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#CommunityFood: Cultivating Emerging Leadership from Within

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Two organizations committed to training up new leadership within their organizations.


Learn from two organizations committed to empowering staff and training up new leadership within their organizations. Red Tomato’s core values around workplace democracy and fair trade were built into the organization’s culture and structure from the outset, and their practices around “continuous improvement” inform how they approach problem solving and personal interaction in the workplace. Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation applies its theory of change for building an ecosystem of opportunity in both their community of the Pine Ridge Reservation as well as internally within the organization to build power among their staff and volunteers and set an example for Native and rural communities everywhere. 





Webinar slides


Presenter Bios

Michael Rozyne, Red Tomato

Michael RozyneMichael Rozyne has been a marketer of small farm products for three decades. He worked on conventional and organic farms in Maine, and was Purchaser and Marketer for a regional food distributor in New England. is founder of Red Tomato, a regional ‘food hub’ based in Plainville, MA that sources from 45 mid-sized fruit and vegetable farms. In 1986, he co-founded the fair-trade coffee company Equal Exchange, a worker-owned cooperative. Before that, he worked on conventional and organic farms in Maine, and as buyer/marketing manager for the natural foods warehouse Northeast Cooperatives. 

Laura Edwards-Orr, Red Tomato

Laura Edwards-OrrLaura began her career in family farm activism with Farm Aid where she staffed and managed a national farm crisis hotline, developed a web-based platform to connect thriving farmers with farmers in need and penned a monthly consumer advice column “Ask Laura.” At Red Tomato, Laura spent seven years learning the ins and outs of the entire operation before stepping into the role of Executive Director, in partnership with Founder Michael Rozyne, in January 2015. As her first sales initiative, Laura helped to develop Red Tomato’s Freshness Initiative which brands short supply chains based on a 24 hour turnaround from farm to retail shelf through mainstream distribution channels. Since then, Laura has also been instrumental in developing Red Tomato’s most recent program – a direct store/school delivery program that brings together farm-fresh produce from five states to 40+ retailers and institutions in Massachusetts and Connecticut.

In addition to her leadership at Red Tomato, Laura was recognized by the Fruit and Vegetable 40 Under 40 list of outstanding young leaders in the produce industry. Laura also serves on the UVM Food Hub Management Program advisory board, the National Farm to School Network advisory board and the Farm to Institution New England Network Advisory Council.

Ernest Weston, Jr. , Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation 

Ernest WestonErnest Weston, Jr. is a member of the Oglala Sioux Tribe and was born and raised on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Ernest is currently the program coordinator for Thunder Valley Community Development Corporation's Food Sovereignty Initiative. Ernest found his passion for re-creating, re-identifying and re-building a local food system in his tribal community after studying abroad in China in 2015 where he learned about China’s agricultural industry and local food systems. With research and experience in gardening and community building, Ernest recognizes the importance of community-driven projects and movements that strengthen tribal sovereignty and creates healthy communities. 

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