Krysten Aguilar Named New Director of the Castanea Fellowship

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(Berkeley, CA – August 11, 2021) The staff and Steering Committee of the Castanea Fellowship are thrilled to share the news that Krysten Aguilar will join the Fellowship as its new Director on September 7th. A national fellowship for food system leaders, Castanea provides cohorts of fellows with the opportunity to foster deep, cross-sector relationships and strengthen skills in order to amplify each fellow's impact and build a more powerful movement. Grounded in racial justice and committed to radical change, Castanea takes an emergent approach to its leadership programs that are responsive to our current conditions and the needs of our fellows. (Visit for more information).

Krysten comes to the Fellowship after almost a decade at the New Mexico-based La Semilla Food Center, where she was most recently a co-Executive Director. Today, La Semilla operates with a shared leadership model, co-creating programs and services that contribute to a just and sustainable food system of the Paso del Norte region of southern New Mexico and El Paso, Texas. “I have spent the past nine years helping to shape a community-rooted food justice organization that centers healing, anti-racism work, and true equity,” said Krysten Aguilar. “I have long believed in the power of investing in and supporting leaders of color and other diverse leaders in all organizing and justice movements as a way to drive real and lasting change. I am beyond excited to join Castanea to give the support, space, and resources needed for leaders across the country to build power with their communities.”

When she takes the helm in September, Krysten will build on the critical work of the Fellowship’s founding Executive Director, Farzana Serang, who shaped the organization’s culture and vision, selected and cultivated two exceptional cohorts of leaders, and infused her brilliance and compassion into the program.

The search process was led by a team from BoardWalk Consulting working alongside a Search Committee made up of two fellows, community partners, two members of the Steering Committee, and Castanea’s Program Advisor from Earth Island Institute where Castanea is housed. The team reviewed more than 250 candidates from around the country. “We were heartened by the range of expertise and enthusiasm of the candidate pool,” said Steering Committee member Brett Ramey. “Krysten’s passion and vision for community-driven change will help lead the Fellowship during this challenging time.”

"We have navigated this leadership transition during a pandemic that has created immense upheaval for our programming, our fellows, and our communities,” said Anna Lappé, Steering Committee member.“In this context, we have appreciated the ongoing support of our core funding partners. Their support is a reflection of the value they also see in the work of our amazing two fellowship cohorts—and their shared belief of the power in providing these incredible leaders the time and space to nurture relationships and build their skills as leaders.”

We are excited about this next phase of the Castanea Fellowship and helping grow the leadership and relationships that can help spark the transformative changes our food systems so desperately need.

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