Posted July 6, 2021
We are thrilled to introduce five new members to the FINE Network Advisory Council, coming aboard this summer 2021. Each of these professionals brings their unique experience, passion, and commitment to improving our shared food system. They join a team of deeply committed advisors who not only form FINE's governing body, but who collaboratively shape farm to institution activity in New England.
Program Manager, Massachusetts Farm to School
As the Program Manager at Massachusetts Farm to School, Charissa oversees their professional development offerings and works with school nutrition staff, farmers/fishermen/food producers, distributors, educators, and other farm to school stakeholders to drive local food sourcing and education in schools across the Commonwealth.
Growing up in the city and suburbs of Boston, while also spending summers growing food on her grandparents farm in the mountains of Puerto Rico, cultivated in her a diverse perspective on life, the environment, and the places people call home.
The combination of her work in retail, non-profit, and regenerative agricultural management has given her a wide scope perspective and ability to weave together the threads for building viable systems. Prior to joining Mass. Farm to School, Charissa co-managed Eva’s Garden in South Dartmouth and Revision Urban Farm in Dorchester MA. She holds a Bachelor of Science in International Relations from Syracuse University. Most importantly, she loves to eat and grow delicious food, loves being a mother, and loves her relationship with God!
Director of Food System Policy, City of New Haven, CT
Latha Swamy (luh-thaa swaa-mee) joined the City of New Haven as Director of Food System Policy in September 2018. In this role, Latha works to support and help manifest community-led efforts that envision and create an environmentally sustainable and socially just food system. To create this enabling environment for New Haven residents, Latha works on policy on the institutional, local, state, and federal levels. She is also an active leader in international processes that relate to urban food policy.
Outside of this role, Latha also serves as the Senior Advisor to the Chair of the Rockefeller Foundation Economic Council on Planetary Health, Dr. Ernesto Zedillo (former President of Mexico), at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization. Her work broadly examines the relationship between environmental degradation and human health. Internationally, she has worked in Haiti, India, Nepal, and Indonesia to address the impacts of global environmental change at the intersection of health and agricultural systems.
She currently serves as the United Nations Ambassador for Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO), chairs the Junior Board of EcoHealth Alliance (EHA), and sits on both the Working Lands Alliance (WLA) Steering Committee and Senator Chris Murphy's Land Conservation Council, among others. She also trained in urban farming and food justice practices at Just Food NYC's Farm School. She holds a Master's of Environmental Management from Yale University, prior to which she pursued an M.D. and a Ph.D. in systems neuroscience at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Director of Food Strategy, Rhode Island Commerce Corporation
Juli Stelmaszyk serves as the Director of Food Strategy for the state of Rhode Island where her role is split between three state agencies, RI Commerce Corporation, Dept. Of Health and Dept. Of Environmental Management. She is tasked with strengthening Rhode Island’s food economy through a systems approach which promotes health equity, economic development and environmental sustainability.
Prior to this role, Juli worked in small scale agriculture in Massachusetts, founded a farm-to-table cooking school in Rome, and launched inaugural local food procurement programs at a high school in Italy and at Boston College Dining Services. She holds an MBA from Boston College Carroll School of Management with a concentration in sustainability and social impact.
Food Entrepreneurship Program Manager, CitySeed
Cara recently completed their M.S. in Food Studies at Syracuse University, where they conducted research and program development connecting food and power with race, prisons, and poverty. Cara also has 14 years of experience working in the food industry with a strong background in cooking, kitchen management, and teaching. They used their graduate research, practical food systems work, lived experience with food insecurity, and experience working with returning citizens to develop and implement the Restorative Food Justice Project to address carceral-related food insecurity in New Haven, CT. Cara has presented some of their work at the 2020 ASFS/AFHVS Conference, the 2021 Tufts Data Symposium, and the 2021 ASFS, AFHVS, CAFS, and SAFN Just Food Conference. Cara focuses on accessible, intersectional, and participatory community-based approaches in their work. In their spare time, they enjoy cooking, reading non-fiction books, and listening to records.
Commissioner, Maine Department of Corrections
Commissioner Randall Liberty began his Law Enforcement at the Kennebec County Sheriff’s Office in 1989 as a Deputy Sheriff. He served 26 years at the Sheriffs Office, the last nine years as the elected Sheriff. During his tenure he focused his efforts on Justice Involved Military Veterans, food insecurity, and the treatment of Addiction. Liberty served as the President of the Maine Sheriffs Association, as the Chairman of the Maine Drug Enforcement Advisory Board and on the Board of Visitors at the University of Maine (Augusta). In addition to active duty service as a Military Policeman in Korea, he served as a Mountain Infantryman in Italy, as a Drill Sergeant, and as an Instructor at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point. Liberty’s last assignment was in 2004 as the Command Sergeant Major of a Military Transition Team, imbedded with 772 Iraqi Infantryman in the City of Fallujah.
Liberty is a three time State of Maine Law Enforcement Officer of the year. He is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a Master’s in Management and Leadership from Liberty University. Liberty formerly served as the Warden of the Maine State Prison where he focused on agricultural education, agricultural production, nutritional enhancement, and composting. Liberty is a Master Gardener and Beekeeper. He was appointed as the Commissioner of Corrections for the State of Maine, by Governor Janet Mills in 2019 where he continues to expand agricultural efforts.
About the Network Advisory Council
The FINE Network Advisory Council (NAC) serves as the overarching advisory and governing body of FINE. The NAC has representatives from across New England who serve various roles in the farm to institution supply chain, and work with key institutional sectors. The NAC includes individuals from diverse backgrounds who contribute an array of skills and experience in food systems research, policy, community-building, program implementation, and fundraising. The NAC meets formally four to six times a year, including at least two in person meetings (during non-COVID times), with other interactions on an as-needed basis. Each NAC member also serves on one of the three standing committees, which meet virtually every other month. Meet the full Network Advisory Council.