Local Concepts, LLC

Local Concepts, LLC provides network management support for the Chesapeake Foodshed Network

Local Concepts, LLC is a social enterprise with the goal of building networks to accelerate the pace of change.

The team is comprised of experts in a wide range of sustainable development and natural resource fields committed to working with communities, organizations, and businesses to address sustainable development challenges.  Local Concepts works with clients to strategically identify the best combination of services and tools to support the development and growth of their network, community group, organization or business.

Local Concepts, LLC provides network management services to the Chesapeake Foodshed Network, a multi-state initiative, designed to strategically build connections and foster collaborations to catalyze food system reform. Food system reform requires a network approach because no one organization can address the inherent complexities in the food system. If we want to see big change, we have to intentionally work together. The Chesapeake Foodshed Network provides communications, education/training and collaboration infrastructure to bring people together to drive change.

At Local Concepts we believe that strong relationships and mutual trust form the solid foundation needed for transformation. As our relationships grow and trust increases the opportunities to align and collaborate with others dramatically improves. It is at this point that we can unite towards the common goal of food system reform.  Local Concepts aims to magnify the impact of individual organizations and businesses by creating more cohesion among those working towards common goals.

Christy Gabbard


Network Manager 
With over twenty years of experience in the fields of agriculture, food systems, and natural resources, Christy works across diverse geographic scales (local to multi-state) developing programs and services to strengthen connectivity and drive collaborative action for change. Under Gabbard’s leadership, Local Concepts, LLC provides network management services to the Chesapeake Foodshed Network, a multi-state initiative, designed to strategically build connections and foster collaborations to catalyze food system reform.

Yona Sippos

Yona Sipos


Program Director
Yona’s work supports community-based research and programming, particularly in the areas of food systems, sustainability, and community engagement. Since 2000, she has worked in the US and Canada across government, academic, and community sectors to offer expertise in facilitation, program development and assessment, project management, grant and report writing. Yona holds a doctoral degree in land and food systems (University of British Columbia), where she designed an interdisciplinary framework to learn about and contribute to local food system sustainability. Yona was raised on her family’s farm in southern Ontario, lived in DC and MD for several years, and now gardens, cooks, and preserves food with her family in Seattle, WA.


Sonia Keiner


Communications Director
Sonia has worked at the intersection of social justice, food justice, education and the arts since 2001. Her work across many sectors has helped her build a diverse skill set including grant-writing, community building/organizing, communications & outreach. Sonia has a BS in Psychology and a MA in Education Policy & Leadership. As a seasoned photographer and beginning videographer, she is especially interested in new media, designing information for beauty and accessibility, and visual storytelling for social change. A permaculture practitioner, Sonia lives on an historic farm in Upper Marlboro, MD where she spends as much time as she can growing food, herbs and flowers.

Elizabeth Spellman


Policy Analyst
Elizabeth brings organizing, legal, and farming perspectives to her work supporting healthy food systems, particularly in Appalachia. Her broad perspective—developed through work from West Virginia to the San Joaquin Valley of California—stems from her faith in food systems as a catalyst for social, environmental, and economic justice; environmental health; and a new economy. Elizabeth holds bachelor degrees from University of Virginia, and J.D. from Vermont Law School.  She and her partner have a diversified vegetable and poultry farm in the Alleghany Highlands of Virginia.

Liz Howard


Communications Intern 
Liz is studying Environmental Horticulture, Civic Agriculture & Food Systems in addition to Material Culture & Public Humanities at Virginia Tech. Liz is passionate about food sovereignty and culinary justice. She has conducted ethnographic research in Southwestern Virginia and is currently interested in storytelling around community food work. When she’s not studying or working, Liz can usually be found in the garden or in the kitchen!