Taste the Local Difference® has its headquarters in Traverse City, Michigan. Our small team covers the state with distinct roles.
Bill Palladino - TLD Chief Executive Officer
Bill has spent decades assisting both for-profit and nonprofit businesses around the world. He has sustained roles as Executive Director, Business Consultant, Executive Coach, Instructional Designer, CEO for Hire, Economic Development Director, and Keynote Speaker with over 25 years of management and business ownership experience. His client list includes Fortune 500 companies, large nonprofits, community groups and governmental agencies. Bill left his corporate training and consulting practice in December of 2012 to join the Michigan Land Use Institute (MLUI) staff after spending several years on its board of directors.
MLUI brought Bill into the organization specifically to help transform Taste the Local Difference (TLD) and to accelerate its growth potential to serve more communities. TLD is a new collaborative local food marketing campaign designed to lead northwest Michigan to the 20% x 2020 goal. The goal warrants that 20 percent of our region's food come from local sources by 2020. Bill is excited to move back to the nonprofit world as it allows him to pursue his passions while lessening the rigorous travel schedule demanded of consulting. He enjoys using the skills and tools gathered over the past decade of working with the world's most innovative organizations and companies, applying those to his new assignment with TLD.
Bill currently serves on the Michigan Good Food Charter steering committee and is a member of its shared measurement advisory board. He is chair of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network, is on the board of the Grand Traverse Foodshed Alliance (managers of the GT Food Innovation Hub) and serves on the board of Blackbird Arts, a local nonprofit arts organization. He is well known in Michigan for his work assisting small businesses, nonprofits, communities and economic development agencies.
He lives with his family in downtown Traverse City.
Tricia Phelps - TLD Operations Director
Tricia is a driven leader and manager with experience in both the agriculture and business sides of the TLD business. She is deeply involved in the Agricultural community of Northwest Michigan through her personal and business commitments. Tricia also understands the demands of business and marketing through her three years of work with The Minervini Group, developers of The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, the largest mixed-use historic redevelopment project in the state.
Her skills in writing, communications, problem solving and database management give her the perfect foundation to support TLD's growing farm and business community. She manages the entire TLD operation in Northwest Michigan, from building and maintaining all the relationships that make this work possible, to playing a major role in planning the strategy for TLD's future.
Tricia is a fixture in the burgeoning food and farming community in the region. She serves on the board of Bay Area Recycling for Charities (BARC), the advisory board of the Sara Hardy Downtown Farmers Market in Traverse City, MI, and is an active member of the leadership team of the Northwest Michigan Food and Farming Network. She hails from the city of Cary, IL and is a graduate of Michigan State University with a bachelor of arts from The Residential College of Arts & Humanities, and a Minor in Environmental Studies. She is an avid photographer whose photographs can be found throughout this website.
Emma Beauchamp-TLD Local Food Coordinator for Northwestern Michigan
Emma has a little bit of experience in many fields. Between Traverse City and Ann Arbor, she has worked on organic farms, in hot restaurant kitchens, overstocked retail shops, and foreign language libraries. One summer, she even worked in Juneau, AK, where she spent the summer on the cruise ship docks as a whale watching tour representative.
All of these experiences aid her in the organizationally heavy task of being a local food coordinator. She spends a lot of time behind the scenes, but you will see her in retail stores putting up the TLD brand near local food products or giving out tasty local samples. She is excited to use her years of customer service experience and problem-solving skills to make local foods the easy option for everyone.
Emma is a Traverse City native and a recent graduate of the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She has a degree in Cognitive Science focused on language and cognition, as well as a minor in French. When Emma isn't in the office, she enjoys going on adventures outside, trying new recipes, and making great puns.
Molly Stepanski-TLD Local Food Coordinator for Northeastern Michigan
Molly owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her husband Dion, their son Sawyer, and two dogs Huck and Abe, in northern Michigan. In 2014, they transformed the family's hobby farm into a thriving market vegetable business and are now supplying free, local food to two school districts through Hoophouses for Health, in addition to selling their produce to NE Michigan restaurants, farmers markets, and groceries.
Molly’s background runs the gamut and exemplifies her ardor for food, education, and the outdoors. She realized early on that her career needed to shift and reflect these loves after a short-lived foray into corporate America as a Disaster Recovery Analyst. She drastically altered her life’s trajectory and began working as an Outdoor Living Skills Program Director for a youth camp in the Virginia mountains and then went on to serve in Togo, West Africa with the Peace Corps as an Education Development Coordinator. Upon her return to the states, Molly moved to Montana to herd and lamb 1500+ sheep for a family ranch in the Little Belt Mountain Range for a season. Following her stint as a shepherd, she became a manager at the Good Food Store, Missoula's home for locally-produced, organic and bulk foods. She educated customers and employees on organic standards and nutrition and became infatuated with supporting and building healthy communities through food choices and education.
After several years in Montana, she moved to Portland, Oregon to attain her Masters in Education and then taught high school for several years in New Orleans, often centering her curriculum around food, the food system, and its impact on her students’ lives and the world at large. In 2014, Molly and her husband returned to his family farm in Posen to become the new stewards of a Centennial Farm and invigorate the thriving food network of the northeastern portion of the mitten.
In addition to owning and operating Presque Isle Farm, during the off-season Molly also works at Thunder Bay Winery in Alpena so she can continue to serve up some of Michigan’s local bounty! Molly's mission is to grow nourishing food, a healthy community, a vibrant local economy, a restorative environmental system, and a happy family.
Melissa Orzechowski -TLD Local Food Coordinator for the Upper Peninsula
Although Melissa is not a born and raised Yooper, she has spent the last four years living in Marquette while getting her bachelor’s degrees from Northern Michigan University and now considers the Upper Peninsula home. She recently graduated with degrees in communication studies, environmental studies and sustainability, English writing, and she minored in Spanish.
Melissa has worked with various groups to plan major environment-focused events including environmental education events and colloquia series. This paired with her writing experience prepared her to promote and market local food as the Upper Peninsula’s Local Food Coordinator.
In additional to working with TLD, Melissa is again at NMU this time for in Master of Public Administration program. She is a graduate assistant in NMU’s Center for Student Enrichment where she helps to oversee NMU’s volunteer center, special events coordinator, and a program called Cat Packs. Cat Packs reduces childhood hunger by providing healthy food for over 70 children at a local school on weekends.
Whenever possible Melissa is out enjoying the natural beauty of the U.P.. She is addicted to rock and ice climbing, and loves to cross country ski, mountain and snow bike, hike, and camp.
Melissa grew her interest in local foods at a young age in her grandparents’ garden. Since then she has volunteered in numerous community gardens and on several farms including an organic farm in Nicaragua while traveling in Central America this past summer.
Kelly Wilson, RD - TLD Local Food Coordinator for Southeastern Michigan
Kelly is a registered dietitian with her own personal nutrition coaching business, Taste of Health Nutrition (Ortonville, MI). She is also a sustainable farmer who operates Simple Gifts Farm (Oxford, MI).
She is passionate about strengthening Michigan’s local food economy through robust relationships and using real food to help individuals achieve their health goals. She comes to TLD after working at Michigan State University’s Student Organic Farm.
Paula Martin, MS, RDN, LDN - TLD Community Health Coordinator
Paula Martin is a registered dietitian nutritionist focusing on public health. She has grown her practice to include the interactions between wellness with the built environment, and ecological systems. Prior to joining Taste the Local Difference, she was a Food and Farming Fellow at the Groundwork Center for Resilient Communities and served as a Director of Health Promotion Programs at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA.
In her role as our Community Health Coordinator, Paula will be facilitating the Building Healthy Communities Grant. This program supports food retailers, local businesses and healthcare centers create plans to make healthy and local food choices the easiest choice. In addition, she will be providing support for community supported agriculture (CSA) wellness programs for Northwestern Michigan.
Paula now calls Traverse City her home and enoys spending time exploring the culinary delights this beautiful region has to offer.
Christina brings a diverse background of experience throughout the food system to her work TLD. Since her graduation from The University of Michigan's School of Natural Resources and Environment, Christina has worked on farms and with artisan food businesses, managed farmers markets, taught cooking and gardening classes to youth, and worked with schools, farms, and local food businesses to coordinate school fundraisers featuring healthy local products.
You'll be seeing Christina in our retail partner stores helping to demonstrate the amazing tastes of locally grown and produced foods. She's also an accomplished photographer with a passion for food. So you may see her wielding a camera dangerously close to culinary works of art, a farmer's field, or the farmer herself.
In addition to her work with TLD, Christina runs her own business (Toot Sweet) and writes for The Awesome Mitten. Toot Sweet offers a full line of photography services with a focus on food photography and hosts a lively blog of locally-focused recipes. Contact her via her website at http://tootsweetness.com We're happy to have Christina on our TLD team for 2015.
Bailey Samp- Certified Local Food Events Intern
Bailey moved to Traverse City in 2007 and developed a deep love for Northern Michigan. She has spent winters traveling in Australia, regions of South America, and the American West. She is passionate about strengthening her community, creating awareness about local food, and cultivating close relationships that will help her become deeply connected within the food and farming community. Bailey has volunteered for non-profits involved with food access in Australia, volunteered and worked on sustainable farms, and is in the beginning stages of starting her own farm in Leelanau County.
With a degree in Business Administration from Ferris State University, a background in event management and hospitality, and extreme organization skills, Bailey is assisting with the Certified Local Food Events program for the summer. Her role entails working closely with event organizers to encourage local food sourcing, building strong relationships between vendors and farms, and promoting events that show a strong commitment to supporting our local food community.
When not at work, Bailey enjoys being outside in beautiful Northern Michigan, exploring different cultures, cooking good food with friends, and building her future farm.