photo credit: Angela Cardinali

Team

BAV’s board of directors, advisory committee and staff team include a number of local community and regional innovators, as well as leaders and entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to the local economy. Together, these individuals are strengthening organizations, institutions, businesses and other community assets throughout the region. We appreciate the time, support and dedication that our board of directors and advisory board members give to our organization.

Board of Directors

Tom Gardner, Board President

  • Principal Owner, Gardner Pie Company
  • Manages a small farm where he raises Clun Forest sheep and Golden Guernsey goats, Italian Maremma guard dogs and Australian Shepherds.
  • Resides in Richmond, MA

Don Perdue, Board Vice President

  • Nationally honored photographer with permanent collections in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and The International Center for Photography
  • Resides in Sheffield, MA

Jennifer Dowley, Board Clerk

Dan Schaeffer, Board Treasurer

  • Co-founder & Chief Investment Officer, EvoQue Investments

Rachel Moriarty

  • Director of Operations at the Schumacher Center
  • Holds a B.S. in Sustainable Food & Farming from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Maryann Tebben

  • Professor of French at Bard College at Simon’s Rock
  • Head of the Center for Food Studies at Simon’s Rock
  • Author of Sauces: A Global History

David Valicenti

Advisory Committee

Jeffrey Blaugrund, Founder of Braise Worthy

Neil Chrisman, Founding Director of BAV

Will Conklin, Founder & Executive Director at Greenagers

David Curtis, Founder & Chief Catalyst at Cape Catalyst LLC

Brian Donahue, Associate Professor of American Environmental Studies at Brandeis University

Ben Lamb, Director of Economic Development at 1Berkshire

Nick Moore, Dairy Farmer and recipient of the Working Lands Alliance Farmland Preservation Pathfinder Award.

Jamie Samowitz, Founder & Executive Director of Roots Rising

Chris Weld, Founder & Distiller at Berkshire Mountain Distillers

Staff

Cynthia Pansing, Executive Director

From her first taste of foraged berries and dandelion greens as a child to her acquaintance with cattle herders in Europe and West Africa, locally harvested and produced food and the way it connects people to each other and to the land is a longstanding passion for Cynthia Pansing.

Cynthia brings more than 20 years of experience providing leadership and strategic direction to nonprofit and public organizations working on food systems and sustainable agriculture in Massachusetts and communities across the U.S. She has engaged farmers, food businesses and associations, foundations, nonprofit organizations, government agencies and universities to forge sustainable agricultural strategies and enterprises. A special area of interest is harnessing community assets to finance and stimulate sustainable enterprise development that forge more resilient communities.

Prior to joining Berkshire Agricultural Ventures, Cynthia served for more than a decade as principal and later CEO of Changing Tastes, a national food and sustainable agriculture consulting firm. As CEO, she advised clients including foundations such as the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, nonprofits and food and agricultural businesses.

Among these clients was a partnership of five North American cities – San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Minneapolis and Vancouver – under the aegis of the Urban Sustainability Directors Network and the Surdna and Summit Foundations. Through this partnership, Cynthia led the creation of A Roadmap for City Food Sector Innovation and Investment, a nationally recognized report that offers new tools to guide city planning and economic development around food and agriculture.

Cynthia holds BA and MA degrees in Anthropology, and an MA in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of California at Los Angeles. She is a Fellow with Virginia Tech’s Center for Leadership in Global Sustainability and the International Sustainability Leaders Network. As a volunteer at her daughter’s school, she created a now operational community teaching garden with teachers, parents and staff at the school. Cynthia lives with her family in West Stockbridge, MA

 

Gena Johnson, Office Manager

Gena is a Berkshire native, born and raised in Pittsfield, MA, where she now resides with her family.  Homemade food prepared with love and tradition have always been the hub of community in her world. From chomping on fresh mint while learning how to harvest carrots from her grandpa’s garden to making homemade sausage in her Italian great-aunt’s kitchen every fall in anticipation of the upcoming holiday feasts, fresh food and family have gone hand-in-hand since childhood.

After graduating from Westfield State University with a degree in English/Theatre Arts and a handful of professional stage management credits on her resume, Gena moved to Southwestern PA and found herself working as an administrative assistant at a small but growing defense contractor focused on innovative technology development.  It became apparent that Ph.D.s and artists are not all that different, nor are the skills needed to support their work, and in short order she was in a high ranking leadership position on the team.  After a decade of grantswriting, contracting, program management and every facet of operational support, she left that company to raise her family in the place that has always been home, the Berkshires.

Gena is excited to be a part of the BAV team as office manager, supporting daily operations as well as ongoing and new project logistics.

 

Emil Ghitman Gilkes, Research Analyst

Emil is a recent graduate of Skidmore College with a Bachelor’s of Arts in Political Science, concentrating in Statistics. He brings an extensive and varied body of work/internship experience focusing on data analysis across industries that includes work with the MA Immigrant and Refugee Advocacy Coalition in Boston, Sachs Insights in New York and Common Cause in Boston. As a Program Associate with Leading Cities, Emil authored a case study on growth potential, logistics and barriers to urban agriculture in Boston (Smart Agriculture in Boston). Emil is based in Sheffield, MA and was a 2018 summer intern with BAV. His research focused on an analysis of the local market and demand for food produced through aquaponics and/or hydroponics and the season extension impact on the Berkshire region. His strengths in data analysis, experimental research and data storytelling/visualization is a welcome complement to the BAV team!

 

Dan Carr, Outreach & Technical Assistance Coordinator

BAV is currently supported by a small but growing team who provide targeted assistance to us and to farmers and food entrepreneurs. We’re a growing organization. If you are interested in working with BAV, please contact us at email hidden; JavaScript is required.