Meet Our Board of Directors & Staff

Debbie Hight


Following a career in the paper business and education, Debbie joined MGA in 2011, inspired by the Kneading Conference.  While she has organized the Kneading Conference Work Study program since 2012, been a member of the Budget Committee, and then the Executive Committee, her true passion is in helping local grain economies thrive.  She believes that Maine is a wonderful place to live, Skowhegan is truly “a place to watch”, and a return to being the “bread basket of New England” and a thriving economy are the exciting goals of this amazing team of people

Jada Wensman

Vice Chair

Originally from Minnesota, Jada grew up in a family of cooks who inspired her to see
food as a way to connect people. From farm camps to food trucks to classrooms, she
has investigated the ways we nourish our communities and ourselves. Baking is
both a professional endeavor and a personal joy that keeps her learning every day.
Jada finds inspiration in the diversity and vitality of Maine’s food economy, not least
of all the amazing growers, millers, and bakers who make up the Maine Grain

She first volunteered with MGA as a work-study participant at the 2017 Kneading
Conference. Awed by the incredible talent and big hearts of everyone involved, she
has returned each year, and looks forward to supporting MGA as a member of the

Dale Inman


After growing the southern-most test plot for MGA, Dale is excited to join the board. Currently with 3 acres under vegetable and grain cultivation, Dale watches anxiously to see how conditions will impact yield. Along with walking his dog and a lobster roll on a summer day, gardening and amateur beekeeping fit in nicely around Dale’s “real” job as a management consultant. From first baking bread with store bought flour to working with Richard Roberts on creating a test plot in Freeport to buying a benchtop mill to grind the grain he grows, this has truly become a farm to table evolution. Dale believes his farmer grandparents would be proud; and he looks forward to helping MGA extend its mission to others in Maine.

Amber Lambke


A move to Skowhegan after marrying opened Amber’s eyes to the joys and challenges of rural living. Rich with outdoor recreation, u-pick orchards, contra dances and affordable farmland, rural towns like Skowhegan have also been hurt by the loss of natural resource-based jobs. Motivated to help, Amber volunteered with the Main Street program and later co-founded the first conversation about revitalizing regional grain economies at the 2007 Kneading Conference. The Conference motivated Amber to find solutions and in 2012 she launched Maine Grains, Inc., a gristmill and local food hub in a renovated jailhouse, which has inspired positive ripple effects worldwide.

Nancy Baxter

Board of Directors

Nancy, a native of Skowhegan, believes in acting locally and globally. Volunteering in state and local events is critical to the well-being of the area and its people.  Nancy is inspired by the growth and renewed enthusiasm of the farmers and millers in the central Maine area. They bring passion and knowledge to the table along with their outstanding products!  Nancy brings a sense of community, consistency, and is a reliable and active participant in a variety of events that celebrate Maine and rural living. 

Richard Roberts

Board of Directors

A gardener, mechanic/ fabricator, tinkerer, and high school teacher, Richard became intrigued with the idea of a gristmill in Skowhegan and volunteered there and became a part time employee.  He attended the Kneading Conference and worked as one of the original farmers in the MGA’s Heritage Seed Restoration Project and now leads that program. He continues to research and grow out varieties of cereal grains that are adapted to Maine’s climate. He works to create a network of gardeners, growers and seed savers in a larger grain community, throughout the world.

Patti Dowse

Board of Directors

After being recruited by her husband and board member, Dusty Dowse, to help organize the annual Bread Fair, she was asked to serve as a Maine Grain Alliance Board member as well. While Patti neither bakes nor farms, she enjoys the results of both, and likes to share her enthusiasm with the rest of the eaters out there. After a lengthy career in small business as a handbag designer and manufacturer, Patti brings marketing and promotion skills to the work of the Maine Grain Alliance.

Susan Cochran

Board of Directors

Susan’s love of growing food deepened when she and her husband moved to Maine in 1972 and joined the back to the land movement and MOFGA, in addition to pursuing their own academic work. Susan’s conviction about the connection between food and health and a passion for prevention of disease led her to medical school where she convinced the faculty to teach a course in nutrition. As a supporter of Amber and Albie’s initial vision of the Kneading Conference, Susan became an awed observer of the extraordinary expansion of the local grain and food economy with the multifaceted social, economic and health benefits it brings to our town and state. Susan works to connect with others through MGA’s various venues, helping to explain some of the science behind grain, nutrition and health issues.

Natasha Colbry

Board of Directors

Natasha Colbry has a background in baking, farming organically, geology and chemistry. Currently, she is living in Dover-Foxcroft with her husband and 5 year old son.  From 2013 until 2021 she and her husband ran a small, bio intensive farm as well as a from scratch, artisan bakery/store front (Spruce Mill Farm & Kitchen).   Baking and growing food has always been an important part of her life and she hopes to continue sharing the importance of sustainable farming. 

Maeve McInnis

Board of Directors

Maeve McInnis earned a master’s degree in Environmental Policy and Sustainability Management with a specialization in Food Systems from The New School in New York.  She is the Maine Course Director for Sodexo heading up the statewide initiative to increase the Maine food purchased at all Sodexo accounts in the state. She sits on the board of the Portland Food Council as a representative of business. She believes in a food system that thrives ecologically & economically and that re-integrating grains into Maine’s food system will bring balance to the farming ecosystem. She brings passion for social justice, local food systems, and the environment to the board.  The energy of the board members who are extraordinarily passionate about this work inspire her to want to achieve more, do more.

Dusty Dowse

Board of Directors

Dusty has been a lifelong advocate for Real Bread.  He presented at the first Kneading Conference and then subsequently helped found the Maine Grain Alliance.  Dusty is a recently retired professor from UMO where he earned the College Distinguished Teacher award. As a scientist, he keeps up with and shares research underlying baking and grain agriculture.  He opened a bakery out of his home and he shares what he learns as MGA’s Grain Education Director. Dusty is also the director of the Artisan Bread Fair and the Big Bake at the Common Ground Country Fair, where he is on the board of MOFGA.  As MGA continues to evolve, Dusty finds the talent and devotion of the Board members inspiring.

Albie Barden

Board of Directors

Albie is one of the founders of the Maine Grain Alliance and helped initiate the first Kneading Conference in 2006
Professionally, Albie is a 40 year veteran oven, cooker, and masonry heater designer, including the Tiny House
heater; and builder and the co-founder of Maine Wood Heat Company, Inc. He is also the co-founder of the
Common Ground Country Fair, the Masonry Heater Association of North America, and of Flint Corn in Maine.
Albie has been a lifetime organic gardener and is passionate about growing and preserving heirloom varieties of flint

Jeff Dec

Board of Directors

Connecting earth to table, Jeff wears many hats- a production bread maker, cook, chef, food service director, farmer, baking instructor, and bakery owner. He serendipitously met his wife Lisa at the KC. Their Rockport based business, Brazen Baking, uses almost all Maine and regionally grown grains. With a focus on whole grain nutrition and natural leavening, their hope is to get real bread into kitchens throughout their community. Jeff brings the perspective of a small family run bakery and views every bake as an exploration of what is possible using the locally grown bounty in Maine.

Caitlin Hillery

Board of Directors

Caitlin first heard of the MGA through her work at the University of Maine in Orono,
where she is a graduate student in the Food Science program, having studied food
science and sustainable food systems in undergrad. She works in food product
development at the Matthew Highlands Pilot Plant, partnering with Maine companies
and entrepreneurs to bring their ideas for new food products to life! She grew up in the
Bangor area, has been an avid baker since high school, and is excited by the prospect
of the rapidly growing local grain economy in Maine. She is so inspired by everyone
who has come together to work toward the shared goal of rebuilding that economy,
from the amazing farmers and growers to the consumers who consciously choose local grains, and everyone in between!

Jon Stein

Board of Directors

After studying biochemistry in Colorado, Jon moved to Maine in 2014, where he lives in downtown Ellsworth and owns & operates Fogtown Brewing Company. Some notable stops along the way include a stint working in healthcare education & advocacy abroad, building with timberframing crews in Montana, and teaching brewing & business at College of the Atlantic. Jon served as vice president of Heart of Ellsworth downtown organization, a grant advisor for Maine Community Foundation’s Hancock County Fund, and is currently serving as an Ellsworth City Councilor. He is passionate about the dynamic food systems in Maine, and incorporating our rich local and heritage grains into craft food & beverages. 

Joelle Wightman


Joelle is originally from Wisconsin, and moved to Maine in 2015. With her degree in accounting, she became a public accountant and earned her CPA. She has always felt inspired by the nonprofits she worked with and was excited when the opportunity to work with Maine Grain Alliance came up. Joelle always wanted to work with an organization that would help benefit local communities, and feels like she has found that at Maine Grain Alliance.

Tristan Noyes

Executive Director

Raised by a farming family in northern Maine, Tristan developed an early passion for supporting agricultural communities. While a student, Tristan’s interest in organic practices led to him co-founding the Bowdoin Organic Garden. After a short spell hiking a section of the Appalachian Trail, he settled in Boston and built a career in global education. Tristan’s love for education took him around the world and ultimately back to Maine, where he and his brother started Gromaine Organic Farm.  Tristan soon sought knowledge about growing local grains. Inspired by meeting the incredible members of the Maine Grain Alliance, Tristan joined the organization as its Executive Director in 2016.

Kayla Starr

Program Director

Kayla was born and raised in Central Maine. She graduated from Suffolk University with a degree in Communication and Journalism and has a passion for healthy and sustainable food systems. At the Maine Grain Alliance, Kayla works as the Program Director to help with the planning and execution of The Kneading Conference and Maine Artisan Bread Fair. She also helps to organize and host a number of grain related education workshops throughout the State. Much like all the people involved in MGA, Kayla wears a lot of hats, just the way she likes it.