Staff

Cassandra Rizzotto
Acting Executive Director

Cassandra joined OCO in November 2019 and brings over a decade of experience in business, finance, and innovation in Ontario’s local food and agricultural sectors. She is a Founding Member and Co-Owner of Earth + City, a plant-based prepared food company established in 2010 and partnered with over 40 regional suppliers, vendors, and farmers. She was a Board Director and Treasurer of the former West End Food Co-op, and much of her experience has been on the entrepreneurial and processing side of food production in both for-profit and non-profit cooperative settings.

Cassandra holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Western Ontario, and an M.Ed. in Adult Education and Community Development from OISE at the University of Toronto, specializing in transformative learning for social and ecological change. After completing her first year of law school at the Peter A. Allard School of Law at the University of British Columbia, she is back home in Toronto and is eager about championing for an Ontario organic regulation and advocating for a healthier and more resilient food and agricultural system in our province. 

LinkedIn Profile
Carolyn Young
Executive Director

Since joining OCO in early 2016, Carolyn has placed renewed emphasis on serving members' needs and campaigning for an Ontario organic regulation. Prior to joining OCO, Carolyn worked as the Director of Sustain Ontario, the alliance for healthy food and farming.  Together with member organizations, she advocated for the support of healthier food systems through education, network development and collaborative action.  

Before Sustain, Carolyn had extensive experience in food security, farming and environmental policy issues through her Masters research focused on farmers' markets and her time at the Stop Community Food Centre. She has worked on farms and farming issues in four provinces in addition to visiting farms across Canada and abroad as an Independent Organic Inspector. 

LinkedIn profile
Laura Northey
Communications & Membership Manager (on leave)

Laura joined OCO in September of 2016. She comes from a rural background and has a wide range of experience in agriculture, administration, and non-profit communications. Some of this experience included apprenticing as a farmer and then running her own market garden -- before realizing that contributing her communication skills to the good food movement was a better use of her talents! 

Laura has a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton Univerisity and a Graduate Certification in Corporate Communications from Seneca College. She lives in Toronto and originally hails from the world-famous municipality of Tweed, Ontario.

LinkedIn profile
Dora Chan
Communications & Membership Manager
Dora joined OCO in November 2018, and brings over seven years of experience in project management, communications, and event planning in both the non-profit and private sectors. She is excited to work for the Organic Council of Ontario because she is passionate about sustainability and food. While she is new to the food and agriculture landscape, she is looking forward to learning more about the organic sector and getting to know OCO's diverse membership.

Dora graduated with a BA in Political Science & History from the University of Toronto. She is also currently enrolled in Ryerson University's continuing education school, working towards a certificate in food security.
LinkedIn profile
Rebecca Minielly
Project Coordinator

Rebecca joined OCO in 2019. Although early in her professional development, Rebecca has built skills in food education, project management, research and writing, community engagement, and strategic planning. A passionate advocate for sustainability, Rebecca has served in all manner of food-related roles. She served in sustainability-focused food services, was the project manager at a food-education charity, and worked for one year on a market/CSA farm. She's now looking forward to supporting the policy side of Ontario's food system. 

Rebecca has a B.A. in Geography from Queen's University, where she focused on food system sustainability. She now lives in Toronto, but cut her food-education chops in London, Ontario. 

Meg Roberts
Member Communications and Events Coordinator

Meg joined OCO in early 2020 and is passionate about sustainability and food security. With a background in vegetable, livestock, and dairy farming she hopes to bring a farmer's viewpoint to the team. She has additional experience in event planning, leading workshops, and community outreach, and she looks forward to working with the members of OCO.

Meg has a postgraduate certificate in Sustainable Agriculture, as well as Environmental Enforcement and Inspection. She has completed courses in herbalism and is currently training to become an organic inspector. 

Tom Piekarski
Policy & Research Coordinator

Tom joined OCO in December 2019. He is excited to support Ontario’s sustainable food systems and to learn more about how organic is governed at home and abroad. Tom has experience and interest in sustainability policy, municipal/regional planning and community building.

He has an MA in Philosophy and an MPP in Public Policy. Prior to working for OCO, Tom delivered the Canadian Urban Institute's City Building Leadership Program and co-led the beginning stages of the City of Mississauga's Parkland Stewardship Strategy.

Christine Schmalz

Christine is dedicated to the idea of a sustainable food system and is very pleased to have recently joined the OCO team. She has a long history of working with farmers on environmental issues through the non-profit sector. Much of her focus has been on the policy and programming side of food production, including building and enhancing effective voluntary incentive and education programs at the provincial scale. Her experience with on-farm stewardship initiatives has ranged broadly from work on energy conservation programs, species at risk, grassland habitat, soil health and water quality management.  

Christine has a B.E.S. from the University of Waterloo in Environment and Business and a Master's Degree from the School of Public Policy at Carleton University.  She has worked for OMAFRA and OSCIA in previous roles.