We’ve chosen directors that represent the following 14 sectors of our food system.
List of Sectors
Senior & Intergenerational Services
Food Acquisition for Institutions
Food Supply and Distribution
Local Food Group
VFSC Directors are listed by sector.
Rick Felker, and his wife Janice, own and operate Mattawoman Creek Farms, a 44-acre certified organic vegetable farm on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. They also raise several million clams in Mattawoman Creek, which borders their farm and flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The farm produces crops twelve months a year, which are sold through the farm’s four Community Supported Agriculture programs (one for each season), at farmers markets, and to local restaurants and natural food stores.
Rick and Janice passionately support a strong local food system in Virginia that promotes the good health of its people and environment. Rick currently serves as the President of Buy Fresh Buy Local-Hampton Roads, as a member of the Virginia Food System Council and as a member of the Board of Directors of the Virginia Association of Biological Farming.
Leslie Van Horn, Executive Director of the Federation of Virginia Food Banks, has a 30-year career in management, including general management, accounting, and Human Resources. For the past 14 years, Ms. Van Horn has worked with nonprofit organizations in the Hampton Roads area. In her current position, Ms. Van Horn has worked with the Virginia Department of Social Services to increase participation in Food Stamps (SNAP) and joined efforts with the State Attorney General’s office and the Virginia Bar Association on the yearly Legal Food Frenzy Campaign, which has brought in the equivalent of over 11.4 million pounds of food for the state’s food banks since 2007. Ms. Van Horn created the “Fresh Food for Virginians” program in 2010 to help the seven Federation food banks acquire and distribute fresh produce to its clientele. Since its inception, this program has helped distribute almost 3 million pounds of fresh food to food-insecure Virginians. In 2013, she served on a task force to develop Virginia’s first Food Desert & Food Insecurity report.
In 2009, Ms. Van Horn worked closely with the Governor’s office and the Department of Health and Human Resources to secure $1 million for emergency food purchase – the first funding the state had provided to food banks. In 2010, the Federation of Virginia Food Banks received another $1 million to provide over 2 million pounds of food across the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Ms. Van Horn served on a task force for Feeding America where she worked on a pilot program with the state of Iowa. In December 2008, Ms. Van Horn received a Women in Business Achievement Award from Hampton Roads’ “Inside Business” publication. In 2012, Ms. Van Horn was honored to become a Seal of Approval Recipient from Virginia’s First Lady’s FLITE Foundation. Ms. Van Horn currently serves on the Feeding America Policy Engagement and Advocacy Committee and was recently reappointed to serve on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Volunteering and National and Community Service.
The Federation of Virginia Food Banks is a state association comprised of seven regional Virginia and Washington, DC food banks. With its mission of “Building collective power within our network to create a hunger-free region,” the Federation of Virginia Food Banks network distributed over 142 million pounds of product to over 1 million individuals last year through its 1,900+ member agencies that directly serve those in need.
Lynda Fanning retired in 2011 after 18 years as Director of Clinical Nutrition at UVa Health System, and is grateful for more time to work toward a sustainable food system in Virginia and thereby healthy Virginians. She talks a lot about 9-11 servings a day of colorful fruits and veggies, raised in the freshest, safest, and most sustainable ways, about making them and other locally produced foods accessible to all in Virginia, and about involving kids in the excitement and deliciousness of growing, harvesting, shopping for, and preparing these flavor-rich foods. Her 6 grandkids (ages 3-9) look for green and other colors on their plates, and are clear about where food comes from. She was a charter Director who helped to develop the Virginia Food System Council out of a “working group” (2007-2009), and served on the Executive Committee and as Secretary from inception 2009 till 2015. In Charlottesville, she also works on the UVa Food Collaborative and, as Film Series Chair has shown a series of food system documentaries with expert panel discussions every year since 2010, including at the Virginia Film Festival. She represents the Virginia Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, around 2000 Registered Dietitian/Nutritionists in Virginia, on the Council. As a shopper of primarily local foods, it was easy to pledge $60-a-week—at a minimum—to our $10-A-Week Challenge, and now she is focusing on the Council’s Farm to Institution project to hopefully match up production with demand at a level where cost becomes not an issue.
Jessica Palmer graduated with a M.S. in Resource Ecology and Management from the University of Michigan School of Natural Resources and Environment, and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Biology from Southwestern University. While at Michigan, she was Coordinator for a campus garden student group, Cultivating Community, and a Restoration Assistant at the UM Matthaei Botanical Gardens. After graduation she traveled to Tanzania, East Africa to assist a project researching the effect of weather extremes on the livelihoods of rural, subsistence farmers in the Rufiji River Basin. Before moving to Virginia, she worked in Maine at the State DEP as a Biological Monitoring Assistant.
In her current role as Buy Fresh Buy Local coordinator for the Piedmont Environmental Council, Jessica manages the design, printing, mailing, and sponsorship of annual Buy Fresh Buy Local (BFBL) guides for three regions of Virginia as well as manages the Virginia-wide BFBL website and database. She oversees the new online database exchange, Farmer-Chef Express, which connects buyers and sellers of food throughout Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina, Maryland, and the District of Columbia. Jessica also helps design outreach and educational workshops and events that promote local foods in the Piedmont region.
Kathy Holm has worked with the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in a variety of roles for more than ten years. She is currently a Resource Conservationist in the Harrisonburg, VA, Area Office. She was the NRCS Coordinator for the Shenandoah Resource Conservation and Development program for seven years. Ms. Holm has a diverse background in natural resources project management, implementation, education, and outreach. She holds an undergraduate degree in journalism and political science and a master’s degree in forest resources all from the University of Minnesota. She has professional communications experience in public relations, writing, editing and marketing. She served as an intern in sustainable agriculture at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas, and did volunteer work for the Land Stewardship Project, a grassroots sustainable agriculture organization, in Minnesota, and The Nature Conservancy, Charlottesville, Virginia, chapter. Prior to her work with the NRCS, she served as the Director of Public Policy for the Valley Conservation Council, a Shenandoah Valley land trust, in Staunton, Virginia, for five and a half years.
Kirsten Halverson is the Executive Director of Buy Fresh Buy Local Hampton Roads, a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a vibrant local food economy in Hampton Roads. She earned a Master’s of Business Administration in Organizational and Environmental Sustainability from Antioch University New England. She has worked extensively within the local food movement by doing environmental education at an urban farm, working on small organic farms, and incorporating local food into events and conferences she’s helped plan. Kirsten has also served as businesses consultant for several farms and local food markets.
Tracy Herner has worked with the Williamsburg Farmers Market since 2011. As market manager for the Williamsburg Farmers Market she is involved with state-wide market manager alliances, promoting local food in schools and exploring ways to get fresh local food to low income communities. Enhancing the connection between farmers, bakers, watermen and the customers at this producer-only market is an important goal for Tracy.
Food Acquisition for Institutions/Infrastructure
Corey DiLuciano, RD started his food service career as a clinical dietitian working for Aramark. After working as a clinician for a couple years, he then transitioned into a management role. He spent time as a retail manager, a patient service manager, and production manager at two different facilities in the Philadelphia area. For the last 10 years, Corey has worked with Morrison Healthcare. He started as an Assistant Director at The Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania and was promoted to Director within two years. Most recently, he worked at Atlanticare Regional Medical Center where he was a system director overseeing two hospital campuses. Currently, he is the Senior Food Service Director at the University of Virginia Health System. Corey enjoys all aspects of the food service industry and using his knowledge of food and health, and translating that knowledge into practice in his operation. He believes that the food should speak for itself and be fresh and local whenever possible.
Food Supply and Product Distribution
Molly Harris was first inspired to support the local food movement in 1999 when spending summers in Vermont with her three very young children and was reminded of her own childhood and the fabulous fresh food she enjoyed growing up. It was this recollected appreciation that motivated her to open her own restaurant, Edible Garden, in 2004 showcasing locally sourced ingredients and educating customers on the importance of supporting their local agricultural community.
In late 2008, Molly began an online farmers market with the farmers serving the restaurant and the customers seeking their fabulous ingredients for their own pantries. The next spring, Fall Line Farms, opened a second season of business with online capabilities, growing from 25 farmers selling to one pick up location to over fifty farmers selling to five pick up locations. Today, the hub supports over 100 local farmers and serves customers picking up orders from over a dozen pick up locations throughout the metropolitan Richmond region. Lulus Local Food, the full service online program has provided a means for starting six additional hubs with multiple pick up locations and supporting more than 250 local farmers and small businesses with weekly sales year round. As the founder of this ever expanding project, Harris has involved herself in many aspects of the local food movement in Virginia including serving on the executive committees for the Virginia Food System Council and the Virginia Farmers Direct Marketing Association, a founding member of the Virginia Farm to School Working Group, a participant in the Richmond City Mayor’s Food Council and leader of the Richmond Area Buy Fresh Buy Local Chapter.
Kristen Suokko is the Executive Director for the Local Food Hub in Charlottesville, VA. She came to the local food movement through her experience with environmental issues. She spent the first part of her career in Washington, DC working at the Natural Resources Defense Council and the US Department of Energy. In 1998 she moved to Charlottesville, Virginia to work in environmental philanthropy for the W. Alton Jones Foundation and the Blue Moon Fund, where she was part of the Harvest Now Project that led to the formation of the Local Food Hub. After a six-month Asia trip with her family in 2012, Kristen returned to Charlottesville to first chair the board and then become Executive Director of LFH. Kristen holds a degree in Russian from Middlebury College, and has served on a number of boards and civic organizations in and around Charlottesville.
Local Food Council or Group
Allie Hill (Treasurer, Executive Committee) is the Project Director for Virginia Food Works, a non-profit organization whose mission is to support farmers and food entrepreneurs by educating and assisting in the production of value-added foods. Food Works operates out of the Prince Edward Cannery and Commercial Kitchen and provides free assistance including regulations, packaging and the use of the bulk processing equipment available at the Cannery. Allie also founded Homegrown Virginia, a co-packing business that specializes in processing Virginia grown fruits and vegetables.
Dominic Barrett is the Executive Director of Shalom Farms and co-chair of the VFSC. He was drawn to the work by a passion for social justice and a belief in the transformative power of food. He came to Shalom Farms from Palmetto Project in Charleston, SC where he ran their statewide Youth, Families and Schools Programs. In addition to providing leadership on a number of local and regional food access initiatives, he served on the Governor’s Transition Council on Agriculture and Forestry. In 2010, Bread for the World recognized Dominic as one of the “the best and brightest young advocates” on issues of hunger.
Steven M. (Mike) Waldmann is the Executive Director for the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA). SoSA is the premier field gleaning organization in the nation. Each year SoSA saves and distributes 20-30 million pounds of fresh produce to feed the hungry in America. All of this produce is perfectly good to eat, it simply isn’t perfect enough for grocery stores or is excess to market needs. This highly nutritious excess bounty is distributed to vital feeding programs all across the country. SoSA also engages over 30,000 volunteers each year in its hunger relief programs. SoSA works with farmers and produce distribution facilities all across the Comonwealth of VA and the nation to save fresh produce of all types. Through good stewardship of all resources, SoSA is able to provide nutritious fresh produce to the hungry at a cost of just 7 cents per pound while keeping total overhead costs down to about 4%. Founded and headquartered in Big Island, VA, SoSA has been successful for more than 36 years. Mike guides the council in the area of food justice.
Kellie Hinkle currently serves as the Agricultural Development Officer for Loudoun County, Virginia, one of the fastest growing and wealthiest counties in the nation. She manages the team responsible for promoting the sustainable economic growth and vitality of Loudoun County’s rural economy. Her professional career includes 12 years of state and local experience in implementation and development of new and existing business development and promotional programs assisting specialty food producers and agribusiness groups. She works with the Loudoun Winery Association, Blue Ridge Cattleman’s Association, Loudoun Christmas Tree Growers, Loudoun Sheep Producers, and the newly organized, Loudoun Equine Alliance. She is managing the implementation of Loudoun’s Rural Economy Business Development Strategy and organizes the annual Forum for Rural Innovation. Kellie serves on the Board of Directors of the Piedmont Epicurean and Agriculture Center and the Virginia Agribusiness Council.
Andrea Early, MS, RD, serves as the School Nutrition Program Director for Harrisonburg City Public Schools, a small division of 5,500 students located in western Virginia. She is responsible for all aspects of program management including menu planning, procurement, food distribution, and staff training and development. Andrea and her staff have worked diligently to improve the nutritional quality of the meals served to Harrisonburg students, with a focus on more scratch cooked and locally sourced foods. The HCPS Farm to School program has grown incrementally each school year. Currently, an average of 10% of the division’s food supplies is sourced locally.
Andrea serves as the school representative to the Virginia Food System Council, is the Virginia State Lead for the National Farm to School Network, and is an active member of the Virginia Farm to School Work Group. She serves as Education Committee Chair for the School Nutrition Association of Virginia and is an active member of her local School Nutrition Association chapter. Most recently, Andrea was named to the Commonwealth Council for Bridging the Nutritional Divide.
Andrea received a BS in Nutrition from Penn State, an MS in Health Sciences from James Madison University, and completed a dietetic internship with the Virginia Department of Health. She lives in Staunton, VA with her husband and two young sons.
Christy Gabbard (Secretary, Executive Committee) is the founder of Local Concepts LLC. Local Concepts offers businesses and organizations a variety of consultations services including: business development, planning, research, editing and writing (e.g., grants, reports, articles, etc.). Areas of expertise include agriculture, conservation planning and natural resources, and community organization.
Dale Gardner is the Chesapeake Agricultural Coordinator for Water Stewardship, Inc. He comes to us from a farming and water conservation background. After graduating from Virginia Tech he became a partner in his family Dairy business working a pure bred Holstein dairy herd and then spent 8 years as the Executive Secretary of the Virginia State Dairymens Association while co-founding the Waste Solutions Forum.
Virginia State Government
Eric Bendfeldt works as an Extension Specialist for Community Viability with Virginia Cooperative Extension and Virginia Tech’s Department of Crop and Soil Environmental Sciences, and is a co-chair of the VFSC. His focus areas are community-based food systems, sustainable economic development, soil health and environmental stewardship, and agricultural entrepreneurship. Eric is a member of the Virginia Food System Council for which he previously served as Chair, and served as lead author on the recently released Virginia Farm to Table Plan. He also worked to facilitate the development and organization of the Shenandoah Valley Produce Auction. Eric and his wife, Mary, worked with Mennonite Central Committee in Tanzania, East Africa from 1988 to 1995, where Eric worked as a community development coordinator and agriculturalist. Eric completed a B.A. in history from James Madison University in 1987, a B.S. degree in Crops and Soil Environmental Sciences in 1997 and a M.S. in Forestry in 1999 from Virginia Tech. He is a 2008 Fellow of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute. Eric and Mary have three grown children: Freeman, Hannah and Amanda. Eric enjoys biking, reading, hiking and golf.
Leanne DuBois serves as a Program Manager in the Division of Marketing and Sales Development for the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). There, her duties include developing and implementing marketing and outreach programs to facilitate the growth of direct marketing opportunities for Virginia agricultural producers. Areas of focus include entrepreneurial development, agritourism, farmers markets, farm stands, pick your own, community supported agriculture (CSA), specialty crop and organic production. Her duties include managing the Virginia Grown marketing campaign and serving as the state coordinator for the Virginia Farm to School program. Leanne brings years of diverse experience in the Horticulture and Agricultural fields having served in AmeriCorp/Vista helping farmers diversify to higher value crops in the rural south to serving as a County Agricultural Extension Agent in New York and Virginia.
Heidi L. Hertz, MS, RD is the Obesity Prevention Coordinator with the Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth. Heidi is a Registered Dietitian and is currently working in public health to expand partnerships and initiatives pioneering new obesity prevention strategies throughout the Commonwealth. Heidi actively coordinates obesity prevention initiatives promoting good nutrition, physical activity, and healthy communities throughout Virginia. Heidi promotes buying and supporting local agriculture as a strategy to promote health and wellness.
Theresa Nartea, PhD, has served as Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist in Marketing & Agribusiness with Virginia State University College of Agriculture-Cooperative Extension since 2008. Dr. Nartea focuses her research, education, and Extension outreach efforts on innovative direct farm marketing strategies and local foods community planning. She is currently providing statewide Extension support in Collaborative Farm Marketing, Food Hub development, Multi-Farm Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, Workplace & Institutional Farmers Markets, Buying Clubs, Delivery Box Schemes, and Farmer Adoption of Mobile and Electronic Commerce Technologies. Dr. Nartea conducts her work with a systems thinking approach, so that each part of an issue is brought to light and reflected upon as part of a greater whole. With this philosophy, she seeks to work with others to build mutually beneficial food systems that viably connect Virginia farms with customers in their communities.
Institute for Environmental Negotiation
University of Virginia
Virginia Dept. of Agriculture & Consumer Services
Interim Dean, School of Agriculture
Virginia State University
Regional Director of Operations (RDO)
Morrison Healthcare/Compass Group America
Director of Sustainability, Office of Sustainability
Virginia Food System Council Coordinator