ROC Fellows

The ROC fellowship program is designed to foster trusting relationships and a common understanding of food system challenges and opportunities.

In 2006, ROC sought to build deep relationships with grassroots leaders within communities up and down the state. We initiated a fellowship program designed to foster trusting relationships and a common understanding of food system challenges and opportunities. Fifty-nine Fellows completed the program over a four year period. Many of those fifty-nine leaders and their organizations or businesses have been instrumental in ROC programs and projects ever since. Many have gone on to create and lead transformative projects that align with ROC goals and objectives. All have a deeper understanding of the food system and by their choices are making a difference every day.

ROC Fellows 2010

  • Ali Espinoza is the Campus Farm Manager at California State University, Fresno.
  • Daniela Simunovic was an organizer for the Center for Race Poverty & Environment. She is now the Environmental Health and Justice Program Manager at Liberty Hill Foundation.
  • Dayatra Latin was the Director of Programs & Development at the Community Food Bank of Fresno. She is now the Project Coordinator for the Family Independence Initiative.
  • Jensen Vang was the Community Service Coordinator for the Fresno Economic Opportunities Commission. He is now their Food Systems Development Manager.
  • Kara Brodfuehrer was a Staff Attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. She is now a Senior Attorney at the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley.
  • Ken Grimes is the Soil Conservationist and Community Outreach Coordinator for Small Farmers at USDA NRCS in Fresno.
  • Loren Werth is founder and President of Food 4 Thought LLC in Fresno.
  • Sarah Sharpe was the Director for Environmental Health for Fresno Metro Ministry. She is now their Program Director.
  • Tania L. Pacheco was a research analyst at the Central Valley Health Policy Institute. She is now a lecturer at California State University, Fresno and is a consultant in training for Visions Inc.

ROC Fellows 2008-09

  • Alegría De La Cruz was the Directing Attorney at California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. She is now the Regional Director of the California Agriculture Labor Relations Board in Salinas.
  • Alethea Marie Harper was the Coordinator of the Oakland Food Policy Council. She is now a blogger on food issues in Oakland.
  • Bill Burrows is a rancher and coordinator of the Tehama Coordinated Resource Management Plan (CRMP).
  • Brett Melone was the Executive Director at ALBA. He is now the Director of Lending at California FarmLink and the Agriculture Ombudsman for San Mateo County.
  • Elsa Ramirez-Brisson is the CEO and founder of Food FUNdamentals in Salinas.
  • Gar House is founder and President of Building Sustainable Communities (BSC) in San Diego.
  • Hannah Burton Laurison was the Senior Associate at Public Health Law and Policy (now ChangeLab Solutions) in Oakland. She is now a sustainable food policy strategist in London, UK. She is the only recipient of two ROC Fellowships.
  • Jennifer Gross was a health policy planner at the San Mateo County Department of Public Health. She is now launching a social enterprise in San Francisco.
  • Jennifer Hernandez was a partner in Cultivo Consulting. She is now the Western Region Campaign Director at AFL-CIO in southern California.
  • Karen Schmidt is the Executive Director of Save Open-space and Agricultural Resources (SOAR) and part of the Fresno Food Commons team.
  • Kate Magruder is the founder of Ukiah Players Theatre and a rancher in Mendocino County.
  • Kathryn Lyddan is the Executive Director of Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust and she consults with cities and counties on agricultural land preservation and food systems.
  • Lena Brook was Senior Program Associate at the San Francisco Bay Area chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility. She is now a partner in HavenBMedia and is part of ROC’s communication team.
  • Lisa Wasilewski was the Program Director of the HEAL Project (Health, Environment, Agriculture & Learning) in San Mateo County, Coastside. She is now raising children.
  • Marissa Guggiana is the author of three books, a yoga instructor and a co-founder and leader of the Butchers Guild.
  • Michele Laverty is Director of the National Ag Science Center.
  • Natalie Gluck was a Program Associate at PolicyLink. She is now raising children.
  • Patricia Chang is the founder and CEO of Feed the Hunger Foundation.
  • Ron Strochlic was the Executive Director of California Institute for Rural Studies. He is now a research specialist at the Atkins Center for Weight and Health, UC Berkeley.
  • Sarah Treuhaft was a Senior Associate at PolicyLink. She is now a Deputy Director.
  • Temra Costa was Project Manager at CAFF. She is now an author and communications consultant for sustainable agriculture companies and organizations.
  • Timothy Galarneau is Education and Research Program Specialist at the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems at UC Santa Cruz.
  • Vanessa Zajfen was the Farm to Institution Program Coordinator at the Center for Food and Justice at the Urban and Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College. She is now the Farm to School Regional Lead for USDA based in Chicago.

ROC Fellows 2007

  • Anya Fernald was the Program Director for CAFF. Later she founded the Eat Real Festivals and Food Craft Institute for which she serves as board chair. She is now CEO of Belcampo Meat Co.
  • Brahm Ahmadi was co-Founder and Executive Director of People’s Grocery. He is now CEO of Peoples Community Market in Oakland.
  • Bu Nygrens is co-owner and co-Founder of Veritable Vegetables in San Francisco.
  • Casey Walsh Cady is a Senior Scientist at the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento.
  • Charlene Orszag was co-founder of Tierra Miguel Foundation in San Diego and remains a food activist on the Central Coast.
  • Chris Sayer is an avocado and citrus farmer at Sayer Ranch in Ventura County, as well as a blogger and author.
  • Christi Heintz is the Research Director for the California Almond Industry and Project Apis m.
  • Don Shaffer is President and CEO of RSF Social Finance in San Francisco.
  • Eric Cardenas was the Program Director for Environmental Defense Center. He is now Chief Operating Officer of LoaTree, a marketing and media company in Santa Barbara.
  • Eric Holt-Gimenez is Executive Director of Food First and lecturer at the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Pollenzo, Italy.
  • George Work is rancher and farmer at Work Ranch in southern Monterey County.
  • Hannah Burton-Laurison was a policy analyst at Public Health Law and Policy (now ChangeLab Solutions). She is now a food policy strategist in London, UK. She is the only recipient of two ROC Fellowships.
  • Holly King was the Agriculture Program Director for the Great Valley Center. She is now an agri-business consultant and farm operator in Kern County.
  • Jennifer Lester Moffitt markets organic walnuts for her family’s Dixon Ridge Farms near Davis.
  • Jenny Saklar was the Assistant Director of Environment Health at Fresno Metro Ministry. She is now Director of Outreach & Communications for UC Berkeley Children’s Health and Air Pollution Study, San Joaquin Valley.
  • Jo Ann Baumgartner is Executive Director of the Wild Farm Alliance.
  • Joaquin Garza was Director of the Farmworker Institute for Education and Leadership Development.
  • Jonathan Kaplan was the Senior Agriculture Specialist for NRDC. He is now the Director of NRDC’s Food and Agriculture Program, based out of San Francisco.
  • Ladi Asgill is a Senior Project Manager and Economist for Sustainable Conservation in Modesto.
  • Larry Bain is co-Founder of Let’s Be Frank and is now launching Frankies in San Francisco.
  • Mable Everette is a dietician for Community Nutrition Education Services in Los Angeles.
  • Maren Poitras was Statewide Coordinator for the California Student Sustainability Coalition. She is now farming in North Carolina.
  • Natalia Bonilla was an organizer for ALBA. She is now a web content specialist for an online media company in the East Bay.
  • Shayam Shabaka is an educator, advocate and founder of EcoVillage Farm Learning Center in Richmond.
  • Sophia Pagoulatos is a Supervising Planner for the City of Fresno.
  • Vance Russell was the Director of Audubon California. He is now the California Program Director of the National Forest Foundation.
  • Vanessa Frank Garcia was a staff attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance Foundation. She is now in private practice with specialization in immigration law in Ventura County.