Staff Spotlight: Claudia Lewis, Senior Donor Engagement Manager
Claudia joined Washington Farmland Trust’s fundraising team in 2021, bringing more than a decade of experience in engagement, community relations, data analysis, and program management. Prior to joining the Trust, Claudia spent 13 years on the membership and community relations teams at PCC Community Markets (the co-op is Washington Farmland Trust’s founder). Claudia is passionate about local food and farming, having worked in a community kitchen and on urban farms as a young adult, and is excited to support the fundraising team in its efforts to engage donors and raise funds in support of the Trust’s mission. Claudia received her bachelor’s degree in Geography with a focus on Urban Sustainability from the University of Washington. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, and feeding her family her world class biscuits.
Tell us about yourself.
I grew up in Colorado, which definitely shapes my attitude toward the outdoors. My mom’s family identifies as Black. My dad emigrated from England after World War II. My life has centered pretty much exclusively around food since I was young. I’m a mom to a teenage son, and a wife to Dylan. I deeply value family, food, and the environment, which I think makes me a better person. I think if everyone focused more on those three things, they’d be better people, too.
Tell us why you care about local food and farming issues.
Everything I love in my life is owed to local food and farming. My love of the outdoors started because I had access to local food, farms, and nature. The experiences of working as a volunteer at an environmental camp or interning at a community kitchen and an urban farm helped me learn to love the dirt and seasonal foods. Seeing where your food comes from really gives you a sense of place. It shows you that you belong. It centers you and brings you closer to others, no matter what culture you’re from.
What are you most excited about working on at the organization?
I’m really excited about the direction the Trust is going — thinking holistically about farming and the people who grow our food. Farming isn’t monolithic, it’s a diverse system that brings together people from all walks of life. Preservation is important to so many of us, not just rural people or city people, but everyone. I’m excited to bring people together around those shared values.
Do you have a food or farming hero?
Wangari Matha inspired me a lot while I was in school. She was an activist, Nobel Laureate, and the founder of the Green Belt Movement in Kenya. She was one of the first non-white environmental activists I remember learning about.
I also love Sarah Cassidy, farmer and restauranteur in the Snoqualmie Valley. I first met her when she was working at Oxbow Farm. She is one of the most enthusiastic people I know.
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Support local farmers and food! In all the ways. Volunteering your time, helping clean up and restore open spaces, and eating seasonally are all important things you can do right now.
Pictured above: Claudia backpacking along Heliotrope Ridge in the North Cascades.