LEAP Staff and Board Members

Staff

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Maureen Best, Executive Director

Maureen loves food- thinking about food, growing food, eating food, cooking food and, of course, buying local food at the LEAP Community Markets. Maureen has over twelve years of experience working with food, agriculture and community. Her work and professional experience is wide-ranging and includes teaching high school agriculture in Raleigh, NC, working with migrant farmworkers in eastern NC and in the Colorado plains, doing food safety inspections in Boulder CO, and studying the economic viability of the local food system in Northern Colorado. Maureen has a MA in Anthropology from Colorado State University and undergraduate degrees in Agriculture Education, Spanish, and Anthropology from North Carolina State University. Maureen and her family love Roanoke and are happy to call Southwestern Virginia home. You can contact Maureen at maureen@leapforlocalfood.org.

Sam Lev

Sam Lev, Market and Kitchen Coordinator

Sam Lev and his wife are relatively new to southwest Virginia and love calling Roanoke home. Having spent 7 years as a professional pastry chef, Sam is a food lover, a home cook, and always interested in new food adventures around the house. His current projects include growing fruit trees and raising ducks for eggs! Sam has a degree in History from Appalachian State University, was born in Georgia, and has lived in many states across the country from Alaska to New York. He is also an avid runner and hiker, enjoying everything the mountains around the Roanoke Valley have to offer. You can contact Sam at sam@leapforlocalfood.org.

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Ned Savage, Community Outreach Coordinator

 A native of Salem and graduate of Hampden-Sydney College with a BA in History, Ned worked as an English as a Second Language teacher in Chile and Cuba and a community organizer in California before delving into his passion for local agriculture while working on a variety of small farms in northern California, Washington, and Hawai’i. After moving back to Appalachia, Ned launched a neighborhood arts and crafts market in Charleston, WV, helped to develop a music-based cultural tourism project, the Mountain Music Trail, and took time in 2013 to canoe 2,300 miles from the source of the New River to the Gulf of Mexico. Since returning to the Roanoke area in 2015, Ned has become an active stream monitor, published his travel writing, had his artwork commissioned, and continues to to restore an 1830’s log cabin near Catawba, where he lives and keeps a garden. Contact Ned at ned@leapforlocalfood.org.

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Kelly McKeown Key, LEAP Farm Share Coordinator

Kelly grew up in northern Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a B.S. in Rural Sociology. Her main passions are travel, food, and farming. After graduating, she backpacked through Europe for 3 months. Upon returning, she worked in restaurants until being accepted as an intern on an educational farm run by Heifer International in Massachusetts. There she fell in love with farming, teaching, and her now husband, Daniel. After two years of apprenticing on a farm in California, Kelly and Daniel moved back to Daniel’s hometown of Roanoke to figure out their next move and never left! Kelly has lived in Roanoke for 3 years and loves the community and the scenery. Kelly and Daniel bought their first house in SE Roanoke in 2015 where they got married this past October. They have started a small farm lovingly called Truffula Farm which so far includes a dog, cats, sheep, rabbits, vegetables, and soon to be honeybees and chickens. Kelly is also a teacher and program manager for the non-profit Happy Healthy Cooks and is the Farmer for the Local Roots Restaurant garden as well as a bartender and server. Contact Kelly at kelly@leapforlocalfood.org.

Connie Kenny Smith

Connie Kenny Smith, Market Manager

 Connie grew up in Bedford County and has lived in the Roanoke Valley for 35 years. Connie now lives in Botetourt County with her lovely family. Her daughter has many food sensitivities and Connie’s search for solutions brought her to the local food market. Soon, this search turned in to a love and appreciation for local food suppliers and market outlets in the Roanoke and surrounding areas. She is a proud promoter of the benefits of local and healthy food.  After many years of buying local food, Connie started working for Good Food Good People, a LEAP vendor and a distributor of local products, and we’re now happy to have her serve as the smiling face of the West End Farmers Market. You can reach Connie at connie@leapforlocalfood.org.

Davey Rogner, Mobile Market Manager

Davey Rogner is a passionate earth steward, ecological educator, musician, and permaculture practitioner. He enjoys hiking, spending time working on sustainable garden projects with friends, collecting crystals, and flowing with music. Presently, Davey is also employed with Roanoke County Recreation and Parks and provides ecology related workshops and guided educational hikes at local parks. He lives in Roanoke City with his dog Webster, girlfriend, many plant allies, and five chickens. Together they are converting their quarter acre lot to produce as much food as possible and to “close the loop.” In the past, Davey co-founded and led Pick Up America – the nation’s first and only coast-to-coast contiguous roadside litter pick-up. From 2010-2012, the group cleared more than 100 tons of litter from 3,762 miles of roadway and trails while providing free education about zero-waste in local schools and churches. Davey has worked professionally as an environmental educator, a bread baker, a cook, a house painter, an ecological landscape designer, and as an invasive plant removal specialist. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Restoration and Management from the University of Maryland College Park and is a certified Permaculture Designer and Reiki Master.

Board Members

Screen Shot 2014-06-04 at 12.16.01 PMBrent Cochran, Board President

Brent is a native of Roanoke, VA and a social entrepreneur committed to developing sustainable solutions through triple-bottom line business methods.  He lives with his wife, dog, and two young kids in Roanoke, VA. In 2009, Brent founded LEAP as a way to support the local foods ecosystem. He has since co-founded many businesses in Roanoke and across the country, including River Rock Climbing Gym, Grandin CoLab and Community Sourced Capital.

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Susan Clark, Board Vice President

 Susan Clark has lived in Roanoke the past thirty years although she grew up in Fairfax VA where she learned early how to grow and preserve food from the family garden. Her academic degrees are in nutrition and foods (bachelors, doctorate-VA Tech and masters-University of Kentucky), and she is also a registered dietitian. Presently, she is director of the interdisciplinary, experiential-based civic agriculture and food systems program at VA Tech.  Her teaching and research relates to civic and sustainable agriculture and food systems as a community development practice to promote resilient, accessible, affordable, and healthy food.  Since 2010, she has been involved with the Appalachian Foodshed Project investigating how to build/strengthen place-based, community food systems in West Virginia, and the Appalachian regions of North Carolina and Virginia.  She particularly values time with family and friends, as well as making bread, leisure reading, watching Kentucky basketball, and hiking the trails of Montana and Virginia.

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 Dave Prosser, Board Treasurer

Dave Prosser is Freedom First Credit Union’s Senior VP of Community Development. Dave oversees Freedom First’s corporate giving and social responsibility initiatives, including award-winning financial education, credit counseling, and loan programs for working households. Dave led Freedom First’s development of the West End Village Station project—a partnership with local nonprofits, local and federal governments, and neighborhood leaders—in recognition of which the Salem-Roanoke County Chamber of Commerce gave him its first “Community Impact” award. The Credit Union National Association named Freedom First 2013’s national Community Credit Union of the Year.

Pat Young, Board Secretary

Pat is a Maine native, but has called Roanoke home for years. Pat is the Program Manager for Healthy Roanoke Valley, a program of the United Way of the Roanoke Valley. Pat also works as a health, community, and strategic planning consultant through her company Community Works. As a registered dietitian and a self-professed lover of good food, Pat works closely with numerous community organizations to improve nutrition and healthy food access.

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Betty Bailey

Betty is a native of Roanoke County, coming from a long line of Southwest Virginia farmers.  She and her husband live, garden and cook on the family farm located between Dragon’s Tooth and McAfee Knob next to the Appalachian Trail.  Before returning to revive Catawba Meadow Farm and sell at local farmers’ markets (including LEAP’s Grandin Village Community Market), Betty spent 30 years in the non-profit sector, working most of that time for sustainable agriculture, family farms, and healthy food from healthy land.

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Jim Crawford

Jim is a Roanoke native who has been with LEAP since the beginning. He works as a Special Projects Coordinator, Roanoke Natural Foods Co-op and holds an MS in Cultural Geography from Virginia Tech. He is president of Mountain View Neighborhood Association and a Board member of Roanoke Preservation Foundation. He and his wife live in a 107-year old house in Roanoke, endearingly nicknamed Kudzu Bluffs B&B based on the proliferation of the plant and stream of happy visitors.

 Diane Elliot

Diane loves local and sustainable food and made it her profession when she bought Local Roots- a Farm to Table Restaurant (Grandin Village) from her son in 2009. She grew up in Indianapolis and has called Roanoke home for over forty years. In between high school and college, Diane traveled on the R.M.S Queen Mary to England (was an exchange student for a year) where she met her husband of 45 years. Diane has a degree in Art History from Vassar College (last all-female graduating class) and she loves to take fun pictures with food (see above!).  Diane is very involved in the community and she and Local Roots support various food, health, gardening, and other worthy community causes. Diane is working to turn her yard into a bountiful “Elliot Eden” full of vegetables, flowers and fruit trees.