CT NOFA Board & Staff
The CT NOFA Board of Directors meets monthly to conduct business of the organization. CT NOFA members are always welcome to attend the meetings.
John Turenne, President - Founder and President of Sustainable Food Systems, was one of the lead innovators in sustainable food practices during the creation of the Yale Sustainable Food Project. Realizing the impact of food service decision-making on the world around us, John transformed a conservative university food service model, of which he has 25 years experience, to create a sustainable dining program through careful planning, teaching and development.
John continues as a leading innovator and consultant for bridging the gap between conventional and sustainable dining programs working with the Culinary Institute of America, Harvard Medical School, The New Hampshire Department of Education, Kaiser Permanente as well as several public hospital and school systems. Check out his Facebook page here.
Steve Munno, Vice President - Farmer Steve Munno is originally from Long Island, and is a graduate of Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT. After graduation in 2001, Steve’s work in field science and wilderness skills education took him to California, where he lived for five years. During this time, Steve began to hone his skills in agriculture. Always a food lover, and a long time supporter of local farms, Steve found his work in the wilderness continually pointed to the importance of healthy food and its connection to healthy communities, and healthy land. Inspired to be more involved with food and farming, he volunteered with a local farmer for two years, before enrolling in the UC Santa Cruz Apprenticeship in Ecological Horticulture. Upon completion of this Apprenticeship, Steve stayed on for second year at UC Santa Cruz, serving as a teacher and assistant manager in a 2+ acre market garden growing a tremendous variety of vegetables, flowers, fruit and perennials. He then returned to the east coast to work for The Food Project in Lincoln, MA. Steve managed the greenhouse on this 30-acre farm, and helped provide for a 400-member CSA, supply food to farm stands in Boston, donate produce to hunger relief organizations and offer educational opportunities to youth and community of the greater Boston area. At the end of 2009, Steve came to Massaro Farm to help revive the land and bring the fields in to production.
Howard Shafer, Treasurer - Howard's interest in NOFA's mission was cultivated while he was the owner and sole proprietor of The Whole Hog, a charcuterie business focused on using locally raised heritage breed pigs. Currently he is the Chief Operating Officer of Robinson & Cole LLP where he has responsibility for the business planning and operations of a 450 employee law firm with offices in six states. Howard has a BS in Statistics from the University of Michigan; an MBA with a concentration in Non-Profit Management from Boston University; and a Grand Diplômefrom the French Culinary Institute.
John Carlson, Secretary - John is a veteran of 25 years in marketing and consulting, spent—as he says—"making the world safe for mac & cheese." Having seen the light, he unleashed his pent up entrepreneurial energies on the organic world by founding Homefront Farmers. The company operates throughout southwestern CT and Westchester County, NY, and is dedicated to helping clients produce their own food organically, whether that be by building or maintaining vegetable gardens, planting berries, cultivating fruit trees, beekeeping or maple sugaring. John earned a BA in English and History from Williams College, and an MBA from The Wharton School of The University of Pennsylvania.
John Pittari, Jr. - John Pittari, Jr. founder and owner of New Morning Store, got bit by the natural foods bug when he was in college. Today, many years later, John is still crazy about natural foods. Only now, he shares his passion with about sixty other people, working together from his store in Woodbury, Connecticut.
New Morning Store is home to the largest organic produce selection in the area with an extensive supplement and homeopathic department that people travel to from miles around. New Morning's unique fresh prepared foods counter, the Provender, is a gourmet source for ready-to-eat natural and organic foods.
Patrick Horan - Patrick has been at Waldingfield Farm full time since 2006. Prior to that (he was part-time at Waldingfield from 1996-2006) he worked in finance at R.G. Niederhoffer Capital Management, a New York City hedge fund, while also pursuing acting. He is a graduate of Union College (B.A. English) and The Stella Adler Conservatory (MFA program). He is responsible for marketing, sales, farmers markets, and operations, as well as day to day farming duties. He and wife and son, Suzie and Griffin, divide their time between Brooklyn, NY, and the farm in Washington, CT.
Agnes Walton - Coming from a rural community in western Norway, I have been interested in sustainable food and farming for many years. Before moving to Oslo and later to Sweden to study, I held elected office in the regional council for commerce where I was introduced to many of the challenges that farmers, particularly in marginal areas, face today. I went on to study political science at Lund University and have worked for the California-based think tank Food First on food security and food justice issues and, most recently, for the Norwegian Farmers and Smallholders Union managing their programs that aim to increase gender equality and bring women into farming.
As a graduate student at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies my research focuses on agricultural biodiversity and how using heirloom or landrace varieties can help communities adapt to climate change. I am also interested in science and food communication, bringing consumers and producers together to advocate for healthier and more sustainable food systems, and am a keen (novice) vegetable gardener.
Lori Cochran-Dougall - Executive Director, Westport Farmers Market (WFM). Lori is a marketing professional with over 15 years of sales and marketing experience. As the Executive Director with WFM, she has established some of the strictest market standards in Connecticut to maintaining local, organic and humane practices with her farmers and vendors - a standard that the market patrons have grown to rely on. Additionally, Lori has successfully run and advised on multiple markets in the area and she created the winter market at Gilbertie's Herb Gardens. This endeavor has created a more sustainable operating environment for her farmers and vendors - expanding the cyclicality and the growing season to include more root vegetables. To further the commerce between vendors and buyers Lori helped establish an online network to help link farm-to-table restaurants with local farmers. This restaurant supported agriculture (RSA) model helps link buyers and sellers in an easy-to-use online marketplace helping chefs plan menus and helping farmers sell more produce.
Ujjval Patel - Ujjval is currently an MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management. Prior to graduate school, Ujjval worked at Marsh and State Farm. He was responsible for strategic planning and business analysis, focusing on improving overall performance for both firms. Ujjval has a BS in Management Science from the University of Illinois - Urbana/Champaign. In his spare time, Ujjval loves to work with a variety of nonprofits on strategic issues and is an avid consumer of organic goods.
Timila Dhakhwa - Timila Dhakhwa is a second year Master of Environmental Management (MEM) candidate from Nepal at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She is focusing on business and environment as her specialization, particularly innovative models of sustainable agribusiness. Prior to Yale, Timila worked on climate-resilient agriculture at the Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED), one of the largest non-profits in Nepal dedicated to sustainable agriculture and climate change adaptation. She also has experience managing a for-profit carbon offset start-up in Kathmandu. Timila graduated from Lake Forest College with a double major in Chemistry and Environmental Studies followed by a year of social entrepreneurship training in Sweden. She enjoys art museums, live music, traveling, cooking and films.
Matthew Browning - Matthew Browning, RN, MSN, APRN, farms at B4 & After Farms in Woodbridge, CT, (a CT NOFA Farmers Pledge farm), founded Oui Charcuterie Salami Company in CT, manufactures beer in CT as an owner of Thomas Hooker Brewing, rehabilitates neighborhoods as ResurWrecked, LLC (with an Urban Farm on CT NOFA’s bike tours) in New Haven where he partnered with URI to replant over 50 trees in “The Hill”, transformed healthcare communications with his patented IntelliBlast communications system as the CEO of IntelliBlast Health, worked for the common good as a prior board member of New Haven’s Livable City Initiative (LCI), supported New Haven Farms as they began, with Common Ground as a long time supporter, and has been a supporter of, and a participant in, Farm to Table and Farm to Chef initiatives. A graduate of Yale’s School of Nursing, Matthew continues his Nursing practice, is a committed husband to his wife Phoebe, father to their sons , AJ and Beaumont, as well as caretaker of the family farm and livestock in Woodbridge, CT.
Megan Robertson - Megan settled in Connecticut in May 2015, when she assumed the position of Sales & Marketing Manager for Simpaug Farms in Ridgefield. Her native home is South Dakota, where her family arrived as early homesteaders, and has continued the rural farming tradition through several generations. In 2015, Megan was awarded a Master of Food Culture and Communication: Human Ecology and Sustainability after completing a year of travel and studies with Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences in Polenzo, Italy. From 2013-2014, she served as US Peace Corps Volunteer in Kenya. During this time she also completed a Permaculture Design Certification and Teacher Training, and spent some months working independently as a Beekeeping Consultant throughout Kenya and Tanzania. Megan holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Anthropology and Archaeology from the University of South Dakota, and her previous career was as an Upper Great Plains Archaeologist and GIS Specialist.
Maraiah Popeleski - A graduate of Johnson & Wales University’s Culinary Nutrition program, Maraiah is a Chef and Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist. During her undergraduate program she studied abroad in Paris, France where she learned the techniques of classical and regional French cuisine.
Maraiah has worked in the field of nutrition as a public health dietitian, specializing and childhood obesity and women’s health. Throughout her career she taught classes and workshops on food and healthy eating to families and foodservice professionals.
Currently, Maraiah manages the daily operations and was instrumental in the opening of CLiCK, a new non-profit in Windham, CT. CLiCK provides a commercially licensed kitchen for start-up food businesses and for farmers to produce value added products. In addition, the organization hosts a variety of programing on topics such as gardening, sustainability, food and nutrition. CLiCK’s mission includes building a more sustainable local food system in Eastern CT.
Maraiah resides in Mansfield Center, CT with her daughter and husband. Maraiah grew up in Coventry, CT with a deep appreciation for the environment and locally grown food. Some of her fondest childhood memories involve eating produce fresh from the garden. In her spare time she enjoys reading cookbooks, tending to her herb garden, cooking with her daughter and sharing meals with loved ones.
Cat Wu - Cat is currently an MBA candidate at the Yale School of Management. Prior to Yale, Cat was responsible for strategic and financial planning at a variety of nonprofit organizations in the education and agricultural sectors, including College Track, Room to Read, and Root Capital. Cat began her career working on antitrust and complex financial litigation at Analysis Group in Boston. Cat has a B.A. in Economics and a B.A. in Political Science from Wellesley College. She has a longstanding love for nutritious and delicious food and is interested in food as a conduit for building and nurturing communities.
Farah Masani - Farah is a homesteader, farmer and food forager in Wilton, CT. Originally from India, she moved to Texas and earned degrees in economics, social work and therapy, and integrated the concept of "farming therapy" into her jobs at schools in Vermont and New Hampshire, rolling out farm-based curriculums and small workable gardens. Eventually, Farah moved to Connecticut with the goal of becoming a full-time farmer. She runs Farah's Farm, a three-acre homestead in Wilton, teeming with heirloom ducks, chickens and bees, and also oversees a few local satellite farms. For her day job, Farah holds down an enviable post as the chief food purchaser for Barteca (owner of Bar Taco and Barcelona restaurants).
Mary Jawlick - farm manager at The Hickories, Ridgefield, CT
Jeff Cordulack, Executive Director - Jeff Cordulack is a Connecticut native interested in wildlife conservation, watershed protection, organic farming, and sustainable living. He has a BS Degree in Natural Resources Management and Conservation Biology from Colorado State University; has studied nature conservation in Belize; and spent a year as an environmental educator in Botswana, Africa. Prior to joining CT NOFA in July 2015, Jeff worked with the National Audubon Society in Greenwich, CT for ten years; with SoundWaters, Inc. in Stamford for eight years; and has collaborated with many conservation organizations over the last two decades. In 2013, Jeff was presented the Paul Keough Award by the Northeast Water Environment Association in recognition of his communications leadership to increase public awareness, understanding, and personal actions to protect water quality and the environment. When he and his wife are not raising three children or tending to their front-yard garden and organic lawn, Jeff volunteers as the Schoolyard Habitat Steward for local schools and is the Chairperson for the Metro North chapter of Slow Foods USA.
Bill Duesing, Organic Advocate - For 40 years, Bill has been an organic farmer, author, and environmental activist actively working to promote organic agriculture and greater local food sufficiency in Connecticut and the Northeast. The former Executive Director of CT NOFA, Bill was awarded the first Bill Duesing NOFA Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2015 NOFA Summer Conference.
Jenna Messier, Organic Land Care Program Director - Jenna has been Director of the NOFA Organic Land Care Program since 2011. She has a B.S. in Agriculture from The Ohio State University and recently completed the Executive MBA Program at the University of New Haven. Jenna worked on organic vegetable farms, as a landscaper, and had a small culinary herb business on the island of Martha's Vineyard - once upon a time. She loves getting off of the computer and into her urban garden, where she raises pears, strawberries and colorful butterfly gardens on .1 acre.
Debbie Semonich, Administrative Assistant
Jeremy Pelletier, Organic Land Care Program Coordinator
Rita Schlitter, Bookkeeper