The Virginia Farmers Market Association will hold its member meeting January 7, 2021 during the Virginia Farmers Market Conference. At that time, VAFMA Members will vote on the below slate of candidates. In accordance with the bylaws of the organization, nominations will also be accepted from the floor to be considered.
2021 Virginia Farmers Market Association Board of Directors Candidates
Hugo Mogollon is the Executive Director of Community Foodworks. In that role, he manages a dynamic team that works to create innovative solutions to include individuals and institutions historically disenfranchised from the local food system, while boosting small family farms revenues.
Hugo brings 20 years of experience working for nonprofit organizations covering a range of issues from food systems to sustainability to biodiversity conservation. Hugo has deep experience in NGO management, planning, development, outreach, and stakeholder engagement, particularly in multicultural settings. A native of Ecuador, Hugo is fluent in both English and Spanish. He has a Bachelor of Science in biology from the Catholic University of Quito, Ecuador and an Executive Master’s degree in Natural Resources and Leadership for Sustainability from Virginia Tech.
M. OMAR FAISON
M. Omar Faison is the Assistant Vice President for Research at Virginia State University (VSU). In that role, he works to expand the research enterprise at VSU and facilitate internal and external partnerships for VSU faculty. In parallel with his service as AVP, Dr. Faison also served as Interim Dean for the College of Graduate Studies (2017-18) and Interim Executive Director for VSU’s Center for Agricultural Research, Engagement, and Outreach (2018-19). Prior to becoming AVP, he served VSU as Chair of the Biology Department (2009-13) and Director of the Office of Sponsored Research (2012-15).
Dr. Faison earned his undergraduate degree in Biology from Hampton University (1994) and PhD in Neurosciences from the University of Virginia (2002). He received his post-doctoral training at Virginia Commonwealth University before joining the faculty of VSU’s Biology Department in 2004. Dr. Faison has published and presented in the fields of developmental neuroscience, cognition, and student academic performance and has received grant funding from the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation. Coming from an agricultural family, Dr. Faison is passionate about local foods and local food systems and the concept of farmers as entrepreneurs. Dr. Faison is married to Dr. Jennifer Wolstenholme and they have 3 children, Kyra, Omar, Jr., and Haley.
Michael Reilly is co-founder and executive director of Virginia Foodshed Capital, a non-profit whose mission is to provide financial stewardship for small-to-mid-scale organic farms and food entrepreneurs in the local foodshed, including both urban and rural areas. It does so through a 0% loans program and financial education.
The organization began in 2018 as a Slow Money program in the Richmond/Charlottesville area but expanded statewide in 2019.
Michael started his career in banking and then worked for 15 years as an executive in the broadcast TV business before turning his attention to entrepreneurship and local food advocacy.
Michael serves on the board of the Virginia Association for Biological Farming, a statewide network of organic and sustainable farmers and gardeners. Michael is also on the board of Grow Ahead, a nonprofit that teams up with farmer organizations throughout the world to support climate resiliency initiatives through crowdfunding. Michael also serves on the board of Market Central, which helps run the Charlottesville farmers markets. He is on the planning team for the Charlottesville Food Justice Network, and he serves on the steering committee for Virginia Interfaith Power & Light, a collaborative of faith communities dedicated to advancing climate justice throughout the state.
Michael earned an undergraduate degree from Yale University and a master’s degree from Columbia University. He lives in Charlottesville with his wife and four children.
NATALIE ORTIZ is the Manager of the Warrenton Farmers Market and the Farm to School Chef for the FRESH (Fauquier Reaches for Excellence in School Health) Program in the Fauquier County Public School System. A classically trained chef, Natalie spreads her enthusiasm for local food when instructing recreational cooking classes connecting participants to area farmers and ranchers. Her love for collaboration shows in her work to forward both the local food system and the local economy and has resulted in partnerships between local farmers and food makers with a local food hub and area retailers. Natalie’s seat on the Board of Directors for the Fauquier Education Farm allows for acute awareness of upcoming educational opportunities and the ability to suggest needed educational opportunities for farmers as well as knowledge of up and coming area growers.
Although only recently taking the Management role at the Warrenton Farmers Market, Natalie has been a community partner via FRESH for nutrition and culinary education as well as an active Market Board Member for the past four years. Her goal is to make the market a fun, engaging community gathering place that provides opportunities for increased food literacy with an emphasis on diversity and inclusion for vendors, patrons, and collaborative partnerships.
KIMBERLY HAUN (Kim) has worked with farmers markets in Northern Virginia for 15 years, first in Fairfax County and currently in Arlington.Serving as the technical liaison to the 9 Arlington markets, she is also the contract manager for the Arlington Farmers Market. This market has been a community fixture for over 40 years and is currently managed by FreshFarm. She is the Arlington County Urban Ag Coordinator and works with the markets, community gardens, Virginia Cooperative Extension, local schools, universities and non-profits to promote the appreciation of agriculture, provide access to healthy food, and create markets for local producers. Through collaboration, education and demonstration she works to support a regional approach to food system planning and food equity.
KATIE PALUBICKI grew up on her family’s farm in the Midwest, which ignited her passion for supporting small and family-owned farms. Katie has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Communication and Master’s degree in Natural Resources from the University of Wisconsin, as well as a graduate certificate in Sustainable Food Systems.
Katie has spent her post-grad career in outreach and communication positions. She worked for the University of Wisconsin as an Outreach Specialist where she developed partnerships for the statewide school garden program and was a co-developer of the Green & Healthy Schools program. One of her proudest achievements was developing a “Composting in Schools” workshop and certification program.
During her time in Wisconsin, Katie was an active volunteer for the regional non-profit Farmshed, which connected the community with family and cooperatively owned farms to create a resilient local food community.
She currently works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration as an Outreach Coordinator. In this role she focuses mainly on communication (social media, web stories, etc) and customer engagement.
Katie and her husband began their small farm soon after moving to Virginia. They live near Staunton where they raise heritage breed livestock including ducks, chickens, and goats. She is looking forward to expanding their operations in the future