We’d like to shine our Volunteer Spotlight this month on Mary Kate Wheeler, the current Chair of Groundswell’s Advisory Board. Mary Kate is an Ithaca native who has also lived in the Pacific Northwest and Central America. She’s an avid kayaker and boat builder, and recently designed and built her own super energy efficient tiny house for off grid living.
We first met Mary Kate in 2013 when she participated in our Finger Lakes CRAFT program. She had recently moved to the Ithaca area from Spokane, WA, where she had several years of farm production and marketing experience. But during her CRAFT year, she made the hard decision not to pursue a career in farming – at least not for now. Instead, she wanted to put her analytical and organizational skills to work in support of sustainable development, creating more equitable food value chains and expanding market opportunities for smallholder farmers.
Mary Kate joined our Advisory Board (which we used to call our “Steering Committee”) in January 2014, impressing all of us with her critical thinking and hard work. She also applied and was accepted into Cornell’s MS program in Applied Economics and Management, beginning her studies last fall with a focus on sustainable development and food value chains under Dr. Miguel Gomez.
Mary Kate accepted her Board-mates invitation to serve as Chair beginning this past February, and has been ably leading us through several important strategic analyses and decisions. We are so grateful for her leadership and continuing dedication to Groundswell’s mission!
“Working with Groundswell keeps me grounded. In my role as an Advisory Board member I have the opportunity to explore and address the challenges in our food system that motivated me to pursue a Masters in Applied Economics. Groundswell provides an opportunity for real-world experience that compliments my research and coursework at Cornell.” -Mary Kate Wheeler