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
- Principal, Dowley Associates Consulting
- Resides in Millertown, NY
Dan Schaeffer, Board Treasurer
- Co-founder & Chief Investment Officer, EvoQue Investments
- Director of Operations at the Schumacher Center
- Holds a B.S. in Sustainable Food & Farming from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst
- 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
- Attorney at Cohen Kinne Valicenti Cook, specializing in business and real estate
- Avid supporter of local food
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
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