MILL CITY GROWS ANNOUNCES LEADERSHIP TRANSITION EFFECTIVE JANUARY 1, 2024
Jessica Wilson steps down as Executive Director — Dai Kim, Ali Jacobs, and Courtney McSparron
named as Co-Executive Directors
[LOWELL, MA] – Mill City Grows Executive Director Jessica Wilson announced today that she will be leaving her position at the close of the year. Wilson has led the Lowell-based food justice non-profit since January 2020.
Wilson has been a part of the Mill City Grows team since the organization launched in 2012. She served as founding Board President, joined the staff as a grant writer in 2016, and was promoted to Director of Development in 2018.
Wilson helped to grow the organization’s budget from $500,000 in 2017 to $1.5M in 2023. She led the organization through the pandemic when MCG reimagined programming to provide more food to Lowell’s most underserved populations. Through her tenure, the organization expanded community gardens, established a community-supported agriculture (CSA) program, and completed construction of the ROOT community kitchen. She has worked closely with local partners to support the transformation of Rollie’s Farm to the Pawtucket Farm Wildlife Sanctuary.
“It’s been such an honor to be a part of the Mill City Grows leadership team. I grew up and spent so much time in Lowell throughout my life. Seeing the spaces where we work transformed from vacant lots to thriving gardens and farms has been such a joy. I am so excited that I have been able to make Lowell a better place for our community,” said Wilson.
Mill City Grows Board President John Wooding announced that the organization is transitioning to a collaborative leadership model. Three current staff, Dai Kim, Ali Jacobs, and Courtney McSparron will take on the roles of Co-Executive Directors.
“Jessica has been part of Mill City Grows since its creation. As a Board member, and over the last five years as Executive Director, she has been an indispensable part of Mill City Grows. She saw us through the major challenges posed by the pandemic, helped maintain and develop our many robust and effective programs, and guided us in new initiatives. We will miss her greatly and all the many things she brought to Mill City Grows,” said Wooding.
The three Co-Directors will lead in an innovative model, where decision-making will be done through consensus, while each leader will be able to focus on their core strengths, capacities, and expertise, while working collaboratively and supporting one another in service to food sovereignty in Lowell.
Mill City Grows was founded with a Co-Director model in 2011. In returning to and expanding on this model, Kim, Jacobs, and McSparron see this as an opportunity for leadership with complementing professional experience, diverse gender, racial, and cultural backgrounds from capable leaders with varied lived-experiences.
Each of the Co-Directors has extensive experience working in non-profit, food justice, and with the Lowell community. Kim has a long history with the organization since 2016, managing the Mobile Market program, volunteers, operations and returning in 2020 as the Director of Food Access. Jacobs has served as part of the MCG leadership team for over 4 years, and has more than 10 years experience in farm management and community gardens. Courtney McSparron joined in the role of Director of Education in 2022, and has worked for over 15 years as an educator and leader in school and non-profit settings.
Speaking for the Co-Executive Directors, Courtney McSparron shared, “We are honored to be entrusted with this Lowell treasure. We look forward to continuing to support food and land access in Lowell. We are so very grateful to Jessica for bringing us all into this organization, supporting our development, and now giving us the opportunity to lead.”
An open house event will be scheduled in the new year, welcoming the public to the Mill City Grows headquarters and providing an opportunity to meet the new Co-Executive Directors.
About Mill City Grows
Mill City Grows believes when a community is given access to fresh food and knowledge of how to grow and prepare delicious, healthy meals, people will enjoy better quality of life and have a deeper connection to each other and their environment. Since 2011, MCG has worked towards food justice in Lowell through these dynamic hands-on programs and strategies: education in and out of schools, supporting community leadership through community gardens, urban farming, mobile markets, and empowering people to produce their own food. For more information on what’s growing in Lowell and how you can become a part of the city’s thriving local food movement, visit MillCityGrows.org.