Please direct media inquiries to:

Renata Brillinger, Executive Director: renata(at) • (707) 536-7619 (c)

Jeanne Merrill, Policy Director: jmerrill(at) • (916) 600-0083 (c)


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.

anna(at)  •  (916) 441-4042

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.
becca(at)  •  (707) 329-6374

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.
brian(at)  •  (916) 441-4042

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.
jmerrill(at)  •  (916) 441-4042 or (916) 600-0083 (c)

Margot Riphagen, National Healthy Soils Policy Network Coordinator

Margot is a career changemaker who has fought to make the world a better place for all of us by organizing over 30,000 workers into unions throughout her career and improving access to healthcare throughout the United States for all people. She most recently served as the Executive Director of the Committee of Interns and Residents, the largest resident physician union in the country and has experience building networks and coalitions throughout the country throughout her 20 year career. She holds a Masters in Public Health from Creighton University.

Renata Brillinger, Executive Director

Renata is the co-founder and Executive Director of the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN). She has two decades 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 the steering committee of the Center for Sustainability at CalPoly University in San Luis Obispo and the advisory board of UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute
renata(at)  •  (707) 329-6374 or (707) 536-7619 (c)

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.
tessa(at)  •  (707) 329-6374 

Policy Intern 2021:
Benny Corona

Policy Consultant:
Rebecca Marcus, RMarcus Government Strategies

Former Interns:
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

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