Working day to day to advance the Rhode Island Food Hub is a capable and experienced team led by real estate & community developers Lucie Searle and Clay Rockefeller and Farm Fresh Co-Executive Directors, Sheri Griffin and Jesse Rye. Farm Fresh RI Board Co-Chair Maureen Pothier meets with the team on a weekly basis and serves as liaison between the Board and the development team.
Lucie Searle grew up on a small farm in Exeter, RI where her family raised beef cattle and pigs. Growing up, she and her brothers were very active in 4-H, and showed their cattle at many local and regional fairs. The farm also grew crops for a road-side stand which offered a large variety of fruits and vegetables, with strawberries and sweet corn being the specialties. Lucie has worked in real estate development—both the for profit and non profit sectors—since 1982 and is especially known for her achievements to revitalize downtown Providence, evidenced through the three award winning real estate projects she has developed for AS220 and her ongoing efforts through the Providence Preservation Society. Lucie is one of the original Farm Fresh Board members, serving for nine years. She stepped off the Board to focus on the development in a professional capacity.
Clay Rockefeller is a mission driven real estate and community developer who has been living and working in Providence, RI since 1998. Mr. Rockefeller has partnered on several different projects over that span of time including the conversion of Monohasset Mill, a historic 53,000 square foot mill that is now home to 38 live/work condominium units and 1 Sims Ave., 17,000 square feet of commercial/industrial space housing 10 small creative businesses. Mr. Rockefeller was also a co-founder of The Steel Yard, a non-profit industrial arts education facility located in Providence’s industrial Valley neighborhood. Both the developments of the property at 1 Sims Ave and The Steel Yard required extensive environmental remediation – a process that Mr. Rockefeller was very much involved with from start to finish. Both Monohasset Mill and the Steel Yard are located across the street from the new Farm Fresh RI site.
Sheri Griffin is from a farming family in Florida. Ms. Griffin has a strong sense of the need for the food economy to benefit the community – economically, environmentally and culturally – as well as a clear understanding of a grower’s perspective in agricultural commerce. Ms Griffin has been serving as the Co-Executive Director of Farm Fresh Rhode Island since September 2013. Ms. Griffin began her affiliation with Farm Fresh Rhode Island in 2005, serving as a volunteer and advisor to founders Louella Hill and Noah Fulmer, at a time when the organization’s annual budget was $30,000. Serving as lead fundraiser for the organization, Ms. Griffin has raised over $3M in grants for Farm Fresh from federal, state and private sources, and has garnered over $4.5M from events and individual major gifts.
As the Co-Executive Director of Farm Fresh Rhode Island, Jesse Rye is responsible for Food Systems Enterprise and financial management, overseeing all social enterprise activities and developing earned income revenue sources for the organization. In addition, Mr. Rye provides strategic financial management—in partnership with the board of directors and finance director—on all financial matters, in a five-year period doubling Farm Fresh’s operating budget and staff.
Here in Rhode Island, he serves as a council member and treasurer for the Rhode Island Food Policy Council and advisory member for the newly formed RI Food Center at URI. Regionally, Mr. Rye serves as an advisory member for the New England Farmers Union, participates in Food Solutions New England events and activities and is active in the national Food Hub cohort through the Wallace Center at Winrock International.
Maureen Pothier Farm Fresh RI Board Co-Chair, is Associate Professor and Department Chair in the College of Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University. Maureen’s culinary prowess is extensive and includes the highly regarded (former) Bluepoint Oyster Bar & Restaurant in Providence where she was executive chef and co-owner along with her husband Paul Inveen. Prior to joining the board of Farm Fresh RI, Maureen served on the board of Women Chefs & Restaurateurs for seven years, including two years as president of the organization.
Other professionals on the team include Architects, Durkee Brown Viveiros Werenfels; Environmental Engineers, ESM; Structural Engineer, Yoder + Tidwell; and Geotech Engineers, LGCI. Financial consulting is by Barbara Sokoloff Associates.
All Farm Fresh RI staff will be giving input on our planning process, but members of the leadership team that will be contributing to specific aspects of the development of the hub include Finance Director Paula Gill, Harvest Kitchen Director Jen Stott, Community Access Program Director Thea Upham, Food System Enterprise Program Director Sarah Bernstein, Operations Director David Johnson, Development Associate Quatia Osorio and Communications Director Rebecca Seggel.