Virginia Clarke is the executive director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), an international network of grantmakers working to create networking, educational, and collaboration opportunities for the philanthropic community working to support vibrant, healthy and just food and farm systems. She started with SAFSF in 2003 as a part-time coordinator and has led the network in its growth and impact ever since.
Prior to SAFSF, she worked with a variety of international education programs including the University of California’s Education Abroad Program as the regional director assistant for Asia and Africa, and the Salzburg Seminar in Austria where she was a program director and led outreach efforts in Latin America. Other life/work opportunities involved a stint at the World Bank; leading a management reorganization for a private clothing manufacturer; assisting immigrants in their efforts to secure legal residency in the U.S.; and creating/running a restitution project for juvenile offenders in Western Massachusetts. Her fluency in Spanish stems from living and working in Spain, Bolivia and Mexico.
Virginia has a Masters in International Administration from the School for International Training and a B.A. with honors in Spanish from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A TEDx Manhattan alumni (2014), Virginia lives in Santa Barbara, CA and has two daughters.
Susie DiMauro joined the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) staff as a program associate in September 2016 after working with SAFSF in various part-time capacities since 2013. In her current role, she provides programming support for the SAFSF Annual Forum and overall policy work.
Before joining SAFSF, Susie advanced the goals of mission-driven organizations through nonprofit management, event coordination, and project management with a Ventura County consulting firm. Her past experience includes research projects exploring the historical and ecological dimensions of alternative food and agriculture systems, including archival study of small farmers who were displaced and dispossessed by the creation of Shenandoah National Park. She also coordinated the front office of a dental practice, served as a consultant for the Interdisciplinary Environmental Clinic at Washington University School of Law, and enjoyed stints with several urban farms, a southern California land trust, and the Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future.
Susie is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis with degrees in anthropology and environmental studies. She relishes reading, gardening, editing, organizing, and shamelessly spoiling her tabby cat, Alfredo.
Bridget Dobrowski joined the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders in 2009 and has held many different roles and responsibilities during that time. She has a master’s in environmental science and management from the Bren School at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before grad school, her professional work experience included time with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary; interning with the Sonoran Institute in Montana and the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara; and working as a biological field technician for the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service in Montana, Idaho, and Utah. She grew up half in Montana and half in Ohio, giving her the perspective to confidently say she always wants to live in the West, without thinking everyone else should feel the same way.
In addition to her professional work with environmental and food system issues over the last 15 years, Bridget has a passion for theater, yoga – especially AcroYoga, building & fixing things, sewing, crocheting, cooking, and helping friends whenever she can.
Abbie Nissenson officially joined the SAFSF staff in January 2014, after having completed several projects for SAFSF as a consultant since 2011. She currently serves as the staff lead on SAFSF’s policy programming, working closely with SAFSF’s program director and the funder advisory committee to develop in-person events, webinars, and other resources. She received her Master’s in Public Policy and Management from the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University. It was while living in Pittsburgh that Abbie first got her hands dirty with urban agriculture, spending time volunteering on an organic farm in the Morningside neighborhood. Abbie received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Abbie’s previous job experience includes several years as a Program Director for The Junior State of America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization for high school students. As a GIS analyst for a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit consulting firm, she used mapping technology to help community-development and arts organizations understand their demographics and impacts. During an internship with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Abbie researched biodiversity-preservation project proposals and helped run the UNAIDS Red Ribbon Community Dialogue Space at the AIDS 2006 international conference.
Abbie lives in Santa Barbara with her husband—an industrial ecology researcher at UCSB—and their two girls. She delights in hitting the local farmers’ markets, cooking, camping, and making bad puns.
Stacy Nwokochah joined the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF) team in September 2017 as an Administrative Assistant. She performs external and internal requests for the Executive Director as well as coordinating research for material preparation of project-specific duties. Her responsibilities vary, but she ultimately plays a critical role in maximizing the effectiveness of SAFSF core operations by providing administrative skills.
Prior to joining SAFSF, Stacy had been working primarily in health related organizations holding technical and administrative positions. Health and wellness is an industry she is passionate about and believes that whether a job indirectly or directly impacts a community, the helping profession is an area of importance. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) in 2018. In her college career, she enhanced her academic and leadership skills by being a member of the National Society of Leadership and Success. With her previous experience, she appreciates organizations that encourage outreach in various aspects of awareness including food systems sustainability; for the betterment of communities. Independent of her career and academic interests Stacy enjoys capturing moments in life through photography, traveling/exploring new places, dance, music, fashion and lifestyle blogs.