Meet the CAFF Team

Meet the CAFF Team

Beth Smoker

Policy Director, California Food & Farming Network

Beth weaves together food and farming advocates impacting state policy through CFFN
Meet the CAFF Team

Michelle Wyler

Managing Director, Farm to Market

Working behind-the-scenes to empower CAFF staff to expertly support California family farmers.
Meet the CAFF Team

Moet Takata

Ecological Pest Management Field Technician, Contractor

Meet the CAFF Team

Frank Munzinger

Accountant

Counting beans and getting people paid
Meet the CAFF Team

Beth Spitler

Field Director, California Food & Farming Network

Advancing grassroots advocacy and racial equity through the California Food & Farming Network.
Meet the CAFF Team

Jamie Fanous

Policy Advocate

Working with farmers to create & advance policies rooted in farmer needs, social justice and equity
Meet the CAFF Team

Phillip Minnick

Tech Hub Consultant

Helping small farmers navigate technological resources to expand their market opportunities
Meet the CAFF Team

Rasheed Hislop

Farm to Market Specialist, Central Valley

Helping farmers access & grow new markets toward building community.
Meet the CAFF Team

Sara Tiffany

Director of Ecological Farming

Working with farmers to build soil health, biodiversity and resilience in California agroecosystems.
Meet the CAFF Team

Emily Buerer

Ecological Farming Program Manager

Supporting farmers to enhance on-farm biodiversity, productivity, and adaptability
Meet the CAFF Team

Anna Morales

Membership & Administrative Coordinator

Engaging farmers and farm advocates through membership while providing a bridge to CAFF's admin team
Meet the CAFF Team

Hanna Kahl

Ecological Pest Management Program Specialist

Partnering with farmers to develop practical Integrated Pest Management solutions
Meet the CAFF Team

Dave Runsten

Policy Director

Endeavoring to keep small farmers farming through policy solutions in Sacramento and D.C.
Meet the CAFF Team

Baani Behniwal

Farmer Services, Contractor

Assisting California farmers to access and navigate funding opportunities
Meet the CAFF Team

Kali Feiereisel

Farmer Support Services Director

Helping farmers navigate regulations, new technologies & more so you can spend more time farm'in!
Meet the CAFF Team

Elizabeth Vaughan

Farm to Market Tech Hub Specialist

Sharing tech & business solutions to make purchasing local food more accessible and competitive.
Meet the CAFF Team

Miguel Alvarez

Ecological Pest Management Field Technician, Contractor

Meet the CAFF Team

Rose Curley

GrizzlyCorps Fellow, Ecological Farming

Sampling soils, analyzing data and communicating science to help farmers grow just, resilient foods
Meet the CAFF Team

Evan Wiig

Director of Membership & Communications

Amplifying the voice of family farmers, organizing the grassroots, preaching a gospel of healthy soils
Meet the CAFF Team

Holly Markham

Director, Development & Administration

Aligning resources, supporting staff, and developing CAFF's capacity to serve family farmers
Meet the CAFF Team

Paul Towers

Executive Director

Building a fair, responsive and democratic organization so California's family farmers can thrive.
Meet the CAFF Team

Ben Thomas

Program Director, Farm to Market

Supporting family farmers and food buyers to build and connect to market channels in California.
Meet the CAFF Team

Todd Jones

Tech Hub Consultant

Helping farmers and ranchers find right-sized technologies to grow their business.
Meet the CAFF Team

Yousef Buzayan

Farm to Cafeteria Program Manager

Working with food service departments, farmers, and aggregators to support farm-to-cafeteria sales
Meet the CAFF Team

Grace Perry

Farmer Services Coordinator

Supporting California farmers as they adopt and adapt on-farm food safety practices
Meet the CAFF Team

Bridget Deterding

Volunteer, Farm to Market

Meet the CAFF Team

Josefina Lara Chavez

Farm to Market Specialist

Ensuring that all small farmers have an equitable opportunity in the market place.
Meet the CAFF Team

Megan Contreras

Senior Manager, Development & Operations

CAFF's Swiss Army knife: working within all administrative areas for team success & org health.
Meet the CAFF Team

Alicia Baddorf

Tech Hub Consultant

Providing technical assistance to farmers seeking compatible ecommerce and marketing solutions.
Load More

Beth Smoker

Policy Director, California Food & Farming Network

Beth weaves together food and farming advocates impacting state policy through the California Food & Farming Network. By committing to shared values of racial equity, she is helping Network members re-vision roles and build uncommon partnerships to advance state policies for an equitable food and farming system. With a MS in Food Systems and Society, Beth has over a decade of experience across the food system from advocating for farmers in climate and racial equity policy, serving as Board President for a local non-profit focused on food justice, and establishing foundational county food policies through her local food policy council.
Sacramento, CA

Michelle Wyler

Managing Director, Farm to Market

Michelle supports the dynamic Farm to Market team at CAFF while helping to steer the development, implementation, and evaluation of this program. (Think multi-tasking, plate spinning, ball juggler extraordinaire). With expertise in the Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) / Farm Box marketing model, Michelle also provides specialized technical assistance to farmers in California and beyond through the national CSA Innovation Network, which she co-founded in 2016. Michelle has worked in rural food systems development since 2001 after earning her degree in Sustainable Agriculture from Humboldt State University. A former farmer herself, she is enamored with the culture that surrounds agriculture, especially in rural areas of the U.S. and abroad.
Humboldt County, CA

Moet Takata

Ecological Pest Management Field Technician, Contractor

Moet is a field technician supporting the BIOS for Walnuts project. She became passionate about sustainable agriculture while studying soil health and pest control on urban farms in the East Bay. Moet graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in Molecular Environmental Biology. She enjoys studying bugs, baking, and illustrating.

Frank Munzinger

Accountant

Frank has been with CAFF for four years and has immersed himself in ensuring CAFF's financial soundness. He has well over 30 years finance experience, and he makes sure all program staff have the support they need to achieve program goals.
Davis, CA

Beth Spitler

Field Director, California Food & Farming Network

Beth co-facilitates the California Food & Farming Network, a multi-sector collaboration centering racial equity in food and farming policy change. She supports grassroots advocates’ participation in state-level policy and builds network capacity to advance racial equity. 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.
Sacramento, CA

Jamie Fanous

Policy Advocate

Jamie works to advance policies rooted in farmer needs and engage farmers in developing those policies. Jamie has committed nearly 10 years to sustainable food and agriculture systems ranging from on-farm technical assistance, soil health and agriculture policy, to on-farm research and data management. She holds a MS in Agriculture, Food, and Environment, and a MA in Environmental Policy and Planning from Tufts University. Jamie is committed to developing sustainable agriculture policy rooted in social justice and equity.
Davis, CA

Phillip Minnick

Tech Hub Consultant

Phil is a California native, raised on the Central Coast surrounded by fields of strawberries, iceberg lettuce and broccoli, and studied educational psychology and Spanish close to home at UC-Santa Barbara. It was while teaching English abroad in Mexico and China for seven years that he cultivated his love of food, and a connection to the land and people who produce it. After moving to the Bay area Phil combined his passion for education and food justice, working and volunteering with a number of non-profit organizations as a health and wellness educator, school garden coordinator, Spanish language translator and presenter, among others. After becoming a Certified Nutrition Consultant in 2013 Phil dove head first into the event and hospitality industry, working with a number of farm to table food producers throughout the Bay area, eventually becoming a kitchen and operations manager. Phil hopes to use his expertise as an educator, his understanding of food systems and logistics and his experience in food production to build relationships between small farmers and local food producers.

Rasheed Hislop

Farm to Market Specialist, Central Valley

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.
Fresno, CA

Sara Tiffany

Director of Ecological Farming

Sara leads the Ecological Farming Program Area and CAFF, which includes the Climate Smart Farming Program as well as the Ecological Pest Management Program. Before starting at CAFF in 2017, Sara worked for the Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program at UC Davis. She received masters degrees at UC Davis in Soils and Biogeochemistry and International Agricultural Development, respectively. Before working in California agriculture, Sara worked in sustainable agriculture and rural livelihoods in Costa Rica, Ecuador and India. Sara grew up on a small-scale organic walnut ranch in the Central Coast.
Nevada County, CA

Emily Buerer

Ecological Farming Program Manager

Emily supports the Climate Smart Farming Program and Ecological Pest Management Program to assist farmers and ranchers implement and sustain pragmatic agroecological practices. She has lived and worked in agriculture in the Central Valley, Bay Area, and Spain, and is ardent about helping farmers manage resilient farms. Emily holds a graduate degree in Ecological and Organic Agriculture from the University of Barcelona and studied Sustainable Ag at CSU Stanislaus. She has also worked in IPM research in the San Joaquin Valley, alongside smallholder vegetable growers in Barcelona, and now calls the beautiful Chico, CA home.
Butte County, CA

Anna Morales

Membership & Administrative Coordinator

Anna Morales grew up in the outskirts of Woodland, CA on a small vegetable farm where she spent most of her time playing in the dirt or scoping out the fields. With such an inspired world at her fingertips, she found her desire to create while being drawn to help others find their path to wholeness. Over the last decade in Sacramento, Anna has been a community advocate, a non-profit administrator, and an artist and educator. Anna’s role at CAFF builds on her skills of engagement with farmers and farm advocates throughout the state, developing chapters, and maintaining a resource database for both members and supporters while providing creative and technical assistance to the admin team.

Hanna Kahl

Ecological Pest Management Program Specialist

Hanna specializes in agricultural research and extension with farmers. She is passionate about doing applied research to serve the need of local farmers. She has received a masters in Entomology at University of Maryland and is finishing a Ph.D. at UC Davis. Her research has focused on herbivory by earwigs in citrus, using living mulches to enhance beneficial insects, and the role of wolf spiders as cucumber beetle predators. In her free time, Hanna enjoys hiking, running, reading, skiing, and gardening.  
Davis, CA

Dave 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.

Baani Behniwal

Farmer Services, Contractor

Baani provides outreach and technical assistance to small and historically underserved farmers to apply for federal and private grants in order to remain resilient in the face of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Baani's passion for equitable, localized and regenerative food systems began 6 years ago when working with smallholder farms in India and Latin America. She holds a dual M.A. in International Affairs and Natural Resources and Sustainable Development from American University and the University for Peace, specializing in Food & Agriculture Policy. Previously, she worked to advocate for statewide policies on waste reduction at Californians Against Waste, with a focus on plastics, food waste, and compost. In her pre-pandemic free time, Baani enjoyed backpacking, dancing, and live music.

Kali Feiereisel

Farmer Support Services Director

Kali provides food safety, technology, and a variety of other technical assistance to farmers in addition to managing development and strategy for the Farmer Services Program. Prior to her time at CAFF she spent a number of years helping run a 20-acre diversified vegetable farm with a large Community Supported Agriculture program. Kali 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.
Nevada County, CA

Elizabeth Vaughan

Farm to Market Tech Hub Specialist

Elizabeth brings over 10 years of experience in strengthening healthy, just, and sustainable food systems. At CAFF she manages the Small Farm Tech Hub, supporting farmers across California with their technology and business needs. Elizabeth’s education is in business economics from UC Santa Barbara and sustainable horticulture from Cuyamaca College. Her passion for sustainable food systems launched while she worked alongside Ugandan farmers during her Peace Corps service and was shown the inextricable links between the health of a community, the environment, and the food that is produced and consumed within that community. In her free time, she enjoys stewarding her family’s five-acre ranch located in San Diego County.
San Diego, CA

Miguel Alvarez

Ecological Pest Management Field Technician, Contractor

Miguel is lifelong Northern California native (Chico area) for over 40 plus years. While working on his B.S. Agriculture with an emphasis in Crops and Horticulture degree from CSU, Chico, he immersed himself in Agricultural research in walnut, almond, olive oil and table olive production systems. Areas of focus have been in Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as well as cultural practice manipulation to investigate the effects of canopy management on plant phenology (fruit set) and photosynthetic active radiation (PAR) interception. Aiding in their studies as a lab assistant for field data collection, he built an extensive rapport with local Cooperative Extension Farm Advisors, professors and agricultural industry professionals. Other passions range from landscape photography, hiking a mountainous or coastal trail, camping, house renovation projects, or visiting a movie theater to enjoy the cinematic arts.

Rose Curley

GrizzlyCorps Fellow, Ecological Farming

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.

Evan Wiig

Director of Membership & Communications

Combining communications with community organizing, Evan is committed to promoting regenerative agriculture, local food, and social justice. As the Director of Membership & Communications, Evan works to amplify the stories of family farmers, share valuable resources with growers and food system advocates alike, and connect our members with CAFF's many programs. From cattle ranches to urban gardens, over the past decade Evan has mucked chicken coops and met with legislators, organized countless farmer potlucks and produced large-scale festivals and conferences, and in 2011 he founded The Farmers Guild, a grassroots network advocating for a new generation of farmers, which in 2016 merged with CAFF. He currently sits on the Advisory Committees for Sustainable Ag programs at both the Santa Rosa JC and College of Marin, as well as for the Agricultural Preservation & Open Space District and the Sonoma County Food Systems Alliance, and writes journalism on issues of food and ag.
Santa Rosa, CA (Southern Pomo Territory)

Holly Markham

Director, Development & Administration

Holly leads CAFF’s development and administrative efforts. Over the past decade she has worked at the intersection of sustainable agriculture and education for organizations in Michigan, Oregon, and California. 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.
Davis, CA

Paul Towers

Executive Director

Paul provides overall organizational leadership at CAFF, including staff management, programmatic strategy, and administrative and financial oversight. He previously worked at Pesticide Action Network North America, is a founder of the California Farmer Justice Collaborative, a founder of the California Food & Farming Network, and has engaged in policymaking and community organizing with agricultural communities for over fifteen years. He is originally from Southern Arizona (Tohono O'odham territory) and rooted in botany and agriculture in Southwestern deserts. Paul studied Environmental Policy Analysis and Planning at University of California - Davis and is a graduate of the Green Corps field school for environmental organizing.
Sacramento, CA (Nisenan territory)

Ben Thomas

Program Director, Farm to Market

Ben supports the Farm to Market Team to develop and deliver programs that help small-scale California family farmers reach new markets and bring the food they grow to local communities. Ben brings more than ten years of experience in value-based supply chain coordination 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 and anything involving plants and food.
Sacramento, CA

Todd Jones

Tech Hub Consultant

Todd is a veteran Product and Communications leader who has spent more than a decade at the intersection of food, farming and technology. He has worked with farmers and food businesses all around the world to improve operations and find new markets. He's passionate about helping small and mid-size business owners embed right-sized technologies into their operations. In 2011 he founded Field Day with the goal of making it easier for specialty growers to build crop plans, estimate expenses and keep records year round.

Yousef Buzayan

Farm to Cafeteria Program Manager

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.
Davis, CA

Grace Perry

Farmer Services Coordinator

Grace is part of CAFF’s Farmer Services team, providing food safety technical assistance to farmers. Grace holds a Master’s degree in Community Development from UC Davis where she studied community food systems, with an emphasis on food justice and policy-making processes. Prior to graduate school, she worked on small-scale vegetable farms in Georgia and Northern Colorado and co-founded a local sustainable agriculture advocacy group. Grace’s personal and professional interests are rooted in just, equitable and sustainable food systems.
Davis, CA

Bridget Deterding

Volunteer, Farm to Market

Bridget is currently completing a Master of Science in nutrition from National University of Natural Medicine. A Sacramento native, Bridget is working as an intern with CAFF in the Farm to Market program. She completed a BA in Sociology from St. Mary’s College and spent 8 years living and working in Yosemite National Park. It was in Yosemite that Bridget gained a deep love for everything outdoors, propelling her to pursue a career focusing on bringing farm to table principles to local communities. She is passionate about cooking, learning how to grow food, and being outside. Bridget is excited to have this experience and be a part of the team at CAFF!

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.
Monterey County, CA

Megan Contreras

Senior Manager, Development & Operations

Megan oversees the administrative functions and systems of CAFF and helps implement processes and practices across the organization. She manages CAFF’s membership program and assists CAFF’s program, development, communications, and finance staff so the whole team can connect with the farmers and communities we serve. She has worked in the non-profit sector since 2003, primarily teaching and managing programs & events. Megan enjoys hiking, slacklining, snowboarding, gardening, and other outdoor adventures.
Davis, CA

Alicia Baddorf

Tech Hub Consultant

With ten years of experience in sustainable agriculture, including roles in farming, sales, marketing and business development, Alicia is passionate about supporting small farmers to find appropriate technology and marketing solutions. She holds a BA in Sociology and French Studies from the University of Delaware and is currently the Sales Manager at Capay Valley Farm Shop in Esparto, CA. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, gardening, swimming and singing.