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. 

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.


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.

A UC Berkeley graduate with a double major in Business Administration and Society & Environment, Geertje has 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 has work experience as a sustainability consultant, data scientist, zero waste specialist, and environmental educator. 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.


Fall/ Winter Intern 2017                                                                                     Olivia Stanforth          olivia@sdfsa.org

Olivia Stanforth is a recent San Diego State University graduate with a degree in Sustainability. She is passionate about local food systems and their positive impacts on the environment and public health. She is especially interested in regenerative agriculture and the carbon-sequestering capacities of soil. This summer she spent time on a farm in Virginia learning about carbon farming and helping to manage a small herd of cattle. A San Diego native, Olivia is excited to intern with the SDFSA to help promote sustainable food production, waste diversion, and healthy food access in her home city. Cooking is one of her favorite pastimes, and on Sundays she can be found stocking up on fresh ingredients at the Hillcrest farmer’s market. 




Summer Intern 2017                                                                                          Briana Alfaro          bralfaro@syr.edu

Briana Alfaro is an Escondido native and a graduate student at Syracuse University, completing a M.S. in Food Studies. She spent most of the decade after graduating from Humboldt State University with a B.A. in journalism, working in the food system as a server, cook, barista, CSA representative, farmers market salesperson, and in produce sales. Her experience as a worker in the food system, as an intern in Wild Willow Farm’s Sustainable Farming program, and as a volunteer with Slow Money San Diego, together propelled her to seek deeper understanding of structural and systemic issues of food and social justice in academia. Her research interests include land tenure, agrobiodiversity, food sovereignty, food access, gentrification, and the craft beer industry.

As an intern with the San Diego Food System Alliance, she focuses on helping the Healthy Food Access Working Group reach its goal of enrolling healthy vendors to the County of SD’s Restaurant Meals Program, and assisting the Urban Agriculture Working Group by documenting success stories of securing public land for urban agriculture projects.