of our health and well-being and earned a Certificate in Environmental Sustainability in 2008 and later became a Climate Reality Project Leader. She also worked with the Sierra Club in New York, advancing energy sustainability with local legislators and public presentations. She became especially convinced that food safety, adequate nutrition, and sustainability are key human health and environmental sustainability drivers. In addition to the SFPC, she is active with the Climate Reality Project- Southcoast Chapter.

 

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Larry DeSalvatore


Larry DeSalvatore is an educator and an active faith leader. He has taught history and social studies at the high school level, human development at the college level, served as assistant principal and principal at charter schools, managed youth employment programs, and recently retired from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In the Unitarian Universalist Society of Fairhaven, he guided the social justice outreach, creating the Justice and Service Newsletter, and organizing the South Coast Progressive Voices speaker series. He holds a B.A. in History from the College of the Holy Cross, an M.A. in Teaching History from Boston University, and a Ph.D. in Developmental and Educational Psychology from Boston College.

 

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Diana Bullard


Diana recently retired as Vice President of a litigation consulting firm where she focused on simplifying complicated or technical information, graphics development, and communication. She has deep experience in project management, relationship development, and studio management. For over 20 years Diana lived in the Baltimore area where she developed a program that connected Head Start students with older student “mentors”, started a rural day camp for inner city kids, and supported an urban gardening program and soup kitchen in the city.  Since moving to the Southcoast, she has become involved in several community organizations in New Bedford and Dartmouth. She is passionate about alleviating food insecurity both at the grassroots level and at the education and policy level. She looks forward to using her skills to further these efforts.

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Marlene Cerritos-Rivas


Marlene Cerritos-Rivas is a health equity advocate and a community organizer at heart. Her passion for ensuring every person has access to quality health care led her to a career in public health with a special focus on racial equity. 

Her goal is to serve the undocumented immigrant community, using data to properly shift funding mechanisms and tackle structural barriers. Marlene has a special interest in measuring and evaluating systemic change with a gender and racial lens. Marlene currently works as a Health Equity Program Manager for Partners in Health and coordinates Mujeres Victoriosas, a grassroots group of immigrant women advocating for changes in education and health with a focus on leadership development and empowerment.

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Phillip Messier


Philip is the executive director of Digger Foods, a non-profit food access program that serves food-insecure people in Brockton, Massachusetts. Before that, he operated the Trustees Mobile Farmer’s Market in Boston from 2018 until 2022. He's passionate about fresh, organic vegetables, and finding new ways to use them in the kitchen. He lives in Sharon, MA with his wife and two kids, ages four and two.

 

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Vanila Silva-Roque


Vanila Silva-Roque immigrated from the Cape Verde Islands in 1992 and has since been a resident of New Bedford. She joined the M.O.L.F.E., Inc. team in 2020 as a Pre-Employment Transition Specialist and oversees the M.O. Food = L.I.F.E Food Pantry, a collaborative venture with the Hunger Commission of Southeastern, MA. Vanila holds a Bachelor of Arts and Science Degrees in Business Information systems and Portuguese from UMASS Dartmouth. Vanila is a certified Business and Community Interpreter with Language Connections in Boston and is fluent in Cape Verdean Creole, and Portuguese and speaks Spanish. 

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Tracy (Teresa) Gerety–Ibbotson, M Ed.


Tracy (Teresa) Gerety-Ibbotson is the Administrative Director of Community Health Benefits at Saint Anne’s Hospital in Fall River. She works in partnership with community organizations to address the health needs of the populations served. Previously, Tracy was the Loaned Executive to the Greater Fall River United Way. Tracy is committed to the community and also served as the Board of Directors for the Fall River YMCA, the Chamber of Commerce on the Ambassador or New Member Committee, and the Board of Directors at Saint Anne’s in the Rotary Club of Fall River. Tracy has a B.A. in Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross, M.A. in Health Promotion from Bridgewater State University, and an M.A. in Program Evaluation & Research from Boston College. Tracy is engaged in the health improvement of the community and feels privileged to serve.  She describes her leadership style as “collaborative”.

 

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Laura Smith 


Laura is a fifth-generation farmer and owner of Oakdale Farms and Lane Gardens in Dighton, Rehoboth, and Seekonk. The farms perform safe and environmentally friendly practices producing vegetables, fruits, herbs, laying hens, as well as value-added products for the local community. Besides farming, Laura is a science education consultant working with school districts in Massachusetts.

Laura is passionate about growing produce naturally to help maintain the healthy soils in the farmland as well as educating adults and children about agriculture and the importance of eating well and a healthy lifestyle. Laura serves as a board member of SEMAP (South Eastern Massachusetts Agricultural Partnership), MSELA (Massachusetts Science Education Leadership Association), CHNA-27 (Community Health Network Association of the Cape and Islands), as well as the MA Food System Collaborative HIP Campaign Coalition and Campaign to Expand Food Literacy.

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Erik Rousseau


Erik Rousseau is a transit enthusiast with 17 years of industry experience. For the past 11 years, Erik has had the honor of serving as the Administrator of the Southeastern Regional Transit Authority (SRTA). Erik earned degrees from Manchester Community College and the University of Connecticut in Storrs. Attending community college was the beginning of an appreciation for public transportation and the unique challenges the riders faced. At UConn, Erik drove buses for the campus service and was later recruited to work with a private transportation company that afforded him the opportunity to work up and down the eastern seaboard. Erik came to SRTA during a period of transition. Before the pandemic, Erik and the team at SRTA had nearly doubled the ridership by increasing frequency, the span of service, and, most importantly, improved reliability & affordability. That experience has proven vital as SRTA has emerged as a nationally ranked leader in ridership retention as we build for tomorrow.

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Tom LeClair


Tom was raised in Bangor, ME, and attended Husson University where he received a BS in Finance. Currently, Tom is working with Black Earth Compost as Business Development Officer since 2019 to divert food scraps away from the solid waste stream; recycle these volumes into valuable soil amendments to regenerate our degraded soils that support all living species. Tom has over 25 years of experience in sales and lead generation, business development, procurement, and customer service in various industries from financial services and mortgage lending, payment processing, waste recycling, petroleum energy markets, and retail sales. 

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Victoria Grasela


Victoria Grasela is the VP of Marketing and Community Engagement at United Way of Greater New Bedford and has been at United Way since 2009. In her role, she oversees the organization’s work in food insecurity and manages the Hunger Commission, a food rescue and delivery service that works to increase food access in the region.
She holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science from Westfield State University and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from Bridgewater State University. She is a lifelong resident of New Bedford.

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Karen Schwalbe


Experienced nonprofit executive with a passion for sustainability, agriculture, food, and farming issues. Committed to expanding access to locally grown food and farm products in Southeastern Massachusetts, increasing the profitability of local farms, and preserving farmland and open space. Skilled in nonprofit accounting, budgeting, fundraising, grant writing, communications, event planning and social responsibility.

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Richard Vacca


Vacca has a B.S. in biology and chemistry and Juris Doctorate (Law) and received his certification from the Urban Farming Institute (Boston) in 2016. Rich worked in the private sector as an aquatic/marine toxicologist, wetlands scientist and environmental permitting specialist, nuclear and environmental engineer shellfish aquaculturist. He had a law practice in environmental and estate planning. Rich operated a small aquaponic farm and apiary in Carver. He is currently working for the Town of Plymouth as the Conservation/Agriculture Planner. He provides technical and legal support for the Plymouth Conservation and Agricultural Commissions.

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Stephanie Taylor


Stephanie Taylor worked for 35 years in social services and have seen directly the effect of hunger in her community. She was formerly a Program Manager for United Way of Greater New Bedford at the Family Resource and Development Center. Her work now involves applying that to using fruits and vegetables to combat the disease in our community through the Martha’s Vineyard Vegan Society. Stephanie is Chair Commissioner of Bristol County Commission on the Status of Women (BCCSW), the Executive Administrator for Martha's Vineyard Vegan Society, a Cannabis Patient Care Specialist for NETA, and Leadership Southcoast Alumni.

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Christine Sullivan


Sullivan is the Director of Development for Coastline Elderly in New Bedford. Prior to that, Christine specialized in animal nutrition and helping farmers maximize performance. Christine received a master’s degree from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy and have worked in the area of public health and nutrition for the past 6 years. She has managed a small business, worked in a large corporation, and found her niche in the non-profit sector. 

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Robert Shaheen


Robert Shaheen graduated from Westfield University with B.S. in Finance and Business. He had worked for 25 years as a General Manager between Uno Chicago Grill, Panera Bread, and Friendly's. He is a Massachusetts Certified Public Purchasing Official. He has been a School Nutrition Association Member, a Director of Food Services Wareham Public Schools and currently the Director of Food Services since 2018 with the New Bedford Public Schools.

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Lisa Rahn


Lisa Rahn is the Community Outreach Director at YMCA Southcoast where she coordinates the Full Plate Project, the Y’s partnership with the Greater Boston Food Bank. Having previously managed a chronic disease prevention program for the Florida Department of Health, she is passionate about educating people on the importance of healthy lifestyle choices and increasing the accessibility of nutritious food.

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Gioia Persuitte 


Gioia Persuitte is an epidemiologist that specializes in nutrition, lifestyle and behavioral interventions, and chronic diseases, including diabetes, metabolic syndrome, obesity, and Inflammatory Bowel Disease. She has designed and conducted lifestyle and behavioral interventions for over ten years. Gioia’s vision is that all individuals have access to science-based nutrition data and that the distillation of this information is easy to understand and culturally competent to ensure all individuals are empowered in their food and lifestyle endeavors. Gioia currently works at the New Bedford Health Department in Substance Use Prevention. 

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Dave Perry


Dave Perry is currently the President of the Greater Fall River Community Food Pantry. He is a  retired Manager from Shaw's Supermarkets after a 35-year career. He lives in Tiverton R.I. with my wife of 50 years Patricia and have 3 daughters and six beautiful grandchildren. 

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Stephanie Perks


Stephanie Perks started her career working on a farm, learning about our farmers' agricultural realities. She became a Registered Dietitian, studying at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. She worked at Mass in Motion Bedford to find the root causes of chronic diseases that were ailing people. She also worked at Southeastern MA Food Security Network (now the Southcoast Food Policy Council), tackling food access inequities. She co-founded Coastal FoodShed, which has created different market channels and supply chains for farmers and food producers to sell more locally grown/made food through Southeastern MA. Stephanie also serves on the Board of SEMAP and the New Bedford Local Cultural Council.

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Jacob Miller


Jacob Miller is the Regional Director at Junior Achievement. He was formerly the Senior Policy Advisor and Community Development Director in the Office of Senator Mark Montigny. Jacob is currently attending UMass Law and has degrees from UMass Dartmouth, the University of Cambridge, and University College London. He is a firm believer in the importance of regional collaboration and its power to help residents meet their basic needs. 

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Jim McKeag


Jim McKeag, originally from central Massachusetts, Jim has more than 20 years of experience in the fields of historic preservation, rehabilitation, and property management. Jim holds undergraduate degrees from Quinsigamond Community College and Cornell University, and a master’s degree in urban and environmental policy and planning from Tufts University. Since 2016 Jim has worked with cross-sector coalitions to develop and advance targeted redevelopment strategies in New Bedford and Fall River as part of MassDevelopment’s Transformative Development Initiative. As a trained mediator, Jim has served in the Massachusetts district court system and has a passion for working on challenging multi-sector initiatives focused on urban revitalization and economic development. Over the years he has volunteered on a wide variety of community development projects and working with several nonprofits to help create vibrant and engaging public spaces. 

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Leimary M. Llopiz


Leimary M. Llopiz is an Advocacy Coordinator at the YWCA Southeastern Massachusetts to facilitate the mobilization of public support and action related to our mission of eliminating racism and empowering women, and providing information about how people can take action. Leimary is also co-chair for the Advocacy Committee of the Greater New Bedford Youth Alliance (GNBYA), and serves on its Executive Committee, and a member of the Southcoast Food Policy Council. Leimary also volunteers at Round the Bend Farm, at the YWCA food distribution program, The Clothesline Project, the Common Start Coalition as the Southeastern Massachusetts’ Regional Coordinator, and The Menstrual Access Advocacy Project. Leimary hopes to continue to learn as much as possible so that she can utilize her knowledge to give back to her community.

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Dale Leavitt


Dale Leavitt is a retired Emeritus Professor of Marine Biology from Roger Williams University in Bristol, RI. He spent twenty-two years at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Aquaculture Extension Specialist at Cape Cod Cooperative Extension. His entire professional career has focused on aspects of shellfish biology and culture. He continues as a principal in an engineering consulting company designing seawater systems for research/educational facilities and is a partner in two shellfish/kelp farms in Fairhaven and Mattapoisett, MA.

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Sarah Labossiere


Sarah Labossiere works as a Coordinator for Mass in Motion, Fall River, which seeks to increase all residents' healthy eating and active living opportunities. Sarah focuses on pedestrian and cyclist safety, food security, park and open space advocacy, and farmers' market support. The expansion and deepening of equity throughout these areas are integral to her work. Sarah enjoys walks in nature, camping, and biking long distances.

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Pam Kuechler


Pam Kuechler has served as the Executive Director of PACE, Inc., the Community Action Agency serving greater New Bedford, since July 2018. She rejoined the PACE family after 6 years as Executive Director of the Massachusetts Head Start Association. Prior to her time at MHSA, she spent 17 years working in PACE, Inc.’s Child Care Work’s Program. Over the course of her career, she has participated in policy and systems development at the federal, state, and local level focused on topics related to supporting and providing opportunities for vulnerable populations. She received a BA in Psychology from the University of New Hampshire. She is a lifelong Southcoast resident and proud mom of two grown children and two dogs. 

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Erin Hovan


Erin Hovan is Realtor and Broker Associate with Berkshire Hathaway Home Services and a former software developer and PMI Certified Project Manager. She is also a Mayo Clinic Wellness Coach with certifications in nutrition and behavior change, weight management, and body composition. Erin serves on the Board of Trustees for the Women’s Center of New Bedford and the Southcoast Food Policy Council Community Advisory Board. Erin’s interests include nutrition, cooking, fitness, wellness, organic vegetable gardening, horseback riding, and traveling.

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Deirdre Healy


Deirdre Healy works at the Leduc Center for Civic Engagement at University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth for over 20 years. She has been involved in the issue of food sovereignty for many years in various capacities including co-developing Food Finder, and hosting various Food Summits and Food Revolution Fairs. 

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Wendy Garf-Lipp


Wendy Garf-Lipp is the Executive Director of United Neighbors of Fall River/Community Connections Coalition, which works towards secure and stable families, the promotion of peace and tranquility and optimum family support. Educated both in MA here and in the Middle East, Wendy spent seven years living in the Middle East working with residents of small villages in Israel, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. She lives in with her husband on a small organic homestead, with a huge garden, chickens, and turkeys. She has a personal mission of teaching folks how to can and preserve the bounty from their gardens thereby insuring healthy, local food year long. She is confident that she can help repair the world and invites you to join in her initiatives.

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Jowaun Gamble


Jowaun Gamble is the Founder and CEO of Community Youth Empowerment, a visiting lecturer at Bridgewater State University and a Clinical Supervisor for Youth Villages. I am a community leader and advocate for Wareham, MA. I love to provide guidance, support and resources to families and youth.

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Darlene Dymsza


Darlene Dymsza is the Program Director for New Bedford WIC Program for the past 34 years. She is a registered dietitian who wants to improve birth outcomes with healthy, culturally accessible food. Darlene also offer moms tips on how to improve the health and well-being of the family. It is important for our diverse population to have access and enough resources to feed their family.

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Marissa Perez-Dormitzer


Marissa Perez-Dormitzer has served as the Waste Reduction Manager for the Greater New Bedford Regional Refuse Management District for 22 years. She works with the District’s two member communities - New Bedford & Dartmouth - to educate residents about waste reduction, implement new programs, and apply for & manage grants. Marissa graduated from Rutgers University with a bachelor’s degree in environmental engineering.

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Rachel Davis


Rachel Davis has five years of successful leadership in health care and currently serves as the Director of Southcoast Health’s Community Health & Wellness Department. She specializes in building and maintaining positive community relations across various sectors, and leading programs to advance population health and reduce health disparities across the south coast region. Rachel believes strongly that all individuals should have equal opportunity to achieve their full personal potential and is committed in her work to improve community health and wellness, especially in at-risk or underserved populations.