photo credit: Angela Cardinali


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

  • Founder, New England Heritage Breeds Conservancy
  • Principal Owner, Gardner Pie Company, Ohio
  • 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

Jennifer Dowley, Board Vice President

  • Principal, Dowley Associates
  • Board Member, Civitella Ranieri Foundation
  • Board Member, The Wassaic Project
  • Advisor, Artist-Endowed Foundations Initiative
  • Former President, Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation
  • Former Director of Museums and Visual Arts at the National Endowment for the Arts in Washington, DC
  • First Executive Director of Headlands Center for the Arts in the San Francisco Bay Area
  • Former Coordinator, Art in Public Places Program with the Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission
  • Former Director, Arts on the Line with the Cambridge Arts Council
  • Resides in Millertown, NY

Neil Chrisman, Board Treasurer

  • Co-Founder, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures
  • Board Member and former Chair, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
  • Former Board Member, Berkshire Grown
  • Former Advisory Board Member, The Carrot Project
  • Former Board Member and Chair, Brooklyn Academy of Music
  • Supporter, Sheffield Land Trust, Berkshire Natural Resources Council
  • Former Managing Director, JP Morgan
  • BA, Princeton University; MBA, New York University, STERN School of Business
  • Resides in Sheffield, MA and New York City, NY

Don Perdue, Board Clerk

  • Nationally honored photographer with permanent collections in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and The International Center for Photography
  • Board Member, Nutmeg Conservatory
  • Photographed for Thirteen/WNET (Newshour, Cavett, Nature, Dance in America, Great Performances, American Playhouse and Bill Moyers), CBS, NBC, ABC, HBO, BBC, NHK and Warner Brothers
  • Resides in Sheffield, MA

Joel Millonzi, External Advisor, Former Board Member

  • Co-Founder, Berkshire Agricultural Ventures
  • Former Board Member, Berkshire Grown
  • Former Advisory Board Member, The Carrot Project
  • Supporter, Berkshire Natural Resources Council
  • Former Professor of Economics, CUNY; Head, Global Financial Service, TMP/; Partner, Financial Service Practice, Heidrick and Struggles
  • BA, Boston College; MA and EdD, Columbia University
  • Resides in Naples, FL

Advisory Committee

BAVs Advisory Committee will include regional innovators, leaders and entrepreneurs who are making significant contributions to the local food economy. Details to come.


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.

Bryan Petrucci, Program and Technical Assistance

Bryan Petrucci is an agricultural consultant based in Southfield, MA. With special expertise in sustainable farming systems, natural and grass-based livestock management, livestock slaughter and processing operations and business planning, Bryan has farmer, landowner, nonprofit and corporate clients throughout the northeastern U.S.

As director of the American Farmland Trust’s (AFT) Farms Division, Bryan was responsible for the management of AFT demonstration and research farms. Other positions at AFT included serving as director of resource conservation and sustainable agriculture programs and Midwest operations.

Bryan began his career working as resource conservationist for the McHenry County Soil and Water Conservation District in Woodstock, IL. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies from the University of Illinois Springfield.

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!

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.