Our Team

Paul
Towers

Executive Director

Paul provides overall organizational leadership at CAFF, including staff management, programmatic strategy, and administrative and financial oversight. He was previously the Organizing Director & Policy Advocate for Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA) and a founder of the California Farmer Justice Collaborative, as well as the California Food & Farming Network. Paul has also engaged in state policymaking on the behalf of agricultural frontline communities for over a decade.

paul[at]caff.org

Ben
Thomas

Program Director, Farm to Market

Ben provides direction and support for the Farm to Market Team to develop and deliver programs to increase local market access for small- to mid-scale California family farmers and help ensure that the food that they produce is available to local communities, including schools and hospitals. Ben brings ten years of experience in sustainable purchasing and believes that supporting farmers and farmworkers is key to a just and resilient food system. In his spare time, Ben enjoys exploring the outdoors, traveling, improv comedy and cooking.

ben[at]caff.org

David
Runsten

Policy Director

Dave directs all of CAFF’s policy work as well as the food safety and water stewardship outreach. Dave is an agricultural economist who conducted research on such topics as contract agriculture in Mexico, fair trade coffee in Oaxaca, regional competitiveness of the produce industry, living wages in Los Angeles, and farm labor in California.

dave[at]caff.org

Emily
Buerer

Program Coordinator, Climate Smart Farming

Emily has lived and worked in agriculture in the San Joaquin Valley, Bay Area, and Spain, and is ardent about promoting regenerative farming practices and strengthening local food systems. She holds a graduate degree in Organic Agriculture from the University of Barcelona and studied Sustainable Ag at CSU Stanislaus in Turlock. Emily enjoys tending her garden, cooking with local ingredients, visiting farmers’ markets, and photography.

emily[at]caff.org

(530) 756-1298

Evan
Wiig

Director of Membership & Communications

Evan is a community organizer with a passion for sustainable agriculture and local food systems. From California cattle ranches to Brooklyn community gardens, Evan has spent the past decade mucking chicken coops, reviving his local Grange hall, writing on issues of food and ag, and in 2011 founded The Farmers Guild, which in 2017 merged with CAFF to better serve and represent the diversity of family farms throughout the state.

evan[at]caff.org 

(415) 710-5692

FRANK Munzinger

Accountant

Frank is a graduate of the University of the Pacific with a degree in Accounting. He has nearly 30 years experience in the Accounting profession, having worked in various industries including banking, manufacturing and small business. He has experience in general ledger accounting, financial statement preparation, and budgeting. Frank lives in Vacaville with his wife and menagerie of animals, including three corgis and horses. He enjoys cooking and traveling.

frank[at]caff.org

Holly
MARKHaM

Director, Development & Administration

Holly helps lead CAFF’s development and administrative efforts. Over the past decade she has worked at the intersection of agriculture and education for organizations in Michigan, Portland, Oregon, and the Bay Area. Holly’s professional interests lie in organizational effectiveness and developing systems that build the internal capacity of non-profits so they can more effectively fulfill their mission. 

holly[at]caff.org

Josefina Lara Chavez

Farm to Market Specialist

Josefina was raised in the Salad Bowl of the United States, the Salinas Valley. She has a graduate degree in Public Administration, from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies. Through her work and volunteerism, she has served communities locally and internationally with social justice, equity, and love being at the root of it all. She is passionate about creating stronger connections between people, and is currently working on getting her farm off the ground.

josefina[at]caff.org

Kali
Feiereisel

Senior Manager, Farmer Support Services

Kali provides food safety technical assistance to farmers as they further develop their practices to meet new requirements. In addition to her background in diversified vegetable production, she studied food and agriculture policy and local food systems while completing her graduate degree in Public Health Nutrition from UC Berkeley. When she’s not out in a farm field somewhere, Kali enjoys skiing the Sierra slopes and cooking with all the delicious bounty California growers provide for our tables.  

kali[at]caff.org

MEGAN CONTRERAS

Senior Manager, Development & Operations

Megan coordinates and promotes CAFF’s outreach programs; manages CAFF’s membership program; and assists CAFF’s Development, Marketing, Finance, and Program staff. She has taught and managed programs/events for school groups and the general public and worked in the non-profit arena since 2003. Megan enjoys hiking, slacklining, snowboarding, gardening, and other outdoor adventures.

mcontreras[at]caff.org

MICHELLE
WYLER

Managing Director, Farm to Market

Michelle steers the development and implementation of farm direct programs at CAFF which support direct market farms, especially Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) operations. She also provides food safety support and is directing the development of our Climate Resilience program. Michelle has worked in rural food systems development since 2001 after earning her degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Humboldt State University. She is a former CSA owner and has always been enamoured with the culture that surrounds agriculture.

michelle[at]caff.org 

(707) 633-8755

ALISHA
STRATER

Farmer Services Coordinator

Alisha works as the Farm Service Coordinator at CAFF, providing direct support and educational services to farmers across Northern California. Her background is in both production farming and agricultural education, serving as Farm Manager on a handful of farms including The College of the Atlantic in Maine and Mills College in Oakland. She holds a graduate degree in Leadership Education with her passion lying in encouraging and empowering young farmers in the skills of self determination, interdependence, collaboration, and community through formal classes in food justice, land sovereignty and hands-on farm education in the field.

alisha[at]caff.org 

BETH SMOKER

Policy Director, California Food & Farming Network

Beth weaves together food and farming advocates doing state policy through the California Food & Farming Network. With a masters in Food Systems and Society, Beth has experience across the food system from advocating for farmers in climate and racial equity policy and serving as Board President for a local non-profit focused on food justice.

bsmoker[at]caff.org


SARA TIFFANY

Director of Ecological Farming

Sara oversees CAFF’s Climate Smart Farming program, which works with farmers, researchers and other agencies to investigate and promote climate smart practices throughout California. For years, Sara has worked to promote sustainable agriculture both in the classroom and in the field, and has a passion for connecting the two. She has graduate degrees from University of California, Davis, in Soils and Biochemistry and International Agricultural Development, and has a background in international development work. Sara grew up on a small walnut ranch on the central coast of California.

sara[at]caff.org

(530) 756-1298

 

Yousef Buzayan

Program Manager, Farm to Cafeteria

Yousef studied Agricultural Economics and International Ag Development at UC Davis and has interests in food systems and agricultural supply chains. As Farm to Cafeteria Program Manager, he provides technical expertise and assistance to farmers and foodservice operators on supply chain logistics, regulations, and best practices for Farm to Cafeteria sales. He has worked at farmers markets, served as a UC Davis agricultural ambassador and formerly directed the UC Davis Whole Earth Festival. In his spare time, Yousef plays basketball, follows fantasy football, listens to podcasts, and watches the US National Soccer teams.

yousef[at]caff.org

Beth Spitler

Field Director, California Food & Farming Network

Beth supports local food and farming advocates’ participation in state-level policy advocacy through the California Food & Farming Network. Before getting a graduate degree in public policy, she worked for a decade as an organic farmer, garden and cooking teacher and farmer outreach coordinator.

bspitler[at]caff.org

Hislop_headshot

Rasheed Hislop

Farm to Market Specialist

Rasheed is from Brooklyn, NY and found his way to farming as a college student in Oberlin, OH and Ithaca, NY. Rasheed has spent the better part of the past 12 years working in roles within the NYC Department of Parks & Recreation, supporting urban farmers and community gardeners. Rasheed holds an MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis. Rasheed’s volunteer work centers on uprooting racism in the food system and building power within Black Indigenous People of Color (BIPOC) communities. Rasheed loves bringing people together through food, stewardship, and cultural practices.

rasheed[at]caff.org

530-756-1298

Contractors, Interns & Volunteers

Stepheni Norton

San Diego Regional Food Safety Lead

A retired Chief Petty Officer and decorated military Veteran, with over 20 years of hands-on entrepreneurial experience, Stepheni started and ran multiple successful business before breaking ground on her farm, W.D. Dickinson. In addition to running the her own farm, Stepheni is the San Diego Regional Food Safety Lead and a certified Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Grower Trainer.

stepheni[at]caff.org

CAFF_Seal_color_2020

Alicia
Baddorf

Volunteer,
Farm to Market

Alicia is a volunteer with CAFF’s Farm to Market team, and is passionate about supporting farmers and local food systems. For nearly 10 years, she has worked for and volunteered with various farms, in the roles of farmer, marketer, CSA manager, salesperson and eater of vegetables. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, swimming and singing.

Chip
Peinado

Volunteer, Farm to Market

Chip graduated from Harvard College with extensive coursework in both economics and computer science. He worked as a research associate at Harvard Business School studying how technology companies scale before his love of cooking led to a passion for regenerative agriculture and strong, local food systems. In addition to being a Farm to Market team member, he is working on a farm in the Capay Valley.

volunteer[at]caff.org

ROSE
CURLEY

GrizzlyCorps Fellow

Rose is a 2020-21 GrizzlyCorps fellow, completing her 11-month term of service with CAFF’s Climate Smart Farming team. Rose recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Molecular Environmental Biology and Food Systems. It was through her academic journey that she developed a passion for regenerative agriculture as it unites her interests in environmental science, human health and nutrition, and community-based work. Rose is from the foothills of the Central Valley of California and enjoys cooking, backpacking and watercolor painting.

intern[at]caff.org

Upasana Dilip

Upasana
Dilip

Volunteer, Communications

Upasana is a rising high school senior with a passion for sustainable agriculture. She is currently working with two leading farming associations to build sustainable farming systems by supporting on-the-ground programs. Most recently she worked with a social impact venture capital firm to research the competitive dynamics of the organic dairy products market in India. She also worked with a professor to analyze the impact of COVID 19 on migrant workers who were disproportionately impacted in South Asia due to the pandemic. During her freshman and sophomore years  Upasana helped educate children about the ecosystem and animals at CuriOdyssey, a science museum and Zoo. Upasana aspires to study agricultural economics in college.