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. Denise VandeWalle, Secretary: Dr. VandeWalle is a retired Dentist who has a passion for functional medicine and healthy living practices. She volunteers regularly for the Wednesday Farmer’s Market at the Rio Grande Farm Park, and lends her business expertise to the committee. Dr. VandeWalle has supported community agriculture through the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition, Valley Educational Gardens Initiative, and other food-related organizations by hosting fundraisers at her ranch.
Dr. Bill Brinton: Dr. Brinton came to Alamosa to work with Valley Wide Health Systems, earning his medical degree from 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.
Allison Cruse: Allison is the founder of Valley Mama’s Farm in Alamosa, and offers her home-grown organic vegetables every summer. She owns and operates a Waldorf-inspired preschool for youth during the school year. Allison happily farms and creates alongside her two free-range children. In her spare time, she is an artist and a musician.
Carmille Garcia: Carmille is a photographer and filmmaker based in southern Colorado. She started volunteering at the RGFP work days three years ago and continues to do media work for the park. She is passionate about observing the world around her and how all living things interact within their surroundings. Her current curiosity stems in collaborative artistic mediums that present multi-complex questions in balancing community growth with environmental, cultural and historical preservation. Presently, she enjoys exploring her athletic and artistic limits with her camera in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado.
Dr. Ricardo Velásquez: Dr. Ricardo Velásquez, MD is a retired Family Physician and Health Care Administrator. He is currently involved in viticulture and oenology using a regenerative approach. Dr. Velásquez owns a small winery in Embudo, New Mexico and uses both new and old world techniques in his winemaking. He believe in local food sources for individual health and culinary reasons along with community economic benefit.
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.
Alan Simpson: Alan is a farmer and rancher in Alamosa who has a passion for educating young people to be future farmers. He leases the Alamosa Ranch for cattle grazing, as well as runs his own family operation. Alan has been instrumental in assuring the success of the Rio Grande Farm Park.
Kristina Daniel: Kristina Daniel has been a member of the Alamosa City Council since November of 2015. She is currently serving in an At-Large capacity; she serves as the liaison between City Council and the RGFP Board. As a member of the Caring for Colorado Foundation Board, she works to represent the San Luis Valley and provide a rural and elected official perspective to the initiatives of the Board. Kristina has served on several local boards and continues to provide education and outreach related to substance use and mental health concerns. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor, can administer Acudetox treatments and has an MBA. Kristina is committed to community growth and supports many different development and grassroots efforts in the San Luis Valley.
Julie Mordecai, Director: Mordecai has been the Director of the Rio Grande Farm Park since 2015. Mordecai owned and operated the Complete Non Profit, which provided resources for non-profits in Colorado and New Mexico. She was the Executive Director of the Colorado Alliance of Boys & Girls Clubs for 4 years and helping them raise well over 6 million dollars in resources and offsets. She had been with the Boys & Girls Club movement for over 9 years, first serving as the Executive Director of the Boys & Girls Clubs of the San Luis Valley. She has a BA in Environmental Studies and an Elementary Education Credential from the University of California, Santa Barbara and an M.A. in Higher Education, Administration and Leadership at Adams State University.
Amber Middleton, Transition Director: Amber is the new 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.
Jesse Marchildon, Farm Manager: Marchildon has been with the Rio Grande Farm Park since March of 2017 and manages the Farmer Incubator Program. Born and raised in Alamosa, he left the Valley for ten years to obtain a BA in Anthropology and Spanish Literature and developed a passion for healthy, local food systems. Since 2013, he has studied permaculture and has helped develop family and community farms in New York, California, and Hawaii.
Olive, Farm Dog: Olive is a Blue Heeler mix and the loyal companion to our Farm Manager, Jesse Marchildon. She enjoys keeping an eye on the land and helping herd the chickens at the Farm Park. In the off season, she enjoys naps in the sun and long walks along the Rio Grande.
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.
Hannah Wallace, Environmental & Regenerative Agriculture Educator: Raised in northern Colorado, Hannah is excited to get back to her Colorado roots. She graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota with a degree in Environmental Science Biology and a minor in Sustainability. She is the current Americorps Environmental Educator, and has always been passionate about good food and education. She hopes to meet many smiling faces at the Farm Park, and looks forward to her term ahead.
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, fund raising, 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.