Douglas Fawcett

Founder/President of the Board

Douglas Fawcett has been farming since he was 10 years old when his family moved to a farm. He and his father, a businessman by day, learned to grow a variety of vegetables and fruits and care for a small menagerie of domestic livestock. In addition, Doug learned beekeeping and has kept successful hives for many years.

Doug is an entrepreneur who, at the age of 25, started his first company in Cleveland — a small marketing and design firm. After 10 successful years in advertising, Doug joined two friends in establishing Kellex Corporation, which today owns and operates two furniture manufacturing facilities in the southeastern United States. He is the company’s chief operating officer.

Doug is also the managing partner of The Rally Group, a real estate holding company that owns and manages residential rental units in the greater Cleveland area. Doug has extensive experience with all aspects of running a business. With partners Anne Melfo and Joe Saponaro, Doug applies his extensive business experience to Cleveland Roots, providing strategic oversight and managing its day-to-day operations.

Doug earned his Bachelor’s of Business from Cleveland State University.

You can reach Doug at dfawcett@kellex.com.

Anne Melfo

Co-Founder/Board Member 

Anne Melfo has worked in social service and educational roles since 1985. With a Master of Education from Kent State University and a Bachelor of Science in psychology from John Carroll University, she has sought to apply her knowledge to serving those who are most in need in the Greater Cleveland area.

Anne has empowered homeless women and their children by connecting them with counseling, housing and employment resources. She has represented the uninsured and disabled, helping them secure medical coverage and disability benefits. She has also taught computer literacy courses to the elderly, and provided software instruction to county employees, including public school teachers, probation officers and engineers.

Since 2011, Anne has held a seasonal position at a local grower’s farm. She has hands-on experience sorting and preparing seasonal produce — including a variety of tree fruits, tomatoes, green peppers, green beans and potatoes — for market. She also maintains a small flock of laying hens, and is steadily building a customer base for Cleveland Roots products.

You can reach Anne at amelfo@clevelandroots.org.

Maria Livers

Executive Director

Maria Livers brings more than 20 years of diverse professional corporate and nonprofit experience to Cleveland Roots. She has a consistent track record of utilizing a “Yes, and…” mindset to connect and motivate individuals and organizations in collaborations to achieve positive change. Recognized by others as a person who honors the voice and opinion of all, Maria is most interested in working with partners in service. She looks forward to utilizing these relationships through Cleveland Roots to honor its vision of providing access to healthy food and building a supportive and stronger community for all who live here.

Prior to coming to Cleveland Roots, Maria served as the Executive Director of Lutheran Family Services, a behavioral health agency and subsidiary of Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry. Maria has most recently worked independently as a grant writer and nonprofit and marketing consultant for organizations including LEAD Vision, LLC, World Health Ambassador-USA, Stoffiel Aerospace and others. She also served on the Development team for Cleveland Christian Home and Bridgeway, Inc., nonprofit agencies in support of Cleveland area adults, children and families dealing with mental illness, abuse and neglect. In addition, Ms. Livers is a video production professional and editor, having worked with Gateway Communications Group to create educational, corporate and industrial communications and marketing tools for clients such as GE Lighting, Sherwin-Williams, MetroHealth and many more.

Additionally, she has a passion for and extensive experience in the arts and in events management, having worked in administration and as a performer with The Second City Cleveland, Playhouse Square, Something Dada Improv Comedy Company and The Breen Center for the Performing Arts at St. Ignatius High School.

You can reach Maria at mlivers@clevelandroots.org.

Robert P. Chandler

Board Member 

Robert P. Chandler is glad to be part of the Cleveland Roots Board to contribute his knowledge and support to this organization.  His lifelong love of gardening started early, as Bob was born in a rural community into a family whose members include farmers and grassroots distributors of produce that go back for many generations.

Bob’s boyhood experiences include husbandry of goats, chickens, ducks, hogs, and bees, as well as growing and maintaining family gardens. As an adult, he has continued to cultivate gardens. Ecology, especially composting, has over the years become an area of continuing interest and greater study for Bob. 

Mr. Chandler holds degrees in pharmacy and radiation biology. He utilized these in his career as a nuclear pharmacist, working for many organizations in various parts of the country.  His work included a period of time spent in research with the National Institute of Health. His early pharmacy education also included cultivation of plant drugs.

In retirement, Bob continues his interest in gardening as well as in the role healthy food plays in continuing physical and mental health and independence.  Bob, with his wife, is also an active member of Brecksville United Church of Christ. He participates in many ministries of that church and is particularly involved in serving meals and tutoring youth on Cleveland’s near west side in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood where Cleveland Roots is located.

Luigi A. Pecoraro

Board Member 

Luigi Pecoraro is currently completing an Executive Doctoral Degree at University of Pennsylvania in Workplace Learning and Leadership, and coaching and consulting along the way. Most recently he was the Director of Custom Corporate Solutions for Weatherhead Executive Education at Case Western Reserve University where he led efforts to sustain and grow the non-academic leadership development programs locally, nationally, and internationally. These programs address learning and development opportunities for executives and high potential leaders and integrate emerging and breakthrough business and human capital best practices.

Prior to that Luigi served as Director of Career Management at IIT Stuart School of Business and Career Coach at Boler School of Business at John Carroll University. Before moving to higher education, he was V.P. of Client Sales and Services for Edward Luttner Associates, where he coached executives, management, and other professionals in career planning and development. He was formerly a Director of Business Development for a National Training and Development Company.

Luigi is recognized as an expert in the design, development and delivery of executive development programs with professional, managerial, and executive level clients. He has consulted with a variety of local, national and international firms based primarily in Northeast Ohio, and has been acknowledged for outstanding client relations and engagement management.

Luigi brings more than 20 years of multiple industry experience to play. Before entering the career planning and development industry, Luigi served as the manager of a $10 million annual sales and customer service group for a manufacturer/distributor.

Early in his career, he also served as a Corporate Training and Development Manager for a Healthcare provider located in the northwestern U.S. Mr. Pecoraro has an undergraduate degree from John Carroll University in Humanities, as well as a Master’s degree from Seattle University, with an emphasis in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. He has been a speaker on career and executive development themes.

Luigi resides in Cleveland Heights with his wife Julie, and their family, which includes five sons and a daughter. He was the troop committee chair for Boy Scout Troop 403. He is active in various civic activities and recently served on the Board of Directors for Junior Achievement of Greater Cleveland. Luigi has also served as a board member for Charis Ministries, Seeds of Literacy, and Beacon Street Performing Arts in Ministry.

Darci Sanders

Board Member 

Darci Sanders has more than 32 years experience as a program innovator and teacher of all ages. A skilled nonprofit manger, Darci has a strong desire to connect people across the greater Cleveland region for mission-based causes, believing that meaningful partnerships are the essence of building community. 

In a career that spanned over 28 years, Darci was first the Education Coordinator, then Director of Education for Lake Erie Nature & Science Center. Serving more than 150,000 visitors annually, the nonprofit nature center provides STEM based science education programming for all ages, featuring experiences with local wildlife and natural history, as well as a state-of-the-art planetarium. 

A trained facilitator, Darci has provided leadership for numerous science education organizations and projects, grant-funded and otherwise, with many school systems, colleges and non-profit partners in Cuyahoga and Lorain Counties. The subject material covered has ranged from tree and plant studies to stream quality monitoring and population education training.

In addition to her support and enthusiasm for Cleveland Roots, Darci’s service in Cleveland includes serving on the board (2018-19 Chair) for the Washington Park Academy CTE Advisory Committee. Washington Park is the environmental science academy of the Cleveland Schools and features pathways in horticulture, animal science and natural resources. 

Darci also serves on the alumni board of Hiram College. Among Hiram’s many distinct assets, her personal favorite is a 530 acre biological field station featuring a significant old growth forest in the state of Ohio. Holding two degrees in biology, Darci has a strong interest in projects that increase local and global ecological vitality. 

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