Research & Education Program Director


Thelma Velez (she/her/ella) is the Research and Education Program Director at OFRF. She has been embedded in organic agriculture, sustainable food systems, and climate justice for over 15 years. In her role as director, Thelma engages in collaborative efforts with farmers, university faculty, Extension specialists, and government and non-government organizations nationwide. Her focus is on fortifying existing research and education programs and pioneering new initiatives that equitably contribute to the enhancement of our nation’s food system and provide a strategic advantage for organic farmers. With support from the OFRF team, she has helped advocate for organic at the federal level and provided expert testimony to the U.S. Congress House Agriculture Committee on the importance of organic agriculture for climate change mitigation and adaptation. She is a two time alum of Florida International University (BA and MS), and earned her PhD in from Ohio State University, where she focused on the expansion of agroecology in Puerto Rico, post-Hurricane Maria, as a means to create a more climate resilient food system and address systemic injustices. 

Thelma loves growing food, cooking food, and introducing friends to the politics of food and agriculture. As a first-generation American and a woman of color, she is mindful of matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and she incorporates her experiences into both her personal and professional life. In her spare time she enjoys planning and executing DIY projects that stretch her creative and physical boundaries.