At its Board of Directors Meeting on Sunday, the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association (MOFGA) appointed long-time Executive Director Russell Libby to a new position: Senior Policy Advisor. This appointment underscores MOFGA’s commitment to creating innovative public policy that supports organic local agriculture, protects the environment, and illuminates for consumers the connection between healthful food and environmentally sound farming practices.
“For as long as I’ve been involved with MOFGA, Russell has been its head, heart and soul, and it is with deep gratitude for these years of leadership that the Board embraces his new role,” said Barbara Damrosch, President of MOFGA’s Board. “We are thankful that he is willing to continue to lend his wisdom to all our endeavors.”
Libby became MOFGA’s Executive Director in 1995 after more than a decade of service on the organization’s Board of Directors. Under his leadership, MOFGA has become the country’s largest state-level organic association with: members in more than 6,500 households and businesses; 418 certified organic farms and processing operations; a 400-acre, year-round education center; more than 1,500 volunteers; and 32 employees.
Libby directed the development of MOFGA’s Common Ground Education Center in Unity, and has supervised the expansion and growth of all program areas of the organization including agricultural services, educational events and farmer training, the Common Ground Country Fair, organic certification, publications such as MOFGA’s quarterly newspaper The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener, popular websites and social media outlets, and, of course, public policy initiatives.
“It’s been an honor and privilege to work with the MOFGA community for all these years,” said Libby. “I’m looking forward to continuing to help the organization in my new role.”
Libby has been a leader in food and agricultural policy at the state, regional, and national level for more than 30 years. His new role will allow him to focus more deeply on policy initiatives, and provide advice to the MOFGA Staff and Board on approaches to current and emerging policy issues.
"I've known Russell for years and I'm honored and proud to be able to call him a friend and a colleague," said U.S. Representative Chellie Pingree. "He has contributed a wealth of knowledge and skills to his many years at MOFGA. His contributions to sustainable farm policy have been substantial and I can't think of anyone else in the country who has done more to advance the cause of organic farming. We are lucky to have such a thoughtful and dedicated advocate and public servant here in Maine. Even though Russell is stepping aside as Executive Director, I'm glad that the farmers and consumers of Maine -- as well as policymakers around the country -- will still have the benefit of his experience, knowledge and humor."
MOFGA’s Board also appointed Heather Spalding, MOFGA’s current Deputy Director, as Interim Executive Director. She joined MOFGA’s staff in 1997, after ten years working with environmental organizations in Washington, DC. Spalding will work closely with MOFGA’s Board and Staff to coordinate a search for the organization’s next Executive Director. Recruiting will begin in the new year.