Congratulations to the 2023 FSLN Community Food Systems Mentorship Cohort!  

The Food Systems Leadership Network’s (FSLN) Community Food Systems Mentorship program is now in its 6th year, supporting a cohort of 24 mentees from across the country! 

Everyone needs and deserves access to a sustainable, interconnected food system that provides healthy food, nourishment and economic opportunity – no matter where you live. The FSLN believes in the community-based organizations and enterprises, fueled by thousands of individuals pouring their hearts and souls into this work, are building that reality every day. Too often, though, individuals enter the field of food systems without training or support and do most of their learning on the job. To continue building and retaining talent, and supporting food systems leaders in their journeys of changemaking, there must be more opportunities for personal and professional development. Through the Community Food Systems Mentorship Program, the Food Systems Leadership Network seeks to address this gap by investing in and strengthening the next generation of leaders. 

The Mentorship program cultivates deep, long-lasting, and intergenerational relationships that support emerging leaders to reach their greatest potential and have the fullest impact on their community’s food system.  

This year, we are excited to partner with eight FSLN Mentors, seasoned leaders with at least 15 years of food systems experience, to cultivate the next generation of leaders by sharing what they have learned along the way. Mentors are matched with community leaders based on their expertise and interests, and each Mentor-Mentee pair works together over a period of 4 months. By investing in these relationships, the FSLN is facilitating the transfer of knowledge, ideas, and resources, creating a world in which local communities have the resources, relationships and power to fully realize a racially-just, resilient and dynamic system for producing, consuming and distributing food. 

To date the mentorship program has supported 163 leaders with 1,300 hours of 1-1 support and engaged 19 seasoned leaders as mentors. The 24 mentees in this year’s cohort are working on everything from supporting immigrant farmers implementing conservation agriculture practices to offering subsidized CSA shares and supporting communities from across the country. Learn more about the 2023 mentorship cohort and their innovative work below! 


Angel Mendez

Executive Director, Red Tomato

Check out the three mentees working with Angel in 2023.

Annalise Winter

The Kansas City Food Hub

Kansas City, KS


Hector Reider

Community Alliance with Family Farmers

Santa Cruz, CA


Sofia Degtyar

GrowNYC Wholesale

Brooklyn, NY



Karen Washington

Farmer, Advocate, Rise and Root Farm

Below are the mentees working with Karen this year.

Cassandra Loftin

Ark Republic & Black Farmers’ Index

Augusta, GA


Jeanette Ramirez

La Semilla Food Center

El Paso, TX


Jessica Gonzalez

California Certified Organic Farmers

Oakland, CA



Kukui Maunakea-Forth

Executive and Programs Director, Wai’anae Community Re-Development Corporation and the MA’O Community Food Systems Initiative

Below are the mentees working with Kukui.

Emilie Kirk

University of Hawaii at Manoa Cooperative Extension

Lihue, HI


Matte Wilson

Sicangu Co.

Mission, SD


Sabrina Cerquera


Portland, OR



Lydia Villanueva

 Director/Founder of CASA del Llano, INC

Lydia will be mentoring the following mentees.

Anna Martinez

NWI Food Council

Gary, IN


Jon Henry

Jon Henry General Store

New Market, VA


Yamila Sterling-Baker

Solid Ground

Seattle, WA



Malik Yakini

Co-Founder and Executive Director, Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

Malik will work with the mentees below.

Camille Lewis

Earth’s Garden LLC

Tallahassee, FL


Erin Cole

Nurturing Our Seeds, Detroit Food Academy

Detroit, MI


Monica Watson

Operation Food Search, Hunger Relief

St. Louis, MO



Miles Gordon

Principal, Kitchen Table Consulting

See the mentees that will be working with Miles below!

Lucas McKinnon

Hui Mala Ai

Honolulu, HI


Natalie Evans


Seattle, WA


Rebecca Serratos

Prescott Farmers Market

Prescott, AZ



Nancy Creamer

Blue Cross and Blue Shield/WK Kellogg Distinguished Professor Emerita, NC State University and former CEFS Director, NC State University.

Check out who Nancy will be mentoring.

Anna Miller

Desert Farming Initiative

Reno, NV


Liv Froehlich

FairShare CSA Coalition

Seattle, WA


Megan Govindan

West Virginia University, Health Affairs Institute

Morgantown, WV



Rich Pirog

Former Director for the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University (MSU) through spring 2022 – currently enjoying life while doing a bit of food systems consulting 

Rich will work with the following leaders in 2023.

Eliana Pinilla

The Common Market

Chicago, IL


Mia Burger

Sustainable Food Center

Austin, TX


Rosie Florian

ValleyHub Manager at Kalamazoo Valley Community College

Kalamazoo, MI

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