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.

By |2022-05-11T18:53:07+00:00January 28th, 2022|Staff|

Mary Hathaway

Mary Hathaway

Research & Education Fellow

Mary Hathaway is the new Research and Education Fellow at OFRF. Over the past decade she has worked as an activist and farmer in the sustainable and equitable food movement in the Southeast. Her most recent experience includes managing direct marketing farms, administering USDA grant projects, and organizing regional food summits.

Mary specializes in supporting local food systems and is passionate about creating opportunities for organic farmers to be leaders in climate change solutions. Mary has a Master’s Degree in Agroecology that helps her frame the necessary work before us with a collaborative, systems thinking approach. She is a powerful force in the workplace and uses her positive attitude to encourage others to work hard and be engaged participants in their community.

In her free time, Mary likes to play in the ocean, talk at great length about composting, and build Lincoln Log forts with her son.

By |2022-05-11T18:56:27+00:00January 11th, 2022|Staff|

Caroline Baptist

Caroline Baptist - OFRF Communications Manager

Communications Manager


Caroline Baptist has over 15 years of nonprofit, corporate and agency experience as a communications professional. She graduated from Washington State University with a BA in English and Digital Technology and Culture.
Caroline is a first-generation female farmer of color and owner of the River Valley Country Club, a 5-acre farm in the greater Seattle area. Caroline raises row crop vegetables and pasture-raised livestock and poultry. She is interested in topics of organic farming, regenerative agriculture, local food security, community health and mutual aid.
By |2021-10-13T23:45:30+00:00July 15th, 2021|Staff|

Gordon Merrick

Policy & Programs Manager

Gordon N. Merrick joins the OFRF team with first hand experience working on organic farms, distributing food into the marketplace, cooking food in the service industry, and, most recently, helping draft agriculture, natural resource, and municipal laws for the Vermont General Assembly.  Alongside this hands on food and legal system experience, prior to attending Vermont Law School, Gordon was a community organizer working on climate justice related issues in New Hampshire. Throughout all of these experiences, Gordon was able to learn what it takes to lead successful teams and that resilient change stems from, and is led by, people-powered movements.

While attending Vermont Law School, Gordon was very involved in the school’s Food and Agricultural Law Society. During his second year, Gordon was able to take part in a Lobby Day hosted by the Farm Bill Law Enterprise where he spoke with Representatives and Senators about the importance of the Conservation and Food Assistance titles in the Legislator’s districts.  In his third year, he was selected to be the co-president of the National Food and Agriculture Law Student Network, where he now sits on the advisory board.  Gordon was able to use this position to further his interest in sustainable agriculture policy, and the processes that shape it.

Gordon holds a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Legal Studies from the University of Maine, and a J.D. from Vermont Law School.

When Gordon isn’t in the (home) office, he’s generally outside enjoying whatever the current New England season has to offer, or enjoying a good nonfiction read if it’s raining!

By |2022-05-11T18:57:43+00:00June 19th, 2021|Staff|

Thelma Velez

Thelma Velez - OFRF Research and Education Manager

Research & Education Program Manager

Thelma Velez has been embedded in organic agriculture and sustainable food systems for over 12 years. She has extensive academic and professional experience in sustainable and organic agriculture education, research project management, and multi-institutional collaborative work. Over the years she has been privileged to work with rural and urban farmers and cooperatives in various regions of the U.S., the Caribbean, and India. 

She attended Florida International University (FIU) for both her undergraduate and master’s degrees. During her time at FIU, she earned a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology and certificates in: Agroecology, as well as, Biodiversity and Natural Resource Conservation. While working toward her M.S. degree, she was an integral part of FIU’s Agroecology Program. She managed and supervised research projects at the university organic garden, on local farms, and in the soil lab. For her thesis she made biochar from an invasive tree species and applied it at various rates to measure carbon sequestration, as well as the impact on soil nutrients and Phaselous vulgaris growth in an organic agronomic study conducted at FIU and the USDA-ARS Subtropical Horticulture Research Station.

Thelma completed her Ph.D from Ohio State University’s (OSU) College of Food, Agriculture, and Environmental Sciences in 2021. Her dissertation research centers on the expansion of agroecology in Puerto Rico, post-Hurricane Maria, as a means to create climate resilience and address climate injustices. While at OSU, she was sought after to collaborate on multiple projects, including the Ohio Sustainable Agriculture Education Network, OSU’s Food Sustainability Panel, as well as, diversity and inclusion work with the Ohio Ecological Food and Farm Association, Ohio’s primary organic certifying agency. She is excited to bring her experience to OFRF and help the organization fulfill its mission and goals.

By |2021-11-30T17:08:25+00:00April 6th, 2021|Staff|

Kelsey Grimsley

Office Manager/Program Administrator


Kelsey Grimsley graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a B.A. in Politics. Right out of college Kelsey gained valuable experience working with diverse populations through jobs in grassroots organizing, community engagement projects, and congressional offices. They lived at a Buddhist retreat center, off-the-grid in Santa Cruz County, where they explored how to live a sustainable lifestyle first-hand, while working for the center as Community Relations Coordinator.

Kelsey has always been passionate about environmental stewardship and social justice, which has informed their career path and led them to working here at OFRF. They are excited and proud to be a part of an organization that has a meaningful mission that aligns with their passions.

By |2021-06-23T17:40:07+00:00December 12th, 2019|Staff|

Haley Baron

Partnership & Development Director


As the Partnership and Development Director, Haley oversees OFRF’s individual, corporate, foundation, and government development activities as well as strategic partnerships. She believes that building strong collaborative relationships across the food system will better support farmers, and help us collectively mitigate and adapt to climate change. Haley has been part of the OFRF team since May 2019, previously supporting OFRF’s research and education program, including the research grant program and grower education projects.

Haley has sought to build a more equitable and sustainable food system, all starting as a child growing up in San Francisco. Before her time at OFRF, she managed operations and staff for Pineapple Collaborative (a community for womxn who love food), conducted large-scale food access program evaluations, farmed organic land, handled sourcing and logistics for a farm share, developed bilingual recipes and programming for Food Bank clients, and more.

She holds a Master’s in Food Studies from New York University, where she focused on sustainable food systems and the organic supply chain, publishing two papers on the ways certified organic handlers support organic producers. She has a B.A. in Sociology and Spanish from Wesleyan University, and a graduate certificate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems from Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition. When she isn’t working, you can find Haley walking on Ocean Beach, making pottery, eating dumplings, and cooking with lots of vegetables.

By |2022-03-31T18:13:55+00:00October 8th, 2019|Staff|

Dominica Navarro Martinez

Dominica Navarro

Deputy Director

Dominica has devoted much of her professional career to nonprofit management, finance, administration and strategic programmatic development, working with organizations championing public health, diversity in higher education, pesticide reduction, and organic and climate-smart farming practices. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with majors in both Environmental and Community Studies and has worked on various sustainable agriculture projects in the US and abroad. Dominica serves on the Boards of Rogue Farm Corp and Herbicide Free Campus. Dominica lives in Central Oregon and loves working outside on her homestead, hanging out with her family, cooking, sailing, hiking and traveling to her second home in Puerto Rico.

By |2022-04-06T19:47:40+00:00October 1st, 2019|Staff|

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.

By |2021-03-02T23:48:13+00:00July 8th, 2019|Staff|
Go to Top