ANCA Staff

Joshua Bakelaar, Local Economies and Agriculture Director

Bringing both industry and academic experience, Josh has led the agriculture and local food program at ANCA since 2013. In support of ANCA’s goal to create conditions that support emerging and innovative local economies, Josh expands market opportunities for small farmers through projects such as Farm to School, Farm to Institution, and food hub development. Whether planning a new food project, securing project funding, providing grant assistance or making direct connections between producers and buyers; Josh is ready to turn ideas into action.

Since taking over the family garden as a teenager, Josh has had an appetite for agriculture. With his passion for all things food, you will find Josh working on multiple aspects of our local food system. Most recently, he started his own small gourmet mushroom farm and supplies local markets with Adirondack mushrooms. In addition to his experience creating and delivering education programming for the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, he has also worked as a sous chef at fine dining restaurants and as a food service worker for large institutions. Josh holds a B.A. in biology from Green Mountain College and continued on to study soil health on Vermont dairy farms, earning a master’s degree from the University of Vermont. Outside of the office you’ll find Josh spending time with his two young sons and his wife Tatiana; tending his gardens; sitting on the board of Adirondack Harvest; and playing guitar, hiking, fishing, skiing, and snowboarding.



Nancy Bernstein, Energy Circuit Rider

Nancy has been living with and promoting her passion for renewable energy for over 25 years, and is very excited to be sharing her skills as an ANCA Energy Circuit Rider. For over 10 years, Nancy organized local green building home tours, and more recently coordinated Solarize Tri-Lakes, a 2-year educational campaign to increase awareness about solar energy, encouraging more than 80 residential and small business solar PV arrays to be installed throughout the Tri-Lakes region.Graduating from Cornell University with a B.S. in Biology, Nancy began adult life teaching environmental education and river ecology aboard the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River, as well as other sailing ships around the world.

After moving to the Adirondacks in 1990 and building her off-grid solar powered home, she began working in the building trades as a timber framer, carpenter, and instructor. From teaching natural building techniques in rural Nicaragua to an annual timber framing course at the Yestermorrow Design Build School in central Vermont, Nancy enjoys sharing her skills and interest in creating beautiful and functional buildings. As a sideline, she creates freelance nature illustrations and maps of the Adirondack region.(

Outside of work, Nancy skis, hikes, paddles and camps around the Adirondacks with her teenage son. And when time allows, you’ll find her at home playing her five-string banjo or planning her next travel adventure.

Danielle Delaini, Business Transition Program Coordinator

 Dani has a passion for community focused business development and effective nonprofit management. She continually strives to  become the type of thoughtful leader who utilizes rational business acumen to achieve a  greater idealistic good.

 She holds a B.A. in English from Clark University and an M.S.M. in Managing Mission Driven Organizations from Marlboro  College. New to the North Country, Dani hails from Southern Vermont and most recently held a position as  the Director of Programs and Events at a Chamber of Commerce in Boston’s active Metrowest area.

 Outside of the office, Dani is often satiating her appetite for reading, cooking (actually she is particularly interested in the eating  part), running with her dog, kayaking, board games, volunteering for animal rescue leagues and  developing design processes.  She travels between Georgia and New York with her migrant Apiarist husband and together they can never seem to keep up on  where any of their mail is going to.

Kate Fish, Executive Director

Kate’s relentless optimism and energy coupled with a contagious vision for the future has helped drive ANCA to be seen as “the leading organization looking at new economies in the region.” She is a recognized leader who has built ANCA into an innovative and responsive organization that produces tangible results for every sector we focus on. Kate joined the organization as Executive Director in 2010, quickly identifying renewable energy as a critical path to more resilient local economies and focusing ANCA’s strategies on creating stronger local economies, including a clean energy economy.   She has built a topnotch staff, a professional and efficient organization, and attracted millions of dollars in investment into the region.

Prior to joining ANCA, she served as the Managing Director for Business for Social Responsibility in Europe, a global nonprofit business network and consultancy dedicated to sustainability.   She lived and worked in Paris for 6 years before moving to the North Country. She laughs now about her life in Paris, saying often that she much prefers her quality of life in the Adirondacks.  However, her experience there developing Social Responsibility strategy for major multi-national corporations, developing climate policy and clean energy transportation strategies as well as  complex collaborations between companies and other stakeholders has served ANCA well.   Before BSR, she was Vice President of Public Policy for a multinational corporation, running the company’s global stakeholder engagement program and their global Biotech Advisory Council, both very sensitive and complex challenges.

Kate has two daughters with their own families, and lives in Lake Placid.  Instead of the thousands of miles in airplanes that she used to spend, she now logs hundreds of miles a year on the ski slopes, or in the woods on skis or boots, with her trusty and super smart border collie.   She is on the executive committee of the North Country Regional Economic Development Council, and serves on multiple NYSERDA Advisory Councils as well as the Common Ground Alliance Core Team.

Brandy Hobson, Operations and Finance Manager

Brandy joined ANCA in 2018, bringing with her nearly 15 years of experience in finance, human resources and business administration. A Saranac Lake resident since 1991, Brandy has created a wonderful life here with her husband, two sons and furry housemates as well. When not playing in Excel, Brandy enjoys hiking and strolling, crosswords and playing the drum set with talented local musicians.

Nancy LaBombard, Staff Accountant

Nancy has been keeping ANCA's finances in order for over 20 years. Using her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Empire State College, she produces financial statements, processes staff payroll, and keeps track of how our financial resources are moving. She has been instrumental in moving ANCA to a top-notch professional organization, and her fervid sense of humor enlivens office debate.

Nancy has lived in the Saranac Lake are for close to 30 years. She actively supports the vitality of region, as a founding member and organizer of First Night Saranac Lake, Inc. and her chairmanship of  the Town of Santa Clara Variance Board. She is also a long standing member of the much sought after Adirondack Lawn Chair Ladies, the most popular performance group at the annual Winter Carnival Parade in Saranac Lake.  When she isn’t working, Nancy spends time with her husband Richard, kayaking in the summer, and skiing in the winter, and she is an avid traveler.

Jennifer Perry, Sustainability Program Manager

Jennifer Perry joined ANCA as an outreach coordinator for Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner Greener Communities Sustainability Plan in 2011 which resulted in 3 successful grants bringing in over $4 million in project funding to North Country communities.  In addition to coordinating these projects, she has successfully written several grants, is a member of the Clean Energy Economy Conference planning team, and has coordinated 5 Solarize campaigns resulting in over 750KW of added solar capacity to the region.  Her most recent role at ANCA is as an Energy Circuit Rider which she states, “Gives me the distinct privilege of assisting the hard working municipal leaders of the region in implementing cost reducing and energy saving projects.”   

Perry is a North Country native originally from Malone. She attended Skidmore College and woke up to the need for environmental protection while at college. After graduation she spent several years traveling throughout the United States and Canada living in remote northern communities working in the environmental and outdoor education fields. In 1997 she returned to the North Country to put down roots and start a family. Jen worked in the adventure therapy field for several years, taking time off to raise her family. While her children were young, she began avidly pursuing the development of local food growing and selling vegetables and plants under the name of McCollom’s Market, co-founding the Paul Smiths Farmers’ Market and starting Farm to Family Food Network - a program designed to provide year-round local food to Tri-Lakes residents. During this time, she also completed a master's in sustainability studies. Once her children were of school-age, she began teaching as an adjunct in the environmental science, and sustainability programs at Paul Smiths College and North Country Community College.  A lunch meeting with ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish in 2011 to discuss agricultural opportunities led to her position as the outreach coordinator for the CGC Sustainability Planning team.  And the rest! history.

Lauren Richard, Artisan Programs Coordinator

After her return to the North Country where her alma mater, Paul Smith’s College, first brought her, a year-long AmeriCorps position was Lauren’s gateway to ANCA. During that time, she traveled to the Tug Hill plateau to learn about clean energy opportunities and initiatives there, toured the region to promote the Adirondack Regional Art Trail project, and tabled at a Farm to School event in Lake Placid. Through these experiences and more, Lauren built the skills she now uses daily to assist the area’s artrepreneurs.

Lauren is the show director for ANCA’s Adirondack Buyer Days, an annual wholesale trade show that brings local artisans together with retailers and promotes many of the best handmade products our region has to offer. If you are a ‘maker’ who is ready for wholesaling or a retailer who would like to source quality handmade goods for your store, give Buyer Days a try. Lauren also works with small business development partners such as Canton SBDC to bring professional development opportunities to area entrepreneurs. Other projects she works on are the Adirondack Farm to School Initiative and the Made in the Adirondacks Fair, happening each summer at the Adirondack Museum.

When she isn’t perusing local shops or cruising the aisles at arts and crafts shows, Lauren can be found coaching students on writing projects at Paul Smith’s College, gardening, or caring for her chickens, dog, cat and snake.

Audrey Schwartzberg, Communications Associate

As ANCA’s Communications Associate, Audrey strives to share ANCA’s story with leaders, communities, residents and visitors across the North Country. Her extensive communications, research and writing experience is an asset to ANCA as we seek better ways of reaching out and sharing our vision. Audrey holds a B.S. in Photojournalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and an M.S. in Rural Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University. Her interests in rural issues and community development stem from her upbringing on her family’s vegetable farm in Massachusetts. She served as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa for two years before entering graduate school. Her Master’s research focused on farm labor management practices on small-scale seasonal farms in Pennsylvania.

Audrey and her husband Ezra, who grew up in Saranac Lake, moved back to the Adirondacks in 2012, eager put down roots and raise their two children in this special place. She and her family enjoy biting off more than they can chew with various homesteading activities, outdoor adventures and community engagements.

Jacob Vennie-Vollrath, Regional Advocacy Coordinator

Since joining the ANCA team, Jacob has honed his community spirit and extensive technical skills into tackling multiple initiatives and strategic projects advocating for the Adirondack North Country region including: assisting in the planning and execution of Common Ground Alliance Forum, managing ten scenic byways programs, finalizing and launching ANCA's new people-powered website highlighting the off the beaten path traditions, foods and cultures of the region as well as serving on several regional planning committees.

Jacob grew up in rural northern Wisconsin and earned a degree in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He brings deep and international experience as a community outreach and development professional. He spent two years in Madagascar (in fact speaks near-fluent Malagasy!) in the Peace Corps working as an agroforestry volunteer. He has worked on food security and volunteer development in AmeriCorps VISTA including managing volunteer networks as well as worked with Wisconsin Campus Compact managing national and regional grants promoting student engagement in solving community challenges. When not strengthening ties between our rural communities and deploying his prodigious skills in website development and software support he enjoys coaching basketball and football, serving on multiple community and regional boards & committees, gardening, brewing, and taking long walks (sometimes on the beach) with his dogs and partner, Erin.


Caitlin Wargo, Communications and Development Director

Caitlin brings her boundless enthusiasm for everything North Country to ANCA’s fundraising and membership initiatives.   She stewards our relationships with donors, investors and our broad membership including local and county governments and media.   She also helps oversee ANCA’s communications and impact analysis, keeping our members informed, engaged and excited about ANCA programs and vision for northern New York.  She tirelessly works on keeping our member management systems in top notch form, is willing to cheerfully jump on board to help with all ANCA’s diverse  projects. She joined ANCA in 2014.   

Caitlin’s brings 25 years experience in managing giving and capital campaigns for non-profits, doing communications and marketing for organizations such as the National Geographic Society where she worked at the Magazine and as a photo editor in the Public Affairs department.  Caitlin graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English Literature. She lives in Lake Placid where she also manages the largest single collection of Legos anyone on staff has ever seen for her young son, who also is an avid skier.  She loves to hike, ski, and entertain.  She volunteers with the Bill Koch Nordic Ski program and serves on the board of the Lake Placid After School Program.