The Leadership Team is a group of Sodexo managers who are active both within the state and the region in bringing more local food into Sodexo accounts. This group is tasked with creating and approving the Maine Course goals, work plan, and communication through the organization on the work accomplished through Maine Course.
The Leadership Team is made up of the following Sodexo managers:
Maeve McInnis - Maine Course Director
Maeve McInnis is the Maine Course Director overseeing the statewide Maine Course initiative to have a positive economic impact in the state of Maine. Born in Maine, she is passionate about building successful local food systems through cross sectoral collaboration.
Mike Ward - Senior Vice President
Mike has been in higher education dining services for 25 years and is a firm believer that it starts with quality food and genuine spirit. He is a lifelong native to New England and brings an enthusiasm and passion for customer service and client satisfaction. Mike serves as the Executive Sponsor for Sodexo’s National Sustainability Champion Network. "We look forward to summer because there’s a farm local to us who has the best, sweetest corn. We often grill and this is a must-have."
Varun Avasthi - Senior Director, Partnership Strategies & Solutions
Varun Avasthi is the Senior Director, Partnership Strategies & Solutions and is also on the board of Maine Campus Compact. He has worked in the foodservice business for more than 25 years. In the past few years, he has done extensive work in the area of sustainability ranging from local procurement, composting to energy and water conservation. Varun has been regarded by others as “always ahead of the curve”. He is actively involved with multiple groups in advancing opportunities for the sustainable economic development of business in Maine involved with the food industry.
Dan Roy - District Manager
Dan began his career with Sodexo in 1986 and has continued on and grown with the company ever since. Through his vast and varied experiences working his way up in the company, he is able to have a strong and rare understanding of what is needed at many levels. Some of his greatest assets are in his leadership and communication, as he is always working to bring out the best in his employees and the programs they run. I love jalapenos - pickling them from the vine and I have jalapenos for my southwestern dishes all year. Though my tomato sauce is one of my favorites as well.
Wendy Benney - Area Executive Chef
With twenty-seven years in the food industry, Chef Wendy Benney has tantalized palettes in bakeries, country club restaurants, hotels and corporate offices throughout the New England area. Wendy’s current focus is on local slow foods, sustainable practices, healthy eating and living using the world of grains and re-discovered foods of the past.
Tadd Stone - Area General Manager
Tadd Stone is the Area General Manager for Sodexo covering the UMaine System. He has been in the food service industry for over 18 years and grew up in a family that valued the importance of supporting the local community around him. These values have helped guide him in all decisions in both his professional and personal life. His favorite local ingredients are fall vegetables. Particularly squashes..."Love me some squash."
Adam Vigue - General Manager
Adam Vigue has been a college food service manager since 2003 and is currently the General Manager for Sodexo at the University of Maine at Farmington. He is passionate about local foods because the quality is better and purchasing has a direct effect on the local economy.
Doug Winslow - Executive Chef at the University of Maine Farmington
Since 2016, Doug has been the Executive Chef at the University of Maine at Farmington, managing resident and retail dining.
Susan Griffin - Executive Chef at Maine Maritime Academy
Chef Susan starting cooking when she was 2 with her Italian Grandma which started her life long career as a Chef. She is driven to ensure people have access to healthy, nutritious food, regardless of their dietary restrictions. Her favorite local food includes the tomatoes from her hometown in New Jersey.
Courtney Evans - Marketing Specialist
Courtney Evans is a Marketing Specialist that has been with Sodexo since July of 2018. She provides extensive marketing support for campuses in the northern Maine region, including the University of Maine at Machias, Fort Kent and Presque Isle, Thomas College in Waterville, and Maine Maritime Academy in Castine. Though originally “from away,” she has embraced the Maine way of life and enjoys working with a close-knit team that takes global, corporate innovations and integrates them at each campus in such a way that allows for a unique, “farm to table” experience.
Pam Ryder - General Manager
Pam has been the General Manager at Maine College of Art & Design in Portland for over 13 years. Incorporating local products, like Heiwa Tofu, into our vegetarian and vegan menus has been particularly successful with our clientele. Her favorite local ingredient is Pineland Farm's cheese.
Jen Allen - Regional Account Manager
For the past eight years, Jennifer has been with Sodexo supporting all lines of business as a regional account manager. In this role, she has developed strong relationships with many vendors across multiple food categories to include regional and national programs. Prior to accepting this position, she spent twenty-four years in food service distribution where she held multiple positions with key food service suppliers in the New England Region. As a seasoned food service professional, she has seen how sustainable sourcing and product development has trended and remains on trend, growing each day.
Brenda Fuller - VP and Associate General Counsel
Brenda's role is that of Sodexo legal representative. She has over 30 years of experience practicing law and about 3 years as a business owner of a brewpub in Colorado where she brew over 13 of her own beers and operates a full-service restaurant. She just released a Rye IPA which uses locally grown malt, hops and yeast and through the sales of this particular beer, is donating 20 percent of sales to fund local mental health programs.
Charity Chandler - Director, DE&I Experience
Charity is currently the Director of DE&I Experience for Sodexo, having previously served in the Airline Lounges and Universities segments. Having recently made her passion project (DE&I) her day job, she consistently is seeking ways to uplift the employee voice, encourage our teams to bring their authentic selves to work, and improve experiences for our employees, customers and client partners. She earned her Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis from the University of Wisconsin and lives in Wisconsin with her wife, April, and four fur babies. Favorite Local ingredient: Kraemer’s Cheese – A true cheese-head, she takes full advantage of her hometown daily, using cheese curds and cheese spreads for charcuterie, shredded cheese in bacon & cheddar quiche, and their sliced cheese in grilled cheese sandwiches!
Annie Rowell - Vermont First Coordinator
Annie is in her seventh year working as the Vermont First Coordinator at Sodexo. Before her role with Sodexo, she worked as the Program Manager at the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, Vermont. Her work in Hardwick focused on creating new markets for Vermont farms by creating a line of local fresh cut and frozen vegetable products, focusing specifically on Vermont and regional wholesale markets. She graduated from Middlebury College in 2011, majoring in Political Science. She also has a Certificate from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Sustainability Leadership. In addition to her role at Sodexo, Annie is on the Vermont Working Lands Enterprise Board, Farm to Institution New England Network Advisory Council, and is the Secretary for the Vermont Fresh Network Board of Directors. She is also a member of the Craftsbury Town Planning Commission, Secretary of the Craftsbury Village Improvement Society, and is the Stage Manager for the Craftsbury Chamber Players. She has her Vermont Real Estate license with Peter D. Watson Agency, based in northeast Vermont, where she also operates a small cut flower farm, Brassknocker Farm. Her favorite food ingredient is Vermont maple syrup!
The Maine Course Advisory Committee is a group of Maine stakeholders that represent the diverse sectors of the Maine food system. The Advisory Committee is tasked with providing guidance on implementing the Maine Course goals and work plan, and may engage on short-term projects on an ad-hoc basis.
The Advisory Committee is made up of the following Maine stakeholders:
Kyle Foley - Gulf of Maine Research Institute
Kyle Foley is the Sustainable Seafood Program Manager at the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. She works with the seafood supply chain, retailers, and institutions through the Gulf of Maine Responsibly Harvested® cooperative brand program to build and respond to demand for regional seafood.
Ronald Dyer - Ledgemere Group Consulting
Ron Dyer is owner of Ledgemere Group Consulting in Winthrop, Maine where he focuses on food safety and training, food business development and Environmental Health and Safety. His past roles have included Director, Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, State of Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry. Ron has also served as Director for Quality Assurance & Regulations within the department of agriculture. On the EHS front, Mr. Dyer has also served as a director within Maine’s state environmental agency and as a Regional Manager with Nestle Waters North America/Poland Spring Bottling. A Maine native, Ron currently is focused on the Food Safety Modernization Act, and agricultural development and support.
Dawud Ummah - Local Farmer
Dawud Ummah is a veteran of the first Gulf War who has been farming in Maine since the early 1990s. On his farm in Turner, he is developing a cooperative to connect community members to agricultural opportunities. He managed a demonstration farm at Cumberland County Cooperative Extension where he also served on their board. He currently serves on the board of the Cumberland County Food Security Council.
Jenni Tilton Flood - Dairy Farmer
Jenni Tilton-Flood was the first generation in her family not born on a farm but raised up as the daughter of the local John Deere man and alongside acres in ag production she has always straddled the often referenced “urban/rural divide”. She left Maine to “feed the world” but soon returned when she realized that what she really wanted was to feed her corner of that world. She is a proud farm family member of Flood Brothers, LLC in Clinton, Maine and a farmer spokesperson for their co-op, Cabot Creamery Cooperative. She, her husband Dana, and their children Lilla (23), and Pres (22) are just one of the 6 families, spanning 3 generations and 21 family members who form the core of the family dairy farm. While no longer part of the daily chores on farm as she once was, she handles its social media presence, most public relations and communications, coordinates and hosts sometimes as many as 1,000 visitors a year to the farm, is heavily involved with the farm’s sustainability and nutrient management initiatives and compliance, testifies and advocates at the local, State, and National level on behalf of dairy, agriculture, and rural communities, serves on the Maine Dairy & Nutrition Council and Kennebec Valley Community College Foundation Board of Trustees, is an appointed Commissioner and Chair of Volunteer Maine/Maine Commission for Community Service, represents all of Maine’s dairy farmers nationally as a Director on the United Dairy Industry Association board, volunteers in classrooms for the Maine ReadME Program, participates with gleaning efforts though Veggies for All and Waldo County Bounty, as well as being engaged within her co-op on their Legislative and Education Committee and Co-Chair of Cabot’s Sustainable Farms Committee. She’s been called an "outspoken advocate” when it comes to Maine, agriculture, and rural communities, and she wouldn’t deny or shy away from that description for a hot minute. But, at the end of the day she is a Maine girl, dairy farmer, and work in progress committee to feeding her corner of the world and feeding them well.
Lucas Butler - Native Maine Produce
Lucas is the Area Representative for Native Maine Produce and Specialty Foods and has spent the last 15 years out in the field, hunting for new accounts and growing existing ones. Setting a goal each day and finding a way to achieve it is what drives him.
Dr. Jonathan Malacarne - Assistant Professor
Dr. Jonathan Malacarne is an Assistant Professor of Agricultural Economics in the School of Economics at the University of Maine. Dr. Malacarne's research focuses on risk and resilience in rural communities. Through his research and teaching, he seeks to better understand the challenges facing underserved communities in rural areas and improve the design programs and policies that seek to create opportunities and minimize risk.
Mihku Paul - Waponaki Writer and Consultant
Mihku Paul is a Waponaki writer and decades long cultural consultant from Maine who has worked with public schools, non-profit organizations and Indigenous groups in Maine and Canada to support Waponaki awareness and preservation of Waponaki life-ways. For the last five years she worked with Gedakina, Inc. as a community activity coordinator, facilitating workshops for women and girls, as well as teaching Three Sisters gardening technique and preserving Indigenous seed strains. Mihku serves on the board of several organizations, including The Resilience Hub, Maine’s premiere and largest permaculture group. She is also the executive editor of Dawnland Voices 2.0, a literary journal focused on supporting the development of Indigenous writers in northern New England. She lives and works on her permaculture urban homestead, Bramblewood, in Portland, Maine. Mussels are her favorite local, Maine food.
Nancy McBrady - Director, Maine Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources
Nancy McBrady is the director of the Maine Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, which provides farmers with technical assistance, loan and grant support, and agricultural marketing and promotions, among other services, to help bolster Maine’s vibrant food and agriculture economy and rural communities.
Renee Page - Executive Director, Healthy Communities of the Capitol Area
Renee Page is Executive Director at Healthy Communities of the Capital Area, a public health nonprofit focused on primary prevention strategies to decrease the burden of chronic disease. HCCA is home to Maine Farm to Institution that works to increase the amount and quality of locally sourced foods in institutional meals.
Amy Winston - Director, Coastal Enterprises, Inc.
Trained as a cultural anthropologist, Amy has worked as a community development practitioner for almost 2 decades. As Lincoln County’s economic development director and northeast regional co-lead for the National Farm to School Project, Amy became involved in farm to institution purchasing as a community health and economic development initiative; which led to state level food policy advocacy. Amy currently serves as director of state policy for Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI), where she works on food systems policy and other issues central to equitable, sustainable community development.
Kate McAleer - Owner/Founder, Bixby & Co.
Kate McAleer is an owner and founder of Bixby & Co., an artisan confectionary producer located in the historic working waterfront of Rockland, Maine. Bixby & Co. was founded in 2011 to produce and sell unique natural and organic chocolate products. Kate earned her honors BA from New York University and holds diplomas in pastry arts and culinary management from the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. The first Bixby products were developed after experimentation and trial and error in the family kitchen and are currently sold across the country in over 3,000 specialty and natural food stores. Kate is the 2014 Gorham Savings Bank LaunchPad Winner, MaineBiz 2014 “Nexter” of the top 10 people impacting Maine’s economy, and the 2015 Small Business Administration’s Young Entrepreneur of the Year for Maine and 2016 Tory Burch Foundation Fellow and Tory Burch Foundation Grand pitch prize winner of $100,000. Kate is also the All Stars Greenlight Maine reality TV show Season 6 Winner of $25,000. In 2017, Kate and Bixby & Co. launched the first Bean to Bar chocolate production in the State of Maine, souring cacao directly from farmers and processing a complete chocolate product from the bean through to the end chocolate.
Sam Miller - Founder, Maine Food Group
Sam founded the Maine Food Group, a Maine-based food processor and manufacturer, in 2020 with a focus on converting fresh ingredients into quality finished products for the consumer, foodservice, and food manufacturing markets.
Trey LaPorta - Director of Operations and Sales, Common Wealth Poultry Co.
Trey is the Director of Operations and Sales at Common Wealth Poultry Co. and has been in the food industry for the last five years and loves to connect people with the highest quality products.
Benjamin Filippo - Food Systems and Supply Chain Business Consultant
Benjamin has spent the past decade helping to build sustainable food systems, through direct consulting, technical assistance, entrepreneurship, journalism, marketing/branding, teaching, and research. His hope is to always be learning new things, and leverage his own wide-ranging experience to growing systems-oriented businesses, and policy within Maine, and across New England. He enjoys hiking and cooking with his family in Downeast Maine.
Jed Beach - Business Consultant
Jed Beach is a business consultant who works with Maine farmers and food producers on bookkeeping, financial analysis, and forecasting. He and his wife also own an organic vegetable farm in the Midcoast. His favorite fruit is the black raspberry!