Patricia Baker joined MLRI’s Benefits Unit in 1983. As a Senior Policy Advocate at MLRI, Pat works at both the state and federal level on a range of legislative, administrative, and policy matters that affect low-income families, elders and persons with disabilities. Prior to joining MLRI, Pat was an advocate in Western Massachusetts Legal Services from 1977 to 1983 where she focused on disability, unemployment, and public benefits cases. Ms. Baker has authored and edited numerous publications, including the Food Stamp/SNAP Advocacy Guide as well as other MLRI Advocacy Guides involving cash assistance programs, immigrant eligibility issues and homeless rights, and co-authored and contributed to several national reports for the Food Research Action Center and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. She is the recipient of multiple honors and awards including the 2011 Dr. Raymond Wheeler /Senator Paul Wellstone Anti-Hunger Advocacy Leadership Award, the 2014 Eos Foundation Changing the Equation Award and the 2009 Kit Clark Award for her advocacy – all of which contributed to a significant reversal of the state’s low food stamp participation rate. Through her advocacy and leadership, Massachusetts has adopted state policy changes and federal options that have both removed access barriers and increased the value of monthly food stamp benefits.
Kathleen Gorman has spent the last 30 years working to address problems related to poverty among children across the world. As a sophomore in college, she spent a year in Mexico during which she developed a fluency in the Spanish language but also an appreciation for experiencing life from another’s perspective. After graduating from college she directed a bilingual television program on issues facing the Hispanic community in IL and then later accepted a Rotary Fellowship to study in Lima, Peru. She lived in Lima from 1979-1982, where she fulfilled the requirements to become licensed as an educational psychologist. She subsequently received her PhD in Human Development at the University of Maryland in 1987. She spent the next 18 months as a postdoctoral researcher, living in Guatemala and collecting data on the effects of malnutrition on infant behavior and development. She worked at the University of California, Davis as a research associate between 1989- 1993 and as an assistant professor of Psychology at the University of Vermont between 1993 and 2000. She became the first director of the URI Feinstein Center for a Hunger Free America in 2000. The Hunger Center is an educational center committed to developing solutions to the problem of hunger in RI and nationwide. As director of the Center, she administers the Hunger Studies minor, and manages the state of Rhode Island’s SNAP Outreach Project – aimed at increasing access to and retention in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, formerly known as Food Stamp Program). In addition, she holds an appointment of Full Professor in the Department of Psychology at URI, advises undergraduate and graduate students on research, and works with government and non-profit advocacy agencies across the state to support policy initiatives to improve the quality of life for low-income families and children. She has served on a number of boards, notably, the RI Community Food Bank (2001-2007), and is currently the Chair of the RI Emergency Food and Shelter Board.
Marissa Parisi joined the organization as the Executive Director in 2009. She is an expert in developing sustainable programs, strategic planning, organizational development, and fundraising for non-profits. In her time at Hunger Free Vermont she has led the organization through an extensive strategic planning process, transformed the organization’s name and brand, and relocated the offices to a space more conducive to collaboration. Marissa has grown the organization to include: outreach on senior nutrition, increased nutrition education programming, and expansion of the Hunger Councils now recognized as a national model for community-based activism. Hunger Free Vermont was the recipient of the 2013 Dr. Raymond Wheeler /Senator Paul Wellstone Anti-Hunger Advocacy Leadership Award. Prior to joining Hunger Free Vermont, Marissa was the Director of Donor Relations at Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. Marissa received her Masters of Science degree in Human Services with a concentration in Organizational Management and Leadership from Springfield College, and holds a Certificate in Business Excellence from Columbia Business School’s Senior Leaders Program.
With a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of New England, Donna has worked in social services with individuals and families for over 30 years. At Preble Street, where she has worked for 22 years, she is currently responsible for all programming, including direct social services—e.g. food programs consisting of three soup kitchens and a food pantry, shelters for teens and women, case management, street outreach, anti-trafficking efforts, permanent and transitional housing for adults and teens, etc.—and advocacy, which includes Maine Hunger Initiative work to end hunger in Maine, Homeless Voices for Justice, and agency efforts to respond to socio-economic forces that impact our mission. Her experience with community organizing and advocacy includes successful collaborations with people living in poverty and public and private, civic and faith-based organizations seeking social justice to challenge to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development threat to cut funding of social services in Maine, organizing a “You Don’t Need a Home to Vote” campaign that has registered over 2,000 disenfranchised citizens, enactment of the first-in- the nation legislation to identify homeless people as a protected class in hate crimes violence and collaborating with statewide and national partners to impact systemic and policy change. Her awards include the Maine Initiatives Growers of Hope Watering Can Award, Maine Council of Churches Social Justice Award, Joe Kreisler Community Impact Award, Maine People’s Alliance Rising Tide Award, and Dickinson Mental Health Community Service Award. She co-authored Maine Policy Review, Special Issue: Food, “Hunger in Maine”.
Erin Allgood grew up with a fierce love of food and passion for social justice. A nearly lifelong Granite Stater, Erin currently resides in the Seacoast region of New Hampshire and works as a food system consultant throughout New England. As a consultant and principal at Allgood Eats Local, Erin facilitates multi-sector collaborations, provides capacity-building for food system initiatives, and helps businesses, individuals, and organizations clarify their mission and develop their strategy for impact. Her work has covered a diversity of food systems issues, including food insecurity, local food distribution, and public health. Recently, Erin helped facilitate the NH Roadmap to End Childhood Hunger Update and Assessment for NH Hunger Solutions. She holds a BA in Biochemistry from Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an MS in Nutritional Sciences from University of New Hampshire, and certificates in Leadership in Sustainable Food Systems and Sustainable Business, both from the University of Vermont. She is currently working on a second MS degree in Leadership for Sustainability through the University of Vermont. Erin's enthusiasm and dedication in building sustainable food systems crosses over into many fields, and, as such, has served in various roles related to the food system. She is the former project coordinator for the NH Food Alliance, serves as a SNAP Committee member for Seacoast Eat Local, and is the co-owner of Embers Bakery, a mobile wood-fired pizza and bread business.
Lucy Nolan is the Executive Director of End Hunger Connecticut!, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger in Connecticut. EHC!’s goal is to raise awareness of hunger in the state of Connecticut, promote funding for and access to nutrition assistance programs, and to speak out to help eliminate the root causes of hunger. EHC! works with the goal of helping low income families move “beyond the food pantry” towards self-sufficiency. Lucy expertise on food security, hunger and poverty as it relates to hunger has brought her before the US Congress and the Connecticut legislature to testify on issues ranging from food stamps to school nutrition to farmer’s markets. Successful legislative initiatives include increasing funding for school breakfast including a pilot program for in-classroom breakfast, increasing food stamp accessibility, and as lead advocate on passage of the country’s toughest school nutrition legislation, which banned the sale of sugary drinks on school grounds. Lucy testified before the US Senate Agriculture, Forestry and Natural Resources Committee on out of school children’s food programs. She sits on many coalitions where she brings her experience regarding hunger and poverty to the table. Lucy is a legislatively appointed member to the Connecticut Milk Regulation Board, Connecticut Food Policy Council, the Farmland Preservation Board, the Milk Promotion Board, and served on The Speaker’s Task Force on Children and the Recession, as co-chair of the SustiNet Adult and Child Obesity Task Force and the Task Force on Child Obesity and is currently a sits on the steering committee of the Connecticut Coalition Against Childhood Obesity. Lucy is also a member the Working Lands Alliance and serves as vice-chair on UConn’s College of Agriculture and Nutritional Resources Dean’s Advisory Board. Under Lucy’s tenure, EHC! began a very successful outreach program for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formally known as the Food Stamp Program, the Summer Food Service Program and through a partnership with Share Our Strength the CT No Kid Hungry Campaign. EHC!’s innovative outreach increased participation in the child nutrition programs through active partnerships with community leaders, community-based organizations and the state. EHC! has been awarded the Congressional Hunger Center’s “Victory Against Hunger” award three times, awards from the University of Connecticut School of Allied Health, Connecticut Academy of Dieticians and Nutritionist and Lucy was awarded the Raymond Wheeler/Paul Wellstone Award from the Food Research and Advocacy Center for her outstanding advocacy on behalf of low-income people in Connecticut and the nation. Lucy received her BA from Ohio Wesleyan University, and her JD from the University Of Connecticut School Of Law.