Meet Our Team
Sharon Cech, Project Director
Sharon Cech leads the CA Farm to School, Farm to WIC, and Regional Food Systems programs at UEPI. Her project work revolves around building a more equitable and sustainable food system that both supports small-scale producers and improves access to quality affordable foods in underserved communities. Sharon also represents UEPI as a member of the CA Small Farm Conference Board of Directors, the Northeast Los Angeles Riverfront Collaborative, the National Advisory Board for the Food Hub Management Program, the National Farm to School Network as a State Lead, Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Good Food Economy Working Group, and Oxy’s Campus Dining Working Group. Sharon holds a B.A. in Environmental Studies from Bard College and an M.A. in Urban Planning from UCLA.
Raquel Galarza, Health Education Manager
Raquel Galarza is the Health Education Manager for the LA Farm to School Initiative at UEPI. Her work focuses leading nutrition education initiatives in local community sites, as well as empowering community members to make changes towards healthy, active lifestyles. In her previous position at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, she worked closely with LAUSD elementary schools on school wellness, nutrition education and physical activity programs. She holds her B.S. in Health Science from Cal State Fullerton, and her Masters of Public Health in Community Health and Prevention from UCLA.
Martha Matsuoka, Executive Director
Martha Matsuoka '83 is the Executive Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute and an Associate Professor at Occidental College. She focuses her teaching and research on environmental justice, community-based regionalism, sustainable community development, and social movements. Her current research focuses on policy, planning, organizing, and advocacy related to ports and goods movement. She is co-author with Manuel Pastor, Jr. and Chris Benner of “This Could Be The Start Of Something Big: Regional Equity Organizing And The Future Of Metropolitan America" published by Cornell University. She currently serves on the Board of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation (currently serving as Chair) and the Human Impact Partners and is a member of the Switzer Foundation’s Fellowship Network. Martha received her Ph.D. in Urban Planning from UCLA, a Masters in City Planning from UC Berkeley, and an A.B. from Occidental College.
Rosa Romero, Project Director
Rosa Romero is the Farm to Preschool Program Director at the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute (UEPI) at Occidental College. Rosa has been a social justice activist in LA for many years, working on issues such a hunger & homelessness, indigenous rights, arts & activism, HIV awareness and diversity in college admissions and is currently organizes for healthy & local food access in Los Angeles. She is the Board Co-President of the South Central Farmers Health and Education and co-founder of SOL Catering Cooperative, Guerrilla Food Not Bombs and LA Childcare Collective. She is a certified Master Gardener and received her B.A. from UCLA in Urban Education and her MEd in Early Childhood Education from the University of Hawaii, Manoa.