August 14, 2012
The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a national nonprofit organization incorporated in 2006, is proud to announce that Jennifer O’Brien will serve as Interim Executive Director Through January 7th, 2013. Jen will build on the successful four-year tenure of FMC’s outgoing Executive Director, Stacy Miller. She will help guide the FMC through a leadership transition, while continuing to carry out its mission of strengthening farmers markets across the country for the mutual benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities.
O’Brien is a lifelong farmers market patron and volunteer, who has integrated a passion for food policy into her work in communications and planning. While with AECOM, an urban planning and landscape architecture firm outside of Washington, DC, O’Brien worked with the National Park Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and numerous nonprofit and private organizations to create civic meeting spaces, preserve natural areas, and design parks and gardens all over the US. Specializing in communication design and outreach, she worked closely with community stakeholders to research and distill data, build consensus, create educational materials, and craft plans and policies. Throughout these initiatives, O’Brien advocated for the inclusion of farmers markets, and publicized their many benefits.
“The ultimate goal of urban planning is to improve the social, environmental and economic health of our communities. While there are thousands of wonderful programs working to better our cities and neighborhoods, I am most impressed with the comprehensive and direct impact that a farmers market can have on its region.” says Interim Executive Director Jen O’Brien.
O’Brien holds a master’s degree in urban and environmental planning from the University of Virginia, where she concentrated in sustainable food systems. O’Brien has partnered with local and national organizations to write reports on agricultural policies and practices, regional food distribution methods, federal farming initiatives, and sustainable food production. Some of her research included working with the Philadelphia Food Trust to collect data on EBT usage at farmers markets across the country, assessing the food security of coal mining towns in Southwest Virginia, and test piloting a comprehensive food policy audit.
O’Brien’s projects have received numerous awards, including ICLEI’s Sustainable Leadership Award for Outreach Innovation, and a Downtown DC Business Improvement District Momentum Award. Her research on food policy auditing has been published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD).
“FMC’s leadership in advocacy, data collection, networking, and outreach give market managers, vendors and patrons the tools to capitalize on the strengths of their markets, as well as identify and act upon opportunities for growth. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to join in this exciting effort, and will work closely with the board members, staff, and partners to provide the highest level of service to the farmers market community.”
The Farmers Market Coalition (FMC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets for the benefit of farmers, consumers, and communities. For more information about the Farmers Market Coalition, including please visit their website at http://www.farmersmarketcoalition.org.