Renee Brooks Catacalos has been involved in local food and sustainable agriculture since the early 2000s, when she was a communications consultant to restaurants at the leading edge of farm-to-table sourcing in Washington, DC. A personal experiment with eating local and a few freelance articles later, she took over as publisher and editor of Edible Chesapeake magazine, from 2006 to 2009. She then spent several years with Future Harvest – Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture, managing communications and serving as deputy director until 2013, when she switched gears to serve as executive director of a local chapter of the American Institute of Architects.
During that time, her commitment to local food expressed itself in her 2018 book, The Chesapeake Table: Your Guide to Eating Local. In February 2019, she returned to food systems work, starting a new position with Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders, an organization that helps mission-driven foundations and investors connect, collaborate and build their capacity to achieve greater impact in support of just and sustainable food and agriculture systems.
Renee has served on the boards of ECO City Farms in Maryland and FRESHFARM Markets throughout the greater Washington area. She is currently on the Steering Team of the Chesapeake Foodshed Network (CFN) and co-chairs the CFN’s Advisory Group responsible for piloting an initiative focused on increasing Community Ownership, Empowerment and Prosperity (COEP) within the regional food system. Before getting involved in food and ag, Renee had careers in public relations and the U.S. Foreign Service, with postings to Mexico City and Istanbul.
Renee graduated from the University of Virginia with a bachelor’s degree in foreign affairs. She lives in University Park, Maryland, with her husband, Damon, a defense attorney with a focus on representing indigent clients. Their daughter is studying anthropology at Temple University and their son is an Army ROTC cadet studying civil engineering at Drexel University, both in Philadelphia.