This past Friday we were lucky enough to have Claire, our inimitable leader of 8 years, lend a hand in the fields, harvesting with Zannah, Anna K., Anna H.S., Claire P. and Roy. Claire came out in the morning bearing the smile and upbeat attitude that has graced virtually every morning that I've worked with her. Many of you have been a part of the organization for numerous years; remarkably, some of you have been here since before Claire's time and before there was even an Executive Director's position. (Thank you!) You have been witnesses to the growth of the organization - the development of the Learning Garden and its programs, the fabulous farm events over the years, the increase in the size of the CSA - all of which occurred under Claire's careful guidance. As ED, Claire was a steadfast holder of the mission of WFCF, always keeping the concurrent goals around food access, farmland preservation and education at the forefront of organizational conversations. Each program is managed by different staff members, but not without Claire as a reliable sounding board, providing a reflection of WFCF's true and constant aims.
|Claire Kozower doing the Project Bread 20-mile Walk for Hunger|
Those of you who have developed a relationship with Claire over the years, and there are many, understand the immense loyalty, dedication, integrity and deep-seated passion that made her an effective and adept ED. Much of the work she did was behind the scenes and performed without fanfare. The tenacity of this organization is in part dependent on quiet relationships she's developed over time with individuals, families, foundations, other non-profits, partner farms, city councils and administrators, UMass officials and more. Building relationships to maintain the relevance of WFCF in the greater context of our community, the city and the state, with an ear bent to national and global agricultural concerns is no small feat, but one that Claire performed gracefully and thoughtfully, day in and day out.
Perhaps lesser known is how much of Claire's legacy will be held within the organizational culture of Waltham Fields Community Farm. Claire established a work environment built on mutual respect and clear communication where each staff member felt fully supported in their role and appreciated for the talents and skills that they brought as individuals and the part that they played in moving WFCF forward. She has worked at understanding how to facilitate staff doing their jobs well, especially challenging as this organization has tripled in size under her leadership. She has navigated untold organizational decisions by involving others in the process, building consensus and providing insightful and thoughtful evaluations. Claire has been the organizational touchstone for each of us, always available, always interested, always recognizing birthdays and work well done and always holding up the mission of the farm, first and foremost, for new staff to learn and longtime staff to remember.
Claire holds that rare capacity to think equal parts with a kind heart and an analytical brain and her impact has been immeasurable. Thank you, Claire; you will be missed.
- From Erinn and Dan Roberts, for countless staff over the years