michaeloheadshot_EG-crpdMichael O’Gorman

Executive Director

“I believe deeply in American agriculture and the rich reward it can give to all who take part in it. Sharing that opportunity with men and women coming home from war has been a wonderful and humbling experience.”

Michael began farming in 1970. After 20 years in 1990 Michael was hired to run the first organic farm in Salinas, California. Over the next five years TKO Farms became the country’s leading grower of packaged salad greens. In 1996 he became the first Farm Manager for Mission Organics, growing for the Earthbound label and newly formed Natural Selection Foods. In 1998 Michael began a ten year stint developing 1600 acres of intensive organic vegetable and herb production in the northern half of Baja California for Jacobs Farm/Del Cabo, including 30 acres of indoor tomatoes. In 2008 he began the Farmer Veteran Coalition out of the back of his pickup truck.


Diane VanderpotDiane Vanderpot

Chief Operating Officer

“Helping veterans sow roots in our nation’s farmland is becoming a passion for me.”

Diane served for over 30 years in the U.S. Army. She held many leadership positions throughout her career and deployed to OIF from 2008 to 2009. After retirement, she accepted a gubernatorial appointment as the Undersecretary for Veterans Homes, California Department of Veterans Affairs and ran the state’s long-term care facilities for veterans. During her free time, Diane likes to travel, eat sushi, hike and get her hands dirty. Diane has been associated with the military her entire life; it is in her blood and she will never stop caring and helping veterans and their families.


Yani 1Yani Bunch

Special Projects Coordinator

“I enjoy operating at the intersections of agriculture, technology and community.”

At the age of 17, Yani joined the U.S. Army and served in the 1st Cavalry Division at Ft. Hood, Texas, as a tracked vehicle mechanic and a recovery crew member. After his time in the military, Yani became interested in food and agriculture which led to work in food warehouses, landscaping and commercial salmon fishing in Alaska.

Yani was an early member of Farmer Veteran Coalition in 2008, and since that time he has worked on organic vegetable farms, organic produce distribution and community gardens.

Yani is passionate about food justice and is a consummate gardener who specializes in heirloom tomatoes, vermiculture and tree collard propagation.


MattSmileyEGMatt Smiley

Veteran Outreach Coordinator

“Most veterans are already farmers—they just don’t have the technical skills yet. The military and agriculture are a similar way of life. My goal is to show veterans this and give them the support they need to transition from some of our country’s toughest jobs to meaningful and often therapeutic careers in agriculture.”

Matt is a former paratrooper and disabled veteran. Serving as a medic from 2004–2008, Matt deployed to Iraq and also participated in humanitarian missions for Hurricane Katrina. Upon separating from the military he spent several years as a wildland firefighter before going back to college. He discovered his passion for farming and saw the positive effect it had on his life while he was back in school earning an AS degree in Natural Sciences. He worked his way through community college on a ranch and had the opportunity to start a small market farm. After he attained his AS degree, Matt transferred to UC Davis where he is currently studying Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems. He is a fulltime student, farms at the University’s sustainable agriculture research ranch, and works at FVC to help other veterans find meaningful careers in agriculture. Matt is passionate about veteran advocacy and sees farming as a practical solution to the many issues that face our veterans today.


RachelPetitt_EGRachel Petitt

Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund Manager

“I’m very grateful for the personal sacrifices our veterans have endured, and I’m humbled by their desire to continue their service by providing for our nation. It’s an honor to support their new endeavors in agriculture.”

Rachel manages FVC’s Fellowship Program, administering grants that support veteran farmers in their new careers. This program enables veterans to invest in the infrastructure and tools they need to feed their community. After earning a degree from UC Santa Cruz in Community Studies with a focus on food systems, Rachel worked on small-scale farms for six years. During her time in the field, she learned the intricacies of harvesting okra without getting itchy, collecting 600 eggs without cracking any, and bunching kale with one hand. Most importantly, she gained an unparalleled respect for the people who grow our food. Through her work in non-profit organizations, Rachel cultivated relationships between farmers and the community by establishing farm to institution programs. She also provided growers with technical assistance through workshops on topics such as irrigation efficiency, business planning, and marketing.


Evan Eagan

Communications Manager

“I’ve been telling service members’ stories for more than a decade, and now with Farmer Veteran Coalition, I look forward to telling veterans’ stories as they serve our country again—by feeding it.”

Serving in the Marine Corps from 2003 to 2007 as a combat correspondent, Evan began his career in communications covering stories from the front lines of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A graduate of Sacramento State with a degree in Public Relations, Evan served as a digital analyst with IDMLOCO where he produced content and managed various digital-focused projects prior to joining Farmer Veteran Coalition. At Farmer Veteran Coalition, Evan oversees member communication where he produces a monthly newsletter and manages their social media profiles. In his free time, Evan enjoys working out, hiking, watching Kings basketball, and helping out at Merwin Vineyards as a viticulture consultant.


JasonFoscolo_EG-crpdJason Foscolo

General Counsel

“While it is professionally rewarding to provide legal guidance to the Coalition on its challenging issues, I am most gratified by guiding our veterans on the ways in which the legal system can help them do business better.”

Jason has been a practicing attorney in the State of New York since 2002. He is the founding partner of Foscolo & Handel PLLC, where he has provided legal services to farmers and food entrepreneurs since 2011. Jason is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. His time abroad gave him new insight and appreciation for the many different ways food can be produced and prepared. After separating honorably in 2010, Jason pursued his passion for all things edible by attending the University of Arkansas School of Law LL.M. Program, receiving an advanced legal degree in agricultural and food law. Jason is inspired by the veterans with whom he works, and is committed to helping them do business better.