Lauren E. Augusta

Executive Director

Oakland, CA

With a career devoted to international training and cultural exchange, Lauren served nine years as assistant director at a "conventional" agriculture exchange program before founding MESA. In 1994, Lauren incorporated the Multinational Exchange for Sustainable Agriculture, Inc. (MESA) to promote sustainable farming alternatives throughout the world. Lauren holds a B.A. in Russian Language & Literature from the University of New Hampshire at Durham, which sparked her initial interest to pursue a career in cross-cultural exchange. In 1996 Lauren successfully negotiated the lengthy, "Kafka-esque" designation process for J-1 Training and Cultural Exchange Program status with the United States Information Agency (now under the auspices of the U.S. Department of State), and has since acted as MESA’s executive director. When not wearing her MESA hat, Lauren devotes time trying to answer that age old question of "Mommie, what’s for dinner?" for her two sons, ages 4 and 7.

Leah Atwood

Program Manager

Berkeley, CA

Leah joined MESA in 2004 as a recent graduate from UC Berkeley where she studied Environmental Policy and Spanish. Leah has spent many months abroad in Latin America (Costa Rica, Peru, Ecuador, Cuba and Nicaragua) and in Bangladesh working and volunteering on behalf of social, environmental and food justice. As a result of her travel and work experiences she gained insight into international agriculture systems and the value of socio-ecologically mindful practices. Leah’s past non-profit experience includes working in program development for International Institute for Bengal Basin to address water rights and pollution mitigation in Bangladesh, India and Nepal and with East Bay Sanctuary Covenant where she worked in translation and fund raising on behalf of indigent refugees seeking legal guidance. Her other passions include practicing and teaching yoga, cooking, surfing, salsa dancing and gardening.

Andrew Chahrour

Program Assistant and Technology Coordinator

Berkeley, CA

Andrew is the newest staff member at MESA. Having recently arrived in the Bay Area, Andrew began as an intern in August and has since become a valuable part of the team. While growing up in Ohio and getting his BA from Bucknell University in Pennsylvania, he has been exposed to a variety Midwestern agricultural systems. Andrew’s degree in Environmental Studies led him to a job with the Bureau of Land Management in Wyoming where he worked to produce digital maps of aspen stands, which are in recession across the West. After the completion of this assignment, Andrew moved to Boston where he co-founded ConsumerConscience, a wiki-based website devoted to ethical consumerism. Soon thereafter, Andrew moved to the Bay Area and began working with MESA as a volunteer in August of 2007. He has since become a valuable member of the MESA team and is responsible for building and maintaining the new MESA website. Outside of the office, Andrew spends his time building websites for other non-profits, playing ultimate frisbee, or rock climbing.

Brooke McClelland

Communications and Steward Resources Intern

Oakland, CA

Before recently moving to the Bay Area, Brooke spent the summer working at Fazenda Flor de Cafe, an organic and biodynamic coffee farm in Brazil as a WWOOF volunteer (World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms). She became interested in sustainable agriculture after working as an advocate for migrant farm workers in the Southeastern U.S. as an Outreach Paralegal at Southern Migrant Legal Services based in Nashville, TN. Having spent most of her life in the South, she is a graduate of Rhodes College in Memphis, TN, where she studied Spanish and Sociology. Brooke developed a love of the traditional Argentine tea, maté, while living and volunteering in Buenos Aires for a year. She has also spent time abroad in the Dominican Republic and Chile. In her spare time, she enjoys singing in community choirs, cooking organic veggies, and volunteering at People’s Grocery, a local organic farm.

Hilary Maynard

Event Coordinator Intern

Oakland, CA

Hilary recently joined MESA to assist in the Exit Seminar for the 2008 stewards. Having been raised in a rural agricultural community, her interests have always been geared towards land and food systems. After studying Life Sciences and Agriculture at UMASS Amherst, she traveled abroad, working on small farms in Spain and France. Just before relocating to the Bay Area, Hilary taught high school Science in Vermont and Environmental Education in the Caribbean. Having worked and lived in small rural communities, she turned her focus towards an urban environment. When she isn’t with MESA, she works at the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, cooks at a small restaurant in Emeryville, and explores her love for cooking and agricultural adventures.