Scott A. Murray, Chair

<scottamurray at sbcglobal dot net>


A former MESA Host, organic farmer, and sustainable development consultant, Scott has 32 years of organic agricultural production experience in the United States and Mexico.  Scott’s recent project experience includes the restoration and development of an organic agricultural project and education program on a 250-acre historic farm owned by the County of San Diego. Scott designed and built a 15-acre organic farm supplying the boarding high school on site and selling to the Whole Foods stores of Southern California. Scott has served as an elected California Conservation official for the last 12 years managing a $ 3.5 million dollar annual budget for conservation projects in North San Diego County.

Scott serves as the president of the South Coast Resource Conservation and Development Council which covers two-thirds of California’s population. He has worked extensively on Conservation projects with the National Resource Conservation Service in California. He specializes in farmland preservation projects utilizing Smart Growth Principles.

Nelle Donaldson, Secretary

<seantgillon [at] gmail [dot] com (zahzoom at gmail dot com)>

Environmental stewardship was ingrained in Nelle from a young age, growing up off-the-grid in rural Vermont. In 2003, Nelle graduated from The George Washington University with a BS in Biological Anthropology, and ventured out to the Bay Area as a wellness coach, to try a life in the food mecca (agriculturally and culinarily) of the West. She stayed! At home in Berkeley, she is a mother, backyard gardener and chicken farmer, chef, etc. who cares very much about where food comes from and how it is grown.

Nelle currently owns and operates a green wedding and event planning company, ZahZoom Weddings & Parties, which she began in 2005. In order to delve into the world of events, she felt a strong need to “be the change” in terms of paving the way for lower impact cultural celebrations and rituals, and so “toward sustainability” became a professional focus. Along the way, this focus has been an opportunity for further education in the sourcing and consumption of flowers and food, among other things, for such events.

Marie Farneth, Director

<marie.farneth at>


Marie earned her B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis in Latin American Studies and a minor in Spanish from Bates College. She has spent extensive time living in the highlands of Ecuador working with a non-profit organization, Ecovida, focused on promoting sustainable agriculture, revaluing indigenous culture and empowering indigenous farmers. Previously, she worked at Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture (MESA) where she assisted in the coordination of the farmer exchange program and was a liaison with MESA’s global partners. She continues to support and volunteer with MESA and is the fundraising point person in the U.S. for Ecovida.

Marie is dedicated to creating a more socially just and sustainable world. She brings a wealth of experience with international non-profits, sustainable agriculture, program evaluation and project administration as well as knowledge of Latin America to share with MESA. She worked most recently as part of her graduate program at CISabroad, a third party study abroad intern abroad provider. Prior to that, she worked with Fair Trade USA on the Supply Chain Services team on their impact reports. She has lived in Ecuador and Argentina and traveled in Peru, Uruguay, Guatemala, Mali and Italy. She first became involved with MESA in 2004 as an intern and has continued to be a loyal supporter of MESA. She has worked with MESA in a number of different capacities since then, as an assistant program coordinator and conducted an evaluation of MESA’s Ecuador program. On the side she is a Project Manager for Ecovida, an Ecuador-based NGO working to improve the quality of life for Ecuador's Andean indigenous population through community development and sustainable agriculture. Marie is fluent in Spanish, and received her B.A. in Sociology with an emphasis on Latin America and Spanish from Bates College and her M.A. from SIT Graduate Institute in Brattleboro, VT. 

Kevin Cody, Director

<kcody at ucsc dot edu>

kcody.jpgKevin is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  What began as a personal interest in working on organic farms in Sonoma County has since become a primary research focus concerning livelihoods of small-scale agricultural producers.  After completing a Master’s Thesis on structural barriers to the long-term viability of beginning farmers, Kevin is now working on a dissertation topic exploring the dynamics of exchange within the MESA organization.  Specifically, this work is concerned with understanding what aspects of sustainable agriculture are most adaptable to a variety of social and cultural climates.  Additional research interests include agrarian political economy, sustainable food systems, and rural development in Latin America.

Sean Gillon, Director

<seantgillon [at] gmail [dot] com (seantgillon at gmail dot com)

sean.gillon.jpgSean Gillon grew up in Iowa interested in the farms, cornfields, and the agricultural product processing industry around him. He began his engagement with sustainable agriculture and food systems managing and interning on small farms and as a produce clerk in cooperative groceries.  He has conducted research projects for non-profit organizations working for social justice in food systems and improving opportunities for farmers practicing sustainable agriculture.  Currently, Sean is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Environmental Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz.  His dissertation research focuses on the social and ecological dimensions of US Midwestern corn ethanol production.  This research examines relationships between corn ethanol production, rural economies, and farmers' agricultural and conservation practices, as well as analyzes related agricultural and environmental policy.  Sean has also co-authored work on the politics of organic food regulation and taught courses on building socially just and ecologically sound food systems. In fall 2011 Sean will join the University of Wisconsin - Madison as a postdoctoral research fellow.

Bill Nunes, Director

<aenunes at>


Bill's entire working life has had some connection to the family farm. Growing up, the family farm included a small dairy and farming much of the feed for the dairy herd. Also about 36 acres of walnuts on two separate ranches. About 10 years ago Bill began farming vegetables on about 2 acres carved out of the original family farm using sustainable practices and selling all of the produce locally (within 40 miles of the farm). He sells to restaurants, sold at nearby farmers market for about 6 years, operates a semi-weekly farmstand, and runs a small CSA.

In the past three years Bill hosted two MESA stewards, financially supported by Gustine Rotary Club. Although originally intimidated by the thought of trying to teach valuable lessons on such a small farm, Bill now finds that the small scale of Contented Acres Produce provides working and learning experiences that are often much more useful to stewards from small farms than time spent on larger operations in the U.S. Working with farm stewards and with MESA have cultivated Bill's passion to continue the  spread of information and experience to support small farms and sustainable communities.

Tim Smith, Director

<smith.tim.sf at gmail dot com>

Tim has been passionate about international workforce development and advancement for over a decade. His experience working on a farm in Maine with immigrants, training them to become self-sufficient and grow businesses, has resonated with me for a long time. Tim is currently the Director of Engagement & Operations at Full Circle Fund, an engaged philanthropy nonprofit supporting innovative solutions to pressing problems. Fluent in Spanish, Tim loves spending his spare time engaging with people of various backgrounds and perspectives. He recently completed the Master of Nonprofit Administration program at the University of San Francisco, and previously received a B.A. in International Relations from Colby College in Maine. Tim looks forward to helping MESA sustain and grow in a sustainable way. Heck, he may even roll up his sleeves and get back to farming along the way!

Krista Van Tassel, Director

<krista.vantassel at>

Krista Van Tassel is vice president and Environmental Affairs business initiatives manager for Wells Fargo & Co. In this role, Krista heads team member engagement for Wells Fargo’s environmental sustainability initiatives and goals. Krista is responsible for leading 75 Green Teams across the country, which are employee-led volunteer groups promoting environmental practices within the company and local communities through education, outreach and volunteerism. Krista’s work aligns closely with the company’s vision to encourage responsible practices and the integration of environmental policies and processes into company operations.

Prior to joining Wells Fargo in 2009, Krista worked in a variety of sustainability and marketing positions in both the nonprofit and corporate sectors. Krista earned her MBA in International Business at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.

Krista is active in the community and serves as a member of the Full Circle Fund, a nonprofit that engages professionals in grant making and nonprofit consultation.


MESA’s Summer-Peru Program (June 25 to August 6, 2014) aims to connect allies in global stewardship for a reciprocal, cross-cultural exchange of innovation and ancestral knowledge in farming.

MESA's 9th Annual Cultural Cuisine Celebration and Forging Farmers Fundraiser was an event to remember!