BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Jolene Cook, Board President
Jolene is passionate about nourishing food, her family, and Reno's community. As an independent nutritional consultant with a Masters Degree in Nutrition Education, her focus is on supporting healthy mothers, children, and families in the Reno/Sparks area. Jolene has experience managing health food and wellness centres in London as well as the Great Basin Community Food Co-op in Reno, NV. She's also successfully managed previous and current grant-funded projects. She enjoys crunching not only carrots but numbers as well.
Melissa Hafey, Board Treasurer
While Melissa has lived all over the country, she considers Reno, where she grew up, home. Melissa is currently a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno and studies the creation and maintenance of local food communities through the lenses of linguistic and cultural anthropology.
Melissa lives with her husband and two teenage daughters in a small house with a large garden. She is inspired by the principles of agroecology and permaculture and was originally drawn to Reno Food Systems because of the tasty potential of the High Desert Hops Project; needless to say, she enjoys conducting research in local craft breweries.
Melissa Gilbert, Board Secretary
Melissa Gilbert grew up in Washoe Valley, went to college in Colorado, and then spent 8 years living at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center where she trained as a zen monastic. She returned to Northern Nevada in 2005 and quickly became part of the local food community, first serving on the Board of Directors at the Great Basin Community Food Co-op, then later working as a cashier, baker, and cook. IN 2008, she helped edit and write Tassajara: Dinners & Desserts, a cookbook with stories about learning to cook in the Tassajara Kitchen.
In 2017, with Be the Change Project & Local Food Network, she helped create and produce the first annual Reno Garlic Fest. Melissa currently works as a personal chef and teaches cooking, sewing, and gardening at enCompass Academy. She loves planning local food festivals, growing sunflowers, beans, winter squash, & New Hopi Blue Corn. She believes that creative collaboration with people you love is the path to a positive future.
Lyndsey Langsdale, Officer
Lyndsey holds a master’s degree in applied socio-cultural anthropology and has worked both internationally and regionally in the fields of urban agriculture, food security, food justice, food systems development, ethnography, qualitative research, archaeology, folklife studies and human rights. She was co-owner/operator of Lost City Farm, an urban farm in downtown Reno and currently works as a private consultant.
Lyndsey has a passion for creating treasures from trash and hopes to contribute to Reno Food Systems by working to turn vacant public and private lands into productive agricultural green spaces throughout our community.
Neil Bertrando, Officer
Based in Reno, Nevada, Neil Bertrando manages a 1.3 acre homestead with his scientist wife Katie and the help of many in the community. Neil’s passion is enriching bioregions by building community and broadening the local genetic resources of practical plants and animals to relocalize resource supply networks. He strives for collaboration in his work and runs RT Permaculture, a consulting, design, and education business. A love to laugh, play, innovate, and co-create with other regenerative designers infuses his work. Neil specializes in arid climates, watershed restoration, erosion control, and small scale agroforestry.
While Neil lives in a temperate arid climate, over the past 12 years, he has gained experience working in wide range of climate and cultural contexts such as Hawaii, Haiti, Minnesota, Maine, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, and California. Neil has an MS in Environmental Science from University of Nevada, Reno, where his research focused on effects of the urban corridor on stream health and regional nutrient cycling.
Jeff Bryant, past board president
Jeff is the original founder of the Polygrarian Institute, now called Reno Food Systems, and served as the Board President until 2017. Jeff’s upbringing in Hawthorne, Nev. fostered a deep-rooted passion for the Walker Basin where he now works as the Executive Director of the Walker Basin Conservancy. Jeff has worked with the Great Basin Institute and lead conservation crews throughout the Great Basin, Mojave Desert, and the central Pacific coast of Mexico. After his time with the Great Basin Institute, Jeff worked for several years as the director of Urban Roots, and has actively helped develop the Truckee Meadows Parks Foundation. Jeff continues to lend his nonprofit experience, knowledge of conservation and sustainable agriculture, and passion for the Truckee Meadows through an advisory role with Reno Food Systems.