Portland, Ore. – April 6, 2021 – Portland Farmers Market, which operates five farmers markets in Portland, has named Katy Kolker as its new executive director. Kolker joins the organization as Trudy Toliver retires following a fruitful 10-year tenure leading the nonprofit.
Kolker’s vast experience with organizations focused on urban agriculture, climate justice, and food equity have prepared her to lead Portland Farmers Market (PFM) on issues that affect vendors and shoppers alike. She is the founder of the nonprofit Portland Fruit Tree Project, where she served as executive director for 10 years, and has most recently been the executive director of Families for Climate. She has participated in strategic planning for both organizations, as well as for Cully Farmers Market and Growing Gardens. And she served as the chair of the Multnomah Food Policy Council’s Urban Agriculture Committee, advocating for policy change to benefit farmers and growers alike. Her work has earned her numerous awards, including the Skidmore Prize from Willamette Week and the Innovators award from 1000 Friends of Oregon.
For decades, Kolker has been part of teams advancing diversity, equity and inclusion within organizations. As interim executive director at 350PDX, she worked with a dedicated team to advance the organization’s equity and inclusion goals through assessments, trainings, and structural and cultural changes. At Portland Fruit Tree Project, she actively engaged populations at high risk of hunger and food insecurity, and she built partnerships to ensure that programs were accessible and inclusive. This work will continue to be at the forefront of her leadership at PFM.
“I look forward to continuing the efforts of the market staff in expanding access to fresh, local and nutritious food, and providing more pathways for BIPOC vendors to start up their own successful businesses via the market,” said Kolker. “Striving to be an effective advocate and ally for justice and equity is a lifelong commitment for me.”
The PFM board of directors led the search for the executive director and evaluated more than 70 applicants in a rigorous process before selecting Kolker.
“We are delighted to welcome Katy to the PFM family,” said Debbie Elliott, chair of the Portland Farmers Market board. “Katy’s clear passion for food and farms, combined with her strong experience in nonprofit leadership, staff development and financial management, made her really stand out.”
Kolker’s first day on the job is during the market’s busiest season of the year, as the four neighborhood markets prepare to open in Kenton, Lents, King and Shemanski Park, joining the year-round market in the PSU Park Blocks. Among her first tasks will be meeting the vendors and shoppers whom the organization serves.
About Portland Farmers Market
Portland Farmers Market operates world-class farmers markets that contribute to the success of local food growers and producers. The independently run nonprofit organization manages five weekly farmers markets in Portland, including the flagship, year-round market on Saturdays at Portland State University. More than 700,000 shoppers purchase farm-fresh produce, meats, cheeses, seafood, baked goods and other specialty foods from more than 190 vendors generating more than $10 million in sales annually. Through operating markets, Portland Farmers Market serves as an incubator for emerging businesses, a leader in the local food movement, a culinary focal point, a cultural destination and a beacon for Portland’s sustainability movement. To learn more about how Portland Farmers Market grows, nourishes and inspires the community, follow on Instagram, become a Facebook fan, and visit portlandfarmersmarket.org.