Leadership Committee

Elected Members


Sarah Brannen

Sarah Brannen is Program Manager of The Local Economies Project at The New World Foundation. Sarah has more than ten years of experience in policy and economic development and is the founder of Upstream Advisors, a firm based in New York that provides analysis, planning, project management and evaluation services to businesses, government, and foundations. She was the lead researcher on the Hudson Valley Food Hubs Initiative Report and is leading the efforts around the Food Hubs initiative.


Previously, Sarah was a Senior Policy Analyst at the New York City Council where she advised the Speaker on economic development and food policy issues. While there, she researched, designed, and launched the widely-recognized FoodWorks initiative to improve economic, health, and environmental outcomes in the New York food system. As a result, the city has passed legislation to encourage more procurement of regional food, reduce packaging on goods purchased by the city, publish an annual report on food system metrics and will be encouraging local food processing, improved food distribution, and urban agriculture.


While at the Council, Sarah also launched a kitchen incubator at La Marqueta in East Harlem and successfully lobbied the Mayor’s Office to begin a system of expedited inspections for new businesses, now called the New Business Acceleration Team. She received a BA from Barnard College and her MPP from The Johns Hopkins University.


Mary Cleaver, Program & Events Committee Co-Chair

Mary Cleaver is one of the country’s foremost authorities on sustainable food and agriculture, she is the president and founder of The Cleaver Co. and The Green Table in Chelsea Market. The Cleaver Co. is a full-service event planning and catering company with a large roster of private, non-profit and corporate clients, and staff of 50. The Green Table restaurant is a sustainable eatery and wine bar where guests enjoy delicious dishes that demonstrate a commitment to seasonal, regional cuisine. The Cleaver Co. and The Green Table are widely recognized for utilizing local farms and purveyors in order to obtain the best-quality product, and for supporting small to mid-size farms and family farmers. Mary is a founder of the Farm to Chef Network and a board member of Local Infrastructure for Local Agriculture, among other professional affiliations.


Thomas Forster

Thomas Forster is a policy advisor for School Food FOCUS and part time faculty member of the New School Food Studies department. He is actively engaged in developing public policy campaigns that support the development of local and regional food systems, improved school meals, and community-based market development. He is an advocate for sustainable agriculture in U.S. Congress and UN Commission on Sustainable Development. Thomas was formerly policy director of Community Food Security Coalition and an organic farmer.


Shira Gans, Program & Events Committee Co-Chair

Shira Gans is a Relationship and Program Director in the Regional & Community Outreach division of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.  Prior to joining the Bank, Shira was a Policy Analyst for Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer where she was responsible for the Borough President’s food and economic development policy portfolios. She was the architect and director of the Bank On Manhattan initiative, a public/private partnership that, during her tenure, helped 12,000 unbanked New Yorkers open low-cost checking accounts and provided financial education to over 800 individuals. As Food Policy Analyst, she authored several reports on creating sustainable food systems in New York City. Before joining the Borough President’s office, Shira was a Senior Budget Analyst in the Economic Development Taskforce at the Mayor’s Office of Management Budget.  

Shira previously lived in San Francisco where she worked in the field of prisoner rights and as a Federal Investigator at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Shira received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a Masters in Public Policy from the Goldman School of Public Policy at University of California, Berkeley.  Shira is also a Board Member of NYC Chapter of New York League of Conservation Voters.  In 2010, she was selected by City Hall news to be profiled in their “Rising Stars: 40 Under 40” issue.


Tomas Hunt

Tomas has worked primarily in education policy and city government and was a senior policy analyst for the Public Advocate’s Office under Betsy Gotbaum, was on staff as an education specialist for City Councilmember Gale Brewer, was a senior policy analyst for the New York City Comptroller John Liu, and currently works in the policy unit of Manahattan Borough President Gale Brewer's Office. His interests of food and education first presented itself thirteen years ago, when he was a teacher at the Little Red School House and spent a week with 25 fourth-graders on an upstate farm. In 2009, Tomas started a school-based agricultural program, Raise the Roof Farms, dedicated to creating a replicable, cost-effective model for farming at city schools. In 2012, Tomas turned over the reigns of Raise the Roof to new leadership and the school-based garden lives on in North Central Brooklyn. While staying close with the teachers and children at the Raise the Roof garden, he also maintains contact with the school-based agricultural world through his work as board member of an exciting new school garden project in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn, the Student Farm Project.  Additionally, Tomas servers on the board member of a co-operative preschool in Red Hook, Brooklyn, where he has helped to develop the school's garden program. Tomas did his undergraduate work at the University of Oregon and in the CUNY BA interdisciplinary studies and has has a Masters in Policy Studies from Teachers College, Columbia University.



Bob Lewis

Bob Lewis is the Special Assistant for Market Development at NYS Dept. of Agriculture and Markets. He is responsible for planning and administering statewide programs that promote economic development of NYS agriculture and benefit farmers, consumers, and communities through the establishment of retail and wholesale farmer-to-consumer direct marketing facilities and arrangements. Before joining the Department of Agriculture and Markets in 1978, Bob co-founded the Greenmarket program in New York City. He led  the Department's USDA funded NYC Wholesale Farmers Market Study and is involved with the Department's Farm-to-School Program.


Kate MacKenzie, Governance Committee Co-Chair

Kate MacKenzie is the Director of Policy and Government Relations at City Harvest where she is responsible for creating and implementing the policy agenda for the organization, as well as developing programs that address the root causes of hunger by ensuring that people living in low-income communities have healthy fresh food. Previously, Kate was the Director of Food and Nutrition at FoodChange. She received a BS in Nutrition from Cornell and an RD, MS in Public Health Nutrition from Teachers College, Columbia University.


Tatiana Orlov

Tatiana loves community, her community, your community.  At the heart of her professional + personal passions lies the belief that a better city and a better world exist at the intersection of neighborly affection, civic engagement, and the proper stewardship of resources. As the manager of City Harvest's Healthy Neighborhoods Initiative in Northwest Queens, she works on engaging community residents and organizations in working towards more equitable, fresh, and affordable food access, food justice and improving the local // regional food system. Tatiana is proudly convenes the Queens Action Council (QuAC), a coalition amplifying the voices of Western Queens to raise awareness, and collectively build a more just and sustainable food landscape from the ground up. She also co-founded i was really, very hungry, a supper club project, focused on building community through shared food experiences. Tatiana holds a B.A in Motivational Psychology + Self-Determination Theory from the University of Rochester and a Master's of Nonprofit Management and Community Development from the Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy at The New School for Public Engagement. Born hungry, Tatiana can often be found eating something delicious, eating something delicious with others, or feeding others something delicious. She strongly believes that everything is better with a runny egg on top.


Kristin Pederson

Kristin Pederson has served as the Food Programs Coordinator at the Fortune Society since September 2011.  She works to implement the organization's Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program for formerly incarcerated individuals, as well as coordinating youth and adult culinary arts training programs.  Kristin previously served as FSNYC's Coordinator for two years.  She also has worked as a market supervisor for Hot Bread Kitchen and as a site coordinator for two Youthmarkets.  She received a B.S. in Biology and Environmental Science from the College of William and Mary and participated in a Rotary Scholarship to study agroecology in Norway.


Sara J. Rosen

Sara J. Rosen has spent almost eight years working in the field of philanthropy serving as a program officer and representing high net worth individuals and families as a philanthropic advisor.  Sara currently is a Vice President and Foundation Officer within Philanthropic Solutions at Bank of America Merrill Lynch.  Sara’s responsibilities include helping individuals and families to effectuate their giving plans through private foundations.  This entails providing advisory and grantmaking support related to foundation governance, strategy, program and administration.  Sara’s areas of expertise include youth, workforce and community development, animal welfare, K-12 education and human services.  Before starting her philanthropic career at the Stella & Charles Guttman Foundation and continuing on to J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Sara worked at a nonprofit organization in Oaxaca, Mexico.  Sara earned her BA in sociology from Boston College and MPA in nonprofit management and public policy with an international specialization from NYU’s Robert F. Wagner School.  While in graduate school, Sara researched and wrote about land use, agricultural development and nutrition. In her final year of study, she published a paper on malnutrition and the impact of micronutrient interventions to alleviate hunger. Sara currently teaches cooking and nutrition classes to young children and leads supermarket tours with City Harvest.


June Russell

June is the Manager of Farm Inspections and Strategic Development for Greenmarket, a program of GrowNYC. She grew up in Southwest Michigan’s famed Fruit Belt and has spent the last twenty years in numerous capacities in the food world, from baker to chef to cafe and bar manager. She has advocated on behalf of farmers and small food producers throughout her career.

June came to Greenmarket in 2004 and learned the market system through managing several neighborhood-based markets across the City. For the last four years she has been the organization's Farm Inspections Manager and has traveled extensively within the growing region, visiting producer farms and production facilities. These experiences have given her the background and insight to think strategically on behalf of growers and on re-building our local food system. Her recent strategic development project facilitating the re-establishment of grain production and processing in New York has helped to further enhance Greenmarket's capacity to be a progressive force in driving farm viability in the Northeast.


Edwin A. Yowell, Leadership Committee Co-Chair, April 2010-present

Ed Yowell is a retired City of New York executive.  He has served on the Slow Food New York City Board of Directors for 12 years, including six years as Chair, and is presently a co-chair of the Slow Food NYC Urban Harvest program of good food education for New York City kids supporting gardens, cooking programs, food justice curricula, and student "farm stands" involving more than 1,000 kids in 12 New York City schools and at a summer urban farm.  He is also a Slow Food USA Regional Governor for  New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.  Ed has been a member of the New York City Greenmarket Farmer and Community Advisory Committee for 14 years, serving on the Development and Budget sub-committees, and is a member of the American Farmland Trust NY Advisory Council.   Ed is a co-chair of the Food Systems Network NYC and is a contributor to the Network's newsletter, recently editing and writing a ten part series on the Food and Farm Bill and a series entitled Farm Views on regulatory and other challenges confronting regional, family farmers.  He represented Slow Food NYC in the NYC Alliance for the Child Nutrition Reauthorization and participated in the committees drafting reports following the 2008 and 2009 food summits organized by the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.  More recently, Ed served on the Policy and Urban/Rural Alliance Committees of the New York City Food and Farm Bill Working Group.


Advisory Members


Hilary Baum, Program & Events Committee Co-Chair

Hilary Baum produces educational conferences and special events focusing on critical issues in food and farming. She is president of Baum Forum/ Public Market Partners, and was the founding coordinating director of Food Systems Network NYC and The Public Market Collaborative. Hilary has been involved in the development of farmers’ and public markets, agricultural marketing programs, and community supported agriculture, and is co-author of Public Markets and Community Revitalization. She is an advisory board member of Food Systems Network NYC, Friends of Van Cortlandt Park, the Hawthorne Valley Association, Riverdale CSA, and was an advisor to the NYC Wholesale Farmers’ Market and a contributor to Speaker Quinn’s report, FoodWorks. For more information, please visit www.baumforum.org.


Challey Comer

Challey Comer is the Farm to Market Manager at the Watershed Agricultural Council in Walton, NY. In this position she oversees the Pure Catskills campaign, a regional buy local initiative that serves nearly 300 farm and food businesses in six counties. Market-based farmer education, regional advocacy and market connections are also components of the economic viability efforts at WAC. Previously, Challey has designed agricultural best management practices, researched watershed management and worked at numerous farms in the northeast. She has degrees in Environmental Engineering and Ecology from Drexel University and is currently pursuing a M.S. at Columbia University.


Fern Gale Estrow

A leader in her profession, Fern Gale Estrow, a Registered Dietitian and co-founder of FSNYC, served as its first chair for five years, subsequently remaining a member of the Leadership Committee and currently on Advisory. Founder of The FGE Food and Nutrition Team, she consults to agencies, organizations, educational institutions and communities to improve health and quality of life through integration of food programs, nutrition education, clinical support, media literacy, and policy development.  Using an environment and food systems approach she works to establish awareness regarding the intersection of health, agriculture, food poverty and hunger relative to policy.


Lynn Fredricks, Communications Committee Chair

Lynn Fredericks is the founder and guiding force behind FamilyCook Productions a national educational organization promoting community empowerment through programs providing nutrition, culinary, and food systems education. The author of, Cooking Time Is Family Time and an award-winning nutrition and culinary educator. Ms.Fredericks and her team of chefs and dieticians create and train a spectrum of programs and curricula for pre-K through adult reaching tens of thousands of families since 1995. A leading public health advocate for holistic food system planning to address obesity and the loss of family farms, she is a founding member of Food Systems Network NYC.


Marcel Van Ooyen

Marcel Van Ooyen is the Executive Director of GrowNYC and former Legislative Director for the New York City Council.

Mr. Van Ooyen took leadership of GrowNYC in 2006. Over the last 6 years at Marcel’s initiating, GrowNYC has vastly expanded its efforts with new initiatives including: Fresh Bodegas, Fresh Pantries, Healthy Food Box, Youthmarket Farm Stands, and the adoption of management of the Wholesale Greenmarket, as well as NYC’s first all local food hub: Greenmarket Co. GrowNYC’s Food Stamp in the Farmers’ Market initiative is considered a National model, with over $800,000 in EBT sales in 2012. By responding to a diverse community and ramping up efforts, affordable, healthy, fresh food is getting into the hands that need it most across the city. Marcel has also spearheaded the development of new programs in response to needs in our city, including Grow to Learn NYC: Citywide School Gardens Initiative, a public public-private partnership with the Mayor’s Fund to Advance NYC created to inspire, promote and facilitate the creation of sustainable school gardens in every New York City public school.

Marcel earned degrees in Social Ecology from the University of California Irvine and from the Seattle University School of Law specializing in Environmental Law. After graduating from law school, he worked for the Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in Washington State, where he conducted the environmental review of proposed power plants. As Legislative Director for the City Council, he wrote and ensured the adoption of more than 30 environmental laws, including the city’s landmark green buildings legislation, lead bill, clean air codes, recycling requirements, environmental purchasing laws, and many more.