Staff

 

People are always surprised by how small our staff is. It's because we create such a huge organic ruckus on the hill, in the field, on the streets, and on the web. Our work for organic farmers goes well beyond a 'day job'. It's a belief in the vision.

Brise Tencer
Executive Director

Brise Tencer brings 20 years of leadership experience working on organic food policy, farming, and research issues to OFRF.  Ms. Tencer most previously served as Director of Policy and Programs for California Certified Organic Farmers (CCOF), where she managed the government affairs and grower education program, coordinated their regional chapters of members, and ran a grant-making program. Prior to that, she served as lead lobbyist on food and agriculture issues for the Union of Concerned Scientists. There she developed legislative campaigns on a range of agriculture issues, including organic (focusing on the connection between organic practices and climate change), USDA research priorities, and food safety. She also worked on a successful campaign to end overuse of antibiotics in livestock production. 

Brise worked as Acting Policy Program Director and later as Legislative Coordinator for The Organic Farming Research Foundation from 2000 to 2006. During this time she helped initiate the Organic Agricultural Caucus in the U.S. House of Representatives and the Organic Farmers Action Network (OFAN), a grassroots political action network to support organic-friendly policies. She helped secure language in the Agriculture Risk Management Act of 2000, which said that organic farming was considered a “good farming practice”, that enabled organic producers to be eligible to participate in federal crop insurance programs for the first time.

Ms. Tencer has served on the boards of the Northwest Center for Alternatives to Pesticides, the California Climate and Agricultural Network, and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. 

Ms. Tencer holds a B.A. in Community Studies from University of California, Santa Cruz and received both a Certificate in Conflict Resolution and a M.A. in International Environmental Policy from the Monterey Institute of International Studies.  

Carol Snyder
Office Manager

Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, Carol is a self proclaimed California Girl. After having the opportunity to live all over the world, she returned to the area in the early 2000’s and has resided there ever since. Getting and staying healthy became a priority a few years ago and that is where Carol's passion for organics began. She recently joined OFRF as the Office Manager, a title that has been proudly attached to her name for the majority of her career.  It is with enthusiasm and excitement that she joins our team!

Diana Jerkins
Research Program Director

Dr. Jerkins brings to OFRF decades of experience in agricultural research, federal program management, university administration and hands-on farming. She was a National Program Leader with the US Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) between 2002 and 2014, and also helped implement the agency’s first sustainable and organic agriculture programs. Prior to joining NIFA, Dr. Jerkins directed the Center for Regenerative Studies at Cal Poly Pomona.

Dr. Jerkins earned her graduate degrees from the University of Georgia, including an MA in Agronomy, and a PhD in Entomology.

Dr. Jerkins will work remotely while continuing management of her historic, 240-acre organic farm in Gordonsville, VA.

 

Laura Dannehl-Schickman
Development Associate
Laura grew up in a family where politics and activism were a part of daily life. She believes we must come together as a nation to support our organic farmers, protect our environment and ensure healthy, organic food is accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. 
 
Ms. Dannehl-Schickman graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2012 with BA in American Studies. She worked in fundraising and communication for a non-profit school in Oakland for four years before attending graduate school at Cambridge University where she received her MPhil in American literature. Laura is excited to be joining the stellar team at OFRF where she will have the opportunity to fuse her passion for political activism and sustainable, organic agriculture.
 
Laura Ridenour
Senior Development Officer
Laura Ridenour joins OFRF’s development team with a lifetime of experience working with all aspects of food and farming—with and for farmers, chefs, entrepreneurs and retailers, and grassroots food advocates. Growing up, her father was CEO of an organic soyfoods business, Wildwood Natural Foods, based in Santa Cruz, California. She also spent her youth with her mom in rural Tennessee on a farming commune. Before she was 21, Laura was a veteran of natural foods trade shows. Beginning with an internship at California Certified Organic Farmers in 1994, Laura has worked for an “alphabet soup” of farmer and community-led NGOs from California and Washington DC to Colorado and Washington State. Along the way, she gained extensive project management, marketing and fundraising skills, and was part of the establishment of two food policy councils. Laura chaired the Farm Fund from 2010-2016, developing successful grants and micro-loan programs for small scale organic and sustainable farmers. She has extensive board experience, recently serving as director of the Community Food Co-op in Bellingham, as leadership team chair for the North American Food Systems Network, and previously as a member of the Washington State University Small Farms Team. Most recently, Laura served as communications manager at the Non-GMO Project. Working for OFRF is full-circle for Laura, as she served as OFRF’s special events coordinator from 2000-2002.
 
Laura holds a M.A. in the Sociology of Food from Colorado State University, a B.A. in Food Systems and Social Change from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and a certificate in Organic Farming and Ecological Horticulture from the UCSC Farm and Garden. She works with the Santa Cruz home office team remotely from Bellingham, Washington, and her favorite place to be after work is with her young son in the garden, and riding bikes outdoors in the Pacific Northwest.
 
 
 
Lauren Snyder
Education & Research Program Associate

Lauren is a scientist dedicated to promoting organic agriculture and developing sustainable food systems. She discovered her passion for agroecology as an undergraduate at Boston University where she collaborated on a research project evaluating the ecosystem services provided by bats in organic pecan orchards. It was here that she became curious about where our food comes from and how agricultural production practices affect the environment and human health.

Since then, she has conducted research around the globe, working with small-holder farmers in Sri Lanka, Kenya, and the U.S. Throughout her PhD., she worked closely with local organic farmers in NY State to design applied research evaluating the environmental, nutritional, and economic outcomes of diversified agricultural practices. A primary objective was to evaluate the potential for crop varietal mixtures to mitigate the need for pesticides by increasing natural pest control services and maximize growers’ profits by reducing production costs associated with mixed species plantings.

Lauren holds a B.A. in Ecology & Conservation Biology from Boston University and is completing her PhD. in agroecology and sustainable food systems from Cornell University. She is excited to join an incredible team committed to improving our nation’s food system, and is thrilled to have the opportunity to advance organic practices through research and education.

In her free time, Lauren loves enjoying the outdoors with her partner and their dog, cooking delicious food for friends and family, and dancing salsa.

Mark Schonbeck
Research Program Associate

Mark Schonbeck has worked for 31 years as a researcher, consultant, and educator in sustainable and organic agriculture. He has participated in on-farm research into mulching, cover crops, minimum tillage, and nutrient management for organic vegetables. For many years, he has written for the Virginia Association for Biological Farming newsletter and served as their policy liaison to the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. He has also participated in different research projects to analyze, evaluate and improve federally funded organic and sustainable agriculture programs. In addition, Mark offers individual consulting in soil test interpretation, soil quality and nutrient management, crop rotation, cover cropping, and weed management.

Michael Stein
Policy Associate

Michael Stein is an attorney and scientist who is passionate about organic and sustainable agriculture.  He has focused his career on implementing legal and policy tools to address the environmental, health, and economic impacts of our food system.

Michael has worked extensively on food law and policy issues.  He first started working to protect the health and wealth of our natural resources with Midwest Environmental Advocates, assisting family farmers in protecting their homes and communities from the negative environmental impacts of large-scale industrial agriculture.  While at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic, he focused on the environmental and public health impacts of food waste, and also worked to address food sovereignty issues faced by Native American communities. His policy experience includes working with the Navajo Nation’s Washington, D.C. office, and managing the food campaigns at Green America.

Michael holds a J.D. from the University of Wisconsin Law School, where he focused on environmental law. He also earned an M.S. in environment and resources from the University of Wisconsin’s Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies, with a focus on sustainable agriculture. Michael is currently based in Washington, D.C. where he advocates on behalf of organic farmers and organic agriculture to members of Congress and the federal government. 

When not in D.C., Michael can be found hiking the hills of Virginia and procuring delicious products from local organic farms. 

 

Vicki Lowell
Communications Manager

Vicki joined OFRF in October 2015 after five years working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Cruz County. At the food bank, she was responsible for sharing stories of people in need and the individuals, schools, businesses and non-profits that work to ensure everyone has access to healthy food and resources to help them get back on their feet.

As Communications Manager, she is responsible for disseminating relevant content across all channels and helping farmers access tools and resources that support their success. She is responsible for design and production of research reports, webinars, and educational materials, and works to increase outreach and nurture collaborative relationships with organic stakeholders.

Vicki began her career as a member of the Macintosh introduction team at Apple Computer in 1984 and spend a number of years working as an independent marketing writer. She is passionate about music and food and also works as a deejay at KPIG, a free-form Americana station broadcast from Freedom, California and streamed worldwide.