ANCA Staff

Joshua Bakelaar, Local Economies and Agriculture Director

Bringing both industry and academic experience, Josh has led the agriculture and local food program at ANCA since 2013. In support of ANCA’s goal to create conditions that support emerging and innovative local economies, Josh expands market opportunities for small farmers through projects such as Farm to School, Farm to Institution, and food hub development. Whether planning a new food project, securing project funding, providing grant assistance or making direct connections between producers and buyers; Josh is ready to turn ideas into action.

Since taking over the family garden as a teenager, Josh has had an appetite for agriculture. With his passion for all things food, you will find Josh working on multiple aspects of our local food system. Most recently, he started his own small gourmet mushroom farm and supplies local markets with Adirondack mushrooms. In addition to his experience creating and delivering education programming for the ECHO Lake Aquarium and Science Center, he has also worked as a sous chef at fine dining restaurants and as a food service worker for large institutions. Josh holds a B.A. in biology from Green Mountain College and continued on to study soil health on Vermont dairy farms, earning a master’s degree from the University of Vermont. Outside of the office you’ll find Josh spending time with his two young sons and his wife Tatiana; tending his gardens; sitting on the board of Adirondack Harvest; and playing guitar, hiking, fishing, skiing, and snowboarding.



Nancy Bernstein, Energy Circuit Rider

Nancy has been living with and promoting her passion for renewable energy for over 25 years, and is very excited to be sharing her skills as an ANCA Energy Circuit Rider. For over 10 years, Nancy organized local green building home tours, and more recently coordinated Solarize Tri-Lakes, a 2-year educational campaign to increase awareness about solar energy, encouraging more than 80 residential and small business solar PV arrays to be installed throughout the Tri-Lakes region.Graduating from Cornell University with a B.S. in Biology, Nancy began adult life teaching environmental education and river ecology aboard the sloop Clearwater on the Hudson River, as well as other sailing ships around the world.

After moving to the Adirondacks in 1990 and building her off-grid solar powered home, she began working in the building trades as a timber framer, carpenter, and instructor. From teaching natural building techniques in rural Nicaragua to an annual timber framing course at the Yestermorrow Design Build School in central Vermont, Nancy enjoys sharing her skills and interest in creating beautiful and functional buildings. As a sideline, she creates freelance nature illustrations and maps of the Adirondack region.(

Outside of work, Nancy skis, hikes, paddles and camps around the Adirondacks with her teenage son. And when time allows, you’ll find her at home playing her five-string banjo or planning her next travel adventure.

Jerrod Bley, Clean Energy Program Director

Jerrod joined the ANCA team in July 2019 after moving from Bozeman, MT where he’s spent the last seven years working for Montana State University as the renewable energy education coordinator and EH&S educator for MSU Extension’s Weatherization Training Center. He began his career in ground-based petroleum refuel systems as a member of a Marine Corps Engineering unit. He received a BS in Environmental Studies with minors in Energy Science and Business from the University of Nebraska, and a PM in Science & Engineering Management from Montana State University. Jerrod also holds several solar industry certifications. He has worked on energy conservation and efficiency initiatives with hands-on experience installing units for grid-tied PV, off-grid solar, and small wind projects. He is an AEE CEM, EPA Certified Instructor for RRP, an OSHA Authorized Outreach Training Provider for OSHA 10 and 30 in Construction, and a Level 1 Thermographer. Jerrod works to advocate and educate the public on energy conservation/efficiency and clean energy technologies.

Danielle Delaini, Business Transition Program Coordinator

Dani has a passion for community focused business development and effective nonprofit management. She continually strives to  become the type of thoughtful leader who utilizes rational business acumen to achieve a  greater idealistic good.

She holds a B.A. in English from Clark University and an M.S.M. in Managing Mission Driven Organizations from Marlboro  College. New to the North Country, Dani hails from Southern Vermont and most recently held a position as  the Director of Programs and Events at a Chamber of Commerce in Boston’s active Metrowest area.

Outside of the office, Dani is often satiating her appetite for reading, cooking (actually she is particularly interested in the eating  part), running with her dog, kayaking, board games, volunteering for animal rescue leagues and  developing design processes.  She travels between Georgia and New York with her migrant Apiarist husband and together they can never seem to keep up on  where any of their mail is going to.

Kate Fish, Executive Director

Kate’s relentless optimism and energy coupled with a contagious vision for the future has helped drive ANCA to be seen as “the leading organization looking at new economies in the region.” She is a recognized leader who has built ANCA into an innovative and responsive organization that produces tangible results for every sector we focus on. Kate joined the organization as Executive Director in 2010, quickly identifying renewable energy as a critical path to more resilient local economies and focusing ANCA’s strategies on creating stronger local economies, including a clean energy economy. She has built a topnotch staff, a professional and efficient organization, and attracted millions of dollars in investment into the region.

Prior to joining ANCA, she served as the Managing Director for Business for Social Responsibility in Europe, a global nonprofit business network and consultancy dedicated to sustainability.   She lived and worked in Paris for 6 years before moving to the North Country. She laughs now about her life in Paris, saying often that she much prefers her quality of life in the Adirondacks. However, her experience there developing Social Responsibility strategy for major multi-national corporations, developing climate policy and clean energy transportation strategies as well as  complex collaborations between companies and other stakeholders has served ANCA well. Before BSR, she was Vice President of Public Policy for a multinational corporation, running the company’s global stakeholder engagement program and their global Biotech Advisory Council, both very sensitive and complex challenges.

Kate has two daughters with their own families, and lives in Lake Placid. In addition to her ANCA job, she is on board of NYSERDA, a member of the Community Advisory Group at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, the North Country Regional Economic Development Council and the Common Ground Alliance Core Team.

Kat Harkins, Events and Membership Coordinator

Kat joined ANCA in July of 2019 after taking time to begin and nurture a family. With the youngest of her three children entering kindergarten this Autumn, Kat was eager to pursue meaningful work outside the home and get to know other facets of this amazing community she has called home since 2006. 

Kat draws from a diverse professional background; having taught yoga, designing, planting and maintaining gardens throughout New England and in New Zealand. She has also worked in the museum and nonprofit sector working with in development, programing and interpretation. 

A graduate of Sterling College, Kat’s education focused on Natural Resource Management: Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry, Wildlands Management and Experiential Education. Sterling’s experiential program required two field semesters, taking place in the American South West and Quebec, Canada.  Peering through the lenses of private and public land valuation and its associated resources, each semester explored the ecological, economic, social and political impacts of the policies and practices and within these regions.  

Outside of work Kat enjoys the chaos of raising three children with her partner, finding peace in hiking, a good paddle, taking in live music, dancing and a multitude of unfinished creative projects some of which are fermenting and…phew! Is it naptime yet?


Brandy Hobson, Operations and Finance Manager

Brandy joined ANCA in 2018, bringing with her nearly 15 years of experience in finance, human resources and business administration. A Saranac Lake resident since 1991, Brandy has created a wonderful life here with her husband, two sons and furry housemates as well. When not playing in Excel, Brandy enjoys hiking and strolling, crosswords and playing the drum set with talented local musicians.

Nancy LaBombard, Staff Accountant

Nancy has been keeping ANCA's finances in order for over 25 years. Using her Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Empire State College, she produces financial statements, processes staff payroll, and keeps track of how our financial resources are moving. She has been instrumental in moving ANCA to a top-notch professional organization, and her fervid sense of humor enlivens office debate.

Nancy has lived in the Saranac Lake are for close to 33 years. She actively supports the vitality of region, as Treasurer of the Friends of St. Regis Mountain Fire Tower and her chairmanship of  the Town of Santa Clara Variance Board, and was a founding member and organizer of First Night Saranac Lake, Inc.. She is also a long standing member of the much sought after Adirondack Lawn Chair Ladies, the most popular performance group at the annual Winter Carnival Parade in Saranac Lake.  And in 2018 Nancy was crowned Queen of Winter Carnival, an honor bestowed on local citizens for their contributions to the well-being of the Saranac Lake community through their volunteer work.  When she isn’t working, Nancy spends time with her husband Richard, kayaking in the summer, and skiing in the winter, and she is an avid traveler.

Jennifer Perry, Sustainability Project Coordinator

Jennifer Perry joined ANCA as an outreach coordinator for Governor Cuomo’s Cleaner Greener Communities Sustainability Plan in 2011 which resulted in 3 successful grants bringing in over $4 million in project funding to North Country communities.  In addition to coordinating these projects, she has successfully written several grants, is a member of the Clean Energy Economy Conference planning team, and has coordinated 5 Solarize campaigns resulting in over 750KW of added solar capacity to the region.  Her most recent role at ANCA is as an Energy Circuit Rider which she states, “Gives me the distinct privilege of assisting the hard working municipal leaders of the region in implementing cost reducing and energy saving projects.”   

Perry is a North Country native originally from Malone. She attended Skidmore College and woke up to the need for environmental protection while at college. After graduation she spent several years traveling throughout the United States and Canada living in remote northern communities working in the environmental and outdoor education fields. In 1997 she returned to the North Country to put down roots and start a family. Jen worked in the adventure therapy field for several years, taking time off to raise her family. While her children were young, she began avidly pursuing the development of local food growing and selling vegetables and plants under the name of McCollom’s Market, co-founding the Paul Smiths Farmers’ Market and starting Farm to Family Food Network - a program designed to provide year-round local food to Tri-Lakes residents. During this time, she also completed a master's in sustainability studies. Once her children were of school-age, she began teaching as an adjunct in the environmental science, and sustainability programs at Paul Smiths College and North Country Community College.  A lunch meeting with ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish in 2011 to discuss agricultural opportunities led to her position as the outreach coordinator for the CGC Sustainability Planning team.  And the rest! history.

Lauren Richard, Artisan Programs Coordinator

After traveling around the country for various temporary environmental education positions, Lauren returned to the North Country where her alma mater, Paul Smith’s College, first brought her. With her background in wildlife biology and environmental ed, she brings an ecological perspective to ANCA's economic development work. A year-long AmeriCorps position was Lauren’s gateway to ANCA. During that time, she traveled to the Tug Hill plateau to learn about clean energy opportunities and initiatives there, toured the region to promote the Adirondack Regional Art Trail project and tabled at a Farm to School event in Lake Placid. Through these experiences and more, Lauren built the skills she now uses daily to assist the area’s art-repreneurs. 

Lauren is the show director for ANCA’s Adirondack Buyer Days, an annual wholesale trade show that brings local artisans together with retailers and promotes many of the best handmade products our region has to offer. If you are a ‘maker’ who is ready for wholesaling or a retailer who would like to source quality handmade goods for your store, give Buyer Days a try. Lauren also works with business development partners such as the Small Business Development Center to bring professional development opportunities to area entrepreneurs. 

When she isn’t perusing local shops or cruising the aisles at arts and crafts shows, Lauren can be found caring for her garden, chickens, dog, cat, and snake. She follows her passion for ecology and native flora by consulting for Far North Natives.

Audrey Schwartzberg, Communications Associate

As ANCA’s Communications Associate, Audrey strives to share ANCA’s story with leaders, communities, residents and visitors across the North Country. Her extensive communications, research and writing experience is an asset to ANCA as we seek better ways of reaching out and sharing our vision. Audrey holds a B.S. in Photojournalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University and an M.S. in Rural Sociology from The Pennsylvania State University. Her interests in rural issues and community development stem from her upbringing on her family’s vegetable farm in Massachusetts. She served as an agricultural extension agent with the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa for two years before entering graduate school. Her Master’s research focused on farm labor management practices on small-scale seasonal farms in Pennsylvania.

Audrey and her husband Ezra, who grew up in Saranac Lake, moved back to the Adirondacks in 2012, eager put down roots and raise their two children in this special place.

Caitlin Wargo, Communications and Development Director

Caitlin brings her boundless enthusiasm for everything North Country to ANCA’s fundraising and membership initiatives.   She stewards our relationships with donors, investors and our broad membership including local and county governments and media.   She also helps oversee ANCA’s communications and impact analysis, keeping our members informed, engaged and excited about ANCA programs and vision for northern New York.  She tirelessly works on keeping our member management systems in top notch form, is willing to cheerfully jump on board to help with all ANCA’s diverse  projects. She joined ANCA in 2014.   

Caitlin’s brings 25 years experience in managing giving and capital campaigns for non-profits, doing communications and marketing for organizations such as the National Geographic Society where she worked at the Magazine and as a photo editor in the Public Affairs department.  Caitlin graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in English Literature. She lives in Lake Placid where she also manages the largest single collection of Legos anyone on staff has ever seen for her young son, who also is an avid skier.  She loves to hike, ski, and entertain.  She volunteers with the Bill Koch Nordic Ski program and serves on the board of the Lake Placid After School Program.