Connecting, Strengthening and Scaling Food Supply Chains in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Region

Kate Smith

Washington State University

Kate Smith

Kate Smith is an Associate in Research in the Washington State University Food Systems Program. She leads work across Washington State for small scale and beginning farmers through the WSU Cultivating Success and Farm Walks Programs with a focus on bilingual English and Spanish programming and technical assistance. She prioritizes serving historically underserved farmers to gain access to knowledge, resources, capital, land and markets. For the NWRM RFBC, she participates in the Connecting and Scaling Entrepreneurs Theme Team and supports the Washington State Team.

Danita Macy

Oregon State University Extension

Danita Macy

Theme Team role- Tribal Liaison

Danita Macy currently serves as the SNAP-Ed /Family & Community Health Program Coordinator at Oregon State University Extension for the Urban Indigenous programs and OSU Statewide Food Preservation Liaison to the 9 federally recognized Tribes in Oregon. Danita is Anishinaabe/Algonquin Metis/ Basque/Welsh. For the last 35 years, her work has been centered on enhancing the health and wellness of Indigenous communities creating strong healthy food systems, uplifting cultural food traditions, and supporting Indigenous Agriculture, food businesses and food sovereignty initiatives through local and statewide Native-serving coalitions and collaboratives. To further these efforts, she has worked with; Oregon Farm to School (OF2S), Tahoma Peaks Solutions, Community Development Society, Indian Health Board, Native American Youth and Family Services (NAYA) many valuable supportive elders, and Community Health Workers. As part of the Indigenous Peoples Workgroup (IPWG) at OSU she supports colleagues in creating tribal-led educational materials and building respectful native partnerships. She is currently working with OSU colleagues and Tribal partners to modify how the well-established Master Food Preserver program and certifications are meted out; to include diversity, equity, and inclusion.
She is a newer member of The Tribal Food Safety Alliance which offers education, training, and technical assistance for tribal food growers, processors/manufacturers, and tribal nations.

Audrey Welsh

Evaluation Coordinator, Colorado State University

Audrey Welsh

Audrey is the Evaluation Coordinator at CSU DARE for the USDA Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food System Centers. Her primary responsibility will be to support and coordinate the collection of reporting data to capture the performance of these centers. Audrey is deeply invested in supporting local small and mid-tier producers and ranchers and hopes to continue this support by measuring the impact of these centers and their programming throughout the region. Audrey has earned her MBA in Global, Social, and Sustainable Enterprises from Colorado State University’s College of Business and has launched two businesses to support her local food system since. She seeks to continue to advocate for the unique needs of small businesses through bridging funding opportunities and technical assistance programs.

Janie VanWinkle

VanWinkle Ranch

Janie VanWinkle

Janie VanWinkle owns and manages VanWinkle Ranch along with her husband, Howard in western CO. Janie has been involved in advocating for agriculture and food security for all for the past 10 - 15 years. VanWinkle Ranch is a conventional cow/calf producer caring for 500-600 head of livestock. Cattle from the ranch go into the food supply chain to feed the masses and in the past 5 years, the Ranch has been selling directly to consumers in Mesa County and beyond. Food Bank of the Rockies and VanWinkle Ranch are partners in getting high quality protein to people that need it the most.

Monique Marez

Eptimizo LLC

Monique Marez

Monique Marez is a food systems practitioner with experience at every scale of the sector, from grassroots community organizing, to international trade policy. Her consulting practice, Eptimizo LLC provides strategic services to food and agriculture businesses, governments, and non-profits in an effort to build a more resilient and just food system. Monique was raised in Pueblo, CO, has worked in over 40 countries around the world and holds degrees from Yale University and New York University.

Mike gabel

Food Innovation Center at CSU Spur

Mike gabel

Mike Gabel is the Director of the Food Innovation Center at CSU Spur with the goal is to support food innovators through value-added services, kitchen and processing facilities and the creation of a space where ideas can prosper. Mike is a second-generation CSU grad in Food Science and Human Nutrition. After a master’s in food engineering from UC Davis he started his 20-year career with roles in product development, quality systems, and strategy and portfolio management. He has lead innovation teams at Windsor Foods, ConAgra Foods and recently at Barilla, where he spent the last 5 years at their HQ in Parma, Italy.

Janna Hamlett

TechHelp & University of Idaho Extension

Janna Hamlett

Dual appointment with University of Idaho Extension and TechHelp (Idaho’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP) Center). The mission of the MEP is to help small to medium manufacturers. My focus area is in food. I work with food manufacturers helping them overcome any challenges they may have. Everything from supply chain, food safety, food quality, people safety, customer relations, leadership, process efficiencies, marketing, export, etc. Example activities include consulting activities, finding expertise that is needed, speaking and organizing webinars, and teaching open enrollment courses, etc. I work with all sectors of the food industry from the small (owner-operator, entrepreneur) size to large-scale world-wide manufacturing companies. My background is in both academia and industry (training manager, quality manager, and production manager roles). I have many industry certifications in food safety, to personal safety, to lean manufacturing (Black Belt). All used to help food manufacturers succeed in their goals.

Scott Stoner

Montana Farm Bureau Federation

Scott Stoner

Scott graduated from Northern Montana College with a bachelor's degree in Agri Business and a minor in Farm Mechanics. He managed a farm in Plentywood, Montana for a couple of years, prior to that, was a hired hand on a cattle ranch in Matinsdale, Montana for 8 years and had a 35 year career with Columbia Paint/ Sherwin Williams as a District manager. Scott has been actively involved with the Montana Farm Bureau Federation for over ten years, the last 6 on the state board of directors as District 9 Director. Scott also sits on the Montana Farm Bureau Foundation board of directors and the Mountain West Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Company board of directors. Scott lives on a small place near Helena where they raise dryland hay and have raised registered quarter horses and mules in the past.

Paddy Fleming

Montana Manufacturing Extension Center

Paddy Fleming

Paddy Fleming was raised on a small farm and ranch on the Flathead Indian Reservation in Montana. He started, owned and operated his own value-added agriculture manufacturing business for 12 years. He has more than 20 years of experience consulting with small and medium food and beverage companies throughout Montana. He is currently the Center Director of the Montana Manufacturing Extension Center which is part of the NIST Manufacturing Extension Partnership National Network and part of the College of Engineering at Montana State University.

Andy Fjeseth

Montana Department of Agriculture

Andy Fjeseth

Andy Fjeseth has worked for the Montana Department of Agriculture for seven years and currently serves as the Bureau Chief for the Agriculture Finance, Trade & Development Bureau. The Bureau helps producers, businesses and industry advocates access and leverage funding and technical assistance to protect their livelihoods, expand their operations, access new markets, and develop new products, processes, and initiatives that advance Montana agriculture.

Fjeseth was born and raised in Dillon, MT. His family homesteaded at Camas Prairie, MT in 1909 and his Uncle runs the family farm and ranch there today. He attended Carroll College in Helena, MT where he graduated with a degree in Communications and Public Relations. Fjeseth also was a member of the Carroll College football team, where he served as a Captain on the 2010 NAIA National Championship team. He and his wife, Blair, reside in Helena with their three children, Sven, Olan, and Nell. When not in the office, Fjeseth and his family can usually be found enjoying Montana’s great outdoors.

Mindi Anderson

Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce

Mindi Anderson

Dr. Mindi Anderson is a retired United States Air Force Veteran of 22 years and serves as the President and Founding Executive Director of the Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce (IDVCC). She serves as a Steering Committee member for the Northwest and Rocky Mountain USDA Regional Food Business Center advocating on behalf of Idaho Veteran and Spouse Business Owners across the food sector industry. Mindi serves as the Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce, project director as a spoke for the Small Business Administration Community Navigator Pilot Program Grant awarded to the Idaho Hispanic Foundation as a Hub. She also serves as the project director for the Workforce Development Council Innovation Training Fund grant awarded to the IDVCC. Both grants are piloting the innovative navigation network services hub model for entrepreneurship, workforce, and education across The State of Idaho. She is a champion for business owners across the military-connected community as well as all Idaho Communities. Mindi has a deep passion for advancing community economic and development initiatives that will strengthen partnerships across Idaho’s food sector Eco-System. Mindi has a long-standing career in the healthcare field throughout her military and civilian career and completed her Doctorates in Healthcare Administration where she researched navigation models to enhance managed care initiatives within Idaho. The Idaho Veterans Chamber of Commerce Network Navigation Hub model encourages stronger collaborations, deeper connections, and access to resources, ultimately leading to unity across Idaho by bridging the gaps between the Idaho and Military Communities.

Ariel Agenbroad

University of Idaho Extension

Ariel Agenbroad

Ariel leads and facilitates collaborative, multidisciplinary and multifaceted applied research and education in community food systems and small farms for the Southwest Idaho counties of Payette, Gem, Canyon, Ada, Owyhee and Elmore. She is co-leader of the University of Idaho Extension Horticulture and Small Farms Priority Extension Theme Team. She is a member of the Idaho Cultivating Success Small Farms Education Team. She leads statewide efforts in on-farm produce safety, farm to early care and education, outreach to military veteran producers, and farmers markets. She is currently Idaho's primary Produce Safety Alliance Lead Trainer. Ariel is a founding advisor and currently serves as the Board Treasurer of the Idaho Farmers Market Association. On the Regional Food Business Centers Idaho State Team her role will be to connect small scale producers and processors with resources to grow their businesses sustainably and to foster relationships between diverse partners and organizations across the food system.

Melissa Hemken

Central Wyoming College

Melissa Hemken

Plants, animals, and people intersect within agriculture. How we eat determines how we utilize landscapes, gather community, and employ ourselves. Melissa Hemken, Central Wyoming College's Community Food System Specialist, leads the College’s Local Food Economy Resiliency project, which develops markets for farmers and ranchers while simultaneously increasing access to local food produce and products within our communities. Her broad knowledge of food and agriculture roots in her family’s Iowa crop and livestock farm, swings up into the small-scale farms of New England, travels to ranches across the nation for magazine assignments, and lands on her Melissahof farm enterprise near Lander where she focuses on a hatchery, pastured poultry and gourmet garlic. Hemken holds a BS in Journalism, Environmental Studies and Rural Sociology from Iowa State University, a graduate certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Tufts University, and works toward a MS in Sustainable Food Systems at Prescott College. Hemken is the Wyoming co-lead for the USDA Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center, and Principal Investigator for a USDA Farmers Market Promotion Program grant.

Marcia Ostrom

Washington

Marcia Ostrom

Marcia Ostrom is an Associate Professor and Extension Specialist in the School of the Environment and the Food Systems Program at Washington State University. She leads interdisciplinary extension and research programs to improve the sustainability and equity of regional food and farming systems. She established the Small Farms Program, the bilingual Cultivating Success Program, the Immigrants in Agriculture Program, and the WSU/Tilth Farm Walk Program. She co-leads the Washington Coming Together for Racial Understanding (CTRU) Program. Her efforts to improve the diversity and equity of agricultural extension programs have been recognized with awards from WSU; the Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities; the Agriculture, Food, and Human Values Society; the Fulbright Program; and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. She teaches undergraduate, graduate, and extension courses and advises graduate students in sustainable agriculture, agroecology, food systems, and extension. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin, an M.S. from Cornell, and an A.B. from Harvard.

Amy Gilroy

Oregon Department of Agriculture

Amy Gilroy

Amy Gilroy works in the Agricultural Development & Marketing Program at Oregon Department of Agriculture where she been a trade development manager for nine years. Amy brings more than 15 years of experience in food policy and systems change efforts in Oregon. Amy specializes in helping Oregon farmers and food businesses develop supply chains for institutions, such as schools and hospital systems and supports small businesses and farms navigate market requirements. She recently coordinated the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) Women's Farm to Food Accelerator for Oregon and served as an advisor to Prosper Portland's Regional Food Equity Collaborative. Currently she is a key collaborator on Oregon's Local Food Purchasing Agreement Program, Ecotrust's BIPOC Farm to Market Program, the Oregon Farm to Institution Collaborative, Farm to School and many other efforts to help small farms and food businesses in Oregon thrive. In her free time she likes to wander around art museums, backpack Oregon’s canyon lands, and get her hands dirty on her partner’s 2nd generation fruit and vegetable farm.

Jennifer Werlin

University of Idaho Extension

Jennifer Werlin

- Associate Professor in community food systems
- Experience teaching/facilitating beginning and small farm, horticulture, and agritourism programming (Cultivating Success Idaho, Idaho Master Gardener, etc); 6 years of experience facilitating and evaluating food coalitions and policy councils in our state/region
- Was the lead on planning and facilitating a 4-part Idaho state-wide food entrepreneur webinar training such as "Starting a Specialty Food Business in Idaho -Webinar Recording": https://www.idahobiz.org/library.
I am part of the Idaho state team and will be working with our small state-wide team to plan and facilitate trainings and opportunities in Idaho.

Laura Raymond

Washington State Department of Agriculture

Laura Raymond

Laura Raymond is currently the Regional Markets Program lead at the Washington State Department of Agriculture and a state lead for Washington for the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center. She has spent her career engaging stakeholders and developing strategies to maximize impact and drive positive change including working both internationally and locally. Her work has involved designing and implementing sustainable food and agriculture solutions including urban agriculture, food security, ethical sourcing and trade, direct marketing, maximizing value chains, and food policy; and engaging and empowering diverse groups to build connections and make change in their own communities. Laura has an M.B.A. from Bainbridge Graduate Institute at Pinchot.

Anders Van Sandt

University of Wyoming

Anders Van Sandt

Dr. Anders Van Sandt is an Assistant Professor of Regional Economics and a Community Development Extension Specialist in the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics at the University of Wyoming. Dr. Van Sandt received his Ph.D. in 2018 from Colorado State University in Agricultural and Resource Economics and worked for two years as a postdoctoral scholar at Texas A&M. His current Extension and research efforts revolve around promoting rural economic development by exploring rural-urban linkages, entrepreneurship, access to healthcare, and interdependencies between local industries. Though an early career member, Dr. Van Sandt has been awarded a USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant and has published numerous academic and Extension articles in outlets such as Health Economics, Tourism Economics, and the Journal of Regional Science, among others.

Brian Coppom

Colorado Department of Agriculture

Brian Coppom

I joined Colorado Department of Agriculture in Oct of 2021 to launch and manage the Colorado Agricultural Future Loan Program (CAFLP). CAFLP is focused on making funds available to beginning and underserved farmers, ranchers, and food processors. Prior to working at the CDA, I operated the Boulder County Farmers Markets from 2013 to 2021, working with 125+ farmers and ranchers across Colorado during that time. My community activity includes being a board member of the Slow Money Institute and Kitchen Cabinet member of SOIL Boulder (community funded 0% loans to local growers), and a former member of Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council, the Colorado State Fair Board, and the Farmers Market Coalition.

Sydney DeLuna

Luna Bird

Sydney DeLuna

I have been a buyer, an advocate, and educator for local, sustainable, and regenerative agriculture both personally and professionally. I come to this work with a background in building and operating large kitchen facilities, as well as menu development and sourcing for local, source identified and sustainably produced foods. My understanding of food system work is layered and multi-dimensional, and I bring to my work technical skill, a strong understanding of sound business practices, a track record of implementation, deep knowledge of sales, scalability and access to market, and extensive experience with sustainable and equitable food production systems.

In recent years I have been working as an independent consultant (Luna Bird) for various community food system projects in the state of Oregon. Current roles include coordinating the Oregon Food Hub Network and leading a Regional Food Systems Partnership Planning grant on behalf of Oregon Community Food Systems Network, as well as serving as a co-lead for the Right Size Infrastructure theme of NW Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center. Prior projects include leading and coordinating the purchase, funding, and transition to cooperative ownership of a small regional food distributor, and work with Economic Development Districts in both Central Oregon and the North Coast of Oregon.

Colette DePhelps

University of Idaho Extension

Colette DePhelps

Colette DePhelps, Community Food Systems Area Educator, University of Idaho Extension, Northern District, is a co-lead for the Idaho State Team and the lead PI for Idaho’s participation in the Center. DePhelps brings over 25 years’ experience building local and regional food systems and established relationships with land grant universities, non-profit technical assistance providers, private entrepreneurs and agricultural producers across Idaho and the western mountain states to the Center. DePhelps is co-founder of the Idaho/Washington Cultivating SuccessTM small farm education program which has provided in-depth and experiential whole farm, production, and risk management education for beginning farmers and ranchers since 2000. DePhelps also provides leadership for the Inland Northwest Artisan Grains team, University of Idaho’s Women in Ag program, is the Annie’s Project Idaho state coordinator and works closely with the Nez Perce Tribe HIPT Food Coalition. In addition to Idaho State Project leadership, DePhelps, who is located on the University of Idaho’s main campus, will connect the work of the Center to University of Idaho’s USDA funded Climate-Smart Commodities for Idaho: A Public-Private-Tribal Partnership project.

Luke Larson

Centennial Cuts

Luke Larson

Luke is active in many segments of the beef industry including ranching (cow/calf, stocker), cattle feeding and direct to consumer beef marketing. Luke is founder of Centennial Cuts which is an all Colorado Beef brand featuring handcrafted jerky products as well as premium steaks and ground beef. Our family raises all of the beef labeled as Centennial Cuts and utilizes co-packers across the state to process and package. Luke is a brand new member of the team - joining in the Fall of 2023.

Libby Christensen

Colorado State University

Libby Christensen

Libby Christensen has over 15 years of experience working in food systems with a focus on the interconnectivity of rural and urban places through food and agriculture. She is passionate about identifying, expanding, and leveraging demand for agricultural and food products to improve the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of farmers and ranchers. Her experiences include teaching nutrition courses at Colorado State University, advancing market opportunities for regional meat supply chains in Colorado, evaluating the statewide farm to school initiatives, and networking entrepreneurial food and agricultural manufacturers. Dr. Libby Christensen is the statewide specialist for food and agriculture with Colorado State University Office of Engagement and Extension. She is also a Joint Associate Professor with the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics and an Extension Affiliate with the Food System Institute and Research Associate with the Regional Economic Development Institute. She and her husband own and operate Routt Distillery featuring all Colorado grains and locally foraged botanicals.

Martha Sullins

Colorado State University Extension

Martha Sullins

Martha has been involved in food and agriculture systems throughout her career, from research in production and food processing, to developing decision tools that help farmers and food producers better understand and manage marketing and price risk in their businesses. As an Ag and Business Management Specialist with Colorado State University Extension, she focuses on supporting smaller-scale and specialty livestock and crop production businesses, agritourism enterprises, local and regional food systems, farm business transition, and agricultural land protection. Key projects include the Colorado Building Farmers and Ranchers program, Extension’s produce safety outreach program, developing new markets for pulses and grains, and building value chains for meat producers. Martha is the Center’s program manager, technical assistance coordinator and support for the theme team working on creating diverse markets for climate resilient agriculture products. She has a B.A. in Economics and an M.S. in Agricultural Economics.

Lorie Higgins

University of Idaho

Lorie Higgins

Lorie is a professor in the Department of Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology and an Extension Community Development Specialist. She leads the Western Community Assessment Network (WeCAN), which provides research, evaluation and assistance with community development assessments in Idaho (WesternCAN.org), Wyoming and Montana. WeCAN staff facilitates a monthly Peer Learning Network meeting, annual Solutions Roundtables and provides leadership development tools to rural leaders in the three states. Another program developed and led by Lorie is Two Degrees Northwest: Where Art Meets the Land (2dnw), an artisan trails website and guide book focused on the local foods, art and heritage of a 13 county area of North Central Idaho and Southeastern Washington. She is also part of a national team that has developed Ripple Effects Mapping (REM), a participatory story-based evaluation process that captures intended and unintended impacts of community-based programs. She will lead NWRM Food Business Center REM activities in Idaho. She and her WeCAN team will organize and facilitate a virtual six-state Solutions Roundtable, a peer learning opportunity for stakeholders to learn about climate resilient agricultural solutions being implemented across the region.

Laura Johnson

Idaho State Department of Agriculture

Laura Johnson

Laura Johnson has worked at the Department assisting Idaho food and beverage producers for over 30 years. The mission of the market development program is to promote, connect, and educate Idaho producers to help them grow their marketplace. She began her career working in domestic market development programs targeting farmers markets, specialty foods and organics. She developed the first "Starting a Food Business in Idaho" manual for craft food producers that is now in its 19th edition. She oversaw the creation of the Idaho Preferred program that was launched in 2003. The program is focused on linking Idaho farm and food products with consumers, retailers, restaurants, schools and distributors. As a member of the Idaho state team, she will support technical assistance programs in various areas including connecting producers with middle of the supply chain customers and market diversification as well as assisting with efforts to provide capacity building grants to food businesses in the state.

Britt Udesen

City of Good

Britt Udesen

As the Executive Director of City of Good, I have led the organization through its evolution from an emergency response organization to a trusted member of Boise's sustainable food system. Founded in 2020 as schools and restaurants were closing, City of Good united local restaurants and growers to provide fresh, nutritious meals to children in the Boise School District, all while helping to keep culinary workers employed. Taking what was learned in the crisis, City of Good has expanded its focus to include helping food insecure members of our community, supporting local businesses, and promoting a sustainable food system and inclusive economy. In the last 8 months, we have provided 11,000 pounds of local produce and 9300 locally-sourced meals to neighbors experiencing food insecurity.

Jim Auer

Montana Department of Agriculture

Jim Auer

With Montana Department of Agriculture Jim has overseen the several grant and business development programs. He was the Department lead on the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program later being promoted to Grant Section Supervisor. While serving as Grant Section Supervisor Jim oversaw the Growth Through Agriculture program, a grant and loan program tasked with aiding Montana businesses in keeping up with advances in the agriculture industry. During the Covid-19 pandemic, Jim led on building and overseeing the Montana Meat Processing Infrastructure Grant and the Montana Agriculture Adaptability Program, awarding over $10 million dollars to support food businesses through the pandemic. Additionally, Jim has worked closely overseeing grant funding to the state’s Food and Agriculture Development Center network, a statewide network of business assistance organizations.

Audrey Paugh

Colorado Grain Chain

Audrey Paugh

Audrey Paugh was born in the mountains of Alma, Colorado before living overseas in Eastern Europe, South East Asia, and Canada before returning home to Colorado in 2021. She received a Bachelor of Science in Global Resource Systems from the Faculty of Land and Food Systems at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada. Audrey has been involved in rural and urban food systems across the continent and is passionate about seeds, education, and supporting equitable local food systems, bridging the gap between nutrition and planetary health. Between 2021-2023, she worked as the Project Specialist for Cultivating Farmers and Ranchers that Thrive (USDA BFRDP) with Valley Food Partnership, in partnership with Colorado State University, Holistic Management Institute, and Rocky Mountain Farmers Union (RMFU). In this role she also worked on the planning committee for the Western Colorado Soil Health Food & Farm Forum. She is also part of the 2022-2023 cohort for the Colorado Water Fellowship through the National Young Farmers Coalitions. Between 2021 to present, Audrey has been the Marketing & Networking Specialist for the Colorado Grain Chain, in partnership with the University of Colorado Colorado Springs-Sustainability Wellness & Learning (SWELL), RMFU, and CU Boulder (USDA FMPP). The Colorado Grain Chain (CGC) is a membership based non-profit organization that seeks to link stakeholders across the landscape of grains in Colorado while expanding the marketplace for locally sourced Colorado Grown Grains. In the theme team she seeks to to support efforts for climate-smart, diversified value-added grain market opportunities.

Darin Saul

Arrowleaf Consulting

Darin Saul

Darin Saul, PhD, is owner and director of Arrowleaf Consulting, which does research, needs assessments, feasibility studies, grant writing and funding development, planning and organizational development, and project evaluation. Darin has written over 280 successful proposals to foundations, corporations, and government funders for more than $150 million in awards. Previously, Darin owned and directed Ecovista, an environmental research and planning company; co-founded and was the Executive Director of Groundworks Institute, a nonprofit that provided environmental education and coordinated wetland restoration projects; was the Director of the Center for Environmental Education at Washington State University and the Sustainability Director and Associate Director of the Office of Community Partnerships at University of Idaho; and worked for eight years as the Director of the Office of Grant and Project Development in the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences at the University of Idaho. Recent projects include feasibility studies and funding development to increase USDA-inspected livestock processing; assessment and development of values-based food supply chains; food hubs; and applied research, feasibility studies, and funding development to advance a variety of tribal food sovereignty initiatives. Darin’s published articles are available at https://orcid.org/0000-0001-5630-3543.
Arrowleaf Consulting’s current role in the NRMRFBC is to conduct a state-wide food systems landscape assets and needs assessment for Idaho and to provide technical assistance and capacity-building support across the Center.

Soren Newman

Arrowleaf Consulting

Soren Newman

Soren Newman is associate director of Arrowleaf Consulting where she applies her survey, interview, focus group, and participatory research expertise to a variety of food system, community, and economic development projects as well as to program and project evaluation. She is an experienced grant writer, contributing to over $40 million of awarded funds that have enabled a variety of organizations to implement food systems, agricultural, environmental conservation, educational, and community development programs. Soren has a PhD in Natural Resource and Environmental Science, a master's degree in Sociology, and bachelor's degrees in Spanish and Sociology. Examples of Soren’s recent work include exploration of factors that facilitate and constrain adoption of climate smart agricultural practices, food hub and regional supply chain development, intertribal food system and tribal food enterprise assessment, feasibility of artisan grain enterprises, and strategies for funding grassroots rural community development projects. Her published work is available here: https://orcid.org/0000-0003-2801-7579.
Arrowleaf Consulting’s current role in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional
Food Business Center is to conduct a state-wide food systems landscape assets and needs assessment for Idaho and to provide technical assistance and capacity-building support across the Center.

Ann McCormack

Nez Perce Tribe

Ann McCormack

Ann McCormack is a Nez Perce tribal member and has worked for the Nez Perce tribal government for twenty-five plus years first as the Cultural Arts Coordinator and then as the economic development planner. She has cochaired the HIPT Alliance for seven years. (HIPT- Nez Perce word that means ‘food’ and is the acronym for, “Helping Indigenous People Thrive”). The vision for HIPT is strengthening the Tribe’s food sovereignty, security and sustainability for all. The mission of the Alliance is to promote food security, resilience, and self-sufficiency in the Nimiipuu homelands through food system development and through education to ensure access to healthy, affordable, and traditional foods. Under HIPT’s leadership the Alliance has facilitated six annual local Nez Perce tribe food summits on the Nez Perce reservation. Since 2022, Ann has acted as the Nez Perce Tribe’s principal investigator for the four-year project, “Advancing Tribal Food System-based Economic Development in the Northern Idaho with University of Idaho, Arrowleaf Consulting and the Coeur D’Alene tribe with Darin Saul as lead director. Currently, that team is working on the first Northwest Native American Food Summit for tribes from Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Montana, and Idaho. This landmark event is to be held on March 7-9, 2024, at the Coeur D’Alene, Casino and Resort in Worley, Idaho to evaluate opportunities for tribes to participate in an intertribal food economy, individually and collectively. There will be a day devoted to the economics of agricultural diversification, a day for exploring small business opportunities

Tyler Sangermano

The Food Corridor

Tyler Sangermano

Tyler Sangermano is a hospitality professional of twenty years, including ten years of leadership in the front and back of the house of restaurants. She has worked with culinary-focused nonprofits, managed a culinary incubator, and taught at a culinary school. With degrees in philosophy and culinary arts, and a masters of sustainable food systems in progress, Tyler is focusing her career on building equity in the food industry through supporting food entrepreneurs. She is currently the special projects coordinator for The Food Corridor, and serves as grant coordinator for the Connecting and Scaling Food Entrepreneurs theme team.

Jill Beaman

Small Business Development Center at PCC

Jill Beaman

I am a business advisor and co-facilitator of the Getting Your Recipe to Market program at Portland Community College's Small Business Development Center.

I grew up in California's Napa Valley and worked in different areas of the wine industry, from the vineyards to the lab. I have a BS and MS in Agricultural Business from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. I previously worked as a researcher at the OSU Food Innovation Center, taught farm management at Linn-Benton Community College, and have been with the SBDC, leading the Getting Your Recipe to Market program, for eleven years. This program is partnered with the OSU Food Innovation Center and New Seasons Market.

In my current role at the SBDC I develop curriculum, create tools and resources, advise with food business clients, and facilitate the class. I enjoy collaborating with local retailers, producers, suppliers, and organizations to support start up food entrepreneurs. As a committee member in the Connecting and Scaling Food Entrepreneurs I plan to bring the curriculum, resources, advising, and tools of our our online food business program to the states in the Northwest and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center.

Sarah Masoni

Food Innovation Center

Sarah Masoni

Sarah Masoni’s current position is Senior Faculty Research Assistant II; Director of Product and Process Development at the Oregon State University’s Food Innovation Center Experiment Station, where she has resided for the last 22 years. There, she works as a liaison between the university and the food manufacturing industry by managing staff, projects, and budgets at an innovative, leading-edge technology center. Sarah has specialized in food entrepreneurship, and she works on projects ranging from local and natural ice cream sandwiches, dairy products, confections, beverages, seafood products, pet food and treats, sauces, dry mixes and organic fruit and nut bars. Sarah is also a recognized flavor specialist with strong relationships with ingredient vendors and flavor companies, and regularly serves as an official judge for local and national product evaluations. A former artisan Cheese Maker, Ms. Masoni is a current member of the Institute of Food Technologists, Oregon Dairy Industries, and the American Cheese Society. Sarah has been invited as an Official Judge for the ACS Annual Cheese Competition, and has judged for the American Dairy Goat Association, as well as, the SOFI Awards. Sarah sits on the Board of Directors for the Specialty Food Association, and is co-chair of the Membership Committee, and a member of the DEI Committee. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Art and Food Science from Oregon State University.

Ashley Colpaart

The Food Corridor

Ashley Colpaart

Ashley is co-lead for the Connecting and Scaling Food Entrepreneurs Theme. Ashley is the founder and CEO of The Food Corridor, the world's largest platform connecting food entrepreneurs to rentable commercial kitchen space. She is the moderator for the Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens (the NICK), the largest professional network of shared-use kitchens, and The Kitchen Door, the largest database of rentable commercial kitchen space. Ashley also produces a Food Incubation Summit, bringing together the food incubation services industry for shared learning and capacity building.

Nora Frank-Buckner

Tahoma Peak Solutions

Nora Frank-Buckner

Nora has passionately worked in Tribal food systems and sovereignty for over a decade. Her primary focus is on collaborative leadership and systems thinking that has contributed toward the efforts of a regional food sovereignty movement through the NW Tribal Food Sovereignty Coalition from 2017-2022. She is the Director of Food Sovereignty Programs with Tahoma Peak Solutions -- A Native Woman-Owned firm focusing on strategic communications and food systems planning and design. Her expertise is developing, facilitating, and coordinating networks, coalitions, and tribal programs that address food sovereignty and systems, food security, and access to fresh, nutritious, and traditional foods.
Tahoma Peak Solutions has worked with partners such as Tribes, First Nations Development Institute, Newman's Own Foundation, Oregon Farm to School & School Garden Network, Washington Department of Agriculture, and NW Harvest. Tahoma Peak Solutions will serve as a Regional Partner to the NW and Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center to provide services in training, technical assistance, and capacity-building activities specific to Native American communities.

Joel Schumacher

Montana State University Extension

Joel Schumacher

Joel Schumacher is an Associate Extension Specialist and serves as the Agriculture & Natural Resources and Family & Consumer Science Program Leader for Montana State University Extension.. He holds a master’s degree in applied economics and a bachelor’s degree in business from Montana State University. Joel is also an Accredited Financial Counselor. His academic and outreach programs focus on consumer economics, agricultural finance and rural economics. Joel has authored or co-authored more than two dozen educational guides and presented more than 350 educational outreach programs. He has served as principle investigator or co-principle investigator on over $1,000,000 of externally funded projects. Recent projects have focused on Local Beef Markets, Profitability of Native American Agricultural Producers, Farm Transition Planning and Youth Mental Health programing.

Becca Jablonski

Colorado State University

Becca Jablonski

Becca Jablonski is the research and evaluation lead for the Center. She is the co-Director of the Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University, and an Associate Professor in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Her research investigates the roles of cities in leveraging food policies to achieve progress towards sustainable development (e.g., food and nutrition security, farm and ranch viability, regional economic development, and environmental sustainability), highlighting tradeoffs of different policy approaches and interventions. Importantly, she pays particular attention to the geographic dimensions of impacts. To do this, she undertakes disciplinary research, large scale quantitative modeling projects, and leads engaged community processes. She also works at local, regional, national, and international scales. As part of her position she co-leads CSU’s Food Systems Extension team. Dr. Jablonski holds a MS from the University of London and a PhD from Cornell University.
Her work has been published in top journals including Food Policy, BioScience, Applied Economic Perspectives and Policy, among others. She has been the PI on more than $7.5M in externally funded projects, and co-PI on more than $36M. She has won several research and engagement awards, including the Distinguished Extension/Outreach Program award: less than 10 years of Experience from the Applied Agricultural Economics Association, and the Abraham Lincoln Honor Award (formerly the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture’s Honor Award) from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Dawn Thilmany

Center Leadership Team at CSU

Dawn Thilmany

Dawn Thilmany is a Professor of Agricultural Economics and Co-Director of the Regional Economic Development Institute at Colorado State University.

Her research and outreach focuses on food systems and rural economic development, primarily focused on opportunities related to value-added food market supply chains, market access and financial viability of rural and underserved food enterprises such as beginning farmers, food consumer behavior and economic diversification strategies such as agritourism and entrepreneurship. She previously led and currently serves on the Colorado Food System Advisory Council and helped to establish the Colorado Building Farmer Program (operating since 2006), led the team who established the Local Food Economics Toolkit and Calculator (https://calculator.localfoodeconomics.com/) and worked with the USDA AMS to explore the dynamics of shared kitchens (https://localfoodeconomics.com/shared-kitchens/).

Tommy Bass

Montana State University Extension

Tommy Bass

Tommy has spent 20 years working across multiple aspects of sustainability in animal and diversified production and processing systems. His current areas of interest fall into three interrelated categories: environmental management and stewardship, agricultural emergency management, and local/regional food systems (focused on meat). A simple way to describe the nexus of his interests is that solutions to issues across these realms come down to management systems, at farm, community, and/or supply chain levels. Recent projects include outreach and research regarding beef to school supply chains, local/regional meat supply chain performance and relationships, HACCP certifications, agricultural and food waste processing, biosecurity and animal disaster response, and water quality protection in animal production systems.

With regards to the Center, Tommy is most excited about the collaborative and coordinated strength for addressing regional food business needs. He participates in a diverse and robust state of Montana team, lead my Montana Department of Agriculture, and as a co-lead with Rebecca Thistlethwaite on the "Animal Protein Supply Chain" team working with great colleagues from all Center partner states. Tommy lives in Bozeman, MT and enjoys outdoor activities with friends and family and grilling and cooking with the local and regional bounty of Montana and neighboring states.

Amy Mattias

Sun Valley Institute for Resilience

Amy Mattias

Amy Mattias is the Executive Director of the Sun Valley Institute for Resilience. SVIR empowers individuals and transforms systems in southern Idaho. In her tenure with SVIR, her team launched the Impact Idaho Fund which invests in rooted ideas, published four annual Locally Grown Guides to connect consumers to producers, hosted a plethora of educational and engagement events, and provides value-chain coordination support for wholesale buyers of locally produced food. The Impact Idaho Fund has catalyzed $400,000 to support new and expanding farm and food entrepreneurs throughout southern Idaho while providing them with financial technical support and value-chain coordination services. Amy was the lead author of their semi-finalist submission in the Rockefeller, Open IDEO, and SecondMuse prize competition for a 2050 Food Vision. She's serves as the board secretary for the Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture and is the chair of the Food & Ag Committee for FARE Idaho. Amy is also enrolled in a master's program at Arizona State University's Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems. Amy serves on the Idaho Steering Committee and is a co-lead in the Right-Size Investing and Infrastructure theme team for the NW Rocky Mountain Regional Food Business Center.

Jesika Harper

AgWest Farm Credit

Jesika Harper

Jesika Harper, Vice President - AgVision, AgWest, focuses on initiatives that support the success of young, beginning, and small (YBS) producers. The AgVision program includes a suite of varied financial and educational products and services to help YBS producers thrive. Through this program, outreach to producers and other organizations serving them is vital to ensure producers from all backgrounds and production types know these resources are available. Jesika attended Regis University in Denver, Colorado, and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She was raised on a family orchard in central Washington and has spent the last 20 years working in the ag sector.

Meredith Rose

Rose West

Meredith Rose

I moved to the Yampa Valley in 2014 and started volunteering for a local ag non-profit, the Community Agriculture Alliance. My interest of local food grew into a passion and is now the north-star of my career path. At the Ag Alliance, I worked my way from a volunteer to Program Coordinator and enjoyed my tenure with the organization working with local food sales, coordinating ag tourism events, and helping local producers with all aspects of production. I have worked on farms and ranches across the valley, including Elkstone Farm and Mystic Hills Farmstead, connecting with food at the source. I also serve as a Regional Food Coordinator for Hunger Free Colorado, fostering the connection between food insecurity and local food resources. In 2021, I started my own business, Rose West, which specializes in local food marketing, resources, and aggregation. All of these aspects speak to each other to give me the pleasure to dedicate my life to agriculture. I am looking forward to bringing my knowledge of Northwest Colorado ag to the steering committee, especially my interest and expertise in meat production and sales.

Katie Baker

FARE Idaho

Katie Baker

Katie Baker, Executive Director, FARE Idaho, is a co-lead for the Idaho State Team for Idaho’s participation in the Center. Katie has been working in local food systems for the last 15 years and has experience in building integral networks within local food systems, assisting small producers gain market access, and has a passion for connecting forces to strengthen the value chain coordination. Katie's previous work includes Sales Manager at Idaho’s Bounty, a producer cooperative and food hub. Katie has helped build FARE (Food, Agriculture, Restaurants, Establishments) Idaho, which is one of the first nonprofit trade associations structured around the local food system in the United States. Born out of the COVID-19 pandemic, in March of 2020, FARE Idaho was founded with the purpose of supporting independent businesses across all sectors of the food system.
Currently, FARE Idaho <https://www.fareidaho.org/> represents over 400 independent food and beverage businesses in Idaho and advocates on behalf of its members creating cross sector market relationships between Idaho producers and intermediated buyers while strengthening Idaho’s food system.
FARE Idaho, in partnership with University of Idaho https://www.uidaho.edu/ leads the Idaho State Team.

Joni Kindwall-Moore

Snacktivist Inc

Joni Kindwall-Moore

Joni Kindwall-Moore | Founder & CEO, Snacktivist Inc.| Co-founder, CIO, FoodViiision LLC | Co-founder, CIVC Co-Op Project (Collaborative Integrated Value Chains)
Entrepreneur, Scientist, and Registered Nurse. 25+ years of scientific inquiry, bedside healthcare, and food system activism inspired her to found a CPG (consumer packaged goods) company aimed at reshaping the US grain sector, with a focus on climate-smart farming, regenerative agricultural practices, nutrient density, and “soil-to-plate” transparency. Joni believes that transparency and collaboration will be critical in transforming the global food system to a more resilient, “future-proofed”, regenerative model.
Snacktivist is a consumer packaged food company that sells ancient-grain and legume-based food products ranging from dry baking mixes, flours, and ingredients to prepared products like frozen pizza crust and grab-n-go breakfast grain bowls. Snacktivist is developing a network of “tech-connected grain chains” to help provide transparency and data-driven ESG reporting throughout complex food and ag supply chains. This transparency is delivered via her tech platform FoodViiision. Snacktivist is working collaboratively with several other brands to form CIVC, an innovative solution to solving the purchasing and processing needs of mission-driven, CPG brands, leveraging a cooperative, vertically integrated model.
Joni has been involved in food system advocacy for decades starting with the MUD project in Missoula, MT, the Eyak Preservation Council in Cordova, AK, the Inland NW Food Network, and most recently, founding the North American Millets Alliance.
Joni was born in rural OR, and is the mom of 3 children. She lives with her husband and kids.

Lauren Gwin

Oregon State University

Lauren Gwin

I am OSU's first Extension Specialist in Community Food Systems and lead the Center for Small Farms & Community Food Systems at Oregon State University. My own work focuses on local and regional food sector infrastructure and value chains, sustainable, equitable, community-driven food system development, and public policy that supports all of the above. All my work is collaborative: I co-founded Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, the Oregon Community Food Systems Network, and the Oregon Food Hub Network. For the NWRM RFBC, I'm a regional co-lead with CSU and co-lead Oregon's state team.

Colette DePhelps

University of Idaho Extension

Colette DePhelps

Colette DePhelps, Community Food Systems Area Educator, University of Idaho Extension, Northern District, will serve as a co-lead for the Center’s Diverse Markets for Climate Resilient Agriculture Theme Team. DePhelps brings over 25 years’ experience building local and regional food systems and established relationships with land grant universities, non-profit technical assistance providers, private entrepreneurs and agricultural producers across Idaho and the western mountain states to the Center. DePhelps provides leadership for the Inland Northwest Artisan Grains team and hosts the Inland Northwest Artisan Grains podcast, University of Idaho’s Women in Ag program, is the Annie’s Project Idaho state coordinator and works closely with the Nez Perce Tribe HIPT Food Coalition. DePhelps is co-founder of the Idaho/Washington Cultivating SuccessTM small farm education program which has provided in-depth and experiential whole farm, production, and risk management education for beginning farmers and ranchers since 2000.

Emily Lockard

CSU Extension

Emily Lockard

Emily Lockard is the director and county agriculture specialist for Colorado State University Extension in Montezuma County. She received a B.S. in animal science at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, CA and a M.S. in range science from Utah State University, UT. She previously worked as an agriculture extension agent in Pueblo, Colorado and Bozeman, Montana and as a research associate at the Southwestern Colorado Research Center in Yellow Jacket, CO. She has taught animal science and agriculture business at Pueblo Community College – Southwest in Mancos, CO. She is the Vice President of the local Four Corner Chapter of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union, on the board of the Colorado Section for the Society for Range Management, an advisory board member of the NIFA funded Smart Foodscapes research project led USU, a lead member of the Colorado Agriculture Drought Advisor Team and a technical advisor for the Colorado Department of Agriculture Soil Health STAR plus program. She is part of research teams examining dryland restoration (CSU, Ute Mountain Ute Tribe and USGS); and the use of warm season cover crops for grazing as well as barriers for farmers converting to organic certification (New Mexico State University, Rodale Institute, farmer collaborators). She works across many sectors of agriculture (livestock and cropping systems) to creatively assist rural agricultural producers address management concerns and to access markets.
Her role on the state team is to represent southwestern Colorado and the community members of a rural area with two tribal nations.

Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Niche Meat Processor Assistance Network, Oregon State University

Rebecca Thistlethwaite

Rebecca stepped into the Director role at NMPAN in 2019 after three years as the Program Manager. She has a master's degree in International Agricultural Development from the University of California - Davis and was formerly co-owner of TLC Ranch, a mid-scale organic pastured poultry and livestock enterprise in California. She is author of two books on farming- Farms With a Future: Creating and Growing a Sustainable Farm Business (2012) and The New Livestock Farmer: The Business of Raising and Selling Ethical Meat (2015) and provides business and marketing consulting for sustainable farms and food businesses. Rebecca has over 25 years working in agriculture in many different facets, from farmworker and farm owner to agricultural researcher, training beginning farmers, and policy advocacy. Rebecca lives in the Columbia River Gorge region of Oregon with her two children. When not running NMPAN, you will find her cooking, trail running, health coaching, or volunteering for local schools. Rebecca is co-lead of the Building Animal Protein Supply Chain Capacity theme team.
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