Pledge to share your homegrown produce

Pledge A Pound

Our Team

Fresh Food Connect is home to people who are tackling food insecurity by linking home gardeners with food rescue organizations.

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    Kayla Birdsong
    Chief Executive Officer

    Kayla joined Fresh Food Connect in the summer of 2021 as CEO and is looking forward to using her experience to scale Fresh Food Connect nationally.

    Kayla has dedicated her career to innovative solutions to improving food access and security in the nonprofit sector.

    In her recent eight year tenure at The GrowHaus, where she served as Executive Director for four years, she collaboratively built up a food system in a food desert in NE Denver including elements of farming and production, food aggregation, distribution, retail, education and community outreach.

    Since 2018, Kayla has served on the board of advisors for Planet2Plate, a NY social enterprise launching a food incubator in Milwaukee.

    Kayla studied business management, has a certificate in Permaculture Design, and speaks Spanish.  

    Her dog Beanie is her best friend, and she loves meditating and vegetarian cooking.

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    Laura Lavid
    PRODUCT & OPERATIONS DIRECTOR

    Laura joined Fresh Food Connect in 2019 as the Product and Operations Director and is excited to provide more opportunities to connect food and community nationwide.

    Laura has almost 20 years of experience in community based food work, including Denver Urban Gardens, American Community Gardening Association, Florida Organic Growers and Sprout City Farms. 

    Outside of work, you’ll find Laura in the garden or in the kitchen finding new ways to prepare vegetables.

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    Naomi Hansen
    Marketing Director

    Naomi joined Fresh Food Connect as Marketing Director in 2022 to expand the reach and impact of Fresh Food Connect and its Operators. 

    Prior to joining Fresh Food Connect, Naomi founded a consultancy supporting food system change agents, and served as Marketing Director for Planetary CARE, a regenerative agriculture startup. 

    Naomi’s passion for food systems change stems from her many years as a senior leader in marketing and innovation at Dole Packaged Foods, where she gained a deep understanding of the ways our food system is failing both people and planet. 

    Naomi holds an MBA in Marketing and Strategy from the Wharton School, and a BSBA in Marketing and International Business from Georgetown University. 

    A proud mom of 2, Naomi loves getting her kids out hiking, climbing, and digging in the dirt around her native plant and veggie gardens.

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    CARMEN ALCANTARA
    DENVER PROGRAM MANAGER

    Carmen joined Fresh Food Connect as the Denver Program Manager in August 2023 and is increasing awareness among the local gardening community to re-energize and accelerate their impact among Denverites. 

    She brings a well-rounded background in hospitality and a passion for community engagement. Fluent in English and Spanish, she aims to fulfill Fresh Food Connect’s mission by connecting diverse communities and fostering a resilient and inclusive local food system.

    Carmen enjoys paddleboarding on Colorado’s beautiful lakes and reservoirs, accompanied by her dog Miso. She also loves expressing her creative side when cooking for family and friends.

Board of Directors

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    Jack Fritzinger
    President

    Jack is an entrepreneur and ecosystem builder focused on tackling climate change. Through his work with leading climate organizations, Jack builds communities, designs programs, and develops partnerships aimed at leveraging the power of startups to overcome our planet's biggest challenges. He believes that strong, local communities are the foundation for high-impact work, and is thrilled to support Fresh Food Connect as we scale our community-centered model for reimagining a healthy, local, and climate-friendly food system for all.  

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    Andrew Conklin
    Member

    Andrew has worked on startup, enterprise, and government software projects in fitness, healthcare, life sciences, and financial services after receiving his computer science degree. Andrew was a cofounder and former CTO of a fitness studio management software-as-a-service startup where he captured 12,000 DC wellness minded user accounts, $1.5 million of local business cash flow, and about a half million tracked group exercise minutes per quarter lifetime average. More recently, Andrew has been working as a freelancer providing virtual CTO services and technical advisory to multiple early ventures in DC and Nashville focusing on Telehealth, Virtual Reality, and Legal products. Andrew brings unique and valuable experience that he is eager to apply to Fresh Food Conenct’s technology. 

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    ASH GANAPATHIRAJU
    Member

    Ash is a business leader, strategic thinker and relationship-builder based in Seattle and focusing on climate action through food. She is founder of Ojawse Co, a regenerative food company. Over the last 10+ years, she has delivered successful products and solutions in a range of roles across Consulting, Sales Analytics, Channel Planning, Go-To-Market, and Brand Management. She has worked to successfully build diversity and inclusion into the heart of business solutions, including leading workplace advocacy efforts as the president of the Nestle LGBTQ Pride Alliance and lead for Nestle's Gender Balance Network.  

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    Terrance Grady
    Member

    Terrance has spent the better part of the last decade working as a dedicated professional in small business finance. Outside of his 9 to 5, he's worked alongside his spouse to cultivate a thriving backyard garden that provides food for them and enables them to donate from their garden to their community. Passionate about community well-being and eager to make a broader impact, Terrance is thrilled to build on his work with Fresh Food Connect as a donating gardener by bringing his experience in finance and commitment to food access to the Board of Directors. 

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    James Iacino
    Member

     James is a 3rd generation Coloradan and former owner of Seattle Fish Company, a business born and raised in Colorado since 1918 and founded by James’ grandfather Mose, an Italian immigrant. James started his journey at Seattle Fish Company by loading and then driving trucks before working his way up through the sales office and finally to the position of Chairman & CEO, where he successfully scaled the company. James is a leader on sustainability. He directed Seattle Fish Company’s efforts around traceability and responsible sourcing. For his success as CEO of Seattle Fish Company, James was named EY Entrepreneur of the Year in 2016 and Colorado State University’s Graduate of the Last Decade. Governor John Hickenlooper recognized James’ accomplishments and appointed him to the Governor’s Fellowship Program from 2017-2018 to enlist his help in solving the state’s most challenging issues and leading opportunities for growth and innovation. James has come to Fresh Food Connect with extensive nonprofit board experience, specifically within food access and education. He is the Founder and Chairman of the Green & Gold Foundation, benefiting Colorado State University, James’ Alma Mater. He currently serves as Past President for YPO Colorado, driving organizational vision and leading an exceptional group of business leaders throughout the state, and now chairs TIGER21, a confidential and private peer-to-peer learning group regarding investments.

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    Emily Olsen
    Member

     Emily is equally as passionate about finding the best slice of pizza as she is about making sure that it has a positive impact on our environment. Through her work in food access Emily has become increasingly interested in ensuring that our food system promotes the health of people, communities and our planet. With a background in health equity and food justice she has worked with communities across the country to create their own healthier futures. She helped found Fresh Food Connect while working with Denver Food Rescue. Currently she is the Director of Cloud City Conservation Center in Leadville, CO. Ultimately Emily believes that our own individual health is not separate from the health of our communities or our planet. She loves nothing more than a day skiing or running in the mountains followed by pizza topped with veggies from her garden, and making sure that neither her adventures or her food had a negative impact on the environment or the communities connected to it. 

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    Ben Weinberg
    Member

    Ben has spent his career in technology startups and is the founder of Encircle, a wellness app that helps grievers get sustained support from their closest friends and family, long after the funeral is over. He's drawn to unifying human experiences, whether it's exploring mortality or how food gets to our plates. When Ben isn't building Encircle, you can find him surfing, playing guitar, or planting food crops in his garden. Ben also has become a volunteer leader of a family foundation, working to evolve their grantmaking efforts towards trust-based philanthropy and shared intentionality. 

Past Board Members

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    Turner Wyatt

     

    Turner was co-founder of Fresh Food Connect on behalf of Denver Food Rescue, and served as our founding board president until 2023. 

    Turner is an award winning social entrepreneur turned social enterprise strategist, executive coach, and philanthropic advisor. He has started a number of successful businesses and nonprofits mostly focused on solutions to food waste, including previous roles at Upcycled Food Association (co-founder and CEO), Denver Food Rescue (co-founder and Executive Director), Abarrotes Bondadosa (co-founder and board president), Hibbert’s Twice Rounds (co-founder), Dirtbag vans (co-founder), and the Denver Sustainable Food Policy Council (member).

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    Michael Buchenau

    Michael was the Executive Director of Denver Urban Gardens (DUG) for over 26 years, where he collaborated with community members to design, build and steward DUG’s metro-wide network of community gardens and community farms. He holds a Masters degree in Landscape Architecture from Harvard University and a BSLA from Colorado State University. 

    He is a past recipient of the Colorado Public Health Association’s Florence Sabin Award in recognition of his leadership in improving public health through gardens and sustainable food systems.

    Michael has also served on Denver’s Sustainable Food Policy Council and Denver Water’s Citizen’s Advisory Committee, and he was a founding board member of several grassroots organizations, including Groundwork Denver and Fresh Food Connect. 

    Michael is a native of Denver, and is currently working as a lead designer for the top design-build landscape firm in the MetroArea - Designscapes Colorado. He loves to spend his free time gardening, skiing, hiking, golfing and fly-fishing with his wife and four children.

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    CINDY CHANG

    Cindy is Groundwork Denver's Executive Director and has been serving Groundwork Denver in various roles since 2010, including as a volunteer, Board, and staff member. Cindy has a background in nonprofit management, philanthropy, and has a deep passion for the environment. She earned a Masters in Business Administration from the Yale School of Management and a Masters in Environmental Management at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. She also has a B.A. from Tufts University.