Laura and goatAdvocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is very pleased to announce that the 501(c)(3) organization has chosen Laura Calvert as its new Executive Director. She succeeds Billy Burdett, who led the organization for five years before leaving to farm full time. Laura comes to AUA from an eight-year stint with the Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy City Harvest program, where her last position was as Food Safety and Compliance Supervisor. In that capacity, she managed the Windy City Harvest combined food sales and markets; implemented best practices in training and food safety; and collaborated with a wide range of stakeholders, including government agencies, community organizations, medical and educational institutions, and funders on issues related to urban agriculture and community development.

Laura has a B.S. in Business Administration and Management from Bradley University, where she graduated first in her class, and has been active in state farming organizations. She is a founding board member and fundraising chair for the Illinois Farmers Market Association, and a member of the Illinois Department of Public Health’s Farmers Market Task Force. Laura holds professional certificates from the University of Vermont as a Food Hub Manager, the Chicago Area Project in Advancing Youth Development, from SafeServ as Food Safety Manager, and from the University of Illinois-Extension’s Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) program.

Laura will lead AUA at an important time in its fifteen-year history, helping staff and board members forge a new strategic plan to guide the organization’s next phase of development: as the leading Chicagoland hub for information and expertise about urban agriculture; as an advocate for progressive food policies at the city and county level; and as a provider of direct assistance for urban and suburban farmers.

Robert Nevel, AUA’s vice president, noted that, “After reviewing more than two dozen applicants and a deliberate, nearly three-month-long recruitment process, the search committee’s unanimous choice was Laura. We are delighted that she will be joining us, and invite the public to come and meet her as she launches her AUA tenure at our Grown in Chicago Summer Soirée and Showcase, August 10, 2017, at Big Delicious Planet on Chicago’s near west side.”

Advocates for Urban Agriculture (AUA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit coalition of Chicago-area gardeners, farmers, organizations, businesses and others who seek to expand and strengthen urban agriculture, from home- and community-based growing to market gardens and small farms. Its Advocacy, Connections and Resources Working Groups support the growth of the urban agriculture movement through policy, community outreach, educational & networking events, knowledge & skill sharing, and informational resources. With over 2,000 members and 2,300 listserv subscribers, AUA is the hub and voice of Chicagoland’s urban agriculture community.