Board of Directors 2016-12-09T16:02:00+00:00

Officers & Board of Directors

John McDowell, President, Chairman of the Board

John McDowell is an award-winning musician, composer, farmer, and president of Rockland Farm Alliance. He grew up in Champaign, Illinois and worked long summer days in the corn and soybean fields on farms as a teenager in the summer months. Throughout his career as a professional musician he continued his connection with agriculture by visiting and helping out on farms. After moving to Rockland County, he and his wife revived Camp Hill Farm in Pomona and started the first CSA in the county. In 2007, John formed Rockland Farm Alliance, which has received strong support from the Rockland community and governmental officials to facilitate local sustainable agriculture in Rockland County.

Joan Dye Gussow

Joan Dye Gussow is Mary Swartz Rose Professor emerita and former chair of the Nutrition Education Program at Teachers College, Columbia University, where she has been a long-time analyst and critic of the US food system. In her classic 1978 book, The Feeding Web: Issues in Nutritional Ecology, which tracked the environmental hazards of an increasingly globalized food system, she foreshadowed by several decades the current interest in re-localizing the food supply. A coveted speaker on local food issues, she is also well known for her more recent books, including This Organic Life: Confessions of a Suburban Homesteader (2001), and Growing, Older (2010), both of which relate her experiences growing her own food in suburban New York.

Mary Lukens

With over two decades of marketing and public relations experience, Mary worked in several industries before forming Woods Marketing Inc., where she provides marketing services for a diverse client list. A native New Yorker, Mary moved to Rockland in 2004 and soon after became co-coordinator for the Piermont Community Garden. Her interest in growing food steered her to pursue a Master Gardener certification with Rockland’s Cornell Cooperative Extension. Mary has a keen interest in community gardening, and was instrumental in developing the Catholic Community Services’ “Garden of Love” in Haverstraw, and more recently a community garden at Montebello’s Village Hall. A founding member of the ‘Plant a Row for the Hungry’ Committee, Mary has also worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension’s School Garden Network, and has managed the Suffern Farmer’s Market.

Peggy Gilbert

Peggy Moon Gilbert joined the Rockland Farm Alliance Board in 2013 following her retirement from the field of domestic and overseas refugee services. For over twenty years, she provided leadership nationally, directing the Refugee Resettlement network for World Relief and managing outcomes for 26 local refugee resettlement offices in twelve states. Prior to her work with refugees, Ms. Gilbert spent the early 1970’s growing and preserving food on her half acre New City yard while raising a family. A descendant of a family that began farming nearly 400 years ago in Virginia, Ms. Gilbert credits her grandparents and great grandparents with inspiring her to care for the earth and to work the soil.

Kate Wysokowski

Kate Wysokowski, a Public Affairs Manager for Orange and Rockland Utilities, joined the RFA Board in January 2015. As the Public Affairs Manager serving several Villages and Towns in Rockland County, including Clarkstown, Kate had the opportunity to visit Cropsey Farm and observe first-hand the great work being done by Rockland Farm Alliance to create and sustain organic food production in Rockland County. Kate’s professional life prior to working for Orange and Rockland Utilities was in the area of early childhood special education. Kate’s vision of the farm as an educational environment ideal for young children is what drives her commitment to the RFA.

Advisory Board

Alexandra Spadea RFA Co-Founder
Angela Lindvall Founder of Collage Foundation
Virginia Kasinki Director of Community-Based Programs, Glynwood Center
Anna Hammond Executive Director, Sylvia Center
Ellen Peck Non-profit consultant
John Wickes Owner, Wickes Arborists
Charlie Paolino Owner, Hook Mountain Growers
Deverell Pedersen Non-profit consultant and food policy grant writer

To contact the RFA Board of Directors, please email