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RAFI-USA Announces Personnel and Board Changes

–And congratulates former RAFI-USA staff member Scott Marlow who was recently appointed as Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at USDA – FSA in DC–

For Immediate Release

Beth Hauptle, Communications Manager, [email protected]  919.903.2525

Pittsboro, NC – January 25, 2022 – Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA’s Executive Director Edna Rodriguez has announced updates regarding RAFI-USA staff as well as new members and officers of the Board of Directors. 

“Before sharing news of our staff promotions and board appointments, I would like to congratulate my former colleague Scott Marlow for his appointment as Deputy Administrator for Farm Programs at USDA – FSA in DC. I can think of no better person to assume this role given his considerable background in risk management, credit, disaster assistance programs, and his one-on-one on-the-ground work with farmers in the Southeast,” said Rodriguez. Marlow spent more than 20 years at RAFI-USA where he oversaw farmer-focused networks before moving to the position of Senior Policy Specialist working for farm families on financial management and disaster assistance.

NEW LEADERSHIP STAFF

Justine Post joined the RAFI-USA staff in January as the Come to the Table (CTTT) Program Director. Justine previously worked for The Conservation Fund at the intersection of social justice, food ministries, and local agriculture for over five years. Justine holds a Master of Social Work from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School.

Former CTTT Senior Program Manager Michelle Osborne has been promoted to Operations Director where she brings her organizational and management skills to support RAFI-USA in strategically growing its programs, outreach, and impact. Lisa Misch has been promoted to Director of Farmer Outreach and Technical Assistance through which she manages RAFI-USA’s growing number of USDA cooperative agreements and grants as well as continues the work with farmers market programs for food-insecure households. Margaret Krome-Lukens has been promoted to Policy Director. In this role,  she manages a cross-departmental team of policy issue leaders who share their learnings in the field to help shape and influence policies that support farm families and their communities.

“These three promotions, along with the addition of Justine, were implemented as we engage in more intense work supporting farmers with direct service (grants, technical assistance, financial counseling), and then translating the farmers’ experiences into powerful narratives to inform our policy efforts. RAFI-USA has always led with the farmer experience, but as we spread our reach, we are working to shore up our internal and external processes and procedures to increase our overall effectiveness,” said Executive Director Edna Rodriguez.

NEW BOARD MEMBERS AND OFFICERS

RAFI-USA is also pleased to announce two new board members and our new officers for 2022. Maria Dominique Villanueva, farmer, Fountain Heights Farm, Birmingham, Alabama and Phoebe Gooding, Program and Organizing Director, Toxic Free NC join as Members at Large. Elijah Brunson is the new Board President, Beverly Bowen, the new Vice-President, and Claire Kelloway, the new Treasurer. 

“I am thrilled to serve as RAFI-USA’s new Board President,” said Elijah Brunson. “Every year the board strives to reflect the diversity of constituents we serve; I am proud to say we have met that challenge with enthusiasm each year. Just like diversity increases the resiliency of our food systems, our board’s diversity strengthens RAFI’s ability to achieve its mission of a just and sustainable food system,” he continued. “We have an exciting year ahead of us and I look forward to working with the board to support this incredible organization.” 

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Since our founding in 1990, the Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA (RAFI-USA) has recognized that our food system is deeply inequitable, where rural communities — their land, animals, and people — are exploited to benefit corporate power structures. Working across agricultural sectors and collaboratively through coalitions, we combine on–the-ground direct and practical services to farmers with policy advocacy to ensure farmers have access to the tools they need to make the right choices for their farm, and their families, as well as for their communities, and the environment.

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