Our Team

Mill City Grows is a small organization starting its 8th year of operation. Meet our team!

 

Francey Slater

Francey Slater, Co-Founder / Executive 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.

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Lydia SissonLydia Sisson, Co-Founder / Director of Programs
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.

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FOOD ACCESS TEAM


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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Nikki Tolani, Urban Farm & Food Access Coordinator
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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Melissa Dery, Urban Farm & Food Access Apprentice
Melissa is part of our 6-person Farm Team, and will work with our youth programs providing instruction on farm techniques and safety for J-Squad and Youth Food Justice Program students. Melissa has experience at both homestead and commercial farms, as well as five years of teaching experience in Lexington Public Schools in general education and special education. She holds a dual BS degree in Early Childhood Education and Sociology from Salem State College. When not on the farm, Melissa enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, doing her nails, and taking care of her chickens. She can be reached at Melissa[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Sean Cloran, Urban Farm & Food Access Apprentice
Sean was raised in Grafton, MA, and received a B.S. in Biology from UMass Lowell. When not running and punning, Sean is passionately interested in finding ways to reduce socioeconomic inequality, increase climate change resiliency, and help people to reconnect with nature and food. He is thrilled to engage with these efforts and more at Mill City Grows. Sean can be reached at Sean[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.


EDUCATION TEAM


Giuliana CappucciGiuliana Cappucci, Education Manager
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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Macayla Cote, Farm and Market Apprentice
Born and raised in Lowell, Macayla is excited to continue her journey in the local food movement working with MCG’s Education Team. She started with Mill City Grows as a youth J-Squad member in 2016 where she quickly realized her passion for urban farming. Macayla completed her associates degree at Middlesex Community College in 2019, and plans on studying Environmental Science. 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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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


Enrique Vargas, Community Gardens Manager
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.


ADMINISTRATIVE TEAM


Solimar Berrios, Head of Office Operations
As Mill City Grows’ Head of Office Operations, Solimar will touch all aspects of programming and administration at MCG headquarters. Though she grew up in Lowell, Solimar spent much of her adult life living, studying, and working in Puerto Rico, where she acquired a wealth of human resource, administration, and office management experience. Solimar has an identical twin sister, is passionate about chocolate, and is mother to two beautiful daughters. You can reach Solimar at Solimar[at]millcitygrows[dot]org.

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Jessica WilsonJessica Moore Wilson, Director of Development
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, Suzzanne 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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Jim DeProfio, Marketing and Development AmeriCorps VISTA
Jim brings 34 years of experience in public education to his position at Mill City Grows, with 31 of those years spent in the Lowell Public School system as a teacher, coach, and administrator. Jim has a B.S. from Plymouth State College, and M.Ed’s from Fitchburg State College and Endicott College. Jim looks forward to supporting Mill City Grows’ food access and education work in Lowell and increasing MCG’s impact in local neighborhoods and in the Lowell Public Schools. Jim can be reached at Jim[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.