Renee Mackey, Chair: Renee Mackey has lived in the San Luis Valley since coming here as a full-time volunteer for La Puente Homeless Shelter in 1993. She has worked in the non-profit arena for most of that time in both direct service and leadership roles. She is passionate about food and the local food economy and spent several years working with a local grass-finished beef producer. She considers her most important job to be instilling the values of community involvement, respect for the land, compassion, and curiosity into the hearts and minds of her three young children. In the meantime, she coordinates the SLV Breastfeeding Coalition and serves as a La Leche League leader.
Brian Puccerella, Vice-Chair: Brian is on the board of the Rio Grande Farm Park where he is able to blend his passion for outdoor recreation with his passion for local, healthy, and organic food. He has been working in the field of Outdoor Education and Recreation for over 10 years now, working as a graduate assistant at the University of Alabama before coming to Adams State University. Here at Adams State University, Brian oversees the Adventure Program and works with students to build a program culture of integrity and quality. In addition, he helps to coordinate and teach for the Adventure Leadership & Programming minor through the Human Performance & Physical Education department. He brings experience to ASU from a variety of outdoor disciplines.
Dr. Bill Brinton: Dr. Brinton came to Alamosa to work with Valley-Wide Health Systems, earning his medical degree from the University of Colorado Denver, School of Medicine in 1979. He and his partner Kristina Steinberg are huge advocates for the Rio Grande Farm Park, believing that the organization offers a new kind of economic self-reliance for the community. Dr. Brinton is a quintessential volunteer, donating at least 10 hours of his time a week during the RGFP growing season.
Francisco Lucas: Francisco has been involved as a farmer and community leader with the Rio Grande Farm Park since the start of the program. He is the Outreach Coordinator and Farm Liaison for the Rio Grande Farm Park and has been since 2015. He founded Espiritu Maya, which works to preserve the health, agriculture, and spiritual culture of the over 400 members of the Guatemalan community in Alamosa. Francisco also works full-time for Trinidad State Community College, presents issues and represents the Guatemalan community throughout the country, is a member of the Advisory Council of Conamigua working for the rights of immigrants and refugees in Guatemala and the United States, serves on the Board of Alamosa’s Immigrant Resource Center, and is a council member for the Pastoral Mayan Project.
Antonio Garcia: Antonio is a retired contractor/owner of A&J Solar, which specialized in sustainable adobe buildings. Currently, he is a Rio Grande Farm Park farmer, at-home gardener, and owner of Tierra Sana Organic Produce, who uses organic high-altitude practices with native non-GMO San Luis Valley seeds. Antonio is a passionate advocate for providing healthy organic food to the community.
Jesus Flores, Farm Manager: Jesus is a lifelong farmer and farmworker. Jesus brings great love and knowledge of agriculture to the farm park. He is skilled in vegetable production, irrigation, soil health, and caring for bees.
Amber Middleton, Transition Director: Amber is the Transition Manager for the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition. Amber has returned to the Local Foods Coalition after two years back in Wisconsin, where she coordinated 2-1-1 Wisconsin and planned a statewide AmeriCorps program for United Way of Wisconsin. Previously, Amber served as an AmeriCorps VISTA for the Rio Grande Farm Park, where she built capacity by fundraising, developing systems, and growing the volunteer program. So far in Amber’s career, she has gained experience in community engagement, volunteer management, national service programming, emergency and disaster preparedness, database management, and data analytics. When Amber isn’t building capacity for small nonprofits, you can find her volunteering with local animal shelters and libraries, hiking and enjoying the outdoors, or weaving a new tapestry.
Meg Mercier, Project Coordinator: Born and raised in Colorado, Meg graduated from Southern Oregon University in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. She joins the Rio Grande Farm Park team as this year’s Americorps VISTA and is thrilled to be helping in food sovereignty efforts. Meg is a community organizer at heart and looks forward to bringing some exciting projects to fruition at the Farm Park this year.
Erin Kauffman, Environmental Education Coordinator: Erin is from Lancaster, PA but has spent the last four years at Colorado State University and graduated in 2020 with a BS in Soil and Crop Sciences. She focused on soil health and forage/grazing systems and spent two years as a Research Associate in CSU’s Forage Lab, participating in research on management-intensive grazing (MiG) and grazing cover crops.
Erin comes to the Valley through Mennonite Voluntary Service and is excited to learn from local farmers and other participants in the food system, facilitate productive partnerships, and share her passions for soil and regenerative agriculture.
In her free time, Erin enjoys hiking, reading, writing, and spending time with her horse.
Liza Marron, Director-San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition: Liza is the founding director of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition in rural southern Colorado. She has been a community organizer with a focus on social justice, wellness, and prevention for many years. Ms. Marron has a Master’s Degree in Community Counseling and a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish. Her skill set includes grant writing, government, visioning, and strategic planning, non-profit management, finance, coalition building, economic development, education, fundraising, public speaking, and managing a budget. She serves on the Community Advisory Council for LiveWell Colorado, the Community Advisory Board of the Rocky Mountain Prevention Research Center, the Mountain Valley School Board President, the Treasurer of The Saguache County Sustainable Environment and Economic Development and is the Treasurer of the Valley Food Coop Board.