Board of Directors

Diane Del Signore

Diane is the Executive Director for the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF), a role she has held since 2008. Additionally, she serves on the board of the California Small Farm Conference. Not only does she put her interest in sustainable food and agriculture into effect in an organizational setting, Diane is an urban farmer, raising goats and chickens and teaching cooking classes with the local 4-H club. She founded East Bay Chickens, helping folks set up backyard chicken-keeping. Diane has an MBA from Stanford University, and prior to working at CAFF, Diane worked at Hewlett-Packard for 13 years, in a variety of marketing management roles. She directed HP’s global partnership with an international software company, managing a worldwide team of sales, marketing and technical personnel.

 

John Bailey

John Bailey is a California licensed attorney based in Salinas, California.   In his legal practice he represents small to mid-sized farmers and ranchers, and a variety of agriculture-related businesses. John is also the Executive Director of Top 10 Produce LLC, a brand holding company involved in produce branding, value-added agricultural manufacturing, and licensing of intellectual property. Top 10 licenses trademarks and software, and provides agricultural consulting services to independent farms in 20 states.

 

Annemarie Brown

Annemarie Brown takes a vision and makes it a reality. An accomplished strategic communicator with proven success growing programs, teams and community, she’s worked with nimble, mission-driven organizations large and small, in the public sector and private enterprise, and specializes in growth- and change-filled environments. Annemarie holds a Master of Education from the University of Denver and a Bachelor of Arts in Russian from the University of Florida. She serves as an advisor to the Executive Director of Sonoma State University’s Center for Environmental Inquiry and is a graduate of Leadership Santa Rosa’s Class XXVII. An avid foodie, home-cook and hiker, she lives in Santa Rosa, CA with her husband, Matthew.

 

Gowan Batist

Gowan Batist was born and raised on the Mendocino Coast into an agricultural family. She studied metal fabrication and sustainable agriculture in college, and farmed in Portland, Oregon on a 150-acre farm before returning to Mendocino to manage the Noyo Food Forest, Fort Bragg Unified School District’s farm-to-school program. During her three seasons as manager of the Noyo Food Forest program, she began composting spent grain from North Coast Brewing Company as a hobby. The hobby became a mission and a career, and Fortunate Farm was founded on 40 acres co-owned by North Coast Brewing Company in 2014. Gowan is North Coast Brewing Company’s Sustainability Manager, and farm manager at Fortunate Farm which hosts Mendocino Coast Farmer’s Guild.

 

Dale Coke

Dale Coke began his farming education in 1980 with a quarter acre of organic strawberries. He continues farming today with his wife, Christine, growing a diversified mix of organic produce, grains and seeds at Coke Farm. In addition to the farm, they also operate a cooling/ storage/ shipping operation in San Juan Bautista, which serves several organic growing operations. Their staff includes several family members as well as a group of dedicated employees.

 

Rich Collins

Rich Collins, Board Chair, has been involved in vegetable production since the age of 10 when he started a one-acre suburban market garden with his family in Sacramento. He went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in Agricultural and Managerial Economics from UC Davis. Today, he is the original founder and of California Endive Farms (CEF) and owns the Collins Family Farm. Rich is a 2008 recipient of the Award of Distinction from the UCD’s College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. He is a member of the San Francisco Professional Food Society as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals and Slow Food USA.

 

Tommy Irvine

Tommy Irvine grew up and resides in Chico, CA. He graduated from California State University, Chico with a B.S. in business administration with an option in accounting in 2003. His career began as a CPA with K-Coe Isom; one of the reasons he was drawn to the firm was their involvement with agriculture and appreciation for the community. He also currently serves as the treasurer of Chico Sunrise Rotary and will be on the board for 2014-2016. His career has offered him a wide variety of experience, including both financial statement auditing and income tax services and provided him with the opportunity to work with a variety of family owned businesses.

 

Paul Kaiser

Paul Kaiser is the owner of Singing Frogs Farm in Sonoma County. The farm is a unique, no-till, ecologically beneficial, highly intensive vegetable farm that utilizes innovative systems including no-till soil management. The farm also does not use spray of any kind, and has won numerous awards including the 2010 National Farmer Rancher Award for Pollinator Conservation and the 2013 Leadership in Sustainability Award, Sonoma County.

 

Ken Kimes

Ken Kimes and his wife Sandra, along with a dedicated crew, have managed their farm New Natives in Aptos, CA for over 30 years. They operate a greenhouse and a small packing shed, growing and shipping microgreens. New Natives has been certified organic by CCOF since 1983. They sell their produce to wholesalers, direct to retail, and at nine farmers markets per week.

 

Bob Knight

Bob Knight, a long-time citrus and kiwi grower, is now, with the advent of global warming, drought, and the asian citrus psyllid, eagerly diversifying his 85-ac Socal farm into mixed vegetables, berries, figs, and grapes.  Having been a cog in the global food system as a grower for and the manager of a Sunkist packinghouse, he now is focused on direct-to-market channels.  He started one of Socal’s earliest CSAs, and along with Rodney Taylor, was a pioneer of the Farm2School movement.  Besides farming, he founded and runs Old Grove Orange, a for-profit hub of 16 Socal farmers serving 17 school districts feeding 600,000 kids.  Each year he meets with about 13,000 of his customers, 35 at a time, to talk about farming and how eating lots of fruits and vegetables can give you superpowers.

 

Cynthia Lashbrook

Cindy Lashbrook became a farmer in 1987 and a CAFF member a year later. She became involved in chapter activities, coordinated the early Northern San Joaquin Valley Lighthouse Farm Meetings and was on the Management Team of the first BIOS projects in the 1990s. She has hosted field days on her and neighboring farms in partnership with CAFF, local RCDs, Farm Bureaus, CCOF and UCCE. With partner Bill Thompson, she hosts an annual farm festival at their farm — Riverdance Farm —  that celebrates local and organic food, the arts, the Merced River environment and local activists.

 

Carol Olson

Carol Olson is the founder and CEO of Organic Expansion. Her mission is to support entrepreneurs and businesses in sustainable organic food and agriculture, providing human capital, equipment leases and financial resources to businesses to support early-stage growth. Carol happily “will work for food,” believing that the individual choices we make on a daily basis have tremendous impact on our lives, communities and the planet. Carol has an MBA from Stanford’s Graduate school of business and a BA, cum laude in economics from Yale University. She is a certified natural and therapeutic chef. She serves on the board of directors of PAVIR (the Palo Alto Veterans Institute for Research) in addition to the CAFF Board.

 

Pete Price

Pete Price is a long-time member of the CAFF Board of Directors. He has been interested in sustainable agriculture since studying at UC Davis. He is recently retired from Waste Management, after serving for three years as vice-president for governmental affairs in the western U.S. Before that, he was environmental and natural resources advisor to two Assembly Speakers – John Perez from 2010 to 2012 and Willie Brown from 1988 to 1995. From 1995 to 2010, he founded and ran Price Consulting, a lobbying firm that represented sustainable agriculture organizations, including CAFF, the California Climate Action Network and the Sustainable Agriculture working Group, as well as environmental organizations and companies with environmental technologies.

 

Deb K. Tellier

Deb is a retired partner from Farella Braun + Martel’s Environmental Law Department in San Francisco. Ms. Tellier’s environmental practice included counseling business clients on compliance with federal, state and local environmental laws, with an emphasis on hazardous waste and water quality laws and regulations. Ms. Tellier also practiced in the firm’s Exempt Organization Practice Group advising clients on nonprofit formation, operational, grantmaking and governance issues. As former Associate General Counsel and Chief Compliance Officer for the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, she was primarily responsible for the foundation’s day-to-day legal matters, compliance programs, organizational and Board governance and regulatory filings. Deborah has taught and lectured on a variety of environmental law and nonprofit topics at institutions of higher learning and national conferences.

 

 

Emeritus Members

Judith Redmond is an emeritus member of the CAFF Board. She spends her days as a farmer at Full Belly Farm in northern California, and as a volunteer for a number of community organizations including CAFF. She is currently involved with organizations like California Climate and Agriculture Network; U.C. Davis Ag Sustainability Institute; and AGree (Transforming Food and Ag Policy). She is a Fire Commissioner with the Capay Valley Volunteer Fire Department and on the steering committee of the Annual Hoes Down Harvest Festival hosted by Full Belly Farm.

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