Today, we’re re-introducing you to the woman who keeps SOFSA running, Maura Ackerman, SOFSA’s Facilitator! Maura and her family moved to Syracuse about three years ago, after her husband Aidan was offered a position on the faculty at SUNY-ESF. On their first visit from Boston, where they had lived for nearly ten years, the two drove past Ackerman Avenue and knew that there was a home for them here.

Maura holds dual masters degrees in Public Health and Nutrition Science from Tufts University, but gained much of her experience working at every level in nonprofit organizations and local governments across Massachusetts—leading youth programming, mounting massive public health education campaigns, and writing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of grants, among many other things. Most recently, she worked as the Assistant Director of Programs at Project Bread, the largest hunger relief organization in that state; she still works there part-time as a Senior Advisor, though these days, her primary focus is SOFSA.

It was through Evan Weissman that Maura came to us. By choice, the Ackermans were (and still are) a one-car family, leading to many pre-pandemic carpools with friends and coworkers. It was through conversations in Evan’s minivan about kids, politics, and the state of our food system—the people who suffer, and those who struggle to help—that the two became friends, in those early months when SOFSA was only the seed of an idea. It was the passion they shared, and the decade-and-a-half of expertise that Maura brought to the table, that made her the perfect person to lead this young food council.

Since coming to Syracuse in 2018, Maura and Aidan have added baby Max (now 18 months) to the family, a younger sibling for 5-year-old Izzie. In that same time, SOFSA has grown from an idea in a research project to a proper changemaking organization, thanks in no small part to the dedication and tireless efforts of its chief advocate. If you happen to see Maura today, be sure to thank her for all she does (and ask her to take a break!).

I love absolutely everything about living here in Onondaga County – but especially the kindness and dedication I’ve witnessed in this community since moving here. There’s such incredible work happening here. I absolutely love making connections among different folks and finding synergies to help us amplify our shared efforts.

Maura Ackerman, SOFSA Facilitator