Executive Director, Growing Places
With over 15 years of experience working to improve health and food access for individuals at increased risk for food insecurity, Ayn joined Growing Places as the Executive Director in February 2018.
Ayn studied nutrition at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and received a Master of Science from Boston University in 2002. She realized community nutrition was her niche after securing a position at the regional community action agency, the Montachusett Opportunity Council, Inc. (MOC) in 2005. Over ten years, Ayn collaborated across the region, state and nation, ultimately leading programs including Meals on Wheels and youth-focused health initiatives, most notably Fun ‘n Fitchburg. At MOC, Ayn immersed herself in the community and gained invaluable knowledge about the root causes of food insecurity in North Central MA. One of her most memorable experiences was witnessing a table of empty fresh fruit and veggie containers alongside still-full pizza boxes after conducting a focus group about the barriers to healthy eating with youth living in subsidized housing. It was one of those moments when you realize that what you are doing is really making a difference.
In 2015, Ayn joined Compass Group as the Northeast Regional Dietitian for Chartwells K-12, supporting over 100 school districts in New England and New York. She transitioned to Business Development in 2017, bringing a public health focus to corporate sales strategy in the school nutrition market. These collective experiences formed the foundation for her asset-based approach to community nutrition and sustainability.
Ayn has always called Massachusetts her home; raised in Hubbardston, Ayn is now raising her own family in Princeton. As the mother of two young daughters, Macy and Mia, Ayn and her husband Jason have a passion for local and sustainable eating with many hours spent supporting the local farmer’s market and digging in nine raised bed gardens they have built-in their small, but hardy backyard.