Shari O’Donnell, Board President
Part Time Teacher
Shari is President of the Board of Directors. She is a 20 year resident of Bloomington-Normal and a life-long local food enthusiast. Shari is an ardent cook, baker, and lover of great tasting food. She has a passion for promoting diversity in local food offerings and an enthusiasm for the creativity that comes from our local economies.
Melissa Schwoerer, Vice President
Engrained Brewing Company
Melissa was born and raised in Central Illinois and has always had a strong connection to farming and environmental issues. She is an attorney and former human resources manager, having worked in a variety of settings including state and local government, Caterpillar, and St. John’s Hospital. She became passionate about clean, local food when she had her first son in 2010 and has become an advocate for children’s health in the years following. She owns Engrained Brewing Company, a local Springfield microbrewery and farm to table restaurant.
Emily Wright, Treasurer
Emily is a Central Illinois native and mom of four, as well as a Registered CPA. She is an enthusiastic supporter of local farmers and producers, and believes supporting them strengthens our health, our environment and our local economy.
Farmer, founder and CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association
Rachel Berry is the Founder and CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association, a women-led grassroots organization working to build the resources and relationships necessary to grow a sustainable and equitable Illinois hemp industry. She is a first-generation CNG farmer raising poultry, heirloom vegetables, and industrial hemp fiber and grain with her family on their 13 acre homestead.
“In the nearly 10 years that I have been living rurally, I have dedicated my time to not only learning how to be a mindful farmer in the space I am allowed, but also how to be part of and contribute to the farming community. Finding the ISA was a breakthrough to my success. Through farmers markets, meetings and meet-ups, workshops, webinars, lobbying, and more, they have given me the opportunities and support needed to step into the local food movement and to find my place and voice as a land steward. ISA’s dedication, determination, and demonstration as leaders has been an inspiration to me personally, as a female farmer and storyteller, and to my organization as it helps develop the emerging hemp industry. “
Nature’s Farm Camp
Tim Magner is a Chicago-based education entrepreneur. He studied history at Boston College, followed by a career in technology sales before focusing on kids. For the last decade, Tim has been involved in a number of educational and food-related ventures, including as a children’s book author and the founder of Truck Farm Chicago. He’s now a Grant Officer at the Bryan Cameron Education Foundation and part of Nature’s Farm Camp at Angelic Organics Learning Center, an overnight summer camp where the kids help run the farm.
Kathy works for the Will County Land Use Department, Community Development Division as a program manager and also as the coordinator of the We WILL (for Will County) School and Community Garden Program. She has considerable experience in soil and water conservation efforts and solar development. Kathy is a member of the Will County Farm Bureau and served as as associate director of the Will- South Cook Soil and Water Conservation District for four years.
Kathy is also passionate about local food, local food policy and developing community relationships.
“I was provided the opportunity to travel throughout Illinois to study the current local food infrastructure and food policies- I developed relationships with members of the City of Chicago and Cook County growing community, Region 5 USDA Food Services Director, Oak Park’s Seven Generations Ahead, worked on the committee to develop a food hub in Kane County, and work closely with U of I Extension Small Farm Specialist to support my local garden program.”
Sustainable Supply Chain Professional
Ryan was born and raised in Western Ohio and moved to Illinois in 2013. Prior to his move to the Prairie State, Ryan worked 13+ years for a Soil and Water Conservation District in Southwest Ohio, assisting landowners and farmers in accessing resources and funds to protect and restore natural resources. Ryan brings land use and food system program development experience from his time spent with the Delta Institute and Funder experience with his time at the Great Lakes Protection Fund. Ryan currently works in the regenerative agriculture arena with a world food company. Ryan currently resides in Chicago with his wife, daughter and small but feisty yorkie.
Amy is the principal attorney at Amy Cook Law LLC, focusing on serving nonprofits, small businesses and creative professionals. Amy has a particular interest in working with writers and with food-based businesses and nonprofits. She is currently chair of the Chicago Bar Association Food Law Committee and has served on the board of Slow Food Chicago.
Amy is the the Founder of Go Green Park Ridge and Green Drinks Park Ridge and Director of Membership for the League of Women Voters Park Ridge. She Co-Chairs the We Compost Recognition Program Committee of the Illinois Food Scrap Coalition which aligns perfectly with committee work she is a part of in the Climate Reality Project – Chicago Metro Chapter. Recently, Amy joined the Coalition for Plastic Reduction (CPR) to help build people and organizational power in order to address the plastic waste crisis in the state of Illinois. When not doing litter cleanups, gardening, composting and living an activist lifestyle, she tries to heal the broken food system via volunteering in the community fridge movement, feeding communities through organizing, collective action and cooperation. Amy is eager to join the Alliance because food is love!
Laura Miller Hill
Eater, Educator, and Environmental and Social Justice Advocate
Laura is an educator, and has a degree in Sustainability with a focus on social justice from Roosevelt University in Chicago. She works with State Senator Karina Villa and State Representative Maura Hirschauer on their Environment & Agricultural Advisory Committee, as a Grassroots Political Activist with the Illinois Education Association, and as a Natural Resources Commissioner for the City of St. Charles. Laura has supported local producers for years, and have worked very hard to transition her diet to one primarily based on local and seasonal foods.
Outreach and Communications Coordinator, National Family Farm Coalition
Lisa lives in southwest Illinois where she and her husband are slowly replacing their lawn with pollinator-friendly plants. She comes from a closely knit farming community in northeast Missouri, earned degrees in anthropology and urban and regional planning, and with NFFC members and allies strives to build a just food system that values natural resources over corporate profit.
Bios coming soon