Speakers – Home
August 13, 2019



Aaron Flake
Administrative Services Analyst
Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, Community Outreach Branch

Aaron Flake started his Career serving honorably in the United States Marine Corps. Since his beginnings, he has worked in the telecommunications industry, the IT industry working for the Riverside County Fire Department and as a Firefighter, and also worked as a sales trainer with The Press-Enterprise and in commercial real estate. Currently Aaron serves as an Administrative Services Analyst with the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services, Community Outreach Branch. With his degree in public administration from California Baptist University, Aaron continues to advocate for the low-income population in Riverside County through various community projects. His recent project lead on the CalFresh-Farmers Market initiative assisted farmers’ market managers and owners to accept CalFresh benefits at their markets allowing local farmers to purchase equipment with no transaction fees, no maintenance fee, and no equipment fees – promoting federal benefits at a local level.

Allison Paap
Vice President-Lending Manager
American AgCredit

As Vice President-Lending Manager at American AgCredit, Allison Paap helps provide financing for all segments of agriculture in Riverside, San Bernardino, Orange, Los Angeles, and San Diego Counties.  With 17 years of experience in agricultural finance, Allison has been an active participant in the Southern California agricultural community.  She has had the opportunity to serve on the San Diego County Farm Bureau Board, serve as a member of California Women for Agriculture, and participate in a variety of local conferences and agricultural events.  Allison uses her local knowledge and experience to serve as a resource to both young, beginning, and small farmers, and to Southern California farmers developing non-traditional marketing and sales channels.  In her spare time, Allison enjoys spending time with her husband and two daughters.  Allison is a graduate of Arizona State University with a degree in Agribusiness.

Arthur Levine
Co-Founder and Projects Manager/Development Manager
Huerta del Valle

Starting as a student in New York City in 2008, Arthur has built a strong knowledge of sustainable community gardening. From 2008 to 2011, Levine worked summers at community gardens in NYC and organized youth service-learning trips to New Orleans to learn and combat systemic racial and environmental justice challenges from Hurricane Katrina. Spending extended time at Our School at Blair Grocery, a Growing Power ROTC, Levine trained in sustainable urban agriculture and applied it as a tool for education, public health, economic development, and organization. Levine graduated Pitzer College in 2014 with a degree in Neuroscience and collaborated with Pitzer and the City of Ontario to co-found Huerta del Valle. Arthur's work has created a large urban composting operation, the development of a working urban farm and community garden, over $2 million through grants and partnerships, and the acquisition of over 40 acres of land for the Huerta del Valle farm.

Betsy Barone
Senior Environmental Health Specialist
Riverside County Department of Environmental Health

Betsy Barone is a senior environmental health specialist with the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health.  For over 20 years, she has worked in the District Environmental Services Division, which protects the public health and safety through the regulation and inspection of retail food operations, public pools, and tobacco retailers.  She is currently serving as the secretary of the Citrus Chapter of the California Environmental Health Association and is a Master Gardener in the University of California Cooperative Extension (UCCE) Master Gardener Program.  She received her B.S. at UC Riverside and a Masters of Public Health from Loma Linda School of Public Health.  Betsy currently resides in Riverside with her husband Dan, two Boston Terriers and a cat.

Brit Steele
Systems Architect
Growing Hope Project

Brit Steele is the Systems Architect for the Growing Hope Project that focuses on growing community across educational and economic engagement through STEM, Career-Ready & Life Skills for the underserved which started at San Andreas High School.  He is also the Chief Innovation Officer at Night Owl Bay, a Female Minority Owned Marketing Firm for Small Businesses and Economic Development Projects. Prior to this, Brit has been part of launching Non-Profit and Community Initiatives as well as serving as Project and Development Director for several organizations.  Brit also has an extensive background in disaster preparedness and response leading out in organizations involved with September 11, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ike in the United States as well as international development projects in a number of other countries.

His focuses are where quality of life, economic development, and community wealth building intersect. 

Carla Panzera
Business Development Officer

Carla Panzera brings with her twelve years of experience in financial consulting, underwriting, marketing, and business development from her previous positions in banking and other community microlenders. In her career, Carla coordinated training events, conducted one-on-one consulting with business owners, and evaluated the financial health of small businesses in the region. Carla is also a small business owner through her wedding officiant company, My Dream Ceremony, where she caters to the diverse wedding vow and ceremony needs of the Inland Empire and Northern San Diego county couples since 2005. She holds a tax preparer license, notary public license along with a Business Administration bachelor’s degree from California State University in San Bernardino. 

Christy Porter
Hidden Harvest

Christy was a long-time photojournalist starting in her native Kentucky, then in Los Angeles and Seattle. She fell in love with anti-hunger advocacy along the way, and has devoted her professional life to food justice for the past 25 years. Christy founded Hidden Harvest in the Coachella Valley in 2000. Hidden Harvest is produce rescue organization that “rescues” healthy local produce from the fields and packing houses of the Coachella Valley and distributes it free of charge through the local area. Hidden Harvest produce finds itself on the plates of 50,000 on average each month. Hidden Harvest has rescued over 20 million pounds of produce from being wasted in their 20 years of operation. They are the only produce organization in the country who pay their harvesters and do not rely on unskilled farm labor. This professional labor pool has made the phenomenal 20 million pounds of produce possible.

David Villarino Gonzalez
President of the Board of Directors and CEO
Farmworker Institute of Education and Leadership Development (FIELD Institute)

David is President of the Board of Directors and Chief Executive Officer of the Farmworker Institute of Education and Leadership Development (FIELD Institute), a 501 (c) 3 charitable and educational non-profit organization, founded by Cesar E. Chavez in 1978. David is the son-in-law of Cesar Chavez and Helen Chavez and the grandson of Juan De Dios Gonzalez, a farmworker organizer in San Diego in 1930. David began his career working for Cesar Chavez in San Diego and Boston in 1972 and 1973. After years with Cesar Chavez, David worked as a regional manager for the UFW from 1979 to 1984. In 1984, David enrolled at California State University – Fresno, graduating in 1987. He was hired by Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis to direct his presidential campaigns in Maine, Colorado, Arizona and parts of California. From 1989 to 1997 David represented state and municipal employees for SEIU local 1000. In 1997 he returned to the UFW as National Membership Director and assumed the directorship of FIELD in 2000. 

Deborah Ghamlouch
Farmer and Board Member (RFSA)

Twenty years ago, Deborah and her husband took over the family orange grove, started to diversify and converted it to a certified organic operation. It’s been a continual learning process and a wonderful experience. Along the way, they have experimented with all their favorite fruits and vegetables and everything that grows from October to June when they sell their products at farmers markets. In addition to her board positions on the RFSA and Riverside Food Coop, she is a master food preserver, soap maker, beekeeper and recently became a certified produce safety instructor. Still on the wishlist is raising sheep for fiber and learning how to spin wool. When not busy on the farm, Deborah and her family enjoy traveling to exotic places, exploring farmers markets and discovering new varieties to eat and grow.

Donna Clements
Southwest Regional Extension Associate
Produce Safety Alliance (PSA)

Donna Clements has served as the Produce Safety Alliance (PSA) Southwest Regional Extension Associate since 2015. Based in Riverside, California, Donna’s role with PSA is to offer training courses on the FSMA Produce Safety Rule, provide technical assistance to growers and produce safety educators, and develop educational food safety resources. Before joining PSA she worked at the University of Maryland as a produce safety trainer. Donna's research included studying the effects of production practices and region on the microbial populations of fresh market crops and surveying the microbial quality of Maryland agricultural water sources. Donna's involvement in the fresh produce industry began while working on her family's fruit and vegetable farm. She received both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees in Plant Science from the University of Maryland.

Dr. Kasey Wilson
Director of Professional Programs
University of California, Riverside

Dr. Kasey Wilson is a an higher education leader who is committed to supporting access to higher education for adult and nontraditional students with a special emphasis on military and veteran student success. She specializes in developing innovative delivery models to enable working adults to engage in life-long learning. She is currently the Director of Professional Programs at UCR Extension where she oversees Certificate Programs designed for working professionals. Previously, she has held leadership positions at other universities and nonprofit organizations. She is the current President of Riverside East Rotary as well as being involved in several community organizations and Boards and is a proud graduate of Leadership Riverside ’18. She has a Doctorate in Education from USC, an MBA from Hawaii Pacific University and a BA in History from CSU San Marcos.

Isaac O'Leary
VP of Marketing

Isaac O'Leary is an advocate of resilient community-run food systems, VP of Marketing for home cook collective Foodnome, and a graduate in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems at UC Davis. He believes that equitable access to the food industry is critical for strengthening our communities.

Joyce Jong
Senior Project Manager
City of Riverside

Joyce Jong is a Senior Project Manager at the City of Riverside and is also a third generation farmer. In her City capacity, Joyce coordinates several food systems projects with partners to advance the development of Riverside’s regional food economy.

Lisa Andrea Marquez
Executive Vice President
Sunrise Produce Company

Lisa Andrea Marquez is the Executive Vice President of Sunrise Produce Company. Lisa began her Sunrise Produce career as a School Specialist (2010-2012), Director of School Sales (2012-2013), before moving on to become Executive Vice President. With over 26 years of food service experience, her dedication and knowledge are why so many customers continue to grow with Sunrise Produce. Lisa has held the role as the California School Nutrition Industry Advisor and is currently an active member and continues to support child nutrition throughout California. She is very involved with child nutrition policy and attends annual Legislative Action Conferences at State and at the National level to support our mission of shaping and impacting child nutrition. 

Lori Butler
Director of Philanthropy
Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino

Lori Butler, CFRE is the Director of Philanthropy at Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino. She has more than 30 years’ experience working with non-profit organizations at various charities throughout Southern California. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from California State University Fullerton, currently teaches event and meeting planning at Cal State University in San Marcos and is a Certified Fundraising Executive. She is a passionate advocate for ending hunger in our communities and is helping to lead efforts to help Feeding America Riverside | San Bernardino expand to reach the growing needs of the hungry in the Inland Empire.

Lorie Brendecke
County of Riverside, Riverside University Health System - Public Health

Lorie Brendecke specializes in working with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) funded nutrition programs for the County of Riverside, Riverside University Health System-Public Health. As a Nutritionist for the Women, Infants and Children (WIC) program, she helps pregnant women, new mothers and young children eat well, stay healthy and be active with peer support, nutrition information and healthy foods. Locally, Lorie coordinates the WIC Farmers Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which increases the purchasing of California Specialty Crops amongst WIC participants. In this role, she provides farmers with education and technical support to accept WIC vouchers. She serves as the lead Market Match liaison in Riverside County providing farmers and farmer market managers with information and support.

Luis Sierra
Assistant Director
CA Center for Cooperative Development

Luis experience spans many sectors between food, agriculture, and cooperatives. His formative years included studies in Agroecology at UC Berkeley, the Composting Collective worker cooperative, and several organic farms in California. Luis then worked at the Rural Development Center in Salinas, CA to train mixed fruit and vegetable farmers to organize their own cooperative and later became an employee of that cooperative. He gained more experience as a farmers’ market organizer and manager with Everyone’s Harvest (Marina, CA) and Davis Farmers Market. As a cooperative developer, he focuses on helping growers start farms and marketing cooperatives.  In his personal life, he’s a member of Dos Pinos Limited Equity Housing Cooperative (and treasurer).

María Alonso
Huerta Del Valle

My name is María Alonso, I was born in 1964, and I grew up from humble beginnings in a small town called Vista Hermosa, Michoacán. I am the ninth of 18 siblings, and also the oldest of my sisters. My original studies focused on nursing, and my first volunteer opportunity was with the Mexican Red Cross. After a few years volunteering, I worked in a private hospital in the city of La Barca Jalisco, Mexico. In 1989, with a heavy heart, I immigrated to the United States. In 1993, with my now-husband, we decided to move to Ontario, California where I was able to focus on growing and maintaining community gardens. In 2010, I made the big decision to found Huerta Del Valle. Today, Huerta Del Valle prospers with the help of our partners: City of Ontario, Pitzer College, Kaiser Permanente, and many community members who have supported us since the beginning of our organization.

Mort Bernstein
Former Manager
Santa Monica Downtown Farmer's Market

Mort Bernstein, the longtime manager of the Santa Monica Downtown Farmers' Market, has earned a reputation as a serious, highly professional manager who does not suffer fools gladly. He is thoughtful and intense, with a wry sense of humor, but he can be sarcastic in responding to what he perceives to be inane comments or demands. He cares greatly about market integrity, and over the years he ejected from the market more than half a dozen farmers he believed were selling purchased produce as their own. He devised a system of pennants on poles to identify organic growers at the market and designed a market kiosk at which customers can look up the farming practices used by each grower.

Olivia Sanchez
Recycling & Solid Waste Programs - Administrative Analyst
City of Riverside

Olivia Sanchez launched her career in the solid waste and recycling field in 1999, working in both the public and private sector. She had a tremendous opportunity to learn grant management and program implementation in the areas of household hazardous waste, solid waste and recycling program planning/implementation, waste/recycling analysis, school gardening education, composting, marketing, environmental outreach, and education. As her career progressed, she retained those skills and grew them to include franchise contract compliance, green building education, construction/demolition programs, landfill diversion programs, food rescue programs, and legislative compliance.

Paula Muskey
Arlan Knutson Insurance Agency

Paula Muskey started in the insurance industry in 1981 with CalFarm Insurance Company owned by the California Farm Bureau. Over the years the company has been bought and sold several times and now is owned by Nationwide Insurance. She is a partner in Arlan Knutson Insurance Agency, Inc. located in Moreno Valley. Paula has been very involved with the Farm Bureau over the years and has voting memberships in Riverside and Los Angeles Counties. She is licensed in five States and has a large Farm and Ranch book of business. Paula is one of 120 agents with Nationwide in the country that has achieved Elite status by attending several years of seminars sponsored by Nationwide. She has also received her AFIS designation which is a continuing education program geared towards Farm and Ranch agents.

Patrick Mitchell
Programs Small Farm and Sustainable Agriculture Instructor
Five Keys Schools

Patrick Mitchell is the Five Keys Schools and Programs Small farm and Sustainable Agriculture Instructor at Wayside Farm School, and represents the fifth generation of his family to work in American Agriculture. He is the author of two books and more than a dozen articles. Patrick has 20 plus years of experience in ecological horticulture and land-based education. He has managed public parks and natural areas, resort landscapes, historic sites and horse ranches. For the past decade, Patrick has taken a hands-on role in various market scale farm operations including growing and selling culinary herbs, citrus, diversified vegetables and specialty crops. He is a scholar of the relationship between nature and culture and believes deeply in the transformative power of putting ones hands in the soil.

Scott Berndt
Operator and Board Member (RFSA)
Fox Farm

Scott Berndt - operator of Fox Farm, a 2.5-acre urban farm in Riverside. Scott grew up on a Dairy/beef/grain farm in South Dakota. Moved to California in 1987 and worked in restaurant and Hotel Management until becoming the Food Hub Coordinator for RUSD in 2017. Board member Riverside Food Coop, Riverside Food Systems Alliance, Sherman Indian High School Agricultural Task Force.

Socorro Caraveo
Assistant Eligibility Supervisor
Riverside County Department of Public Social Services

Socorro Caraveo started her career at 21 working as an advocate for Alternatives to Domestic Violence with the Department of Public Social Services, running a shelter for women with children. She continued her career working as an Eligibility Technician at the Riverside County Regional Medical Center, working with staff to ensure that all patients had sufficient medical coverage. She then worked as a Business Analyst for the C-IV consortium, working on a state-funded CalSAWS (Statewide Automated Welfare System) program that would support all 58 Counties. Currently, Socorro is part of the COB (Community Outreach Branch) Unit that works out of the Riverside County Department of Public Social Services Administration. Her position entails giving presentations on Medi-Cal and CalFresh, trainings for Community Based Organizations, and participating in events within the County providing brochures, promoting resources, acquiring applications, answering public questions, and assisting County cases.

Sue Struthers
Chair (RFSA) and Treasurer (Riverside Food Co-op)
Riverside Food Systems Alliance and Riverside Food Co-op

Sue Struthers is passionate about growing, cooking, sharing, eating, rescuing and talking about food. Sue is the Chair of the Riverside Food Systems Alliance and Treasurer of the Riverside Food Co-op. Sue is a retired librarian and an avid reader.