Welcome, FSLN Community Moderators!


We’re excited to introduce you all to five Food Systems Leadership Network members who have taken on a more active role in the network as our first team of Community Moderators: E’licia Chaverest, Taisy Conk, Jay Eury, Dawn Meader McCausland, and Dar Wolnik.

Adoption of new technologies like the FSLN’s interactive online platform almost always comes with a learning curve, and sharing knowledge, asking questions, and seeking advice on a national forum can feel intimidating and even overwhelming. So we’ve enlisted the support of these FSLN members to start sparking convos and catalyzing connections, and have asked them to be our thought partners in the continued development of the FSLN and the improvement of the online platform.

Throughout the spring, the Community Moderators will be playing a unique role in the FSLN by facilitating peer learning and resource sharing, generating new content, and encouraging engagement and communication on the FSLN online community of practice platform… So, you might see their names popping up more frequently throughout the site, if you haven’t noticed already! 😊

E’licia, Taisy, Jay, Dawn, and Dar each have different backgrounds, experiences, and interests, and we’re excited to partner with them to create a network that is welcoming, engaged, and “resource-full.”

We asked the Moderators to tell us about their professional interests and why they’re excited about becoming an FSLN Community Moderator. Read on to learn more about the Community Mods!

About the FSLN Moderators:

E’licia Chaverest

Assistant Director of the Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University

Normal, Alabama

Ms. Elicia Chaverest is the Assistant Director of the Small Farms Research Center at Alabama A&M University in Normal, Alabama.  She has nearly 17 years of experience working with socially disadvantaged, limited resource minority farmers and landowners, non-profit organization and agribusinesses throughout the state of Alabama.

On the FSLN and becoming an FSLN Moderator:

As a Food System Leadership Moderator, Ms. Chaverest sought after the opportunity to educate others from the position of academia. She’s excited about educating and empowering leaders on pitfalls, challenges, and successes on developing a holistic approach to an outreach and technical assistance program. In addition, she is excited about being able to interact with fellow food system leaders learning more about their challenges and solutions.

Taisy Conk

Director, Community Food Action, New Settlement Apartments

Bronx, NY

Taisy Conk directs New Settlement’s Community Food Action, a comprehensive and multidisciplinary food justice program based in the Bronx. Since 2013, she has built the program from the ground up with the support of passionate team members, partners, and community members.  Prior to New Settlement, Taisy worked in food access policy research, community health, and education in New Orleans, Boston, and abroad. Taisy holds an MPH from Tulane University in global community health and nutrition and a Bachelor’s degree from Bates College in biology and Spanish.

On the FSLN and becoming an FSLN Moderator:

The peer learning approach of this platform is a counterweight to expert-dominated spaces (read: panels). I hope we can emphasize this further to boost engagement of diverse voices. Immersed, as I am, in community-based work in an urban setting, I am curious about folks who work in other capacities and contexts. I look forward to exercising creativity and collaboration in dialogue with you all.

Jay Eury

Chambersburg, PA

I live in the rural county I grew up in.  I see many of the challenges that face this place.  I imagine so many opportunities for greater farm and food-driven community and economic development.  But... 

My passion can feel lonely and my future out of reach at times.  Not many people here do that 'good food' work.  My ideal jobs don’t really exist in this place (yet).  I'm from here though, and reluctant to leave.

On the FSLN and becoming an FSLN Moderator:

I'm so grateful then for the opportunity to be a community moderator for the FSLN - an accessible, supportive, curated space for food system thinkers and leaders!  I hope to find out what others like, and unlike, me are doing to make food system changes across our country.  I’d like to facilitate learning and resource sharing, and develop my skills at encouraging community growth in whatever form it may take.  I plan to spend my life doing this work and so look forward to meeting you.

Dawn Meader McCausland

Principal, Fruition Planning & Management

Federal Way, WA

Dawn Meader McCausland is the Principal of Fruition Planning & Management, a consulting firm working at the intersection of food and community development. She has a special interest in food business incubation as a strategy for building inclusive economic opportunities. As a fledgling chocolatier, Dawn experienced the challenges of starting a food business without access to a shared kitchen and co-bootstrapped a food entrepreneur network to try to find a solution. Today she thrives on building resources for communities working to solve similar local food economy puzzles. Dawn is the co-author of the Shared Kitchen Toolkit: A Practical Guide for Planning, Launching and Managing a Shared-Use Commercial Kitchen, and Opening Community Facilities to Food Entrepreneurs: Guidance for Communities and Facility Operators. She holds a Masters in City Planning, a BA in Ethnic Studies, and a certificate in Business Incubation Management from InBIA.

On the FSLN and becoming an FSLN Moderator:

She is excited to contribute to making the FSLN a resource-rich platform that catalyzes collaboration, inquiry, and knowledge-sharing across food system work.

Darlene Wolnik

Senior Advisor, Farmers Market Coalition

New Orleans, LA

Darlene Wolnik has been a national advocate and trainer for farmers markets for two decades. Her background contains both extensive community organizing initiatives and innovative small business projects, before serving for a decade as the Deputy Director for New Orleans-based Market Umbrella. While on staff at MU, she also designed and ran the organization's marketshare project, one of the first technical assistance and resource sites for markets in the US.  In that role, she created over 70 free resources and tools for markets. Since June of 2011, Darlene has consulted for dozens of market projects, focusing on a varied set of topics including project and market design and growth, to data collection and analysis. She authored the 2013 Vermont Market Currency Feasibility Report and the 2014 Local Food Awareness Report for Gulfport MS, both found on her www.helpingpublicmarketsgrow.com website, a multitude of FMC articles including the 2017 "Counting Visitors At Markets" and the 2018 article, "Designing Effective, Scalable Data Collection Tools to Measure Farmers Market Impacts"  published in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD). In 2018, she began serving as one of the mentors for the Agricultural Marketing Services Support Network dedicated to supporting current LFPP and FMPP recipients from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 award years. Darlene spends much of her time at FMC working with the Metrics and Legal Toolkit programs and providing technical assistance to FMC members and state partners.  

On the FSLN and becoming an FSLN Moderator:

Networks are where our individual work can grow into an actual movement, so anytime I can add value to that process, I am on it. For me, talking grassroots models AND system changes when visiting one "town square" is what interests me the most about the FSLN site.


On behalf of the Wallace Center, thank you for your creative, suggestions, and contributions to the FSLN! We’re excited to work with you in the coming months to make this online community of practice a go-to resource for food systems leaders across the country.

FSLN Admin


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