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

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.

Joseph Saponaro

Board Member

Joseph M. Saponaro is an accomplished attorney with 10 years of experience as chief administrative officer for a private national industrial company, and over 17 years of experience focusing on general counsel representation and corporate transactions. He has also served the community through participation on several nonprofit boards, including six years in a leadership position as board president.

Joe has a Juris Doctor from Cleveland-Marshall College of Law, a Master of Arts in economics from Cleveland State University and a BSBA in finance from Bowling Green State University. He was also named Outstanding Fellow at the Leadership Academy of Cleveland State University. He has served as acting judge and acting magistrate in Lyndhurst Municipal Court and Rocky River Municipal Court. He has been a member of Mayfield Village Council for over 11 years, and currently serves as council president. He applies his financial, legal and nonprofit leadership expertise to Cleveland Roots as its current Secretary/Treasurer.

You can reach Joe at JosephSaponaro@gmail.com.

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.

Amanda Fawcett

Program Manager

Amanda Fawcett believes in the virtue of seed-to-table and the power of community. She brings her passion for sustainable agriculture to Cleveland Roots’ greenhouses and growing spaces, where she coordinates the planting, maintenance and harvesting of crops. She also develops educational programs.

Amanda’s experience has grown over the years through work in a variety of settings:

  • At a large organic farm and CSA in Albuquerque, she developed techniques for seed starting, transplanting weeding and harvesting, and ran a booth at the downtown Albuquerque Growers’ Market.
  • In Santa Cruz, New Mexico, Amanda broadened her agricultural horizons to dairying. At a Montessori school and farm, she worked with a diverse group of middle school students and a herd of forty dairy goats. She practiced goat husbandry, prepared dairy products, and sold these products at the Santa Fe Farmers Market and to local retailers.
  • Migrating farther west, Amanda became an AmeriCorps volunteer at an urban farm in Reno, Nevada. She led an education-based summer farm camp for 5- to 12-year olds, developing lesson plans and teaching in a “garden classroom” setting.

Amanda earned her B.A. from Ohio Wesleyan University in 2013, with majors in zoology and German.

You can reach Amanda at afawcett@clevelandroots.org.

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