Address: 7351 Bodega Ave., Sebastopol 95472; 707-829-5833; ceresproject.org
Professional background: Varied background in both the for profit and nonprofit sectors, including 8 years marketing, marketing research and strategic planning experience, 4 years as Director of Communications for The Hunger Project US, and ten years founding and running an organic home meal delivery service.
Education: MBA, University of Michigan
Staff size: 14
Describe your organization.
Ceres Community Project builds healthy communities by 1) engaging, empowering and educating young people; 2) providing nourishing meals, nutrition education and a community of caring for people dealing with serious illness; and 3) promoting the importance of a healthy diet and strong social connections.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born outside of Detroit and moved five times before I started 8th grade – including first and second grade in Germany – because my dad was in sales and was being transferred around. Most of my family lives in northwestern Connecticut. I received a BA in Women’s Studies in 1977, the first year that the University of Michigan issued a degree in that program area. I’ve lived in Sonoma County since 1991 and when I moved here I felt like I had come home.
What is your role in the organization?
I’m the founder and Executive Director. I see my primary roles as 1) helping direct the growth of Ceres so we can maximize our positive impact in the lives of our clients, teens and the broader community, and 2) insuring that as an organization we walk our talk in everything we do, from how we source the food in our kitchen to how we treat and appreciate our volunteers and the donors who support our work financially.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Without a question it would be raising my son Hadley who is a smart, caring and thoughtful 20 year old that I have great respect for, and the wonderful relationship I have with Jeff, my partner of 33 years.
What is your biggest challenge today?
Ceres has already replicated our model in five communities nationally and nearly a dozen other communities are asking us to help them start programs. I’d say our biggest challenge is continuing to develop and deepen our work while at the same time documenting it so that we can help others bring it to their communities. Oh yes, and of course continuing to grow a strong and sustainable base of financial support.
What the next major project either under way or on the horizon?
We have partnered with West County Health Centers to provide nutrition education and (thanks to partner WHOA Farm) free local and organic produce to patients. Our hope over the next year or so is to pilot a “nutrition intervention” program that would combine delivery of nourishing whole foods meals with the classes and produce to see if we can improve health status and change eating habits. We’ve also just committed to replicating in 25 communities nationally by 2015.
What product or service would/or is helping you do your job more effectively?
I can’t help it, I have to acknowledge the thousands of people who make Ceres happen – from our incredibly talented and committed staff and board, to the 500 or so amazing teen and adult volunteers who make it all happen, to our donors who trust us to make a real and lasting difference with their investments. Without them, nothing is possible.