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
Born and raised in Appalachia Ohio, Zach graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University. Learn more ...
Zach Perie, Community Relations VISTA
Born and raised in Appalachia Ohio, Zach graduated summa cum laude from Ohio University in May of 2021 with a degree in English, a minor in political science, and a certificate of law, justice, and culture. They will serve as the Local Food Access Community Relations VISTA at CFI. Zach has completed previous internships at the National Community Action Foundation in Washington, D.C., Southeastern Ohio Legal Services in Athens, OH, and at For West Virginia’s Future, where they researched political messaging practices in the state. They are currently a barista at Donkey Coffee and will continue working there part time along with their work at CFI. In their free time, Zach enjoys cooking, running, and exploring new areas of Southeast Ohio.
Email Zach: 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
Ravi is originally from Kent, Ohio. Learn more ...
Ravi Harley, Food Access Coordinator, COMCorps
Ravi is originally from Kent, Ohio, but moved to Athens to attend Ohio University where he studied Biology and Environmental Studies. Ravi has worked as a biology peer mentor at his university and as a summer field technician catching and studying diamondback terrapin turtles in Chesapeake Bay. During his time at OU, he discovered passions for public health, sustainability and conservation, and science communication, all of which he plans to explore further during his year of service as the Food Access COMCorps member at Community Food Initiatives. Ravi is most excited to connect with community members during his year of service, so if you ever see him at an event, don't be afraid to start a conversation! In his free time, Ravi enjoys hiking and learning about wildlife, reading, making soup, and appreciating the arts.
Email Ravi: email@example.com
Although Abby was born and raised in Canton, she fell in love with the abundant wilderness and tight-knit community that is Athens. Learn more ...
Abby Hearne, Garden Education Coordinator, COMCorps
Although Abby was born and raised in Canton, she fell in love with the abundant wilderness and tight-knit community that is Athens while finishing her degree in Biological Sciences at Ohio University. Abby was drawn to CFI by its multifaceted approach to food insecurity and began volunteering with CFI her second year at OU. She will be serving as the Garden Education Coordinator COMCorps member at CFI. Abby has completed previous positions as a biology instructor and as a student researcher where she led lessons on biology topics and investigated cellular biology and social medicine, respectively. In her free time, she enjoys mountain biking, running, cooking, and writing poetry. She looks forward to deepening her connection with the Athens community, learning how non-profits operate, and participating in the different levels of a local food system.
Email Abby: 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.
Joe Barbaree is the Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager at Rural Action. Learn more ...
Joe Barbaree, Board President
Joe Barbaree is the Sustainable Agriculture Program Manager at Rural Action. In this role, Joe works to increase economic opportunities for local farm producers in a multi-county service area of Appalachian Ohio. Core programming areas focus on production, aggregation, and distribution of local specialty crop and non-timber forest products to a diverse network of markets throughout the Central Appalachian region.
Joe primarily works on Rural Action’s peer learning workshops, beginning farmer initiatives, school and institutional sales, local food distribution, and strategic planning for local food hubs, like the Chesterhill Produce Auction.
Before working at Rural Action, Joe spent four years in the urban community development field in Cleveland, Ohio, including nationally-recognized work in the artisan neighborhood of Collinwood. He is a graduate of Mount Union College with a Bachelors in Communication and is a certified Economic Development Finance Professional with the National Development Council. Joe is a member of the Central Appalachian Network’s Food & Agriculture Systems Working Group, serves on the Ohio Food Policy Network Steering Committee, and is a board member at Community Food Initiatives.
Sierra Faris has been a resident of Athens County for the past 6 years. While originally from the Cleveland area, she has a passion for Appalachian Ohio and loves the vibrant and supportive community of the region. Learn more ...
Sierra Faris, Board Vice President
Sierra Faris has been a resident of Athens County for the past 6 years. While originally from the Cleveland area, she has a passion for Appalachian Ohio and loves the vibrant and supportive community of the region.
Sierra received her Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Geography at Ohio University as well as a certificate in Ecotourism. Her studies had a focus on development, urban planning, and sustainability. While at Ohio University, Sierra was a Resident Assistant for three years and a Community Ambassador.
Sierra brings skills of community engagement, communication, relationship-building, collaboration, leadership, resourcefulness, and advocacy. Sierra served as an AmeriCorps/COMCorps member with Community Food Initiatives from 2018-2020. Sierra was the Justice Talking facilitator for both years of her service in which she led civil discourse about current events, life experiences, and the service experience. She received training through COMCorps in having a trauma-informed care approach and received a certificate in motivational interviewing. Sierra is now an Associate at Sunday Creek Horizons - a communications, advocacy, and consulting firm for Appalachian Ohio. She is passionate about sustainability, community health, and human rights and is excited to continue to serve Southeastern Ohio residents .
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.
Alexandria Polanosky is the Assistant Director for Content Strategy for the Division of Student Affairs at Ohio University. Learn more ...
Alexandria Polanosky, Board Co-Treasurer
Alexandria Polanosky is the Assistant Director for Content Strategy for the Division of Student Affairs at Ohio University. 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.
Adam is the Food Enterprise Coordinator at the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks. Learn more ...
Adam Kody, Board Co-Treasurer
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.
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.
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.