2016-17 Steering Committee

The Maine Food Strategy Steering Committee provides leadership, programmatic and fiscal oversight for the initiative.  New members are invited through an annual nomination process. For more information, contact mfs@mainefoodstrategy.org.

Amanda Beal

Amanda is President & CEO of Maine Farmland Trust and a co-author of “A New England Food Vision: Healthy Food for All, Sustainable Farming and Fishing, Thriving Communities.” She holds an M.S. from Tufts University, having completed the Agriculture, Food & Environment program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at the University of New Hampshire in the Natural Resources and Earth Systems Science program.

Molly Clark

Molly Clark, along with her husband Gabe, owns and operates Cold Spring Ranch; a beef cattle operation in New Portland, Maine. They sustainably manage over 600 acres of pastures, hayfields and woodlands to produce 100% grass fed beef year round. Molly also works for the Healthy Community Coalition of Greater Franklin County where she is involved in several initiatives to promote children’s health; including as the local coordinator of the nationally recognized Let’s Go! program. Molly graduated from Colby College with a degree in Environmental Science and has advanced degrees from the University of Vermont in Natural Resource Planning and Nursing. She has nearly 20 years of experience working with various organizations around the issues of agricultural land conservation, natural resource protection, public policy, clinical care, and community health. Through all of these lenses, Molly has an appreciation for the deep and complex connections between food, farming, the environment, and health. Molly has served on the board of the Maine Sustainable Agriculture Society and is part of the Maine Farm to School Network.

Judson Cleveland

Judson J. Cleveland brings over 15 years’ experience in the finance field, specializing in business development, product placement and contract negotiations, and has led the Capital Markets division for Cate Street Capital in Portland, Maine since 2008. Mr. Cleveland has been responsible for analyzing and understanding multiple financial markets and has structured complex finance transactions specific to the renewable energy industry, inclusive of large-scale projects in the biomass, solar and water reclamation sectors. Much of this work focuses on bringing sustainable, environmentally friendly innovations and technologically advanced and environmentally conscious solutions to the market through strategic and fiscally sound development practices. Mr. Cleveland resides with his wife, Patience, and their three children in Falmouth, Maine, where they enjoy an active and healthy lifestyle that the unique landscape of Maine provides.

Kourtney Collum

Kourtney is the Partridge Chair in Food and Sustainable Agriculture Systems at College of the Atlantic. Trained as an environmental anthropologist, Kourtney teaches and conducts research on the human dimensions of conservation agriculture, farm and food policy, and food justice. She received a Ph.D. in Anthropology & Environmental Policy from the University of Maine, Orono. During this time she worked with lowbush blueberry growers in Maine and Maritime Canada to better understand the barriers and opportunities for on-farm bee conservation in order to reduce dependency on commercial honey bees. Kourtney currently serves as a Technical Committee Member for Northeast SARE.

Michele DesAutels

Michele is establishing new roots and building a hard cider and fermented foods business on a recently purchased orchard in Springvale, Maine. Her day job is with the Coast Guard in Boston  where she works on the maritime energy and marine planning policy in the Northeast. Over the last 8 years, Michele has worked for several federal government agencies which include the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, U.S. Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management focused on renewable energy policy development and stakeholder engagement.  Additionally, she spent over 10 years in various project management and marketing roles in high tech and academia. She started her career as a U.S. Peace Corps in Uzbekistan as a Women’s Small Business Development Volunteer. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the University of Texas at Austin and a dual Master’s (Business Administration and Public Policy & Administration) from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. Until they finish building their super energy efficient house, she lives in Massachusetts with her husband and three cats. Her passion is helping people know where their food comes from and eating their way to better health.

Mark Dvorozniak
Mark developed and implemented marketing initiatives at Barber Foods for 19 years.  He is the founder and CEO of Marketing Strategy Decisions, a strategic management and marketing consultancy. Mark serves as Secretary of the Maine Grocers and Food Producers Association and on the board of directors of the Treehouse Institute.

Karin Gregory

Karin A. Gregory is founder and partner at Furman Gregory Deptula law firm. She combines an advanced education in law and public health with over thirty years of experience in the commercialization of technology and disruptive innovations along with business advisory (strategy, finance and legal) expertise in the scaling out of smart growth companies. Her law practice client work focuses on FDA regulated companies in such sectors as medical technology, healthcare IT, food and nutritional supplements – and entails matters within public and private contexts at both the state and federal levels. Continuing with her long-standing commitment to mentoring, advising and teaching in the areas of entrepreneurism, law and health policy – she serves on a range of boards and other panels in addition to active engagement as a member of various community and civic causes. In recent years, she has advised Kimberly Clark’s venture capital fund on medical technology and currently serves as Chair of the CEI Ventures board in addition to participating in a number of New England angel investment groups. She has a B.A. in Biochem-Psychology from Wells College, an M.P.H. in Health Services from Boston University and a J.D. from the University of New Hampshire School of Law.

Erica Emery
Rustic Roots Farm
Erica is the owner and operator of Rustic Roots Farm located in Farmington, Maine. Using a CSA model, Erica strives to educate and involve her community in the local food system. The farm hosts many school groups, college student volunteers, and offers several work shares at the farm to engage as many people as possible. Erica grew up involved in 4-H in Franklin County with projects in dairy and crops. After working for two seasons on an organic vegetable farm outside Boston, Erica moved back home to Farmington to start her own farming operation.

Jonah Fertig

Jonah is a Director of Cooperative Food Systems at the Cooperative Development Institute.  He works with farmers, food producers, cooks, distributors, and community members to develop democratic businesses. He is a co-founder and board member of the Maine Farm and Sea Cooperative and has served as a development coordinator for the nation’s first farm & sea-to-institution cooperative.  He also works with New American farmers, assisting them in developing cooperatives and helped Somali Bantu Farmers in Lewiston form New Roots Cooperative, the first New American owned cooperative and farm in Maine. He is currently on the Board of the Cooperative Fund of New England and the Steering Committee of the Maine Food Strategy. Previously, he co-founded Local Sprouts Cooperative in Portland, Maine and helped develop it into a successful worker-owned cafe. He has been involved in community gardening organizing in Portland and New York City and has taught gardening and cooking in schools and afterschool programs in the Portland area since 2003.  He also co-founded the Greater Portland Community Land Trust in Portland and was a founding member of the Mayor’s Initiative for a Healthy and Sustainable Food System, as well as the Cooperative Design Lab. He is a facilitator for the Sustainable Food Systems Leadership Institute, as well as a speaker at statewide, regional and national conferences about cooperatives in the food system.  He lives with his partner and two kids at Celebration Tree Farm in Durham, Maine.

Kelly LaCasse

Kelly LaCasse is the Community Food Equity Coordinator at Healthy Northern Kennebec where she is facilitating the Healthy Waterville Action Team. This diverse team is working to address food equity in their community by breaking down barriers, strengthening connections and building leadership. Kelly is also a small business owner with her husband Mark LaCasse. Together they launched this food processing company, called The Maine Meal, in 2011. The Maine Meal is located in Skowhegan. Mark is the fourth generation of his family to own a business in the historic downtown building. Their company sells gourmet, frozen, boil-in-bag meals at farmers markets here in Maine. Kelly and Mark are working with over 30 local suppliers to create these high quality heat-and-serve entrees, sides, soups, chowders, chilis…and popsicles. Currently The Maine Meal is working with the MaineMEP and SBDC to scale-up their business. Kelly worked for 4+ years as a School Nutrition program manager and also has experience working with SNAP-Education as a chef instructor for Cooking Matters. She serves on the Culinary Arts Advisory Board at KVCC and is the central district contact for the Maine Farm to School Network. Kelly is passionate about food equity, food justice, and sustainable food systems. She resides in Skowhegan with her husband, sons Eben and Tucker, and their two dogs Colby & Jack. This was the first year that Kelly and her family had a garden of their own. She enjoys anything that involves learning and exploring.

Kristen Miale
Executive Director, Good Shepherd Food Bank
Kristen Miale is the President of Good Shepherd Food Bank, Maine’s largest hunger relief organization.  Good Shepherd Food Bank works with a network of over 400 ending hunger organizations to distribute over 23 million pounds of food throughout the state to people in need.  Before her role as President, she was the founder and program director of Cooking Matters for Maine, a local chapter of Share Our Strength’s nationally recognized cooking and nutrition education program for low-income families.  Prior to her work with food security, she worked for over a decade in the private equity and business consulting fields.  After volunteering for hunger relief organizations, she decided to make her passion for ending hunger her occupation.  She received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and her Masters in Business Administration from Boston University where she studied both entrepreneurship and non-profit management.  In addition to serving on the Steering Committee of the Maine Food Strategy, she also serves as Senate President Michael Thibodeau’s representative on the Commission to End Student Hunger.  Kristen’s past board work includes Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southern Maine where she served as Treasurer and the Cumberland County Cooperative Extension.


Joshua Stoll
University of Maine School of Marine Sciences
Joshua is a PhD candidate in the School of Marine Sciences at the University of Maine. His current research focuses on the transition towards ecosystem-based fisheries management in the Gulf of Maine and how different social institutions are impeding (and/or enabling) this change. More broadly, his work seeks to address pressing questions about the interplay between coupled social and ecological systems with the purpose of contributing to the long-term sustainability of our oceans and the communities that depend upon them. Joshua has been engaged in fisheries-related issues for a decade, working in multiple regions and across a broad spectrum of sectors. Most recently, he worked for the directorate of the National Marine Fisheries Service where he gained exposure to the federal policymaking process. Joshua is a founder of LocalCatch.org, an international network of small-scale fishers and community-based organizations committed to providing local, healthful, low-impact seafood via community supported fisheries and direct marketing arrangements. He holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bates College and a Masters in Coastal Environmental Management from Duke University.

Anne Trenholm
Anne is a third generation farmer and food promoter whose family farm, Wholesome Holmstead, features dairy products and meat, and ag tourism opportunities. Her lifelong involvement in agriculture includes leadership and professional experience in local, regional and national agricultural organizations.


Nisha Swinton
Nisha Swinton works for Food & Water Watch in the New England states, a non-profit organization that advocates for common sense policies that will result in healthy, safe food and access to safe and affordable drinking water.  Before joining Food & Water Watch, Nisha worked on environmental justice campaigns in the United States and West Africa. She also produced radio shows discussing critical social justice issues for a community run, non-commercial station in New York City. Nisha holds a master’s degree in environmental law and policy from Vermont Law School and a bachelor’s in international policy with an emphasis in environmental studies and economics from the University of Iowa. She currently is on the Board of Trustees for the Portland Water District and sits on the boards of Haymarket’s Peoples Fund and Journal Junkies.