Danielle Brown, Development Director
I’ve spent my career working for Massachusetts nonprofits and was delighted to join the Northampton Survival Center in February 2022. Growing up in a low-income family, I know how vital places like the Center are in ensuring that folks can access necessary resources. I’m grateful to work at a place that prioritizes working with clients in an atmosphere of dignity and respect.
Outside of work, I have a wide variety of hobbies including crafting, hiking, archery, playing board games, and poking around flea markets. I also grew up acting, singing, and playing in bands, and still prioritize going to the theater and seeing shows whenever possible.
Liv Combest, Program Coordinator
I’m thrilled to be joining the Northampton Survival Center as its new Program Coordinator! I grew up volunteering with my mother at food banks in Atlanta, and I’ve always strongly believed that access to nutritious food is a core human right. During my college career, I spent much of my time considering issues of social equity and access, as well as learning about Northampton’s wide array of social service programs through my work as a community service representative. Having just graduated from Smith, I feel honored to now be able to give back to the area I’ve called home for the last four years.
Miriam Desgazon, Client Outreach Assistant
I am a family clinician with the Institute of Health Recovery in Western Mass serving families with dual diagnosis and DCF involvement. I graduated from Smith College School for Social Work in August 2020 with my MSW. While a student at Smith, I discovered Northampton Survival Center as well as the Abundance Farm next to the center. As a recipient of services from the Center, my experiences and observations of the staff and volunteers are warm, accommodating, and respectful in all their interaction with clients. It is a privilege and honor to be working with the Center as the Client Outreach Assistant. I hope to reach more people in our community who are struggling with food insecurity and provide education about the healthy options for obtaining food for themselves and their families.
Diane Drohan, Volunteer Manager; Hilltown Pantry Manager
I began my journey with the Survival Center in 2011 as a volunteer. In 2013 I joined the staff of this well respected and established organization. I grew up in Long Island, New York, followed by two decades in Vermont raising a family and eventually settled in the Northampton area. I enjoy travelling, live local music, and spending time outdoors with friends and canines. My children and granddaughters are the loves of my life.
Alexander Léger-Small, Pantry Manager
I have spent the last twenty years of my career learning the ins and outs of the food service economy in the Pioneer Valley, Chicago and New York City. Throughout that time, I have focused on the ways that food and the act of gathering to eat can transform communities and relationships within them. Taking my career from a place of ‘serving’ to one of ‘service’ through the Northampton Survival Center is an exciting opportunity that I can’t wait to embrace. Outside of work, I am an author of short fiction; a designer; and a creator. You can find me swimming in the Valley’s beautiful lakes and rivers, gardening, playing with my Yellow Labrador, and drinking in the beauty of the natural world. I’m thrilled to be able to join a team that does so much good for the communities we live in.
Heidi Nortonsmith, Executive Director
I was delighted to join the Survival Center as Executive Director in May 2004, having previously been a program manager at a national non-profit, the director of operations at a fast-paced socially-responsible local business, and a public interest lawyer serving the deaf community in the Washington, DC area. I am active in local and regional Quaker activities, and enjoy a variety of hobbies – most recently learning to play the banjo and playing bluegrass music with my spouse, Gina.
Chris Oakley, Office Manager
I have been working in the Pioneer Valley for the past 15 years, previously working as Executive Director of SHOW Circus Studio in Easthampton, MA and as Old Chapel Manager at UMass Amherst. I am currently on the Board of Directors for Noho Pride, and spend a lot of personal time running a local entertainment company with my husband. I consider myself a maker and I love baking, gardening, sewing, and creating for friends and family. I am excited to bring my knowledge and expertise to the Northampton Survival Center, and to be part of an organization that does so much good for the community.
Sarah Pease, Program Director
I began volunteering for the NSC in 2000 when distributing groceries every Thursday evening was the highlight of my week. So, when the position of Program Director became available in March 2008, I jumped at the chance to work full-time for an organization which I had come to love. It is always a privilege to help people get what they need, but what regularly inspires me is the warmth and generosity I see among the entire community of the NSC – clients, volunteers, and donors alike.
Carlos Rivera, Distribution Manager
Over the years I have worked in several non-profits in the Valley one of which was Tapestry. My hobbies include woodworking and cooking for friends and family. I grew up in Hamp in a lower to middle class Latino family of 8. My parents worked hard but sometimes it was difficult for them to feed six kids. During tough times we came to The Northampton Survival Center (NSC) for help. I remember that NSC staff always treated us with love, respect, compassion and empathy. NSC positively impacted me as a child and I am privileged to be part of this amazing organization.