Sarah Alexander, a Portland resident with years of experience in advocacy for sustainable, local and fair food systems, will be the new executive director of the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, the group announced Thursday.

Alexander’s wide experience includes three years on a Native American reservation in Minnesota, where she worked to restore traditional food systems and against genetic engineering of wild rice.

She also worked as a farm apprentice before spending nearly a decade at Food & Water Watch in Washington, D.C., working to protect organic standards and to label foods made with genetically modified ingredients.

She served most recently as that advocacy group’s deputy organizing director.

In 2015, Alexander moved to Maine and has been a senior strategist with M+R, a public relations and communications firm, working with nonprofit clients on online campaigns.

“MOFGA’s board of directors is enthusiastic and unanimously supports Sarah as the next executive director,” MOFGA board president David Shipman said in a statement.

“She brings long experience as a grassroots organizer, defending people’s access to healthy food and clean water, and working with Native American and underserved communities. Sarah’s mix of strengths in organizational leadership, administration, development and communications will be a great match for our vibrant community.”

MOFGA has about 11,000 members, was founded in 1971 and is the oldest and largest state organic farming organization in the country.

“One of the things I love about MOFGA,” Alexander said in a statement, “is that we’re doing the important work of connecting people to our food, to where we live and to each other. By choosing food that’s grown in ways that replenish the soil and our own health, we also build a strong local economy.”

The number of certified organic farms in Maine has increased 60 percent in the past five years under the leadership of Ted Quaday, and MOFGA’s endowment has grown from $625,000 to $5 million. Quaday announced in late January that he’d be retiring this summer after five years with the nonprofit.

He took over as MOFGA’s leader in 2013 after the death of Russell Libby, who had served as MOFGA’s executive director for 17 years.

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