Alliance Director                                                                                                   Elly Brown          elly@sdfsa.org

Elly Brown is the Director of the San Diego Food System Alliance, a coalition with a mission to develop a healthy, equitable, and sustainable food system. Elly discovered her passion for the social sector during her frequent business trips to China and southeast Asia while working as a consultant at Deloitte in Japan. During her MBA, Elly conducted market research for the launch of a healthcare social enterprise for BRAC Uganda and evaluated a “second chance” education program for primary school dropouts in post-conflict Northern Uganda. She continued her work on social impact by joining Root Cause, a Boston-based nonprofit consulting firm, in 2010. She advised nonprofits and foundations on building organizational capacity and maximizing community impact through collaborations.

Elly received a Bachelors in Cognitive Science from UC Berkeley and an MBA from Duke University. Elly was a staff blogger for Nextbillion, covering topics on sustainable development and social innovation. She was a judge at Harvard’s Pitch for Change social enterprise competition, serving as a mentor for the winning teams. She has experiences as a strategic consultant for social impact organizations in US, Japan, India, Uganda, and Bermuda. Elly now lives in San Diego with her husband and one child. 


Associate Director                                                                                                Sona Desai          sona@sdfsa.org

Sona has been working to advance sustainable and equitable food systems for more than 20 years. She has a background in organic farming, food marketing & distribution, farm business development, and is recognized nationally as a leader in food hub and community food systems development.

Before joining the San Diego Food System Alliance, Sona was the Director of Food Systems Development at the Leichtag Foundation where she provided thought leadership, research, and food and farm based consulting services to advance the Foundation’s food system strategy. She also served as the Associate Director of Coastal Roots Farm in Encinitas. 

Sona moved to California in 2016 after working at the Intervale Center in Burlington, Vermont for ten years. At the Intervale Center, Sona led the development and management of the Intervale Food Hub and the organization’s Gleaning & Food Rescue Program. She was also actively engaged in the Vermont Farm to Plate Network, and served on the Board of Directors for the Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont.

As the Associate Director of the San Diego Food System Alliance, Sona provides strategic and management support for the organization, strengthens support services for small-scale sustainable food producers and fishermen in the region, provides consulting services to advance economic development in the food system and leads diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. 

Director of Strategic Initiatives                                                                    
Barbara Hamilton          barbara@sdfsa.org

Barbara Hamilton is a demonstrated leader and collaborator in sustainability. She has spent the past 10 years building diverse experience in sustainability program management and development, recently serving as Palomar Health’s Sustainability Manager. In this capacity, Barbara oversaw a comprehensive sustainability program with initiatives in energy and water efficiency, waste reduction, healthy food, environmentally preferred purchasing, alternative transportation, gardens, and engagement.

Barbara served as Chair for the Novation Environmental Advisory Group, a nation-wide advisory working to green the supply chain.  She chaired the San Diego Nutrition in Healthcare Leadership Team, working to support healthy, sustainable food in the healthcare sector, as well as participating in regional, state, and national collaboratives efforts with Health Care Without Harm supporting more sustainable meat production and consumption.

A LEED Green Associate with a Master of Applied Science in Environmental Policy and Management, Barbara has received numerous awards for clients, as Chair of the Carlsbad Chamber Sustainability Committee, and for the success of her sustainability consulting business:  Eco-Stream. 

Serving as Director of Strategic Initiatives for the San Diego Food System Alliance, Barbara’s current focus is on collaboration and engagement in both reducing food waste and increasing food donation to people in need across San Diego County.

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Development and Communications Manager                                        
Shannon Pavell          shannon@sdfsa.org

Shannon Pavell is the Development and Communications Manager for the San Diego Food System Alliance. She has a wide range of non-profit experience in cause-driven marketing, communications, branding, copywriting, fundraising, donor and board relations, and event planning. Prior to her work with the Alliance, she worked for the YMCA of San Diego County as the Marketing and Fundraising Director for their social service programs. 

She is passionate about connecting people to causes through storytelling and is excited to bring that role to the Alliance. She has a personal interest in the work being done to improve San Diego’s food landscape, specifically in the areas of food recovery and accessibility.

Shannon graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a B.A. in Business and International Development. She’s had the opportunity to live and study abroad and enjoys experiencing different cultures. She is currently a Fellow of the San Diego Women’s Foundation where she is involved in community needs research, grants review, and development of the Foundation. 

She loves learning about good food, advocating for it, cooking it, and especially, eating it.

Project Coordinator, Food Waste Reduction and Recovery                      Geertje Grootenhuis          geertje@sdfsa.org

Shaped by her past experience within the nonprofit and for-profit sectors, Geertje has the analytical ability to break down complex ideas into concrete strategies, to creatively design and innovate, and to unify ideas into one clear vision. She will draw upon these skills, along with her passion for environmental justice, to coordinate and manage food waste reduction and recovery projects for the San Diego Food System Alliance.

Geertje graduated from UC Berkeley with a double major in Business Administration and Society & Environment, gaining practical business training and a comprehensive understanding of environmental issues. Inspired by her interdisciplinary classes, she developed a deep interest in food systems, volunteered at the Berkeley Student Food Collective, and eventually co-founded an award-winning social enterprise model focused on reducing food waste and improving food access in the Bay Area.

Geertje's work experience includes sustainability consulting, data science and analytics, zero waste, and environmental education. She considers herself a student always, and is currently taking classes toward a certificate in Integrative Nutrition. On the weekend, you’ll find her cooking for friends and family and exploring San Diego’s natural beauty.

Food System Research Fellow                                                                                   Brett Roggenkamp       

Brett is a public health professional with a passionate interest in bringing about positive change within the San Diego food system. He joins the Alliance on an interim basis in an effort to deliver creative thinking and strategies to address poverty, healthy food accessibility, and sustainability in the San Diego community.

Brett received a Bachelors in Finance and Accounting from the University of Oklahoma and a Masters in Public Health from San Diego State University. His diverse work experience began with five years of solving problems, leading implementations, and analyzing data for a management consulting firm in Dallas. He then took an opportunity to work in a business development and creative marketing role for a thriving food-based start-up out of Oklahoma City. In his two most recent roles at 2-1-1 San Diego and Sharp Healthcare, he dug deep into researching demographic trends, market needs, and strategic pursuits within San Diego’s health and human services industries.

Brett is a strong believer in the power of prevention, sustainable thinking, community support systems, and empowering the disenfranchised. He is an avid learner about all things health and nutrition and enjoys spending his time being active outdoors with his fiancé.


2018 Summer Food Equity Intern                                                                           Lani Morales          lani@sdfsa.org

Lani Morales is a San Diego native and a San Diego State University alumni with a Bachelors of Science in Public Health. Lani’s work experience was originally in healthcare, working as a nursing assistant, to a student intern with STRIVE San Diego! a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the health of the Pacific Islander community by working closely with farmer’s markets and grocery stores to promote healthy living.  During her time with STRIVE she was able to educate both young and older generations of Hispanic and Pacific Islander communities during monthly nutritional education workshops at farmer’s markets and local youth/teen centers. 

Lani’s experience with STRIVE fueled her passion  in public health nutrition towards educating the community on chronic diseases such as obesity and diabetes. 

Currently Lani works as a nutrition assistant in a clinical research lab. She plans to apply to SDSU’s MS Nutrition program for the fall of 2019 to pursue her passion of becoming a Registered Dietitian. 



2018 Summer Communications & Social Media Intern                                         Camila Lautz         camila@sdfsa.org    

Camila Lautz is a San Diego native and is currently an undergraduate at the University of California studying International Studies with an emphasis in Political Science. Camila’s work experience includes volunteering as a Kindergarten teacher assistant, volunteering at the San Diego Public Library as an online sales representative and is currently barista. Camila began her interest in social activism as a co-president and social media representative for both the Gender Equality and Animal Rights Club at her former High School where she also participated as a link leader and mentor to incoming freshmen.

What propelled Camila’s interests to Food Justice was learning more about Sustainability, gardening, food insecurity, accessibility and waste during her first year at UCSD. Camila is very passionate about environmental, food and social justice and is currently conducting a research project to improve food security at her university.  Camila loves the outdoors, traveling, trying new foods and giving back to her community. She plans on expanding her studies around Communication and Journalism after graduating from UC San Diego.