Public Policy Director
Traci Bruckner joined the SAFSF team in October 2018 with nearly two decades of experience in public policy. She leads SAFSF’s work that helps funders fully engage in the policy process, both in support of their grantees and in their own activities, to shift inequities in food and agriculture systems.
Traci spent 15 years with the Center for Rural Affairs, leading their federal and state policy efforts around agriculture, conservation, and beginning, women, and socially disadvantaged farmer issues. She also worked on state health care and tax policy issues. During her tenure at the Center, Traci served as a member and chair of the USDA Advisory Committee on Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. This Advisory Committee provides recommendations to the Secretary of Agriculture on policies and programs that create and foster opportunities for a new generation of farmers and ranchers. Traci also served on and chaired the governance council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, a national grassroots coalition advocating federal policy reform for the sustainability of food systems, natural resources and rural communities.
Before joining SAFSF, Traci was with the Northeast Nebraska Behavioral Health Network as a community outreach director, working to build community supports to foster a pipeline of behavioral and mental healthcare professionals. Prior to that, Traci was the policy director of the Women’s Fund of Omaha, working on a host of policy issues that impact women and girls.
Traci holds a bachelor’s of science from Wayne State College in political science and sociology. She is based in Nebraska, where she lives with her husband, Brian. They recently moved their son, Sam, to CU Boulder, where he is studying vocal performance and opera.
Renee Brooks Catacalos
Senior Director, Membership and Outreach
Renee Brooks Catacalos joined SAFSF in 2019 with decades of experience in association management, communications, and food systems and sustainable agriculture work. In her current position, she is focused on strengthening outreach to members and the broader philanthropic community, creating opportunities for member engagement and benefit, leveraging new resource partnerships, and positioning SAFSF as the leading voice for sustainable agriculture and food systems philanthropy.
Renee is a former Foreign Service officer, having served tours in Mexico City, Mexico and Istanbul, Turkey. She has served in various communications, management and business development capacities with the Houston Association of Realtors, the Houston International Protocol Alliance, VOLLMER Public Relations, Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, and the American Institute of Architects, Potomac Valley Chapter. Additionally, Renee was publisher and editor of Edible Chesapeake magazine from 2006-2009 and has served on the boards of ECO City Farms, FRESHFARM Markets, and the Neighborhood Design Center. She is currently on the Steering Team of the Chesapeake Foodshed Network (CFN). Her first book, The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local, was published in October 2018 by Johns Hopkins University Press.
Renee is a graduate of the University of Virginia and works remotely from her home in University Park, Maryland, when she is not traveling to meet with funders across the country.
Virginia Clarke is the executive director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), a network of grantmakers working to strengthen connections, build capacity, and foster collaboration of the philanthropic and investment communities in support of vibrant, healthy and just food and farm systems. She has led the network in its growth and impact since starting with SAFSF in 2003 as a part-time coordinator.
Prior to SAFSF, she worked with a variety of international education programs including the University of California’s Education Abroad Program as the regional director assistant for Asia and Africa, and the Salzburg Seminar in Austria where she was a program director and led outreach efforts in Latin America. Other life/work opportunities involved a stint at the World Bank; leading a management reorganization for a private clothing manufacturer; assisting immigrants in their efforts to secure legal residency in the U.S.; and creating/running a restitution project for juvenile offenders in Western Massachusetts. Her fluency in Spanish stems from living and working in Spain, Bolivia and Mexico.
Virginia has a Masters in International Administration from the School for International Training and a B.A. with honors in Spanish from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A TEDx Manhattan alumni (2014), Virginia lives in Santa Barbara, CA and has two daughters.
Susie DiMauro joined the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) staff on a full-time basis in September 2016 after working with SAFSF in various part-time capacities since 2013. She works on many aspects of SAFSF’s core programming, collaborating closely with SAFSF staff and funder planning committees to develop the SAFSF Annual Forum and other programming, including webinars, learning calls, and in-person and online events.
Before joining SAFSF, Susie advanced the goals of mission-driven organizations through nonprofit management, event coordination, and project management with a Ventura County consulting firm. Her past experience includes research projects exploring the historical and ecological dimensions of regional food and agriculture systems, including archival study of small farmers displaced by the creation of Shenandoah National Park. She also coordinated the front office of a dental practice, served as a consultant for the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law, and enjoyed stints with several urban farms, a southern California land trust, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
Susie is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in anthropology and environmental studies. Outside of work, you can find her practicing pilates, connecting with friends and family, dabbling in arts and crafts, and going for long hikes.
Bridget Dobrowski is the Managing Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders. She oversees all aspects of SAFSF’s critical infrastructure including information technology, finances, human resources, and organizational structure and protocols. She’s been with SAFSF for over 10 years and has been involved in every aspect of the organization’s growth and development during that time. Starting in a programmatic role and leading the development of the annual SAFSF Forum, Bridget managed newsletter communications and partnered with members on webinar creation for many years, while also overseeing much of the infrastructure she manages today. She transitioned out of program development when SAFSF spun off from its fiscal sponsor and incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit in 2019.
Bridget has a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Management from the Bren School at the UC Santa Barbara. Prior to working for SAFSF, she led a collaborative network at the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary focused on agriculture’s role in improving water quality along the central coast of California. She also spent three field seasons working for the National Park Service and Forest Service as a biological science technician. She is forever grateful that she got paid to hike and camp in such inspirational environments. Bridget was raised in Montana and Ohio and now resides in Santa Barbara, CA with her partner, wheres she spends her time doing yoga, fixing things around the house, sewing, riding her electric bike, and enjoying the local wineries.
Operations and Management Director
Stacy Nwokochah joined the SAFSF team in September of 2017 and currently serves as their operations and management director. She supports the operations team by managing various aspects in development and maintenance of information technology software, as well as tracking revenue, expenses, governance, and administrative requests. Her responsibilities vary, but she ultimately plays a critical role in maximizing the effectiveness of SAFSF’s core operations.
Prior to joining SAFSF, Stacy had been working primarily in health-related organizations holding technical and administrative positions. She is passionate about the health industry and believes that whether a job indirectly or directly impacts a community, the helping profession is an area of importance. She earned a bachelor’s degree in at the University of California at Santa Barbara and currently pursuing a master’s degree in healthcare operations management at George Washington University. In her college career, she enhanced her academic and leadership skills by being a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. With her previous experience, she appreciates organizations that encourage outreach in various aspects of awareness for the betterment of communities. Independent of her career and academic interests, Stacy enjoys capturing moments in life through photography, traveling/exploring new places, dance, music, fashion, and lifestyle blogs.
Erin Olschewski started with Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) in January 2021. As a Program Director, she will work on existing and future SAFSF programming. Prior to joining our team, Erin oversaw the corporate philanthropy work of a national natural-foods grocery store, establishing partnerships and granting funds to hundreds of small nonprofits each year. She also developed mission-driven marketing, employee scholarship, and food bank donation programs during her tenure. Previous to that work, Erin managed partnerships, communications, food desert farm stands, fundraising events, and more for an urban farm and youth development nonprofit.
Erin holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Utah where she focused her studies on food justice and social change. As a student, she explored the impact of entertainment education on nutrition, sustainability, and social justice issues through a research-led thesis. She also co-launched a successful campaign for more sustainable, humane, fair, and nutritious food on campus. After graduating she joined the field team of the national nonprofit and movement-leader, Real Food Challenge. She traveled the west educating students about topics like corporate consolidation and empowered them to develop campaigns for better school food systems in partnership with diverse community stakeholders.
Erin grew up in Moab, Utah but currently lives in Boulder, Colorado. When she’s not working, Erin enjoys cooking and baking new recipes, frequenting farmers markets, and tending to her many houseplants.
During her time with CFA, she led and supported the completion of five Community Food System Assessments that displayed a snapshot of how a food system interacts within a targeted geographic area. While serving as the communications lead for CFA, Maggie managed and supported Breaking Beans: The Farm and Food Story Project, which captured the stories of many Kentuckians who are impacting the food and farm system. The most recent publishing of the project focused on the intersection of policy issues impacting both rural and urban communities. Throughout her time at CFA, she deepened her network through participating in What’s Next East Kentucky, Central Appalachian Network, EKY Just Transition Network, and more. Those networks deepened her love of the Appalachian region and understanding the food systems that weave it together.
She comes from a long line of farmers, gardeners, and cooks. They passed down to her their love for the land, their passion for people, and their way of connecting the two through food. Due to the way she was raised, she always knew she wanted to pursue a career that preserves, educates, and strengthens the local farm and food system. Maggie holds a B.S. in Agriculture & Natural Resources from Berea College. As a student, she traveled to Greece for a study abroad focused on food and farm systems. During her time there, her beliefs in the power of good food and storytelling were reaffirmed and transcended cultures. Her time abroad increased her passion for agriculture.
Maggie grew up on a tobacco farm in Bethel, Kentucky. She currently resides in Lexington, Kentucky with her partner, Austin, and their dog, Chip. In her free time, she enjoys trying new recipes, reading, and traveling.
Throughout her time at CFA, she deepened her network through participating in What’s Next East Kentucky, Central Appalachian Network, EKY Just Transition Network, and more. Those networks deepened her love of the Appalachian region and understanding the food systems that weave it together.