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:
Phil Harty is currently Regional Vice President covering ME, NH, VT, MA & RI and has been with Sodexo for 24 years. Phil has been a driving force in the development and support of local sourcing programs in his region, such as the Vermont First and the Maine Course statewide initiatives.
Director of Client Procurement Services, John Stewart believes passionately in local foods, as a second generation removed from an upstate New York Dairy family farm, John believes in growing the local food supply as well as the local economy for all.
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.
Varun Avasthi is the District Manager for Sodexo in ME 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 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.
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 is the General Manager for Sodexo at the University of Southern Maine and the University of Maine at Augusta. 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.
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.
Kim Cassella is Sodexo’s General Manager of Dining at the University of New England, the fastest growing University in Maine. Her unique blend of blue-sky thinking and boots-on-the-ground common sense to all types of food service environments brings insight and action to the Maine Course initiative. Her commitment to sustainability mirrors her customer’s expectations for fresh and local food and supports the neighboring business community.
Heather Vaillette is a District Manager with Sodexo, overseeing university and independent school dining programs in Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York and Rhode Island. Through her years of experience with Sodexo she has been part of several successful program initiatives within the full cycle of sustainability including local sourcing, waste diversion, labor training and social justice. As a native of Aroostook County Maine, Heather has a passion for supporting farmers and small business through the purchase of local products, in order to continue trades and traditions for future generations.
Rich is the Senior Marketing Manager for Sodexo University accounts in Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. Rich’s background in custom branding solutions has helped in the creation of the Maine Course logo and communication pieces found in our Maine locations. As a native New Englander he has a passion for seafood and takes great pride in sharing Sodexo’s commitment to souring responsibly-sourced under loved whitefish from the Gulf of Maine.
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:
Ben Martens is the Executive Director of the Maine Coast Fishermen's Association, an industry-based non-profit that identifies and fosters ways to restore the fisheries of the Gulf of Maine and sustain Maine's fishing communities for future generations. The issues facing our marine ecosystem and local fishing communities often seem distant, just over the horizon while standing on the shore, but seafood is the most direct connection for most into fisheries so we want to ensure Mainers can support local fishermen through robust access to local Maine caught seafood.
With over 30 years in Foodservice, Jim currently serves as the VP of Procurement at PERFORMANCE Foodservice NorthCenter in Augusta, Maine. PFG NorthCenter partners with over 85 local suppliers to stay on trend and source items to meet certain nutritional needs such as gluten free, low sodium and whole grain.
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.
Betta Stothart is a writer, editor, and marketing professional with 20 years of experience in the all-natural sector. She started her career as a journalist in Maine and was director of marketing for two natural food companies before moving into the nonprofit sector, where she was director of communications for a large environmental nonprofit. Betta won a Golden Arrow Award from the Maine Public Relations Council. She is passionate about promoting a diverse, healthy, and plant-centered diet for Americans.
Ben Tettlebaum is an attorney and entrepreneur who focuses extensively on food and agriculture policy at the local, state, and federal levels. Having grown up on a small farm in rural Missouri, Ben sees building the sustainability and resilience of community-based food systems as critical to the health and well-being of people and the environment.
Riley Neugebauer works on farm to institution issues regionally and locally in Maine, as a part of Farm to Institution New England (FINE) and as a consultant. She was a part of the Maine Food for the UMaine System coalition that advocated for the University of Maine System to adopt 20% local and real food goals in 2015.
John Rebar is the Executive Director of the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. It was under John’s leadership that UMaine Cooperative Extension has focused its work in two areas, supporting the Maine Food System and the 4-H Youth Development program.
Colleen Hanlon-Smith is the General Manager of the Unity Food Hub, which aggregates, markets and distributes for over 60 Maine farms and food producers. Colleen has been working with Maine farmers and food producers to increase the market for Maine grown foods the last dozen years.
Owner of North Star Sheep Farm. Dedicated to the future of family farms in Maine.
Sarah Redfield is the "Farmer's Wife" at Lakeside Family Farm. For the past five years she has handled the marketing and regulatory compliance (including harmonized GAP certification) for this mid-size vegetable farm growing 30+ products. She is also the organizer for the Maine Farmers Food Hub, which aggregates Maine products for more convenient single-source delivery.