Our Team

Mill City Grows is a small organization starting its 7th year of operation. Meet our team!

 

Francey Slater

Francey Slater, Founding Co-Director
Francey is a seasoned educator and gardener. Francey has focused on garden education program development; designing, building and coordinating physical gardens; cultivating volunteer participation; and establishing partnerships to leverage resources to support community health and wellness.  You can reach Francey at Francey[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

 

Lydia SissonLydia Sisson, Founding Co-Director
Lydia is an experienced commercial farmer and small business owner, and holds a Masters degree in Economic and Social Development of Regions.  Before starting Mill City Grows, Lydia ran a CSA farm for 4 years.  You can reach Lydia at Lydia[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

 

 


FOOD ACCESS TEAM



Gallagher Hannan
Director of Operations, Urban Farms & Markets

Gallagher is an innovative and creative design professional, who combines her background in organic agriculture and local food systems with her practical design/build training and experience in order to create attractive, functional and productive spaces. Before coming to Mill City Grows she worked as an Associate Landscape Designer with the Regenerative Design Group in Greenfield, MA. Gallagher holds a Masters of Science in Ecological Design from the Conway School. You can reach Gallagher at Gallagher[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Brian Mariano, Assistant Urban Farm Manager
Originally from Massachusetts, Brian began his career working in television, film, and video after graduating from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. He worked on the soap opera Guiding Light and most recently, as a Visual Effects Editor at Zero VFX here in Boston. Reading book after book about food and farms, it became clear a career shift was in order. He is brand new to farm work but is thrilled to learn the ropes from MCG, a company that shares his passion that good, local food is the best way to positively effect our health and community. Outside of work, Brian loves running, climbing, skiing, cooking and singing karaoke, especially oldies. You can reach Brian at Brian[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.
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Sarah Bicknell, Urban Farm & Food Enterprise Manager
Hailing from Chelmsford, Mass, Sarah has a passion for fresh local food and food access for all. She found her love of farming in Moab, Utah, as an AmeriCorps Service Member for the Youth Garden Project. After receiving a B.S. in Sustainable Agriculture from Unity College in Maine and 9 seasons on various New England farms, Sarah comes to Mill City Grows with a mission to give back to the community she grew up in. Sarah loves working hard in the field and being caked in soil at the end of the day. In her free time, she is a passionate Boston Bruins fan, a lover of her cat, Sassy, and gives solid attempts to play the ukulele. You can reach Sarah at Sarah[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.
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Macayla Cote, Farm & Market Apprentice
Born and raised in Lowell, Macayla is excited to continue her journey in the local food movement as a farm and market apprentice. She started with Mill City Grows as a youth J-Squad member in 2016 where she quickly realized her passion for urban farming. She plans on studying Environmental Science after she completes her associates degree at Middlesex
Community College. One day, Macayla hopes to inspire all youth to spend their day on a farm to cultivate a strong connection towards food justice, and of course, to get dirty! You can reach Macayla at Macayla[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Nikki Tolani, Farm & Market Apprentice
Originally from Singapore, Nikki is excited to be able to join the 
food justice movement in Lowell! She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Human Services with a food sustainability minor at Northeastern University. Nikki developed her passion for growing fresh, local food when she started volunteering with several food justice non profits in Boston. Since then, she has been eager to learn more about urban farming, so she is thrilled to be apart of Mill City Grow’s team as a farm and market apprentice! Nikki can be reached at Nikki[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Drew Gentile, Farm & Market Apprentice
Originally from Massachusetts, Drew has found a passion for sustainability and farming through his work at WWOOF, World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms. Drew first experienced WWOOF when he traveled to Italy where he fell in love with the work surrounding farming. From there he has spent many years traveling the country and the world, learning about sustainable agriculture and peacemaking. Now as a member of the MCG team, Drew is ready to put down some roots in order to work with the community and help improve it in any way possible. Drew is a dedicated activist who believes we can all help to improve our world, even in our little corners where we call home. You can reach Drew at drew(at)millcitygrows(dot)org.

 


EDUCATION TEAM


Val Snowdon
Director of Programs, Education & Community
Val comes to Mill City Grows after spending a season managing two vegetable gardens in downtown Boston with a crew of urban youth through Boston Natural Areas Network. Val holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Education from Antioch University New England, where she focused in community and school food systems. You can reach Val at Val[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.
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Maggie Notopoulos, Youth Education Program Manager
Born and raised in Massachusetts, Maggie’s passion for food education, advocacy and justice came from growing up in a household where dinners were cooked and shared together. Those roots led her to a lifelong cooking and tasting passion and a desire to share that love and knowledge with others, especially youth. After getting her bachelor’s in Biology, she spent years in the marine and food education fields at non-profits in the Boston area. She’s excited to be new to the Lowell community! Maggie can be reached at Maggie[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Giuliana CappucciGiuliana Cappucci, FoodCorps Service Member
Giuliana Cappucci has worked in the food justice system in Lowell for about five years and is very excited to continue her work at Mill City Grows as their 2 year AmeriCorps/FoodCorps Service Member! She believes that any child should have equitable access to nutritious, locally grown food, and have an understanding of where food comes from. Giuliana can be reached at Giuliana[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

 

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Maddie Grant, FoodCorps Service Member
Maddie was raised in New York City and went to Williams College in the Berkshires. At Williams, she studied Geosciences and developed a love for science and environmental education. Following her lifelong passion for growing plants and being outdoors, she has spent her summers working in horticultural gardens on community farms where she was exposed to the exciting work of food justice. Maddie is thrilled to combine her passion for science communication, education, and food justice in her new position as a FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member at Mill City Grows. Maddie can be reached at Maddie[at]millcitygrows[dot]org. 


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Haela Booth-Howe, FoodCorps Service Member
Haela was born and raised in Maine and attended Stonehill College where she received a B.S. in Health Sciences. Since graduating, she spent a year in the Dominican Republic as part of the Stonehill Service Corps, where she taught English to preschool-first graders. Her passion for exploring new cultures through the lens of food lead her to job-shadowing a Nutritionist in the coffee region of Colombia and interning with a plant-based chef on a permaculture farm in Costa Rica. Haela believes all children should know where their food comes from and have access to locally grown, organic food. She is thrilled to be part of the MCG team and immerse herself in the Lowell community. Haela can be reached at Haela[at]millcitygrows[dot]com.

 

 


COMMUNITY PROGRAMS TEAM


Laura Santiago, Community Program Manager
Originally from Mexico, Laura comes to Lowell and Mill City Grows after working for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for six years. She worked with community members and corporations in healthcare reform and unemployment assistance. She developed a love for the outdoors and the environment at a young age and spent the last four years caring for her little garden in Cambridge. A novice beekeeper, she started her first hive last year when she left her career with the Commonwealth to pursue her passion for sustainability and social justice. Laura can be reached at Laura[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.
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Enrique Vargas, Community Program Coordinator
Born and raised in Puerto Rico, Enrique first came to Lowell in 2001 because of his passion for music, which led him to earn a degree in Sound Recording Technology from UMass Lowell. His passion for community and social justice lead him to Mill City Grows, first as a member of the farm team and Mobile Market, and more recently as a member of the Community Program.  In his spare time, Enrique loves to collect records and books and talk about soccer and baseball stats. You can reach Enrique at Enrique[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Katie Irwin, TerraCorps Community Engagement Coordinator
Katie grew up in New Hampshire and studied public health at college in rural Maine. After spending Maine’s blueberry harvest season with Mano en Mano, a non-profit that runs a migrant education school, Katie is excited to join the Mill City Grows team as the TerraCorps Community Engagement Coordinator! Katie hopes to learn from all of the amazing gardeners of Lowell. You can reach Katie at katie[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

 

 


ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM



Wael (Lilo) Altali, Director of Administration
Lilo was born in Syria, and later raised in Lowell. Growing up in such a culturally diverse city, he grew passionate about social justice and equality. Lilo loves using innovation techniques to solve major social and organizational problems. He is active in the local nonprofit and start-up communities and serves as a volunteer at Rosie’s Place (a homeless shelter for women). Lilo holds a Master of Public Administration degree with a certificate in Nonprofit Management from Northeastern University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management from Newbury College. You can reach Lilo at Lilo[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.
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Jessica WilsonJessica Moore Wilson, Development Manager
Jessica has worked in non-profit administration and fundraising for over 15 years, with a strong focus on writing and communications. Jessica holds a BA in Communications from UMass Amherst and an MA in Media Studies from The New School. She loves gardening with her husband Peter, and is particularly proud of her swiss chard. She is also the loving mom of her daughter River, who’s being raised on local veggies. You can reach Jessica at Jessica[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Suzzanne Cromwell, Marketing & Publicity Coordinator
Originally from Houston, Texas, Suzzanne’s work experience includes over 20 years at the Boston Museum of Science and 15 years with The Walt Disney Company.  She worked 8 years at the Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) and was a founding member of Mill City Grows’ Board of Directors before joining the MCG team. An avid foodie, music hound, and rabid cinephile, Suzz co-founded The Lowell Film Collaborative with her movie-loving husband, Brett. You can reach Suzzanne at Suzz[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.
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Sophia Hancock
Volunteer Engagement & Evaluation AmeriCorps VISTA 

Born and raised in Massachusetts, Sophia is excited to have the opportunity to help grow Lowell’s local food system! Sophia grew up watching her grandfather grow tomatoes in his garden and eating herbs picked from beds in her backyard. This gave her an appreciation for the importance of growing your own food and having access to locally grown, healthy food. Sophia recently completed her bachelor’s in Environmental Studies from Goucher College, which is just outside of Baltimore, MD. After learning about the struggle for food justice in Baltimore and volunteering at an urban farm in the city, Sophia is excited to learn more about Lowell, help grow Mill City Grows, and help ensure that all people in Lowell have access to healthy food. Sophia can be reached at Sophia[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.