About GRACE Communications Foundation

GRACE Communications Foundation develops innovative strategies to increase public awareness of the critical environmental and public health issues created by our current food, water and energy systems, and to promote a more sustainable future. By building partnerships and mobilizing philanthropic resources, we promote consumer actions and public policies that:

  • Support sustainable food systems.
  • Result in smarter use of water resources.
  • Provide clean energy alternatives to conventional power production.
  • Embrace the complex interconnections of our food, water and energy systems.


Helaine Lerner

President, GRACE Communications Foundation (GCF)

Helaine Lerner, a longtime environmental advocate, founded GRACE in 1997 to communicate and address the environmental and health problems with our present industrial food system. In recent years, GRACE has been organizing philanthropic partners to help develop pilot projects at non-profits and universities to provide solutions. Helaine is also chair of the New Tamarind Foundation, which supports a wide range of programs in nursing, social services, integrative medicine, and public health. She also works closely with her husband Sid Lerner, founder and chairman of The Monday Campaigns, dedicated to global public health promotion.

Scott Cullen

Executive Director, GRACE Communications Foundation (GCF)

Scott Cullen is the Executive Director of the GRACE Communications Foundation. He is also an environmental attorney and had previously worked on Coastal and Marine conservation issues with the Nature Conservancy and on energy issues with various non-profits. Scott has also served on several county, state and federal advisory committees and is a member of the Board of Directors of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders Network as well as the Vermont Law School Environmental Advisory Board.

Kyle Rabin

Director of Programs

Kyle Rabin is director of programs. He is responsible for the coordination and operations of the foundation's ongoing programs and plays a key role in planning, organizing, staffing and leading a variety of program initiatives. His interest and expertise are in the areas of clean energy, water resource protection and the food-water-energy nexus. He is a regular contributor to GRACE's Ecocentric blog and has been published in the New York Times, Newsday, the Huffington Post, Civil Eats, AlterNet and Grist. He has been quoted in print media and has appeared as a guest on radio and television programs. He frequently speaks at state and national conferences. Prior to GRACE, Kyle was executive director at Friends of the Bay and was a senior policy analyst at Riverkeeper. He began his work in the environmental arena as an air and energy program associate at Environmental Advocates of New York. Kyle received an MS in Environmental Science from the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and a BA in Environmental Studies from Binghamton University. Kyle and his family live in an energy efficient home, meeting half of their electricity needs with a rooftop solar electric system.

Jason Shaw

Director of Technology

Jason Shaw is the director of technology, responsible for leading a team of web design, graphic design and infrastructure support specialists. Jason devotes his time to both technical and strategic projects and has a background in website and mobile application development. He has delivered numerous digital media products for companies around the world, specializing in sports, news and entertainment content.

Food Program

Chris Hunt

Special Advisor on Food and Agriculture

Chris Hunt serves as special advisor on food and agriculture at GRACE, where he provides strategic input on the organization's efforts to build a sustainable food future. Chris has written extensively about food and agriculture issues; his work has appeared in Civil Eats, Huffington Post, AlterNet and Ecocentric. His areas of interest and expertise include industrial livestock production, food waste, urban agriculture and food systems advocacy. Before GRACE, Chris worked as an Alumni Memorial Scholar research fellow at Colgate University, and has served two terms on the board of directors of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Chris earned a BA in environmental economics from Colgate University. He's an ardent proponent of bicycling, composting, accepting peculiar travel suggestions and walking up mountains.

Dawn Brighid

Project Director, Eat Well Guide

Dawn Brighid is project director of the food program's Eat Well Guide. Her focus is to find and highlight sustainable vendors and to share their hard work and dedication with the public through the guide in order to empower consumers to make better food choices. Dawn also regularly contributes to Ecocentric with a focus on health and nutrition. Dawn has a BS in business marketing from San Jose State University, a certificate in health counseling from the Institute of Integrative Nutrition, and is working toward her MS in nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Dawn is a certified yoga instructor.

Gabrielle Blavatsky

Research and Policy Analyst

Gabrielle Blavatsky is the research and policy analyst for GRACE's food program, where she writes about and researches food and agriculture issues, promotes program initiatives and contributes to strategy development and execution. Before joining GRACE, she was the policy associate at Wholesome Wave and head researcher on NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn's FoodWorks initiative. She began her work in the food policy arena in 2008 as farmers' market manager at GrowNYC. She holds a MPA in Public and Non-Profit Management and Policy from New York University and BAs in Political Science and Sociology from University of California, Davis. Originally from San Francisco, Gabrielle now lives in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

Water & Energy Programs

Peter Hanlon

Deputy Director of Programs

Peter Hanlon is director of GRACE's water and energy programs, where he works on the food-water-energy nexus, power plant water use, renewable energy, coastal and estuarine health and fisheries. Peter writes reports, creates multimedia content and is a regular contributor to GRACE's Ecocentric blog. He has been published in Huffington Post, Civil Eats, Grist, AlterNet and EcoWatch. Prior to GRACE, Peter worked on coastal policy, watershed management, land use planning and public outreach as an Outreach and Policy Coordinator at the Massachusetts Bays National Estuary Program and an Environmental Planner at Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management. Peter received an MA in Marine Affairs from the University of Rhode Island and a BA in Geography from the University of New Hampshire. He sometimes forces himself awake before dawn so he can take a long, groggy subway ride to the beach to surf.

James Rose

Senior Research and Policy Analyst

James Rose works on renewable electricity and energy efficiency. James produces reports and multimedia content and is a regular contributor to GRACE's Ecocentric blog. He was co-author and project manager for The Network for New Energy Choices' award winning report on net metering and interconnection, "Freeing the Grid." Prior to GRACE, James interned at the United Nations, contributed to a report on alternative waste solutions for the NYC Economic Development Corporation, conducted wildlife research on the Western Bluebird and did research in a molecular biology laboratory. James received an MPA in Environmental Science and Policy from Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs and a BA in Biology from Earlham College. He enjoys running, gardening, reading and cooking for his family.

Robin Madel

Senior Research and Policy Analyst

Robin Madel works on water and waste issues and the food-water-energy nexus. Robin produces reports and multimedia content and is a regular contributor to GRACE's Ecocentric blog. She has been published in Huffington Post, AlterNet and Grist. Prior to GRACE, Robin worked as a Recording Secretary and Research Assistant for the city of Boulder Public Works Water and Transportation Departments and as a Project Manager at Rocky Flats Environmental Technology Site, managing treatability studies and site cleanup projects. Robin received an MS in Environmental Science and Engineering from the Colorado School of Mines, a BS in Civil Engineering and a BA in Geological Sciences - both from the University of Colorado at Boulder and she recently completed a Certificate in Journalism from New York University. She is an avid photographer who increasingly shoots food, water and energy sustainability topics and she's also an actor, so she's usually not too far away from a camera of some sort.

Kai Olson-Sawyer

Senior Research and Policy Analyst

Kai Olson-Sawyer works on the food-water-energy nexus, water footprinting and surface and groundwater resource protection and management. Kai produces and writes reports, and creates multimedia content and is a regular contributor to GRACE's Ecocentric blog. His work has been published in Huffington Post, Civil Eats, Grist, EcoWatch and AlterNet. Prior to GRACE, Kai was a Programs Assistant and Assistant Editor at the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon and was a Researcher with NYC Apollo Alliance. Kai received an MA in Sociology with an environmental focus from The New School for Social Research, and a BA in English from Earlham College. He holds the Water Footprint Network's "Certificate of the Global Water Footprint Standard." His body is composed of 60 percent water.


Leslie Hatfield

Senior Partnership and Outreach Advisor

Leslie Hatfield oversees the foundation's external messaging and works with journalists and bloggers to get more stories about sustainability into the news. Leslie has contributed to The Huffington Post, EcoWatch, Alternet, Edible Hudson Valley, Acres USA and others, and served as lead author of the publication Cultivating the Web: High Tech Tools for the Sustainable Food Movement. Leslie earned her BA from The Evergreen State College, and her MA in Public Communication from American University. Every few years, she teaches a masters level food policy elective at The Evergreen State College. Leslie loves to travel but hates her carbon footprint.

James Saracini

Social Media, Communications Coordinator

James Saracini is the social media/communications coordinator at GRACE, where he manages Sustainable Table's social media accounts and contributes to various communications projects. Having spent years helping manage small and large organizations' communications efforts, he's excited to work at the intersection of food and the environment. James continues to volunteer for community-building organizations, another cause he cares a lot about. He holds a BJ in Journalism and a BA in English from the University of Missouri. James' family owns a small farm in Missouri and he loves talking about stewardship and sustainability.


Weiling Fu

Lead Web Designer

Weiling Fu is the lead designer for the GRACE Communications Foundation website, and has designed many of our major projects and sites over the years, including the GRACE Water Calculator and Eat Well Guide, as well as reports, brochures, videos, animations, and other collateral materials. Weiling also works on GRACE web and print project collaborations with outside organizations.

Katie Sweetman

Graphic Designer

Katie Sweetman is a graphic and web designer for many GRACE projects, and an occasional writer for our Ecocentric blog. She is the designer behind such GRACE projects as OntheFutureofFood.org, the Cultivating the Web booklet, Freeing the Grid, Reeling in New York's Aging Power Plants, and Know The Nexus reports.