Board of Trustees

Jen Ballen

(Boston, MA)

Jen is the CEO and Co-Founder of Otherworld, a plant-based food company addressing planetary and human health through nutritious and climate-conscious food products. She is also the Co-Founder and Chairwoman of the Board of Before It’s Too Late, a nonprofits arts organization whose mission is to use art and technology to ignite urgency and collaboration toward addressing climate change.
Jen is the Founder of The Sustainable Investor, an editorial blog demonstrating through data-driven research that profitability and environmental/social impact need not be mutually exclusive.
She is the co-author of the 2017 MIT published case study “First Solar,” which received EMFD’s Best Bringing Technology to Market Case Study award. In 2014, Jen became a trained Climate Leader with Al Gore’s Climate Reality Leadership Corps in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In 2020, Jen was named on GreenBiz’s 30 under 30 list of leaders in sustainability. She holds a B.S. in Finance and Marketing from Lehigh University (summa cum laude honors), and an M.B.A. and Sustainability Certificate from MIT Sloan School of Management.

Amy Ballin

(Gloucester, MA)

Amy’s career as an educator spans over 30 years from teaching science education at elementary and middle schools to working as a school counselor for children with language-based learning disabilities to her current position at Antioch University as an assistant professor in the special education department. Amy received her Bachelor in Science from Cornell University as an environmental education major. She earned a Masters in Science Teaching from Antioch University New England and worked as a science educator for ten years before returning to college to obtain a Masters in Social Work from Boston University.
Dr. Ballin received her CAG.S. in education administration and her PhD in education from Lesley University where she explored theories of school culture, the ethics of special education, and student motivation. Amy is the mother of two children who were fortunate to participate in The Food Project as youth and then later as staff. Their experiences at The Food Project were life altering. As young adults, they use the skills and insights from The Food Project to advance social justice. Amy is also an avid gardener committed to growing her own food.

Carl Baty

(Dorchester, MA)

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Carl has fond memories of visiting family members down south who grew and harvested their own food. In 2011, he co-founded Rounding the Bases in Baltimore, and then brought the concept to Dorchester. Rounding the Bases connects people directly to resources for training, education, employment, housing, food, and other services in Metro Boston. “When we started our food delivery program for seniors and their families, we delivered to a handful of houses bags of non-perishable food, mostly cans and starches,” says Carl, who can regularly be found picking up fresh produce at The Food Project’s Dudley Greenhouse.
“I knew our aging residents needed healthier options. I reached out to a few organizations for help. Since then, The Food Project has provided thousands of pounds of fresh produce yearly enabling us to now serve as many as forty families per week. During the peak of the pandemic, we assisted 500 to 600 households weekly – it was quite the operation. Joining the board is my way of saying ‘thank you’ and ensuring this type of work continues to help more residents access nutritious food.”

Valerie Cardoso

(Dorchester, MA)

Valerie is the Deputy Director of Environmental Justice at the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA). Prior to this role, she worked as a Climate Change Policy Analyst and Program Administrator for the Food Security Infrastructure Grant program at EEA. She began working in state government in Governor Charles Baker’s Office of Constituent Services where she was the Deputy Director and Internship Coordinator. Valerie graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from Boston College in 2014, and upon graduation, served as a City Year Americorps member at an elementary school in the Bronx, NY.
After completing her first year of Americorps service, she returned to Boston where she spent the year crossing the country leading volunteers in high impact service projects at both schools and nonprofit organizations. Valerie became involved with The Food Project’s Seed Crew at the age of 15. She spent three years in various youth roles throughout the organization and was given opportunities to represent The Food Project outside of Boston. Valerie frequently states that her passion for service and social justice started at The Food Project, and that the organization has played the most important role in shaping her life and career trajectory.

Emmanuel Encarnacion – Chair

(Quincy, MA)

Emmanuel (Manny) is a Human Resources Professional working at CareQuest Institute for Oral Health supporting the organization’s growth and their employee experience. Manny has worked for The Food Project in various capacities. He was a youth in the North Shore’s first Summer Youth Program, now known as Seed Crew, and continued his time through Dirt and Root Crew.
After graduating from Salem State University with a double Bachelor’s in Business and Dance, he began working as a Community Health Worker for Mass General Hospital assisting families suffering through food insecurities.
Manny returned to TFP as a Youth Development Specialist on both regions. During his time with us, he received a Certificate in Community Leadership and Social Change from the Institute of Nonprofit Practice. Working at TFP has been a highlight in Manny’s life, and he has shared that his personal connections and experience helped guide the next steps in his career.

Danielle Benedict

(Sharon, MA)

Bio Coming Soon…

Norris Guscott

(Lynn, MA)

Norris graduated from UMass Boston with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology (focus in community studies) and attended Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government’s UE Executive Education Program (Using Evidence to Assess Effectiveness) where he graduated in 2017. Currently, Norris is the Director of the Lynn Food and Fitness Alliance (LFFA) in Lynn, MA. In this role, he manages and facilitates community partnerships to address food insecurity and improve other public health intersections while dually serving as the City’s Food Security task Force leader having been appointed to the position by the mayor Tom McGee in May 2020.
Norris also leads a statewide working group that is actively facilitating connections between BIPOC farmers, building that networks capacity for policy advocacy, and drafting language for bills, he drafted a significant amount of language for bills HD 1661 & SD 1036.
Norris has a deep history with The Food Project. At the age of 16, he was introduced to the organization by former executive director, J. Harrison, while working in a community garden in Lynn, MA. Norris later became one of The Food Project’s first FoodCorps service members, and eventually went on to publish a research piece on the benefits of community gardens in collaboration with The Food Project. Norris embraces theoretical approaches to improve public health and food policy rooted in community psychology. In his spare time, Norris is an avid gardener and competitive cricketer.

Irene Li – Vice Chair

(Brighton, MA)

Irene, winner of the 2022 James Beard Leadership Award, is a graduate of The Mountain School, Milton Academy, and Cornell University. Her life experiences range from organic farming to prison education and many things in between. While she never expected a life in the restaurant industry, her desire to create change and to care for those around her remains constant. She’s passionate about carefully sourced ingredients and high-quality jobs. Under her leadership, Mei Mei implemented open-book management with Rethink Restaurants in order to improve the business while providing team members with valuable hospitality skills and financial know-how. Irene is involved with a number of community organizations and serves on the boards of Haley House, Lovin’ Spoonfuls, and Project Bread. In the weeks that followed the COVID-19 emergency, Irene launched Unsung Restaurants, a campaign to raise money for under-the-radar, mom and pop, and immigrant-owned businesses, partnered with Off Their Plate to lead a grocery program for hospital workers, and continued to drive Mei Mei in whatever direction best serves her community – like selling toilet paper!
Today, Irene’s focus is on transforming the restaurant world into an industry in which workers’ needs and potential are taken seriously. She believes that professionalizing and dignifying restaurant employment has the potential to uplift millions of workers and small business owners. Inspired by her peers, team members, and experiences in the industry, she is now part of Visible Hands’ inaugural cohort. Her work there is focused on driving change in restaurants by creating tools and resources to support businesses of all sizes to thrive sustainably and equitably. Irene loves pit bulls, hip-hop dance videos, true crime, and talking to people about composting. She lives in Brighton with her partner and a lot of plants.

Andy Ly

(Lynn, MA)

Andy Ly is a sophomore at Lynn Classical High School. He is the class president and takes part in multiple extracurriculars, such as the math team, orchestra, and baseball. He started working at The Food Project in September 2020 and is currently a Root Crew member on the North Shore. Previously, he had the unique experience of being in North Shore’s Sprout Crew during the covid season and was able to develop skills from both Seed and Dirt crews in a single academic year. He thoroughly enjoys creating and listening to music as a violinist and loves having fun on the baseball diamond and at the frequent hangouts, he has with his fellow Root Crew members outside of work.
Being in The Food Project is a lot of fun, and Andy is always striving to improve on himself and things around him! One of his most memorable moments in The Food Project was contributing to the construction of the Tech farm! He was so sore after that day, but Andy felt so honored to be able to contribute to a historic moment of this organization’s history!

Daniel Peirce

(Little Compton, RI)

Dan is an independent Brand Strategy and Marketing Consultant specializing in mid-size to large consumer goods companies. Prior to this position, he was the CMO of inMusic and before that was Vice President of Marketing for T.J.Maxx at The TJX Companies, Inc., a leading off-price retailer in the U.S. and internationally, where he was responsible for the end-to-end customer experience including brand strategy, integrated marketing communications, retail marketing, creative, and agency leadership. Dan has held a variety of brand leadership roles at PepsiCo, Starbucks Coffee Company, Welch’s and Adidas Group. Diversity and inclusion are a passion point for Dan and he’s held a range of positions in Asian-American, Multi-Cultural, and LBGTQ+ affinity groups in each of his corporate roles.
Dan received a B.S. in Natural Resources from Cornell University and attended The Graduate School at Cornell for Landscape Architecture. After a brief career in the non-profit sector, he returned to school, graduating with distinction from The Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. Dan’s wife is an organic vegetable and dairy farmer and their son attends boarding school in Western Massachusetts. In his spare time, Dan enjoys daily walks on the beach with his rescue dogs, running, Crossfit, and GORUCK overnight endurance events.

Diane Stansbury (Clerk)

(Arlington, MA)

Diane formerly worked in development as the Assistant Director of Alumni/ae and Parent Engagement at the Cambridge School of Weston. Diane was passionate about her work at CSW building community and connecting alumni, parents, and other constituents to each other and the school. Community engagement benefits the fiscal health and growth of any organization. Diane’s professional experience began in corporate wellness programming: teaching classes in fitness, health, and nutrition.
Diane is passionate about teaching the importance of a healthy diet and exercise as well as finding ways to make healthy choices available for all communities. Diane holds a BS in Health Education from George Mason University. She lives in Arlington with her husband Will and two grown children, Randall and Jayson. She enjoys spending time with her family on the Cape, reading, entertaining, and walking her dog Rosco.

Orlando Vasquez

(Jamaica Plain, MA)

Orlando is a junior at Fenway High School. He joined the Food Project during the summer of 2021 as a Seed Crew Member. Orlando’s current role at The Food Project is Root Crew member. During his free time, Orlando loves to play video games, talk about fun facts, and watch shows

Sarai Zelada

(Lynn, MA)

Lynn resident Sarai Zelada is a Public Health Planner for the Metropolitan Area Planning Council. She brings more than a decade of experience working in climate justice, affordable housing, economic opportunity, and public health to The Food Project. While earning a degree in Natural Resource Studies at UMass Amherst, she got her first taste of urban farming by helping to build the school’s first campus community garden.
This experience inspired her to earn a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Michigan with a focus on creating more healthy communities. One of her first jobs out of school was working as a Crew Leader for The Food Project’s Seed Crew. She has also helped to run the Lynn farmers market.

Our Board of Trustees meets six times per year. To reach out with questions or interest in joining our board, please send an email to: