The Southern SAWG Board of Directors is a diverse team of dynamic individuals providing the organization unique perspectives from academic, government, agriculture, other nonprofit and the private sectors all working together to accomplish the mission of the organization. Their dedication to the cause and insights in leadership help SSAWG to be what it is today.
Felicia Bell of RD & S Farm, LLC was born into agriculture—what most people today would call homesteading. Her family sustained themselves from the land with food.
It was instilled in Ms. Bell that helping others is very important to your very existence as a producer but the values associated with community. Ms. Bell over many years has learned new technologies (i.e. methods and practices) for small producers that would be inexpensive or a DIY project to lessen the burden of cost but increase their viability as a farm enterprise. These experiences have warranted Ms. Bell wonderful opportunities such as sustainable agriculture project development, board member assignments, and ag specialist for National Center for Appropriate Technology. She believes that everyone deserves the option of healthy food and with the collective effort of small sustainable farmers across the country, this can become a reality.
After completing her Ph.D. in Agricultural Anthropology which focused on how growers in the U.S. were adapting to urban growth, Martha Daughdrill and her husband, Paul Benton, owned and operated Newburg Vegetable Farm for 12 years. Located in the southern Maryland area near Washington, DC, they sold their certified organic products to restaurants, local wholesalers and at numerous farmers’ markets in the region. They also ran one of the first CSAs in the area. Based on her academic research and practical farming experiences, Martha became dedicated to importance of sustainable agriculture, particularly in the United States. Upon selling their farm and moving to Mobile, Alabama in 1999, Martha began a full-time teaching career at the local community college while continuing to grow and sell part-time on their 5-acre BeanPatch. When their daughter, Grace, left for college in 2007, Martha and Paul established ViperVille Vegetable Farm in a more rural setting across Mobile Bay. After retiring from teaching, Martha now farms full-time again raising a variety of vegetables, fruits and flowers.
Stephan Juliusburger fell into a culinary wonderland as a child and hasn’t found his way out yet. The elder son of working parents, he would come home from school and pick dishes from his mother’s cookbooks, preparing them for dinner that night. Impressed, his mother started to lend him to friends for their dinner parties!
A native of London, England, he attended university in Connecticut, ostensibly towards a degree in organic chemistry. Cooking for extra money at a local bistro, he was plucked out and asked to head the kitchens at a new seafood restaurant opening in Stamford. When five months later a NY Times review gave it two stars, he knew his life would never be the same. Over the next four years he experimented, opening small restaurants for investors in Connecticut and Colorado.
It was while in Colorado that Stephan was asked to cook one night for the Grateful Dead, a chance meeting that became a six-year relationship. In the mid eighties he left his restaurant behind and went on the road, providing the band and its crew with gourmet cuisine in some very unlikely locations. From this work, he was asked to direct the hospitality for the largest events of the eighties, including The Amnesty International Conspiracy of Hope Concert, The Statue of Liberty Centennial Concert, Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, and Bill Graham’s Biggest Party in History.
When the band stopped touring for a while in 1986, Chef Juliusburger turned to the hotel industry, desiring to continue to design complex environments. For fifteen years he held executive positions with Marriott, Westin, and Sonesta Hotels worldwide.
Stephan left the hotel industry in 2003 to write the Le Cordon Bleu Masters in Gastronomy, within the University of Adelaide. He then created Syntuitive Ltd., a company that consulted with the Bermuda government in the areas of gastro-tourism and culinary education. Most recently, he has programmed the food and beverage content for the 1,500-acre tourism development Baha Mar in Nassau and redesigned the operations of the Seven Stars Resort in Turks & Caicos.
Nikki Seibert Kelley is a local food systems leader passionate about empowering food-based non-profits by providing them with the tools for success. Along with 13 years of non-profit experience and a Master's degree, Nikki brings a critical mind, quick wit, and passion for connecting people and ideas to every project she is involved in. In the last five years Nikki has trained 142 aspiring farmers, launched South Carolina’s first incubator farm “Dirt Works” and coordinated 40+ farmer workshops. She is the owner of Wit Meets Grit and co-director of the SC Herbal Society. Mrs. Kelley is also on the Board of the SC Food Policy Council, Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, The Green Hearts Project, and Unique Places to Save. Nikki was also one of Southern Living's 2016 Top 50 Innovators of the South.
Kavita Koppa manages RAFI’s Farmer Leadership Network, an initiative that helps farmers effectively serve on committees for agricultural decision-making groups. She also manages reporting and technical assistance with rural cooperative development clients in North Carolina. In 2014, she oversaw RAFI’s initiatives related to North Carolina’s farmer-veterans and conducted research to better address their specific barriers to success. Prior to joining RAFI in 2013, she managed a beginning farmer program in South Carolina. Kavita is a proud native of South Carolina and is passionate about working with historically underserved farmers in the region. She holds a BA in Geography and Biology from UNC-Chapel Hill.
Dr. Ayanava Majumdar is an Extension Entomologist who leads the integrated pest management (IPM) projects for vegetable and peanut crops statewide. He is also the State Coordinator for Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education (SARE program) and Team Leader for Commercial Horticulture Extension Programs. He has over 15 years’ experience in conventional and alternative pest management systems with over $4 million in federal grants and industry funding. He is also the editor of the Alabama IPM Communicator newsletter that has 2,000 subscribers. Dr. Majumdar has received numerous awards from the Southern Region IPM Center, the National Association of County Ag Agents, and the American Society of Horticultural Science for his impactful projects.
Jonathan’s affection for agriculture and conservation began early. He grew up on a horse farm in Southeastern Pennsylvania. Each summer he worked on other farms, baling hay, planting and harvesting crops, even tending beehives. Over the years Jonathan jumped at any chance to try a new agriculture adventure. These opportunities took him custom combining across the Midwest, working on a coffee farm and cattle ranch in Costa Rica, and, eventually, attending college for agricultural economics and rural sociology at Clemson University.
Wherever he worked, and with whatever he was doing, sustainability was never far from Jonathan’s mind. He saw firsthand how good farming practices and management make for a more productive farm.
After graduating from Clemson with a degree in Agricultural Economics and Rural Sociology, he spent nine years working for a dairy and beef genetics cooperative, first as a breeding specialist in central Pennsylvania and then as area manager in northern New England. Through his connection with the farms, he became more involved with the industry, including serving as a board member for Maine Beef Industry Council for almost a decade.
Jonathan left the breeding cooperative to pursue a self-employed career concentrating on agriculture, land management conservation. To stay involved, he attended agricultural seminars and found volunteer opportunities. Three years ago, after a move back South, Jonathan was appointed as a board member for the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group (SSAWG).
Elisa Munoz-Miller is the co-chair of the New Orleans Food Policy Advisory Committee and works in the field of public markets and food justice. Hailing from Louisiana she began her food work in Birmingham, AL, starting a food policy council and community garden, working at Pepper Place Farmers Market in exchange for a CSA share, and co-founding the Bici Bicycle Cooperative. She felt the call to return to New Orleans where she has worked in farmers markets and food policy for six years. Elisa is currently the Director of Public Market Development for the Historic French Market and a W. K. Kellogg Community Leadership Network Fellow, focusing on racial equity and healing and creating a child-centered city where all have access to healthy, culturally appropriate, and delicious food. Elisa enjoys eating, gardening, riding her bike, and cooking with her husband Zack and son Rowan.
Hana Newcomb is a full time vegetable farmer in Northern Virginia, on the farm that her parents established 55 years ago. She has taken on the role of managing that complex operation (two farms, a large CSA, multiple farmers markets, dozens of employees), with lots of help from longtime co-workers and family members. Hana is married to Jonathan Groisser, who also works on the farm, and they have three children who have grown up and gone on to other work that suits them better.
John Patrick retired in April 2010 as a program analyst for the Environmental Protection Agency, Office of the Inspector General in Washington DC. He recently completed an EPA grant as principal investigator for the Cumberland River Compact that encourages sustainable farming methods in this watershed. He also has taught a graduate course, Sustainable Food Practices, at Lipscomb University's Institute of Sustainable Practices. John has completed his doctoral course work focusing on environmental corporate management and sustainable farming methods. He serves on the board of the Southern Sustainable Agricultural Working Group, Tennessee Organic Growers Association, and the Beaman Park to Bells Bend Conservation Corridor, and serves on the Nashville Food Policy Council.
John Patrick was raised on a poultry and cattle farm and is currently a co-owner of Foggy Hollow Farm (a small, organic vegetable, livestock, poultry, and blueberry farm) near Joelton, Tennessee. He currently has the only USDA-certified, organic laying and breeding operation in Middle Tennessee. He is implementing, with the collaboration of other farmers, a sustainable poultry network focusing on the economics of locally breeding and growing heritage breed chickens on pasture for meat and eggs in Middle Tennessee.
Lydia Villanueva is the Director/Founder of CASA del Llano, INC., (Established since Oct. 2000) a nonprofit rural outreach center that unites the regional education and training interests of other groups with the goals of a community-based, grassroots organization. The organization works toward identifying Latino farm owners in the Texas Panhandle (Hereford, TX) and also works to build leaders who are empowered to take ownership of their own communities. CASA also runs a Summer Youth Program that encourages children (ages 6-12) to continue reading, as well as engages them in activities such as arts and crafts, gardening, cooking classes, and hiking. Lydia served as the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) Policy Education Coordinator from 2005 to January 2014.
Sera Deva is the Curriculum Coordinator & Farmer Programs Associate at the Organic Growers School based in Asheville, NC. She has a B.S. in Genetics & Agroecology from The Evergreen State College and has been intimately involved with the small-scale agriculture world for over nine years as a student, farmer, and agricultural support specialist. She’s specifically passionate about human and animal nutrition, plant breeding and seed saving, and racial equity in the food system. She has been in WNC for the past 3.5 years working on continuing farmer education.
Dana York retired from the USDA, Natural Resource Conservation Service in January 2011 after a 34-year career with the Agency. She started as a soil conservationist in Tennessee working with farmers to plan and install conservation practice and through her career held numerous state and regional leadership positions in TN, GA, OH, MD and DC. She ended her career in the NRCS National Headquarters as the Associate Chief for the Agency operating a $3.4 Million dollar budget.
She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Agricultural Science from Tennessee Technological University and a Master’s degree in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Middle Tennessee State University with an emphasis in organizational design and measurement, training, survey administration, business planning and leading organizations and employees through change. She currently has a consulting company, Green Earth Connection, to bring her expertise to the agricultural and environmental communities with a focus on keeping agriculture sustainable ad local foods available.
Since moving back in 2015 to her family farm in TN, she serves the Chairman of Jonesborough Locally Grown that runs the Farmers Market and a farmer’s Market cooperative grocery-Boone Street Market. She is a facilitator for American Farmland Trust-Women’s Learning Circles, helping farmer’s widows and daughters plan for the continued operation of their farm. A favorite project for her is implementing a Beginning Farmer School in East TN teaching new farmers of all ages how to start an agricultural venture.
Liz Young is the Director of the Arkansas Women’s Business Center in El Dorado, Ark. She is responsible for helping women-owned small businesses start, grow, and compete in markets by providing quality training, counseling, and access to capital and other resources. Liz managed the horticulture programs and was an Americorps supervisor with the Winthrop Rockefeller Institute for four years before moving to North Carolina to help start up a small-scale organic vegetable farm that she managed three years. Her experience includes a wide range of skills including small business startup, volunteer management, training and supervision, instructing, sustainable agriculture, and farming. Liz serves on the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Board of Directors. She received her B.S. in horticulture from the University of Arkansas.