Ashland, Oregon — After nearly a decade of successfully growing a vibrant nonprofit dedicated to cultivating healthy children, environmental stewardship, farm relationships and the local economy, Rogue Valley Farm to School executive director Tracy Harding is passing the torch, or rather apple, to Sheila Carder, the new incoming executive director. Harding and the staff and board of Rogue Valley Farm to School have built a strong organization over the last eight years, creating a model for connecting schools to local farms and inspiring an appreciation of local agriculture through hands-on farm, garden, and cafeteria programs.
“Tracy and the rest of the staff and board have done an impressive job of building a vital and strong organization that serves schools and families, as well as farmers, throughout two counties,” Carder said. “It is an honor and a privilege to help lead the organization into the next decade.”
The former development director for Marin Organic, an organization representing all of the organic farmers in Marin County, CA and a graduate of the UC Santa Cruz Agroecology program with more than 15 years of fundraising and nonprofit leadership experience, Carder is uniquely suited to help lead Rogue Valley Farm to School.
“Sheila has a demonstrated strength and success in fundraising for a range of mission-driven organizations. Her background illustrates a passion for community-based sustainable agriculture and local business that reflect both the mission and values of Rogue Valley Farm to School; this will be critical to continuing the positive impacts and growth of the organization,” Harding said.
In addition to her experience with fundraising and communication, Carder built, managed, and owned a successful organic artisan bakery for seven years with her husband in Ashland.
The process to select a new executive director began in December of 2015, when Harding announced her resignation with a planned September 2017 departure date. The nation-wide search yielded nearly twenty competitive applicants and was led by a hiring committee composed of members of the board of directors and staff.
The board and staff are excited to welcome Carder on board, while acknowledging how hard it will be to say goodbye to Tracy Harding. “Tracy and Melina have really built this organization into what it is today. As we embark on this transitionary period, the board and staff look forward to continued growth and new opportunities that connect children to our food system in meaningful ways,” board president David Tourzan said. “We enter our second decade as a vibrant organization with excitement as Sheila and the staff lead us to even greater service in our community.”