Board of Directors
Nicole Kempton, MPhil, Chair (1) (4) - Duke University, Graduate & Professional School Alumni Affairs
Tim Schwantes, MPH, MSW, Vice Chair (3) (4) - Healthy Places by Design
Pam Schwingl, PhD, Secretary (4) - Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc.
Janett Greenberg, MSPH, Treasurer (1) (2) - Health Care Consultant
Paul Baker, PhD (3) (4) - North Carolina Central University, Academic Affairs
Charla Burill, JD (3) (4) - North Carolina Board of Dietetics/Nutrition
Brenda Carpen, MBA, PMP (2) (3) - University of North Carolina, Information Technology Services
Michael Mankowski, CPA (2) - Echo Health Ventures
Pat Mann, RN (1) (3) - White Swan Farm and Forge
Ed Recavarren, MS MIS, MA NSSS (1) - Accenture
(1) Programs (2) Finance (3) Governance (4) Diversity and Inclusion
Gini Bell - Executive director
Gini is a Chapel Hill native with a background in education, local food retail, business management and sustainable farming. While working in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City schools and experiencing the poor quality of school lunches, she became interested in healthy food systems. She left education to go back to school in sustainable agriculture. This began a journey along the local food supply chain, where she worked on vibrant local farms and at farmers markets, and then in food retail management. Spurred by an interest in food equity and justice, Gini joined Farmer Foodshare in late 2012 to make the bounty of the local food movement available to everyone in the community while supporting the local farm economy.
Kate Rugani - Director of Development and Communications
Kate grew up in Georgia, but North Carolina has lured her twice – first as an undergrad at Duke, and again a decade ago when she returned to witness Durham’s resurgence (and partake in its vibrant food scene!) After earning a master's degree in integrated marketing communications and public relations from Northwestern University, Kate worked in employee and investor relations at Grainger, an industrial distributor based in Chicago. Heading back east, she served as communications director for the Clergy Health Initiative, a wellness study based at Duke Divinity School, as well as marketing director for Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. Her longtime interest in volunteerism and a belief that our food system should support everyone led her to join Farmer Foodshare in 2017. Kate, her husband, and their three kids live in Durham.
David Szczepankowski - Director of the Wholesale Market
David grew up on a 300-acre potato farm in Long Island. As a teenager he convinced his father to let him grow mixed vegetables on an acre and started a farm stand to sell to tourists coming up from the city. The produce stand was a success, and he eventually took over the farm and grew the vegetable business to a multimillion dollar operation with a farm stand, specialty food and catering shop, wholesale produce business that shipped to the New York, Brooklyn and Boston terminal markets and local wholesale business to area restaurants. David eventually left the farm and produce business, earning an MBA from Columbia University which led to working as a research and investment analyst on Wall Street. He moved to North Carolina with his wife Susan in 2012 where he worked as the Director of Investment Research for International Farming Corporation Investment Management, and later as a Financial Consultant before coming to Farmer Foodshare in the summer of 2016.
Braedyn Mallard - Program Manager
Braedyn was born in Georgia but considers NC home. Many years ago he earned a bachelor's degree in History from NC State University and subsequently worked in food retail for almost a decade, learning so much about food and the food system along the way. He recently returned to school to earn a second bachelor's degree in Nutrition at NC Central University, where he also completed his dietetic internship and will be earning a Master's of Science in Nutrition in the not too distant future. Braedyn currently lives in a little blue house in Durham with his partner, their coonhound Finnegan, Maggie the cat, and a very large (and ever expanding) vegetable garden.
Whitney Sewell - Community OUtreach manager
Whitney Sewell is a passionate Agtivist who has practiced farming at the intersection of people and agriculture for over a decade. Hailing from the midwest, Whitney created an innovative and engaging community-based ownership model to work with neighborhoods to convert more than 18 acres of unused city land into active and sustainable farms and gardens in ultra urban areas of both St Louis and Louisville. Using this same community ownership model, Whitney has joined the Farmer Foodshare team to focus on economically viable and sustainable practices in food distribution in the Durham region.
Shep Stearns - Wholesale Market Coordinator
Shep's involvement with agriculture extends back to his childhood. From an early age, he was responsible for daily chores on his family's dairy farm in Storrs, CT. Shep is deeply passionate about helping to support and grow local agricultural businesses. Throughout his adult life, he has worked at a variety of farms and nonprofits seeking to strengthen the ties between farms and community members. Shep arrived in Chapel Hill in 2015 when his wife was accepted as a PhD candidate at UNC. Over the last two years, he has been thrilled to immerse himself in the bustling and dynamic local food scene in the Triangle area. In 2017, Shep joined the Farmer Foodshare team as the Wholesale Market Coordinator. He is very enthusiastic about the opportunities this role provides to help small farmers grow and sustain their businesses.
Claire Charny - Warehouse and distribution coordinator
Originally hailing from Washington DC, Claire moved to Durham in the spring of 2017 to further pursue an 8+ year career in small scale agriculture. After receiving a bachelor's degree in Women and Gender Studies from Brandeis University in Massachusetts, she decided growing food - the basis for animal life - was the most useful career she could pursue. Agriculture, specifically vegetable and flower production, has taken her around the world - from Virginia, to Sri Lanka, California, France, Chicago, Michigan, and now North Carolina. She is a lover of animals and the natural world, and believes passionately in building a fair and just society. When she is not delivering produce for Farmer Foodshare, she can be found working on the business plan for a future farm endeavor, roller skating, and going on mountain adventures.
Deb Boxill - Development Associate
Deb’s first career was as an editor for consumer magazines and websites. As a graduate of UNC with a BA in English, she moved to New York City at the turn of the century to ride the dot-com wave (and subsequent crash). In 2007, she came back to Durham for a visit, fell in love with it, and never left. Her day job was in digital content at Duke University Press, but as time went on she got more involved with volunteer work like running food drives, walking dogs and cuddling cats at the animal shelter, and sending letters and books to incarcerated women in NC. She recently realized it was high time for her to apply the skills and experience she gained in publishing with her passion and energy for effecting positive change. She is thrilled to join the brilliant and dedicated team here at Farmer Foodshare as we work to improve the system behind one of the most basic needs we all have--the way we eat.
Amy Gregory - Operations Associate
A New Hampshire native, Amy moved to North Carolina in 2009 with her husband and two children and quickly fell in love with the climate and the hospitality of the South. She joined her husband in building a local chain of successful butcher shops in the Triangle. With a background in customer service, compliance testing, monitoring and reporting to state regulators, she has fostered relationships with small business owners and local officials alike. Amy enjoys volunteering with nonprofits who serve people with disabilities. She has had a lifelong love of gardening and floral design and a newfound passion for trail running and hiking throughout the Triangle.
Hannah Taylor - Distribution Associate
Hannah was born and raised in the Triangle of North Carolina and has always enjoyed spending time outside, from the mountains to the sea. Interested in global food systems and conservation, Hannah has traveled throughout Europe and to Morocco. She graduated from North Carolina State University in 2017 with BAs in Global Sustainability and Development and French Language and Literature. After graduating, Hannah worked as an AmeriCorps VISTA with Wake County Government on local food security and community development, further developing her interest in local food systems and sustainability while learning how to work together with community members and grassroots organizations to help them reach their goals. When she's not working, you can find Hannah playing with her dog, Finley, eating local food, and working on her farm in Wake County where she is the leader of a 4-H Club.
Ryan Cribbins - Distribution Associate
Ryan spent all his "formative" years in North Carolina, a Raleigh native and graduate of UNC-CH. He considers himself semi-retired after a career in the IT field, and after leaving the field has become involved with local food distribution and hunger relief agencies. He has been driving Farmer Foodshare's van since 2015, and enjoys sustaining and enhancing the relationships with our producers and buyers. When not in the van, you can find Ryan in his modest garden or on the streets of New Orleans, his spiritual home.
Sprague Cheshire - Distribution Associate
Sprague was born and bred in Raleigh where he has family roots going back many generations. Nineteen years after completing high school, he received an undergraduate degree in Health Science (Physician Assistant Program) at Duke. As a PA he worked for many years in the Hematology-Oncology Department and the Brain Tumor Center at Duke University Medical Center. During the time between high school and completing his college degree, he spent several years overseas, including living and working in an agricultural/spiritual community in Scotland and living in an agricultural village in India. Now in his spare time he enjoys reading, bodybuilding and walking his two mighty fine hound dogs.
Alicia Lee - Intern (Bonner Leader Program)
Alicia is a North Carolina native and a first generation student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is majoring in Public Policy and History with a minor in Spanish for the Legal Professions. Farmer Foodshare is a continuation of Alicia's long involvement with community service. In addition to working for Farmer Foodshare, Alicia is a Community Manager for Kenan Residential Community under Carolina Housing. In her spare time, Alicia can be found passing time in local coffee shops, spending time with friends, or playing with her dog.
Taylor Jost - Intern (Bonner Leader Program)
Taylor is originally from Atlanta but grew up in Raleigh. Her interest in sustainable food began in middle school and flourished in high school. As Taylor’s interest became centered around counteracting the environmental degradation associated with animal agriculture, her passion caused her to want to increase the availability and accessibility of sustainable, plant-based food. Taylor is currently majoring in Environmental Studies and English on a sustainability track, while minoring in Food Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. When she isn’t studying, Taylor can usually be found teaching hot yoga, dancing, sipping kombucha, or reading.
Hunter Holbrook - Graduate Intern (Food Ambassador Program)
Hunter was born and raised in Albemarle, North Carolina, where he developed a strong love for the natural world and public service. Following undergraduate studies in psychology and biology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, he began work in the rapidly expanding field of public health. While pursuing a Master in Public Health degree in Health Behavior at the Gillings School of Global Public Health, he developed interests in addressing social and environmental factors that lead to chronic disease and the disparities associated with these outcomes. Hunter wants to share his enthusiasm and passion for healthy, local food with the community and find ways to promote community-supported, sustainable food systems. When not working (or eating), Hunter enjoys soccer, going on outdoor adventures, finding local music, and playing board games with friends.