COCKEYSVILLE, Md. — Future Harvest, the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, is delighted to announce Maryland-native Grace Leatherman as the incoming Executive Director for the organization’s 23rd year and beyond. The non-profit, founded in 1999, advances agriculture that sustains farmers, communities, and the environment through farmer training, advocacy, soil health, and thoughtful partnerships in the Chesapeake region, including Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, Washington DC, and West Virginia.
Grace will join Future Harvest on May 9th, bringing a lifetime of experience engaging with area farms as well as a deep understanding of the complex history of agriculture in America, which she researched during her graduate work at the University of Delaware.
Growing up in Baltimore County, Maryland, Grace Leatherman raised sheep and was immersed in 4-H. After studying history and horticulture in college, she pursued her master’s in history, going on to become a history teacher. Even after she became a teacher, she spent summers and weekends working at Butler’s Orchard in Germantown, Maryland. Grace went on to become the Maryland History Day Outreach Coordinator for Maryland Humanities, and in 2019, the Executive Director of the National Council for History Education (NCHE). Throughout her career teaching history, and teaching teachers, Grace never stopped engaging with agriculture.
“I spent nine years on the Damascus Community Fair Board, volunteered in Montgomery County 4-H, and served as the secretary of the Montgomery County Farm Bureau,” said Grace. “When I traveled the state as Maryland History Day Outreach Coordinator for Maryland Humanities, I admired the wide variety of farms that stretched from the mountains to the ocean. Sustainable agriculture is critical for the environmental and economic health of our region, and it is important that a diverse group of farms, farmers, and consumers has access to support and resources.”
Equity and inclusion has been top of mind for Future Harvest, especially in recent years, and Grace joins the organization with recent, landmark experience in this arena. While serving as the Executive Director NCHE, she spearheaded a strategic planning process focused on equity and inclusion – developing programs and obtaining funding in order to host NCHE’s first ever Equity Summit and found The Rural Experience in America program.
Furthermore, now, more than ever, a sustainable regional food economy that reaches all communities and ensures a consistent and nutritional food supply is paramount. Grace’s long-term connectivity to the region’s farmers and history positions the organization well for these important years to come.
“Our farmers and food producers played a heroic role in sustaining communities during the pandemic. Yet perhaps their greatest contribution will be in strengthening our food system’s regional impact in continuing times of uncertainty. Grace intuitively understands socially how we got here, the role of education in making change, the value of teamwork and leadership while sharing this organization’s values” said Steven Jones, the President of the Future Harvest Board of Directors.