The PCFMA Staff
PCFMA's staff includes farmers' market managers, experienced marketing and promotions professionals, administrators, chefs, and others all dedicated to developing, sustaining and improving PCFMA's farmers' markets. The PCFMA staff is dedicated to ensuring that farmers' markets remain successful outlets for California's small family farms and fun family gatherings for the communities we serve. Click on the arrow next to a staff member's name to learn more about them.
John W. Silveira, Director
John is the Director of the Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association. He joined PCFMA as a Market Manager in 1992, became Operations Director two years later, and took on the position of Director in 1999. Prior to joining PCFMA, John sold in farmers' markets for a farmer from Dinuba, worked as an air traffic controller, and served in the US Navy.
Vanessa Bonilla, Market Manager
Cody Brooks, Market Manager
Cody has been a resident of Antioch, CA his whole life. He’s a relative and employee of Delta Moon Soapworks since its inception, over 10 years ago. He’s worked, and managed in many different retail store for the past 8 years. He joined PCFMA in March 2012. In his spare time he likes to resurrect cars that are on their last legs.
Valentina Cekovski, Market Manager
Valentina was raised both in a small agricultural town in Serbia and the city of San Jose, California. Her good friend convinced her to go to UC Davis, where she realized that she truly is an aggie at heart. She loves the smell of the earth, farming and gardening, and doesn’t mind the bit of soil stuck to the carrot you will usually find her munching on. She has been working at farmer’s markets and on farms since 2011 and is excited to connect communities to their local agriculture through PCFMA. When she’s not talking to people about composting or organic farming, you can find Valentina doodling, reading, and playing outside.
Laura deTar, Nutrition Program Manager, Fresh Approach
Laura deTar joined Fresh Approach as the Nutrition Program Manager in February of 2013. Laura has a Master’s degree in Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Laura comes to Fresh Approach with experience as a public health advocate, organizing farm-to-school programs, and coordinating research projects on health behaviors. Laura is passionate about helping all people access fresh and healthy food, and talking with people about how to easily incorporate fresh foods into their diets.
Thomas Dorn, Market Manager
Thomas grew up in Antioch and attended Tracy High, joined the FFA and also took an Animal Husbandry course on ag animals. In the late 80's his family moved to Modesto and they lived off Kansas Ave near all the orchards. He attended college for short period at Delta College in Stockton and also attended Brookdale College in Lincroft New Jersey. He joined Pacific Coast Farmers' Market Association in July of 2001.
Jessica Echols, Administrative Assistant
Emily Finkel, Assistant Market Manager
Stephanie Hadsell, Direct Marketing Coordinator
Stephanie was born and raised here locally in Martinez, CA. After graduating high school she moved to San Luis Obispo where she attended Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and attained her Bachelor of Science in Agricultural business. She spent a lot of her time post-graduation wine-making in the Napa Valley as well as the south island of New Zealand. Stephanie has enjoyed the markets and establishing relationships with producers as well as helping local farmers and ranchers run confident businesses. She was promoted from a Market Manager to Direct Marketing Coordinator in 2014. In Stephanie’s free time she enjoys hiking, crossfitting, traveling, and thrifting!
Reheman Haishan, Assistant Market Manager
Sara Haston, Market chef
Sara joined PCFMA as the Market chef and creative specialist in March 2014. She holds a Master’s degree in Integrative Health Studies where she focused on whole foods nutrition and health coaching, the importance of enjoying food in community and researched the positive benefits of gardening as a therapeutic modality. She has spent two years as an organic farmer in rural Oregon where she was involved in all aspects of the operation from seed ordering, to cover cropping, direct seeding, transplanting, harvesting and selling at farmer’s markets. She has also has experience in the food service industry in the front and back of the house, and as a community garden coordinator for AmeriCorps. In her free time she is making herbal medicine, teaching and practicing yoga, and exploring the California landscape on bike and foot.
Mario Hernandez, Chef & Program Coordinator for Cookin' the Market
Mario just returned to the Bay Area after opening a small café in New York City. After two years of east coast weather and slim produce picking’s, he is super excited about the California sun and the great farmer’s market s available here. He spends he’s free time foraging the Oakland hills for mushrooms and wild edibles and recovering from poison oak.
Maureen Hovda, Administrative Manager
Maureen Hovda joined PCFMA in Feb 2010 as Administrative Manager. Before joining PCFMA, she worked part-time as a bookkeeper at Longs Drugs (now CVS) from 1992 to 2010. She enjoys spending her free time with her three kids and two dogs and serves on the PTA board.
Ron Jackson, Market Manager
Ron first joined PCFMA in 2000 as the Assistant Manager of the Jack London Square Farmers' Market. In 2009 he decided to join PCFMA full-time and now manages markets in both Alameda and Contra Costa Counties.
Jeff Jelsma, Market Manager
Jeff is a California native, originally from the capitol city of Sacramento before moving to the Bay Area in 2005. He received a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies with a minor in Chemistry from UC Berkeley, and is still taking classes at the local city college. As a Market Manager, Jeff really enjoys connecting with the communities that his markets serve, and providing them with a local, fresh produce source. Before becoming a Market Manager, Jeff sold bread at the Castro Market with the San Francisco based bakery Crepe & Brioche. In his free time he likes to explore the outdoors, ride around San Francisco, read, and eat good food.
Pat Lane, Public Relations
Pat is well-known and much-loved fixture in the Pleasanton community after years of work for the Pleasanton Downtown Association. She now fills her Saturdays holding court at the Information Booth at the Pleasanton Farmers' Market.
Amber Larson, Market Manager
Amber is a Bay Area native. Through education she has found her calling in health and nutrition. She is an organic advocate and enjoys inspiring others to live a healthy lifestyle. Her education started at Diablo Valley College and she plans to receive a health science degree at San Jose State in the future. During her time with the PCFMA she would like to continue to promote local, organic produce to the people.
Travis Lee, Market Manager
Shawn Lipetzky, Market Manager
Shawn hails from Minneapolis Minnesota. He moved to California seven plus years ago to hang out with his sister and brother in-law. He received his associates degree in general studies from Monterey Community College. He and his wife moved to the Bay Area in 2008. In 2010 he was hired by PCFMA as a Market Manager. He says the best part of the job is befriending and learning from the producers.
Minnie Low, Market Manager
Minnie is a Market Manager who hails from the South Bay. She served a year as an AmeriCorps*VISTA Member at Feeding America San Diego, building capacity for CalFresh/SNAP in San Diego County. She is passionate about increasing healthy food access for underserved populations and providing public service to nonprofit organizations. She is also a volunteer for PCFMA’s sister organization, Fresh Approach.
A.J. Mahon, Marketing & Promotions Specialist
Moises Mena, Market Manager
Moses was born and raised in South San Jose where he graduated from the school of hard knocks. He spent his early 20’s in and out of college and working for various retail chains. In 2008 Moses moved to Lafayette, Louisiana with his best pal Bailey (yellow lab), in an attempt to continue his education, but instead went to work for a large oil field company. Four years later he’s back in full effect and proud to be working in a positive light as a farmers market manager!
Douglas Mena, Market Manager
I graduated HS at Oak Grove High in San Jose, CA in 1992. From there I joined the Army Reserves and graduated from their “Academy of Health Sciences” as a Patient Administration Specialist in a Combat Support Hospital, or C.S.H. for short. I have enjoyed a career in both the service and hospitality industries where I have worked in as a valet – yes, that’s where I learned how to drive with a stick shift - bellman, banquets server and captain. I have managed the front desk department, as well as housekeeping at mid-sized hotels. Some of my hobbies have included mountain biking, R/C cars, computer gaming and light web development. At the moment my main hobby is trying to get my backyard garden started with some tomatoes, strawberries, bell peppers and maybe some corn.
Jessica Millender, Regional Manager
Jessica is a Regional Manager for the Contra Costa Region who hails from Southern California. She is passionate about sharing her adventurous attitude for food with her newly found community in the Bay Area. She received her B.S in Hotel and Restaurant Management from California Polytechnic State University, Pomona and her M.B.A at the Keller Graduate School of Management. A running theme in Jessica’s career choices have been education and community building. She has worked for City of Walnut, AmeriCorps, Boys & Girls Club, and Hayward Unified School District. Her presence was a natural fit into PCFMA family.
Debra J. Morris, Marketing & Promotions Specialist
Debra hails from Pasadena, CA and moved to the Bay Area in 1999. She has a degree in Arts and Education, worked for many years as a museum registrar, owned her own graphics business, and now promotes farmers' markets at PCFMA by creating printed materials for the markets, provides e-newsletters for each market, and writes newspaper articles for local papers. Also an avid gardener, she received her Master Gardener certification for Contra Costa County in 2006 and helps provide Master Gardener volunteers for the farmers' markets.
Allen J. Moy, Director of Community Based Programs
Allen J. Moy is Director of Community Based Programs at PCFMA where he leads efforts to deepen PCFMA’s connections to the communities it serves and to develop new programs that help PCFMA’s farmers be more successful. Allen joined PCFMA in 2003, bringing over 15 years of experience in nonprofit organizations
In this role, Allen also serves as the Executive Director of Fresh Approach, PCFMA’s sister organization that works to make farmers’ markets more accessible in low income communities and to improve the health of community residents.
Allen is a native of San Antonio, Texas. He holds a Master's in Urban Administration and a Bachelor's in Communications and Political Science, both from Trinity University in San Antonio. Allen also has a Certificate in Human Resource Manager from California State University, Hayward (now Cal State East Bay). Allen currently resides in Concord, California.
Allen is a member of the Board of Directors of the California Small Farm Conference - a nonprofit organization that hosts educational conferences for California's small farmers.
Tom Nichol, Market Manager
Born in Stanton, VA, his family migrated to Central Florida, in the early 1960’s, pre-Disney when the area was a major citrus producing region. He attended The University of Florida, earning a liberal arts degree. After his college days, he embarked on a series of adventures leading to a phone interview with PCFMA in 1994. He was asked, "how soon can you get here?" ...so two weeks later he was off to California to become a market manager. Since then he's managed a wide range of markets in the Bay area, and have seen many changes in the Association and markets in general. Throughout this time he's enjoyed interacting with a diverse group of producers who are devoted to providing fresh food to the communities that support Farmers' Markets.
Eden Olsen, Market Manager
Eden is a dirt-loving Oregonian with a soft spot for overalls. With a BA in Environmental Analysis from Scripps College, she is passionate about connecting communities and farmers on a local level. Previous to her work at PCFMA, Eden designed an education program for a community garden in Australia, managed an urban farm in Oregon, and worked on an organic farm in California. In her free time she can usually be found biking, making bread and talking to her garden.
Ben Palazzolo, Director of Direct Marketing
Ben recently moved to the Bay Area from San Luis Obispo. While living there he worked at an independent health food store, managed a salsa dance club, and earned a B.S. from Cal Poly State University. He loves to dance, cook, eat and socialize.
Tomas Pascual, Market Manager
Tomas was born in Central America and immigrated to the California at the age of 17. He is the first generation to receive a higher education and to graduate from the university level. In 2007 he received his Bachelor's of Science in Business Administration from Sacramento State University; and in 2008 he received a Translation and Interpretation Certificate in English and Spanish at The National Hispanic University in San Jose, CA. The major focus of the translation program was medical and legal terms. One of Tomas' many activities during his free time is playing soccer. He also enjoys playing his guitar and passing time with his friends.
Michael Peterson, Market Manager
Michael has lived in Martinez for twenty three years and has developed a great relationship with the community through his work. He has helped Martinez a lot with volunteering at different events throughout the community. Michael has traveled a lot thought his life he has been to the Galapagos Islands, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, France and Italy and has learned a lot from each of the places he has been.
Sameer Poudyal, Market Manager
Sameer hails from Kathmandu, Nepal - a land of farmers. Here in the US, he went to Winona State University in Minnesota for computer science in 2003. Sameer enjoys helping farmers and his previous experience as a vendor in different farmers market helped him as Market Manager.
Greg Pursley, Regional Manager
Born and raised in San Francisco, Greg has been a competitor in Alpine Skiing, Sailing & Fencing. He earned degrees in Architecture and Engineering as well as acquiring a Building Inspectors Certification in Construction. While in college he competed in the NCAA in Fencing and at one time was nationally ranked. He has owned and operated his own Fencing Academy for over 25 years, and has had many of his students get their national ranking as well. Over the years he has held many different jobs in a wide range of fields. He has been a painter, carpenter and has worked on contract with the Government as Lead Designer on jets. He and his wife Virginia have lived in Martinez for the last 16 years where they have raised their 4 children.
Leah Ricci, Volunteer Coordinator
Leah Ricci joined PCFMA as Volunteer Coordinator in January of 2013. Leah has a B.A in Anthropology and Environmental Studies from Bowdoin College. She previously spent five years working at outdoor schools in the Santa Cruz mountains, managing residential outdoor education programs and recruiting, training, and mentoring high school volunteers. She has also taught gardening and cooking lessons at Bay Area summer camps, and recently spent six months teaching English in Chile and Peru. In her free time, Leah is an advocate for pedal-powered transportation and loves to bake pies.
Stefan J. Robinson, Director of Marketing & Promotions
Raised in Washington State, Stefan Robinson graduated from Washington State University with a bachelor’s degree in Advertising. He then joined PCFMA as a Promotions Coordinator in 2005 and in 2009 took the role as the Director of Marketing & Promotions. In that role he oversees the development and execution of marketing and advertising strategies for all of PCFMA's farmers' markets. In Stefan’s free time, he enjoys cooking with fresh ingredients from the farmers’ markets, listening to music, working with his hands, and spending time with family and friends. He is a little league football coach extraordinaire, an avid snowboarder, a world traveler, and deathly afraid of sharks.
Maria Elena Rodriguez, Assistant Market Manager
Originally from Florida, she spent eight years living in Seattle. While in Seattle, Maria Elena pursued her bachelor’s degree at the University of Washington, worked at a food bank, and was active in the local food justice movement. She then moved to California to pursue a Master’s degree in Community Development. Maria Elena currently lives in East Oakland and also works full time for an elder care agency in San Francisco. She is very excited to learn more about California agriculture and to build community around healthy food.
Laura Salcido, Agriculture Program Manager, Fresh Approach
Laura is a life-long resident of San Jose, and continues to advocate for it everywhere she goes. She first began learning about program development working at UC Santa Cruz while she was a student there. She learned about the interesting issues at the intersection of agriculture, society, and the environment as a Farmers’ Market Manager, and then as a Farm to School Coordinator for the South Bay.
Adam Sillup, Market Manager
I am originally from Massachusetts and prior to moving to Oakland I was living and working in the Lake Tahoe area at Kirkwood Ski Resort. Most of my experience comes from the producer/production side of agriculture. I have a degree in Sustainable Agriculture from the University of Massachusetts and have worked on a number of organic farms in MA.
Chong Thao, Market Manager
Chong was born in Thailand and moved to California in 1991. Je joined PCFMA in 2009 as market manager. He enjoys working in the field with staff, farmers, and consumers. Prior to joining PCFMA, he worked at his family farm, sold produce at the farmers' markets, and attended CSU Fresno. His passions are modifying sports cars, computers, music, football, basketball, vollyball, and movies.
Kelly Toomey, Market Manager
High Flying Kelly comes to us as a native from the Bay Area. This little tumbler has lived everywhere as far east as Antioch and as far west as San Francisco. Now currently residing in Martinez, he is a newbie to the Pacific Coast family and enjoys all the fruitiness that it has to offer. He is an ex-flying trapeze artist with the circus who’s background is fifteen years as a competitive gymnast. His foodie knowledge comes with his restaurant experience where he’s worked his way up from being a server to being in charge of his own restaurant with a staff of 50 people. He’s excited about being part of the San Mateo Saturday market which is the largest market in the PCFMA organization, and he loves all delectable produce that California has to offer.
Ramiro Tovar, Market Manager
Ramiro is a Market Manager working at farmers' markets in Santa Clara County.
Elena Trierweiler, Marketing & Promotions Specialist
Born and raised in San Francisco, I will defend the Outer Sunset with a fiery passion. I studied Spanish, Education and Communication at UC Davis then moved back to the Bay Area to dabble in the tech world and nonprofit Latin American cultural center La Peńa before taking off to explore South America for 6 months. In my free time you can find me experimenting with kale, listening to This American Life, or daydreaming about the Colombian coast.
Ron Ulrici, Training and Development Manager
Ron joined PCFMA as Training and Development Manager. He is excited to be part of an organization that has the important mission serving the farmers and other providers since he is a California native with family roots in farming and ranching stretching back to the 1800’s. His childhood home was in Salinas, the salad bowl of the nation.
Prior to joining Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market, Ron was the Director of a non-profit organization dedicated to substance abuse treatment. His career has included HR, Training and Development and Operational positions in the high tech world of Silicon Valley, in the Real Estate field and as a Management Consultant. He holds a Masters’ Degree in Human Relations.
Ron lives with his wife, Karen in Brentwood. He has three sons and a daughter. Ron tells us that he has lost count of how many grandchildren he has.
Jorge Vega, Regional Manager
Jorge was born in Mexico and brought to the US when he was 11. Growing up in Brentwood, his first job was picking fruit for local farmers. Eventually, he owned his own business repairing luxury car interiors. In 2010, Jorge attended Contra Costa Medical Career College and got certified as an EKG Technician. He has also worked as a stagehand (stage building, sound equipment, video equipment, lighting) for companies like Live Nation, Google, and Another Planet Entertainment prior to arriving at PCFMA. Jorge joined pcfma in 2009 and in May of 2013, he took the role as a Regional Manager.
In his free time, Jorge enjoys volunteering for the Red Cross and also finds sponsors who will purchase guitars for children and provides free lessons. He also enjoys spending time with my nieces and nephews, hiking, rock climbing, or recording music in his home studio. But what he enjoys most is bringing joy to my market customers with his goofy nature.
Keith Wall, Market Manager
As a long time staff member of two well represented bay area farmers’ market producers, Keith has been involved in farmers’ market culture for several years as both an agricultural and non-agricultural employee. His love of farmers’ markets extends back into his education at UCSC where he studied Agroecology in the field of Environmental Studies. Through his degree, Keith has had experience working on several Central Coast farms including the UCSC experimental farm and garden which houses a strong CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program which feeds upwards of 250 families each season. As well, Keith has studied the social impacts that farmers’ markets can have on local communities and the powerful linkages that tend to follow the establishment of localized commerce. For his BA exit requirement, Keith wrote a term paper evaluating three of the major linkages between market producers and their benefits and drawbacks. Now that Keith has moved back to his native bay area and is working for PCFMA, he hopes to utilize his experience within the farmers’ market, the farm, and the classroom to better facilitate the connection between local producers and local consumers.
Ashley Weidman, Market Manager
Ashley grew up in both the South and the East Bay, and has been immersed in the knowledge of healthy and natural foods for as long as she can remember. She lived in Dallas for four years, in Austin for three years, and returned to the Bay Area in 2005 to learn about the farm-to-table style of preparing and eating food. She was raised in a vegetarian household during the middle part of her childhood years, and her consciousness around whole foods and natural cooking was influenced strongly by her mother. She first started working with foods when she was 16, at Whole Foods Market. Over the next several years, she worked at various Whole Foods locations in Texas and California in various departments. When she moved back to the Bay, she became enamored with the Northern California farmers market produce, and a love for the raw food diet developed. She attended Living Light Culinary Arts Institute in Ft. Bragg and became a raw food chef, which landed her a private chef job for a couple in San Anselmo. Following her hunger for preparing food, she then started looking at primitive diets through the studies of Weston A. Price and Sally Fallon, and pursued an apprenticeship at Three Stone Hearth, a community-supported kitchen in Berkeley. By this time she had also started working at the Ecology Center Farmers Market in Berkeley, selling grass-fed and pastured meats, and then moved on to sell organic vegetables for a Latin producer. She became very focused on continuing to learn how to cook, and learned her cooking skills through a vegetarian meal delivery service for families that specialized in cooking with natural foods; then became pastry and sous chef Venus Restaurant, famous for its 10-year farm-to-table cooking style presence in Berkeley; B Restaurant San Francisco, where she wrote the lunch and brunch menus highlighting seasonal foods from local farmers markets; and Daniel Patterson’s Haven, where she was the pastry chef’s assistant. At PCFMA farmers markets, she loves working with and getting to know the producers as well as assisting the public in healthy eating choices.
Eric Winkler, Market Manager
Eric was born and raised in New Jersey where he graduated from Pennsauken High. After high school and working in a chocolate factory kitchen for a few years he moved to Berkeley. Eric has moved around California and lived in Seattle and Hawaii before returning to California and working for PCFMA in May of 2011.
Ashley Zoellner, Market Manager
Ashley was born and raised in the Contra Costa County of the SF Bay Area. She attended UC Santa Cruz where her love for culture and communities earned her a Bachelor degree in Cultural Anthropology. After college Ashley returned to the East Bay and immersed herself in the Bay’s rich food culture, often combining her love of bicycling and food, creating food-centric bike rides. In 2013 Ashley traveled throughout the U.S. volunteering on farms, getting her hands dirty, and solidifying her love for growing food and food education. Ashley is starting her first organic urban garden, and is excited as a Market Manager to develop lasting relationships with food producers and the community.