Our Team

Jay Feldman, Executive Director

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Jay is a cofounder of the organization and has served as its director since 1981. Jay dedicated himself to finding solutions to pesticide problems after working with farmworkers and small farmers through an EPA grant in 1978 to the national advocacy organization Rural America (1977-1981). Since that time, Jay has helped to build Beyond Pesticides' capacity to assist local groups and impact national pesticide policy. He has tracked specific chemical effects, regulatory actions, and pesticide law. He is very familiar with local groups working on pesticides and has helped develop successful strategies for reform in local communities. His work with media has helped to bring broader public understanding of the hazards of pesticides. Jay has a Masters in urban and regional planning with a focus on health policy from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (1977), and a B.A. from Grinnell College (1975) in political science. In September 2009, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack appointed Jay to the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB), where he completed a 5-year term in January 2015.

Drew Toher, Community Resource and Policy Director

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Drew became Beyond Pesticides' Community Resource and Policy Director in 2016 after first working as the organization’s Public Education Associate for four years. At Beyond Pesticides, he collaborates closely with community advocates and local and state officials to transform community pesticide policies in a way that ensures the lasting protection of public health and the environment. He also oversees a range of organizational program work and is a regular contributor to Beyond Pesticides’ newsletter, Pesticides and You. Before he arrived at Beyond Pesticides, previous experience included an internship at a certified organic heirloom tomato farm, director of artisanal certified organic salsa production, and store manager for a Mid-Atlantic region farm club. Drew graduated with a Master’s of Science in Environmental Management in the spring of 2017 from George Mason University, where he also received in B.A. in Global Affairs in 2010. Drew is an avid hiker, gardener, and hobby beekeeper.

Autumn Ness, Director of Hawai'i Organic Land Management Program

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Based in Maui, Autumn was instrumental in generating broad political support to begin the process of converting four Maui pilot sites (playing fields and parks) to organic land management, generating an invitation by vote of the Maui County Council to Beyond Pesticides that enabled site evaluations and the development of organic land management plans for the pilots, training the county landscaping staff, and holding community meetings. She is a grassroots community organizer and has been a policy consultant to state and county legislators on agriculture, pesticide, and housing policy. Specific projects include: expanding organic land management practices in the public and private sector, better regulation of pesticide-heavy industrial agriculture and the chemical companies conducting outdoor genetic engineering (GE) crop testing, and the promotion of small scale sustainable agriculture that produces food for the Hawaiian Islands. Autumn was a leader in the historic citizens’ initiative for a moratorium on GE crops in Maui County, which won at the ballot box in 2014, but lost in courts when the chemical industry sued the County of Maui. She works with a statewide coalition of environmental groups, to engage average people in the political process, amplify their voices in government, and drive policy.

Akayla Bracey, Science and Regulatory Manager

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Akayla is a recent graduate of Cornell University with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental and Sustainability Sciences (concentration: Environmental Biology and Applied Ecology) with a minor in Animal Science. Her love for the environment stems from a passion for helping animals. Akayla was a teaching assistant for two years at Cornell, gaining sustainable development and planning skills, as well as ecological knowledge on the North American woody plant species. She also worked very closely with arachnids, participating in a study comparing various Australian huntsman spiders’ running speed. Before heading to college, Akayla volunteered at Little Rascals (a local Washington, DC dog day-care) for four years.  In her spare time, Akayla likes to write, cook, swim, and sketch realistic portraits and landscapes.

Jocelyn Cordell, Operations Manager

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Jocelyn joined the Beyond Pesticides team in October 2022. Working closely with the Executive Director and staff, her position ensures that the organization functions to support programing as well as meet the informational and strategic needs of partner advocates and organizations by collaborating on improvements to systems or processes to advance our mission. Jocelyn is well prepared for this role, bringing 5+ years of international programming experience and an interdisciplinary background that includes public policy, education, gender initiatives, and nonprofit governance; she recently transitioned from the National Peace Corps Association where she collaborated with executive leadership and the Board of Directors. Fluent in French, Jocelyn completed a graduate semester at the Paris Institute of Political Studies (Sciences Po) and holds a Master of Arts in International Affairs from the George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. In addition to her capstone with the Global Engagement Center, U.S. State Department, in Washington, D.C. and Rabat, Morocco, Jocelyn also holds a Bachelor of Arts in Romance Languages: French/Italian from Merrimack College, taught English as a Foreign Language in France and South Korea, and performed internationally as a classical vocalist.      

Jeff France, Office Manager

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Jeff joined Beyond Pesticides in 2019 and assists in administrative support and office management for the Washington DC office and the annual National Pesticide Forum.  He comes with many years of experience in the non-profit sector with New York land conservation.  Jeff brings his administrative skills as well as his enthusiasm in continued support and assistance to work protecting the environment, and the all more urgent work of protecting public health with Beyond Pesticides.  Jeff is also a lover of the outdoors and hiking, as well as yoga, meditation and music production.

Terry Shistar, PhD, Science Advisor

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Terry has a Ph.D. in ecology (University of Kansas), is a trusted science and policy advisor with a 30-year affiliation with the organization and an expert in organic policy. She works closely with National Organic Standards Board members in reviewing materials that are on or petitioned to the National List of Allowed and Prohibited Substances, and evaluates chemicals for their toxic effects on all species that comprise the natural world.

Debra Simes, MA, Contributing Writer

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Debra contributes writing to the website's Daily News Blog and the Beyond Pesticides journal, Pesticides and You. Her work has been featured in a number of environmental publications. A writer, editor, organizer, and advocate, she leads a small environmental nonprofit, helped found and operate a farmers market, and has worked for many years with nonprofit and community organizations, particularly on communications.