Leadership Council

Debbie Weingarten is a mother, freelance writer, and food/farm activist. She is a former co-owner of Sleeping Frog Farms and co-founder of the Farm Education Resource Network (FERN). She helped to create the Community Food Bank’s Youth Farm Project and served as the Arizona Organizer for the National Young Farmers Coalition. She believes that food systems are stronger when communities prioritize policies and economic opportunities that keep food producers thriving and agricultural lands preserved.

dora squareDora Martinez’s energy and time are fully invested in making sure healthy food and information is available to members of underserved communities in Tucson and rural areas in the region. She loves exploring new ways to decolonize our diets through stories with the people she works with, and exchanging traditional food knowledge through these interactions and building a sense of belonging and community. She considers herself a Food Justice advocate, a Semillista, a Farmer, an Organizer, and a mami of 3 goats. Through her previous work experience on a local farm, Dora realized the importance of land and equitable access to it. When she’s not providing support around food production and nutritional education at the food bank, she is working with her neighborhood garden collective helping youth and people of color who have been through the prison system transition back to their homes.

Megan Mills-NovoaMegan Mills-Novoa is a graduate student in the School of Geography at University of Arizona. She researches the impact of climate change and globalization on food systems within arid contexts. A native Minnesotan, Megan has worked as a community organizer, farm policy analyst, and farm hand in the U.S. and abroad. She now calls Tucson home and is excited to be part of this vibrant community.

RosalvaFuentes_resizedRosalva Fuentes is the Farm to Child Outreach Coordinator at the Community Food Bank and Coordinator for the Border Studies Program at Earlham College.  She is a mother and a community organizer, having been an organizer for SEIU, AFSC, TYLO, and Fortin de las Flores. Rosalva helped Ochoa Elementary School get its food from the garden into its cafeteria.  She has a degree in Nutrition.

Nick Henry is a native Southwesterner and has been in Tucson working on food and justice issues since 2007.  Currently, he directs a department at the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona that focuses on creating long-term solutions to hunger through farmers’ markets, gardening, farming, and culinary training.  He has been involved with the Pima County Food Alliance since its inception in 2011.

Jen Slothower

Jennifer Slothower is a freelance food marketing and brand development specialist, and holds a Masters degree in Food Culture & Communication from the University of Gastronomic Sciences. Jennifer has called the Tucson desert home for twelve years, but has traveled extensively and has a special place in her heart for the people, food, and wine of Italy. In addition to working with her clients in the U.S. and abroad, Jennifer serves as the co-chair of the Tucson Festival of Books culinary tent. In her free time, she enjoys a bitter Campari spritz, curating the perfect cookbook collection, and keeping the voracious tomato hornworm out of her garden!

MeganKimble_resizedMegan Kimble is the managing editor of Edible Baja Arizona, a local foods magazine serving Tucson and the borderlands. Megan has written about food in the Southwest since she moved to Tucson to earn her MFA in Creative Writing nonfiction from the University of Arizona. She’s written for the Los Angeles Times, High Country News and the Tucson Weekly, and her book, “Unprocessed,” can be found on bookshelves now. In addition to writing, Megan loves breakfast and chocolate chip cookies.

ElizabethMikesell_resizedElizabeth Mikesell has been a Chef Instructor at Pima Community College for 10 years.  She chaired the American Federation Chef and Child Foundation, whose mission is to educate children and families in understanding proper nutrition through community-based initiatives.  She was invited to the White House by Michelle Obama for the kick-off of the “Chefs Move to Schools” initiative and works with youth who are learning to cook and eat healthy food.

Chris M

Chris Mazzarella manages the Farm to Child program at the Community Food Bank, helping to create opportunities for children in our schools to learn about nutrition, food production, and healthy eating. He spent the previous 6 years working on the Food Bank’s farms and has a love for all things coming from the soil. His passion for food security and justice is eclipsed only by his love for filling his belly with delicious food and bubbly beverages.




AmandaAmanda Hilton is a graduate student at the University of Arizona. She studies applied environmental anthropology and focuses on foodways and agriculture in the Southwest. Amanda has worked in various capacities in the food system–as a farm hand, artisanal baker, and researcher–in different parts of the US and in Italy and Spain. She is excited to continue learning about, and becoming more a part of, Tucson and Baja Arizona’s vibrant and growing food network.


Cie’na Schlaefli has worked for over 13 years in the field of Agriculture.  After graduating with a degree in Horticulture from New Mexico State University, she moved to Tucson in 2007 to develop and manage the Marana Heritage Farm, a 10 acre education/demonstration farm. Since Fall 2011, she has worked as the Food Production Manager for the San Xavier Cooperative Farm on the Tohono O’odham Nation. She is dedicated to the vision and goals set forth by the O’odham landowners—to be good stewards of the land and water, and to create future agricultural opportunities for O’odham community members. Since 2011, Cie’na has served on the Leadership Council of the Pima County Food Alliance (PCFA). Cie’na was elected by the PCFA to serve on the Commission for Food Security, Heritage and Economy for the City of Tucson, a new initiative beginning in 2015.  Cie’na has also recently been elected onto the Farmer Education Resource Network (FERN) Board which focuses on supporting a new generation of farmers in Southern Arizona.


Kelly Watters is a marketer, educator, and community convener.  She discovered these skills forming the Santa Cruz River Farmers Market and building grassroots networks in the Borderlands while working many years at the Community Food Bank.  Now at the Food Conspiracy Co-op, she is working to build literacy in food, health, and cooperatives with co-op members and the Tucson community.  A native Vermonter in spirit, Kelly has called Tucson home since 1998.


Amber Hansen is a native Tucsonan and a registered dietitian with a Masters in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition. The focus of her work as a dietitian has been on community and public health nutrition, addressing chronic disease prevention, health promotion, and the reduction of health disparities. She has collaborated with a variety of stakeholders in schools, hospitals, jails, and community organizations to change policies and create environments that support healthy eating. She is starting a new position as the Southwest Regional Coordinator for the Healthy Food in Health Care program with Health Care Without Harm.


Abby Lohr is a Research Specialist, Senior for the Arizona Prevention Research Center. She studies how community health workers on the U.S./Mexico border link clients to clinical and community resources. When she’s not working in public health, Abby loves gardening, reading Edible Baja cover to cover, chocolate, marching bands, and speaking with a Minnesota accent. She is always excited to learn more about food policy.





Parker Filer was raised in western Pennsylvania where he spent most summers helping his extended family cultivate large backyard gardens. He began studying agribusiness management at Yavapai College in Prescott, AZ and now holds a Masters Degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development from Cornell University. Having travelled widely as a student and a volunteer Parker has been an engaged in a variety of agricultural research and extension projects including fieldwork in India, the Philippines, Hawaii, and Honduras. From migrant labor camps to urban farm camps; from tropical kitchen gardens to food rescue and farmer’s markets- Parker’s diverse professional experience lends a broad perspective on his food policy and systems thinking about agriculture. He’s thankful for the opportunity to support Pima County Food Alliance in their mission to develop an integrated, resilient, and sustainable food system in Southern Arizona.


Samantha Turner launched into the farm to school and food justice movement participating in the University of Arizona, School and Community Garden Program. During her time, she interned with Las Milpitas community farm and Drachman Elementary school garden where she gained a passion for community-driven food systems. Samantha continued her interests by joining FoodCorps a national service program connecting kids to healthy food, where she served as FoodCorps Service Member with the Prescott Farmers Market in Prescott, Arizona. Samantha currently is the FoodCorps Arizona Fellow, also know as the state coordinator where she support the FoodCorps Arizona network of seven community service sites and eight service members across the state. In her free time, Samantha enjoys to dance, run, swim bike and of course cook.


Sarah Renkert is a graduate student at the University of Arizona, where she studies applied sociocultural anthropology.  Her research focuses on the intersections of livelihood and foodways and she is passionate about the relationship between food security and food justice.  She has previously worked with the University of Arizona’s Masters Gardener program, taught gardening and nutrition courses to youth, helped on farms abroad and in Arizona, and was the Assistant Market Manager for the Globe-Miami Farmers’ Market.