Please direct media inquiries to:
Renata Brillinger, Executive Director: renata(at)calclimateag.org • (707) 536-7619 (c)
Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director: jmerrill(at)calclimateag.org • (916) 600-0083 (c)
Alexa Hernández Benavente, Operations Associate
Alexa is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley with a degree in Conservation and Resource Studies with an emphasis in International Sustainable Development. Prior to joining CalCAN, she worked with the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture supporting them on their agroecology fellowship outreach, and last year she was a community organizer with the North Valley Labor Federation in the Central Valley. During her time at Santa Monica College, she was the Director of Student Advocacy and the Director of Sustainability, both elected positions.
Anna Larson, Policy Associate
Anna brings experience advocating for sustainable and equitable food systems in the Midwest, Northeast, and West Coast. She has worked on diverse food system challenges, including community engagement in local food policy, field research on biological pest control, and farmer access to business assistance. Prior to CalCAN, she coordinated the emerging Agricultural Viability Alliance, helped conduct community food program evaluations with the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute, and provided technical assistance to local food policy councils with the Public Health Law Center. Anna holds a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies from Carleton College and a Master of Public Policy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Becca Lucas, Communications & Operations Manager
Becca joins the CalCAN team with experience ranging from field to kitchen prep. Born and bred on the Central Coast of California, Becca has since worked with non-profits in urban agriculture educational programming, in various communications positions, and on farmer-focused research projects, in addition to many years in food service. Prior to CalCAN, she worked in research and communications for the Small Planet Institute in Cambridge, MA and as the planning and programming coordinator for Eastie Farm in Boston. She completed her bachelors with a double major in Sociology and Italian from UC Davis and her M.S. in Agriculture, Food & Environment and M.A. in Urban & Environmental Policy & Planning from Tufts University in Massachusetts.
Brian Shobe, Associate Policy Director
Brian began his agricultural career in 2009 on his grandparents’ farm in North Dakota and has been involved with sustainable agriculture and community food security work ever since. Prior to CalCAN, he served as the Program Coordinator and Government Resources Advisor at the Farmer Veteran Coalition, where he advised beginning farmers and advocated for their policy priorities. Brian received a yearlong Emerson National Hunger Fellowship, during which time he worked with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona and the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Brian has a bachelor’s degree in Sociology from Beloit College and farming experience in three states.
Devon Hamilton, National Healthy Soils Policy Network Coordinator
Devon is a food justice advocate, with a deeply intersectional background in community organizing, sustainable agriculture, youth education, and food services. Originally from Leimert Park Los Angeles, he started his journey in agriculture in Wisconsin, where he spent 8 years between college and work. During his time in the Midwest, he worked as Michael Fields’ Associate Policy Director, served on 3 organizational boards, and co-founded the group TradeRoots Culinary Coalition, among other work. Devon is also the founder of Grillin’ For The People (G4TP), a barbecue and gardening community centered business, and serves as a cook at Post & Beam LA. He received his BS in Landscape and Environmental Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison, and his food and agriculture adventures have taken him as far as Benin West Africa, back home to South Central LA.
Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director
Jeanne has served as CalCAN’s Policy Director since the coalition was founded in 2009. She has over 20 years of experience in agricultural, environmental and energy policy advocacy at the state and national levels. Prior to CalCAN, she served as Associate Policy Director with the Michael Fields Agricultural Institute in Wisconsin, where she worked on state and federal agricultural policy issues. Jeanne has served as a board member of the Midwest Organic Services Association (MOSA), an organic certification organization, as co-chair of the coordinating council of the Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and served for six years on the Organizational Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. She currently serves on the Agricultural Advisory Group of the Department of Water Resources.
Renata Brillinger, Executive Director
Renata is the co-founder and Executive Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN). She has 25 years of experience in sustainable agriculture policy and food systems projects and has held numerous non-profit administrative positions since 1992. Prior to CalCAN, she was Program Director at the Climate Protection Campaign, focused on renewable energy and on agriculture. For seven years she served as the Director of Californians for GE-Free Agriculture, a coalition of sustainable agriculture and environmental organizations that provided education on genetic engineering in agriculture. She serves on a food and farming advisory board of the State Innovation Exchange and the advisory board of UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute
Tessa Salzman, Field Organizer
Tessa began community organizing to build healthy, resilient food systems while a student at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo where she worked to improve purchasing practices in campus dining. Her relationships with regional producers led her to start an online local farmers’ market and delivery business before leaving San Luis Obispo to travel and farm in Ecuador. Most recently, she worked for Baby Root Farm in Camarillo, CA, alongside a collective of new and multi-generational farmers. She served as the Food Sourcing Director for the food bank of Ventura County before joining CalCAN. As Field Organizer, Tessa strives to build a powerful network of food and farming stakeholders across California in order to deepen collaboration across disciplines, interests and cultures. She holds an M.S. and M.A. in food system policy and urban planning from Tufts University.
Rebecca Marcus, RMarcus Government Strategies
Benny Corona, Spring 2021
Grace Perry, Spring 2020
Molly Taylor, Spring 2019
Noah Lakritz, Summer 2018
Poojan Thakrar, Winter 2018
Chelsea Mitchell, Winter 2017
Beth Smoker, 2015/16
Sharon Licht, 2014/15
Dru Marion, 2013/14
Hui Qian, Fall 2012
Adam Kotin, Summer 2011
Adria Arko, Summer 2011
Elena Idell, Fall 2011