New season brings new opportunity – and strawberries!

New season brings new opportunity – and strawberries!

After a winter and spring filled with more than the usual amount of change, we’re heading into the busy summer local produce season with a high-energy mix of the familiar and new.  We have longtime staff in new roles, new faces joining our team, and others moving on to new challenges.

Red Tomato’s former staff and interns make up a wide, deep and wonderful circle, spanning over two decades. Whether part of our team for a few months, or for many years, each person made a unique and lasting contribution, and has taken their experience at RT on to do good work elsewhere– in the produce industry, other non-profits, farms, new businesses, and a host of creative endeavors.

In fourteen years with RT, I’ve had the great gift to work with some of the smartest, kindest, most talented and dedicated people in the world.  A map of all the RT alums and what they are doing today, as a way to see how our work ripples out beyond our immediate day to day, would reach around the world.  We’re proud of both our longtime dedicated staff and our far-flung alums—and we have lots to report about both.

In April, RT Board of Directors named Angel Mendez as our Interim Director.  Angel has been with RT for over 18 years, managing the warehouse, logistics, finance and for the past four years as Director of Operations.  He brings deep experience with the organization, a strong commitment to our mission, and boundless energy and excitement for this new role.  He takes the reins at an important time for RT and for the good food movement, with an invaluable mix of continuity and new vision. You’ll hear more from Angel in our next newsletter.

We are very excited to welcome Susannah Hinman as our new Supply Chain Associate.  Susannah brings over 10 years of experience working in the fresh produce industry, including Albert’s Organics, and most recently as Sales Manager of the Worcester Regional Food Hub. She’s busy selling strawberries, and visiting farms and customers.  You’ll hear more from Susannah in a future newsletter; we’re delighted to have her enthusiasm and capable hands joining our team.

Gena Schulz, RT bookkeeper, has also taken on a new role, starting in June as Operations and Finance Associate. In addition to keeping the books in order and the bills paid, Gena is now coordinating logistics with growers, customers and the Trade team, helping to make sure produce gets from the farm to the market in top quality.

After ten years with Red Tomato, the last four as Executive Director, Laura Edwards-Orr made the decision in January to leave for other pursuits. She worked to make a smooth transition through the spring and continues to work with several food hub initiatives in the Northeast. Laura brought tremendous talent, vision and knowledge during her time at RT and helped usher in a new generation of leadership. She’s going to continue to make a difference — we wish her well and expect to cross paths often.

Michael Rozyne, RT founder and Evangelist, and Sue Futrell, longtime Director of Marketing, continue to play key roles in the organization, overseeing brand, marketing, product development and new research initiatives, in addition to working closely with Angel to keep planning, fundraising and market development on a steady path.  Dawn King, RT Board chair and professor of  at Brown University, with Executive Committee members John Lyman, David Wright, and Barb Harrington are providing crucial support and guidance as we move forward.

In the new opportunities department, Supply Chain Manager Maria Mastanduno, who started as an intern with RT 5 years ago and has been our key account manager and apple mover extraordinaire, will start a full-time MBA program at Dartmouth College in August.  Maria has been an invaluable part of our success and we’re excited for her to bring everything she’s learned working with RT growers to her next venture.  If you know Maria, you know she’s going to do great things, and we wish her well.

We’re also in final round of interviews for a new Marketing Associate—as is true each time we have an opening, we’re impressed by the talent and enthusiasm for local foods represented in the pool of applicants.  Stay tuned for an introduction soon!

We have a number of new projects and initiatives underway and new produce items coming weekly. One other hiring we are excited about is an Organizational Development consultant to help us take a good look at our culture and structure, and coach us through the transition to new leadership and a new team. We’re embracing the opportunity that comes with change.  And eating as many strawberries as we can!