Our staff has a strong commitment to serving the many constituents of our organization. But first and foremost, they focus their energies on those who take advantage of our programs and services.
Maribeth Saleem-Tanner has called the Appalachian region home for nearly two decades. Learn more ...
Maribeth Saleem-Tanner, Executive Director
Maribeth Saleem-Tanner has called the Appalachian region home for nearly two decades. She grew up in the foothills of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, graduated from Pomona College in Claremont, California, and served as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Pocahontas County West Virginia before embarking on a career in education and nonprofit leadership. Maribeth holds a Masters Degree in Conflict Transformation from the Eastern Mennonite University Center for Justice and Peacebuilding. She was drawn to CFI’s commitment to justice, belief in the strength and resiliency of Appalachian communities, deep and wide local roots, and passionately dedicated network of staff, partners, and volunteers. In her free time, Maribeth enjoys local music, yoga, baking, being outdoors, and spending time with her family.
Email Maribeth: firstname.lastname@example.org
Molly is an OU Alumni and was a VISTA with Rural Action in the Sustainable Agriculture program. Learn more...
Molly Gassaway, Director of Garden Programs
Molly is an OU Alumni and was a VISTA with Rural Action in the Sustainable Agriculture program before moving out West for 13 years. She returned to be closer to family, plentiful water, and verdant land. She lives on a farm with her husband and two young boys where she enjoys swimming, biking, baking, yoga, and gardening.
Email Molly: email@example.com
Susie moved to Athens in the summer of 2018 specifically to join Community Food Initiatives. Learn more...
Susie Huser, Director of Outreach
Susie moved to Athens in the summer of 2018 specifically to join Community Food Initiatives. She grew up in a rural, agricultural community in Indiana, and has worked in education and culinary arts in IN, NC, and CO. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Naropa University and an MS in Environmental Studies from Green Mountain College. She sees a thriving, equitable local food system as a fundamental component of community resilience and is passionate about sharing good food with others in many different ways. She also enjoys painting, music, books, and spending as much time as possible outside -- often with her dogs Lola June and Bingo Jones.
Email Susie: firstname.lastname@example.org
My name is Reggie Morrow. Born a Mississippi native I was raised throughout West TN. Learn more ...
Reggie Morrow, Donation Station Manager
My name is Reggie Morrow. Born a Mississippi native I was raised throughout West TN. I moved to Cincinnati to receive a degree in Video Production and Communication. Afterwards, I moved to Athens and attended Ohio University and studied Social Entrepreneurship and Non Profit Management. Through working with Athens City Schools, Ohio University, and the Community Center I've grown to know and love this community and the people in it.
Email Reggie: email@example.com
Ivan started volunteering with CFI in 2019. Learn more...
Ivan Orquera, Veggie Van Manager
Ivan started volunteering with CFI in 2019, and logged 125 hours that year helping at market, at the CPA, with distribution, and at Discovery Kitchen workshops. He is on track to complete a Master's in Geography at Ohio University, and is excited to stay in Athens to join the CFI team in support of our Veggie Van project. Ivan is as passionate and tireless about helping CFI as a squirrel is about collecting acorns in the fall. That is why he sees his ongoing work with us as a gift while he makes plans for the future.
Email Ivan: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jessica moved to Athens in July of 2021 and very quickly realized that this wonderful community is the perfect place to put down some roots. Learn more ...
Jessica Hough, Local Food Access Community Relations VISTA
Jessica moved to Athens in July of 2021 and very quickly realized that this wonderful community is the perfect place to put down some roots. Since then she has looked for a way to positively impact the community and that's when she decided to be an AmeriCorps VISTA member with CFI. Having grown up in a couple different rural Southeastern Ohio towns, she had seen food insecurity within those communities and the impact that it has. That is why CFI's mission of fostering a community where everyone has equitable access to healthy, local food spoke to her. When she isn't helping out at CFI you can find her playing video games, listening to music, creating art or snuggling with her cats.
Email Jessica: email@example.com
Raya recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in English. Learn more...
Raya Abner, Community Gardens Coordinator, COMCorps
Raya recently graduated from Ohio University with a degree in English, a minor in psychology, and a certificate in diversity studies. Coming to Athens from Cincinnati, she fell in love with the Athens community and food justice after an internship at United Campus Ministry. She comes to CFI eager to learn more about sustainable gardening and our local food system while becoming an "official" Athens townie. She is most passionate about books, coffee, cats, and astrology.
E-mail Raya: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sam was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where they discovered a passion for food and
serving their community. Learn more ...
Sam Alexander, Food Access Coordinator, COMCorps
Sam was born and raised in Columbus, Ohio, where they discovered a passion for food and
serving their community. After completing an undergraduate internship with CFI, Sam graduated
with a Bachelor of Social Work from Ohio University in May 2022. They are passionate about
building community resilience and connecting people with each other through a love of tasty,
nutritious food. Outside of CFI, you can find Sam listening to public radio, playing bass guitar,
and browsing at a record store.
Email Sam: email@example.com
Lucy was born and raised in Canton, Ohio. After graduating with a biology degree from John Carroll University she moved up to Bethel, Alaska. Learn more ...
Lucy Peloso, Garden Education Coordinator, COMCorps
Lucy was born and raised in Canton, Ohio. After graduating with a biology degree from John Carroll University she moved up to Bethel, Alaska to complete a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest and AmeriCorps. She served at a small, rural college supporting students through wellness, tutoring, and community building. This opportunity allowed her to learn about the importance of culture in food gathering and preparation, along with our relationships to the ecosystems around us. She is excited to be returning to Ohio with a passion for learning about sustainable food systems and living in a way that is connected to the environment and local community. Lucy enjoys reading, writing, crafts, music, and being curious about the world around her!
Email Lucy: firstname.lastname@example.org
Our Board of Directors
Our board represents a cross-section of our community and has a passion for our organization and those we serve. The members work hard to ensure long-term sustainability of the organization and oversee that the funds raised directly affect those in need.
Adam is the Food Enterprise Coordinator at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. Learn more ...
Adam Kody, Board President
Adam is the Food Enterprise Coordinator at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. Adam graduated from Ohio University with a degree in Restaurant, Hotel and Tourism Management and is currently enrolled in the Master of Public Administration program at Ohio University. Adam enjoys working with all the passionate entrepreneurs that pass through ACEnet, providing technical assistance and training along the way. Adam loves to cook and experiment with fermentation and has a dedicated passion for playing and listening to music.
Mat graduated from the Ohio University Scripps School of Journalism with a focus on environmental sociology and climate change in 2014. Learn more...
Mat Roberts, Board Vice President
Mat graduated from the Ohio University Scripps School of Journalism with a focus on environmental sociology and climate change in 2014. Since then, he’s been a dedicated advocate for innovative public policy, environmental sustainability, and resilient local economies. He is a thought leader and trusted ally for the common good in his community, encouraging others to think vividly and act boldly to enact deep, systematic change that puts people and the planet first. Mat works as the Director of Marketing for the Sustainable Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) — a non-profit public organization based in Athens serving the sustainable energy needs of 21 member communities and subdivisions across Ohio. Mat enjoys outdoor exploration, playing and watching sports, and spending time with family and friends.
Linda Parsons is a retired teacher from the Athens City Schools, where she taught for many years. She now grows as much food as possible in her backyard garden. Learn more...
Linda Parsons, Board Secretary
Linda Parsons is a retired teacher from the Athens City Schools, where she taught for many years. She now grows as much food as possible in her backyard garden and is particularly excited about seed saving. Linda has enjoyed volunteering for CFI over the last few years and is excited to be part of a group that is working to ensure that everyone in our community has access to healthy local food. Linda has learned a lot from participating in many CFI workshops, from making kefir to building raised beds. She has also completed the Master Gardener program, likes running , hiking , reading, cooking and shopping at the Farmers Market.
Sierra Faris is the current Treasurer of CFI's Board. Learn more ...
Sierra Faris, Board Treasurer
Sierra Faris is the current Treasurer of CFI's Board. As a Senior Program Coordinator for Franklin County's Economic Development and Planning Department, her professional life is dedicated primarily to addressing the affordable housing crisis and promoting community development. While originally from the Cleveland area, she has a passion for Appalachian Ohio and loves its vibrant and supportive community. Though Sierra is currently living in Franklin County, she is grateful for her 7 years as a resident of Athens County and plans to continue her connection to the region.
Sierra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geography at Ohio University as well as a certificate in Ecotourism. Sierra's studies focused on development, urban planning, and sustainability. While at Ohio University, Sierra was a Resident Assistant for three years and a Community Ambassador connecting students to the city and county outside of the university bubble.
Sierra brings skills of project management, community engagement, communication, relationship-building, collaboration, leadership, resourcefulness, grant management, and advocacy. Sierra served as an AmeriCorps/COMCorps member with Community Food Initiatives from 2018-2020. Sierra was a Justice Talking facilitator for both years of her service in which she led civil discourse about current events, life experiences, and their connection to the service experience. She received training through COMCorps in having a trauma-informed care approach and received a certificate in motivational interviewing. She is passionate about sustainability, community health, and human rights and is excited to continue to serve on CFI's Board as Treasurer with her current financial and grant management skills.
In Sierra's free time she enjoys hiking, biking, hammocking, laughing with friends, watching movies, traveling, trying new foods, dancing, and cuddling with her cat, Honey.
Alexandria Polanosky is the Media and Communications Director at Rural Action. Learn more ...
Alexandria Polanosky is the Media and Communications Director at Rural Action. Outside of her current position, she has produced a variety of multimedia work for nonprofits and small businesses across the Appalachian region with a focus on sustainable agriculture. An OHIO alumna with a B.S. in visual communication and certificates in both environmental studies and food and society, Alexandria strives to combine her passion for local food systems with her storytelling skills. She is currently working toward her master’s in public administration. Outside of work Alexandria enjoys spending as much time outside as possible and sharing good food.
Ruth is a Certified Health Educator at the Athens City-County Health Department. Learn more...
Ruth is a Certified Health Educator at the Athens City-County Health Department. She assists schools, worksites, communities and health care agencies to develop policies, systems and environmental changes that promote health. The goal of the Creating Healthy Communities collaborative, which Ruth coordinates, is to make the healthy choice the easy choice. Elected 2013, re-elected in 2015 and 2016.
Becky Clark is the Owner, Butcher, and Executive Chef of Pork & Pickles. Learn more ...
Becky Clark is the Owner, Butcher, and Executive Chef of Pork & Pickles, a company she founded in 2016 with the mission to create a unique food experience that both expands the palate of her diners and holds up the local agricultural community. She believes in partnerships of equality - superb products in exchange for sustainable income. Clark uses food as a platform to shed light on issues of economics, climate change, and social justice. She believes everybody has a right to healthy, delicious food and fair wages, and uses her company to approach that one bite at a time.
In addition to her own company, Clark is the Executive Chef at Little Fish Brewing Company, a restaurant consultant, a mentor for Rural Action’s Whole Farm Program, and a proud OU Alumni. Her menus at Pork & Pickles and Little Fish center around seasonal local food (what the farmers have available at any given time).
In her spare time Clark is a loving partner, dog mom, auntie, daughter, granddaughter and friend. She focuses her time outdoors, pushing her limits physically in all types of adventure recreation, and growing, cooking, and eating delicious food.
Patrick Tegge grew up in Glenshaw, PA a town located just outside of Pittsburgh. Learn more...
Patrick Tegge grew up in Glenshaw, PA a town located just outside of Pittsburgh. He attended Marietta college where he earned a BA in history, minored in leadership studies, and became certified to teach high school social studies. Upon graduation, he served with COMCorps, an AmeriCorps program, at Coolville elementary. He is currently employed by Ohio State University Extension’s SNAP-Ed program as a Policy, System, and Environmental Change, (PSE) Program Specialist. In this role, he assists county SNAP-Ed staff in implementing PSE changes focused on increasing access of healthy food and physical activity opportunities. In addition, Patrick partners with CFI on projects including Donation Station, the Families Eating Affordable and Sustainably Together workshop series, and Nourishing Networks.
In this new role as a CFI board member, he hopes to continue to help CFI work to help his fellow community members. Patrick currently live in Glouster, OH with his partner Megan. He also enjoys a variety of outdoor activities, working on renovating his home, as well as playing board games and tabletop role playing games with friends.
Tiffany Arnold, PhD, MEd is originally from Morgan County, Ohio and has lived in Athens on and off since 1997. Learn more...
Tiffany Arnold, PhD, MEd is originally from Morgan County, Ohio and has lived in Athens on and off since 1997. She is an Assistant Professor of Instruction in the Ohio University College of Health Sciences and Professions where she teaches Appalachian Studies and Rural health classes, as well as coordinates the Appalachian Studies certificate program. She enjoys gardening, camping, reading, and supporting her kids in their various activities. She currently lives in Athens with her husband, Nick and her two sons, Alden and Jude.