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Board of Directors

Mary Khoury

Board President

Aquatic Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy (Chicago, IL)

Mary Khoury has been a freshwater ecologist with The Nature Conservancy since 1995. She currently is part of the science team supporting the Conservancy’s work to conserve the freshwater ecosystems of the Great Lakes Region. She has led priority setting and strategy development efforts in the Upper Mississippi River Basin as well as in the intermountain states. Prior to joining the Conservancy, Mary completed a Master’s of Science in stream ecology at the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment. Mary is a graduate of Yale University, where she majored in History and Studies in the Environment. Mary is a native of the Midwest, born in St. Louis, and has lived in Chicago for 17 years. She currently lives in downtown Chicago with her husband, Rob Khoury, a financial industry entrepreneur, and their two children, William and Eloise.

Aquatic Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy (Chicago, IL) - See more at:
Aquatic Ecologist, The Nature Conservancy (Chicago, IL) - See more at:

Joseph Arden

Independent Software Architect/CTO

Joe Arden started his career as an engineer; designing, building, and programming computer-aided test equipment used in the manufacture of microphones, mixers, and data communications equipment. He received his undergraduate degree in Electrical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology. After working for a few years and getting restless with the lack of diversity in his job, Joe went on to get an MBA from DePaul University and made a career change into the world of consulting. Working for both Andersen Consulting and Deloitte Consulting, Joe was able to utilize his technical knowledge and business acumen to help his clients change to be more successful. After six years in consulting, Joe decided to reduce the risk of travel and being away from home. Joe left consulting to work as an IT manager and CTO for three different start-up firms in Chicago. Joe now works for himself as a software architect/CTO, managing his client’s technology needs. Joe is married and is the proud father of three beautiful girls. He enjoys cooking, gardening (watching the weeds grow), reading, yoga, tennis, and bike riding.

Melissa Flynn

Managing Partner

As Managing Partner of MJF Partners LLC, Melissa brings over eight years of experience in small business and non-profit development. Prior to founding MJF Partners Ms. Flynn was the Executive Director of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce. As Executive Director she brought her passion for independent business and community building to Lincoln Square and created a sense of place that helped to transform the Lincoln Square Community. Ms. Flynn is a skilled and experienced executive with a proven track record of creating a successful business climate balanced by strong values of sustainability and community. This experience is utilized as she partners with non-profits and businesses to maximize resources and opportunities to exceed their goals. Ms. Flynn has her Masters in Human Resources from Loyola University and is a graduate of the Institute of Organization Management from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Dominic Green

Owner, The Gentleman Farmer

Dominic is a British artist, traveler and, together with his wife Jessica, founder/owner of The Gentleman Farmer, at which he is also Head Farmer. He is an active member of the Steering Committee for CRAFT (Collabroative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training) of which The Gentleman Farmer is a member. In addition, Dominic is a performing artist, working extensively in theater, television and radio in London and chicago. He spent over five years sailing and backpacking throughout Europe, the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, North America, Asia and Australia.


Constance McCarthy

Linguistic Editor, IBFD

Constance McCarthy, a Rockford native, is a linguistic editor and lawyer. She was educated at Loyola University (B.A. Honors, French and Political Science and studied abroad twice, once while an undergrad (Nice, France) and once while in law school (Paris, France). Following law school, Ms. McCarthy lived and worked in Amsterdam for two years, where she worked as a linguistic editor at an international tax publishing company. Constance returned to Rockford in 1998 and resumed work as a linguistic editor.

Ms. McCarthy is an active volunteer in the community. She is an adult volunteer leader in the Learning Center’s Roots & Wings Youth Leadership and Urban Gardening Network. She serves on the national advisory council for Rooted in Community, which hosts an annual conference attended by Roots & Wings youth leaders and serves as an umbrella organization for groups engaging underserved and at-risk youth in food justice work. She is a member of the Local Foods Work Group at the University of Illinois Extension--Winnebago County, and is on the planning committee for that group's Local Foods Conference in Rockford. She is also active with the Extension in Winnebago County as a Master Gardener and Master Composter. She is the president of the Rock River Valley chapter of Wild Ones, a group dedicated to educating people about the benefits of using native plants and natural landscaping in their gardens.

Cliff McConville

Cliff McConville is the founder of Barrington Natural Farms, a diverse “pasture-farm” located in the northwest suburbs of Chicago that produces grass-fed beef and raw milk, as well as pasture-raised chicken, pork, and eggs, in addition to organically-raised vegetables, fruits, and wildflower honey. Prior to pursuing his passion for sustainable farming, Cliff served in a variety of executive positions in the insurance industry, primarily in sales and marketing management. He holds a B.S. degree in Economic Geography from the University of Idaho, and a MBA in Marketing from the University of Texas at Austin.

John Peterson

Board President Emeritus

Farmer and Founder, Angelic Organics Farm

Tom Spaulding


Executive Director, Angelic Organics Learning Center

Tom is the founding Executive Director of Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC).  Tom joined the Angelic Organics CSA in 1994 and became Executive Director of the Learning Center in 1999.  Tom oversees the Learning Center’s strategic planning with the Board of Directors, builds partnerships, and manages the staff team. Tom is a founding member of the Farm Beginnings Collaborative, serves on the steering committee of the Upper Midwest Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training (CRAFT), and was appointed Director of the Illinois Local Food Farms and Jobs Council by the Illinois Governor in 2010. Prior to working for the Learning Center, Tom worked 15 years in international economic and social development with the YMCA of the USA international group and the United Nations in Costa Rica and New York. Tom is a Kellogg Fellow and holds an MA in International Affairs from George Washington University, and a BA in Liberal Studies, University of California at Santa Barbara.

Ava George Stewart

Attorney and Owner, Law Office of Ava George Stewart (Chicago, IL)

Kathleen Toohill

Sustainable Farming Consultant (Warrenville, IL)

Kathleen earned her Bachelor’s Degree from the College of St. Benedict and did graduate work in Theatre Administration at the University of Minnesota. She began her career in nonprofit management with a marketing position at The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, Minnesota and continued in marketing and development with Carnegie Hall in New York City from 1990 through 1994. She joined the Morgan Stanley Foundation in 1994 where she oversaw social service grantmaking, and in 1995, moved on to the position of Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations with Gould Partners -- a consortium of three educational nonprofits serving inner-city children. She returned to Morgan Stanley in 1997 and became Director of the Foundation in 1998.

In order to pursue other personal and professional interests, Kathleen became a stay-at-home mom in 2002. While caring for her two young children, she pursued studies in anthroposophy and biodynamic gardening at Sunbridge College, and returned to the world of work in 2010 as the a Program Manager for the Farmer Training Initiative at Angelic Organics Learning Center in Caledonia, Illinois. In late 2012, Kathleen began part time work with the Department of Music at Benedictine University in Lisle, Illinois, with the goal of freeing up more time for volunteer and community projects.