Family matters: Notes on a transition

      Posted On: July 19, 2012

a letter from Stacy Miller, FMC Executive Director

Dear friends,

When I became Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition in 2009, I knew it was a privilege that I would work to earn, every day.  I follow in the steps of many inspiring people in the farmers market movement. I am gifted with the opportunity to walk aside (and learn from) the thousands of organizers and advocates around the country who work hard every day to make the miracle of farmers markets a reality in their communities, or help advocate on their behalf from city halls to Capitol Hill. The faith that has been invested in me as a young leader has not gone unnoticed, or unappreciated.

FMC members have already seen the news that I and my husband are expecting a baby boy next month, and that I will be stepping down from my position as ED to serve as a part-time Project Director in August.  Though this was not an easy decision to make, I am excited about the leadership transition inherent in this move, as FMC looks toward a bigger and bolder future.

Recently, as I tried to organize the sprawling stack of business cards that no longer fit in my small filing box, I saw in one moment that what I love about this job, and this organization, was literally right in my hands.  I have cards from Senators’ aides, the Institute of Medicine, many universities and municipalities, writers, economists, restaurant owners, produce industry representatives, credit card processors, anti-hunger coalitions… not to mention many from farmers market managers and, my favorite, producers themselves—everything from aquaculture all the way through the alphabet and back again to artisanal goat cheese.  This diversity is startling, inspiring, and a testament to the far-reaching impacts of farmers markets—impacts of which we have only begun to scratch the surface.

I consider it a great privilege to have come to know many of our members, if only through emails and phone calls, and anticipate meeting many more face-to-face as I continue working in a different capacity in this exciting field.  This is the family I have come to love; how could I leave?

The relationships I have forged during my tenure as ED are ones I hope to carry with me, full of gratitude, well into the future.

The Board of Directors has recruited and reviewed many outstanding candidates for the position of Interim Executive Director through the end of 2012, and I am pleased to announce that Jennifer O’Brien will be starting in this position on August 7th.   Jennifer has a Masters in Urban and Environmental Planning from the University of Virginia, and volunteered with farmers markets in Washington, DC and Ann Arbor, MI, and served as a research assistant to The Food Trust in Philadelphia, PA. She lives in Charlottesville, VA,  and most recently works as the Senior Communications Manager and Urban Planner at AECOM, where she develops strategic communications plans as well as writes and analyzes policy to help maximize public and civic space for community and environmental health.  Within the next couple of weeks, FMC will issue an additional announcement about Jennifer, with more information  to help our members and partners get to know her a little better during this transition.

August also marks the date of my transition to Project Director, a part-time role that will allow me to focus on a couple key projects—most importantly the Aetna Foundation funded project to examine and communicate the impacts of the Farmers Market Promotion Program since its beginnings in 2006, as well as work with AMS to continue to improve the program as the farmers market sector evolves.

Many thanks, many hugs, and many bright days ahead for farmers markets,

Stacy (plus 1)