CALS New Hires-October 2023

Ashley McLeod, Director of Major Gifts, CALS

Ashley McLeodAshley McLeod has joined the UVM Foundation as director of major gifts for CALS. She joins UVM from Middlebury College, where she was a leadership gifts officer working with major gift donors in the New York City metropolitan area and the Southeast. Prior to Middlebury, she held multiple fundraising roles at Williams College.

McLeod holds a bachelor of arts degree from the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, and a master of science degree from Bay Path University. Her master’s thesis focused on improving and increasing women’s philanthropy and engagement in higher education. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Berkshire Humane Society.

McLeod lives in South Burlington with her partner Jack and her two rescue dogs Sadie and Merlin. She spends much of her free time riding in Westford with her horse, Chance.

Emma Marks, Grant Program Specialist, Northeast SARE

Emma MarksEmma Marks grew up in central Pennsylvania and spent her weekends at her grandparent’s small cattle farm. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Agricultural Communications from Wilmington College.

Marks is passionate about diverse vegetable production and developed her skills as an apprentice at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett, NY. She continued her education at Freedom Food Farm in Raynham, MA. Most recently, she worked in sales and marketing at Vermont Compost Company. Marks has volunteered as a grant reviewer with Northeast-SARE since 2020, and she is excited to join the team full-time.

Marks lives in Tunbridge, VT, with her partner, their dog, Twig, and their cat, Pinecone. She is a firm believer that you don’t need to be good at your hobbies in order to enjoy them. She loves hiking, gardening, foraging, downhill skiing, cooking, camping, and kayaking.

Leila LaRosa, Program Specialist, Center for Sustainable Agriculture (CSA)

Leila LaRosaLeila LaRosa is the new program specialist for CSA, and will be primarily based out of the Berlin office.

LaRosa has lived in Vermont for 23 years and is originally from the mid-Atlantic. She has a diverse professional background in natural resource management, outdoor recreation, renewable energy development, public education, curriculum and program development, and outreach.

She earned a bachelor’s degree in environmental biology from Albright College, and holds a Green MBA from Antioch University, where she specialized in systems sustainability.

Professionally, LaRosa is passionate about building sustainable systems that recognize and honor the intersections between people, land, and culture and that acknowledge the contributions and value of all living things.

Personally, she is a prolific kitchen gardener, amateur chef and baker, lover of cats, anime, and the outdoors. LaRosa lives with her husband, daughter and cats off a dirt road tucked deep in the hills of central Vermont.

Josiah Taylor, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Community Development and Applied Economics

Josiah TaylorJosiah Taylor is a food systems researcher, author, farmer, and educator who is excited to begin work with David Connor and a team of collaborators, to design and implement farmer-centered sustainability analysis with consumer-facing farms in Vermont.

He completed his PhD at UVM in 2023 in food systems, while also a Gund Institute for Environment graduate fellow and earning a graduate certificate in ecological economics.

Taylor’s dissertation work involved impact analysis using mixed methods and participatory action research approaches to produce community driven research. For the first project, he worked with Hunger Free Vermont and K-12 schools across Vermont to survey and interview school staff about changes in social climate, readiness to learn, school finances, and other fields since implementing universal free school meals. This work resulted in a publication that helped influence the permanent adoption of universal free school meals in the state this year.

Another dissertation project involved working with refugee and immigrant farmers participating in community farm and farm incubator programs in Vermont and Wisconsin, to investigate quality of life benefits and challenges for farmers in these programs. Lastly, Taylor worked with these same farms in Vermont and Wisconsin to develop and pilot a socio-ecological economic sustainability analysis toolkit for farms. It was inspired by a white paper he co-authored in 2021 with Lisa Chase and others at UVM, to inform the UVM Agriculture Research Service hub on holistic farm sustainability analysis.

While completing his PhD research, Taylor also did agriculture extension work in Vermont as a risk management educator and farm management teams facilitator. He enjoyed getting to know farms and farmers around the state and collaboratively troubleshoot complex problems.

Prior to work and studies at the University of Vermont, he completed an M.Ed. in Critical Studies at the University of New Brunswick (Canada), documenting and revitalizing Wolastoq First Nations language and culture, and focusing on community food systems. Taylor has also researched and farmed in collaboration with William Woys Weaver in Pennsylvania, working to preserve endangered, historic food plant varieties through propagation and dissemination. He is thrilled to bring his passion for applied and collaborative community based food systems research to UVM.

More New Hires

  • Berdakh Utemuratov, Post Doctoral Associate, Center for Sustainable Agriculture
  • Catherine Alexander, Project Implementation Manager, Extension
  • Rachel Stanton, Dietetics Program Coordinator, Nutrition and Food Sciences
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