Member Profiles

Donnie Copeland

Dept. of Agriculture, County of Santa Clara

Donnie Copeland

Donnie Copeland is biologist for the Santa Clara County Division of Agriculture.  He earned his Master’s degree in biology with a focus on fish physiology and molecular biology, but has recently become interested in issues related to health and agriculture.  Currently his efforts with the county are aimed at preventing the introduction of the Glassy-winged sharpshooter (GWSS) into Santa Clara County.  GWSS is the primary vector for Pierce’s Disease, a lethal bacterial infection of grapevines.

Joe Deviney

Dept. of Agriculture, County of Santa Clara

Joe Deviney

Joe Deviney

Joe Deviney has served as the County's Agricultural Commissioner since December 2012. The mission of the Division of Agriculture is to fulfill the mandates of the State and to provide quality regulatory services to Santa Clara County. The Division serves local businesses, protects public health and the environment, and promotes a wholesome and ample food supply. As Agricultural Commissioner, Joe directs the enforcement programs of the local Division of Agriculture which (1) ensure the safe, responsible, and judicious use of pesticides by farmers, pest control companies, government industry, and the general public; and (2) prevent the introduction, establishment, and spread of destructive insects, plan diseases and weeds into the County's urban and agricultural areas. Prior to his role in Santa Clara County, Joe had over 24 years of professional experience with the Contra Costa county Department of Agriculture. 

Lucy Diekmann

Santa Clara University


Maria Noel Fernandez

Director of Organizing & Civic Engagement, Working Partnerships USA


Matt Freeman

Assistant General Manager, Santa Clara Valley Open Space Authority


Lesley Gray

Associate Professor, Santa Clara University Environmental Studies Institute

Leslie with Chicken.jpg

Leslie Gray is an associate professor  in the Department of Environmental Studies and Sciences at Santa Clara University where her teaching and research examine urban agriculture and agricultural change in the United States and sub-Saharan Africa.  She is currently undertaking a research project investigating the benefits and barriers of different forms of urban agriculture in Santa Clara County. This research involves community gardens, urban farms, home gardens and farmers' markets.

Julie Hutcheson

Legislative Advocate, Committee for Green Foothills


Julie Hutcheson is a Legislative Advocate for the Committee for Green Foothills (CGF).  CGF’s mission is to protect the open space, farmlands, and natural resources of Santa Clara and San Mateo counties through advocacy, education, and grassroots action. Julie has been a member of the Food System Alliance since its original inception in 2009. Her involvement in the SCCFSA stems from her work on land use issues often involving farmland in southern Santa Clara County.

Kris Jensen

Kris Jensen

Kris Jensen

Kris Jensen comes to the Food System Alliance as an advocate for wholesome, locally grown food, believing that access to that food is a human right. He has spent his career in the nonprofit sector focusing on food security and the environment and is excited to bring his passion for social and environmental justice to his work in an effort to promote healing and equity. When not working, Kris is most at home cooking a nice meal, getting his hands dirty in the garden and spending time with his family and friends.

Greg Leonard

Owner, Alto Verde Farm

Greg Leonard, a native of the Santa Clara Valley, has been a grower of food and an avid gardener since his grandfather gave him his first seeds at six years old. After 35 years as an attorney and a tech executive, Greg became seriously involved in the “food movement” believing deeply that local, healthy food is essential to local, healthy communities. Greg has served as both Chairman of Sustainable Community Gardens and Executive Director of Full Circle Farm in Sunnyvale between 2010 and 2013. From 2014 to July of 2015 Greg served on the Veggielution Board as the Chairman of the Fundraising Committee. Greg now manages his own small farm in the hills behind Stanford as well as supporting and advising several sustainable ag start-ups in the bay area.

Zack Lewis

Executive Director, Garden to Table

Zach Lewis - A native Floridian and Bay Area transplant, Zach is a graduate of San Jose State University's Masters of Urban Planning program. As a student, Zach focused his studies on local food system development. During his second semester, he worked on the Garden to Table project with CommUniverCity in 2011 along with several community members to address food access in central San José. Zach's Masters thesis complemented this effort, focusing on the economic potential of converting vacant lots into urban farms. After signing an MOU with Barry Swenson for an acre of land in downtown San Jose, Zach laid out the plans to build an urban farm and incorporated Garden to Table as a non-profit. Zach is dedicated to building a scalable model for sustainable local food systems. 

Raul Lozano

Executive Director, Valley Verde

Pat Nichols

Patricia (Pat) Nichols

Patricia (Pat) Nichols

Patricia (Pat) Nichols' experience as a local organic gardener and her growing concern with the link between nutrition and health led to volunteer work with Slow Food South Bay after retiring from teaching at San José State University. Slow Food is an international organization that promotes good, clean, fair food for all.  A linguist by profession, Pat had published a book about language in her native state (Voices of Our Ancestors:  Language Contact in Early South Carolina, 2008).  Working with members of the food system, she has become interested in food contact during the same time period and currently is doing research for a book tentatively entitled, Foodways of Our Ancestors:  Culinary Contact in Early South Carolina.

Melissa Sifuentes

Agency Services Manager, Second Harvest Food Bank

Cole B. Smith

Communication Education Specialist, UCCE Santa Clara

Susan Stuart

Health Planner, Santa Clara County Public Health Department

Susan Stuart

Susan Stuart

Susan Stuart, MA, MPH, is a health planner in the Center for Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention at the Santa Clara County Public Health Department.
The Santa Clara County Public Health Department focuses on protecting and improving the health of communities through education, promotion of healthy lifestyles, disease and injury prevention, and the promotion of sound health policy. The Department includes over 30 programs and services organized across seven divisions and centers. The Center for Chronic Disease and Injury Prevention focuses on three areas: active and safe communities, healthy food and beverage environments, and injury and violence-free communities.

Eric Wylde

Deputy Agricultural Commissioner, County of Santa Clara, Division of Agriculture

Eric Wylde - Deputy Ag Commissioner