Volunteer Leadership

Board of Directors

Debra Halpert

Board Co-Chair

Debra Halpert is the president and CEO of Monroe East Consulting, a marketing and branding activation company that creates, plans, and facilitates programs and initiatives with companies people, products, and services. M.E. creates initiatives and combines them with programming and philanthropic activities involving tastemakers, authors, artists, celebrities, and influencers. Based on five pillars, philanthropy, entertainment, real estate and home design, food and drink, and health and wellness, ME connects the dots to create activations and marketing programs to boost exposure and create ROI.

Cindi Crain

Board Vice Chair

Cindi Crain is a freelance journalist with extensive media and travel experience. She served on the board of directors of her family’s business-media empire, Crain Communications, for many years; founded the glossy Golf & Travel magazine; and earned a master’s degree from Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. She lived in Kenya for 6 years where in 2001 she founded VirginBush Safaris, a conservation-minded safari company in East Africa which she continues to manage from the East End. Cindi also proudly serves on the Transgender and Gender Non-Binary Patient and Family Advisory Council at NYU Langone Health in New York City and serves as a board member of Goat on a Boat puppet theatre in Sag Harbor.

George Olsen

Board Treasurer

George Olsen is the managing principal of New York City Regional Center LLC, a real estate and infrastructure financing company that he co-founded in 2007, and was a commercial and residential real estate developer and attorney for more than 25 years. Before graduating from Fordham Law School, he was a minority business representative at the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. George served with the United States Marine Corps from 1967 to 1970, including a tour of duty as an infantry platoon and company commander in Vietnam; he was honorably discharged at the rank of captain. George has drawn on his development experience to help guide the development of EEFI’s Riverhead location.

Michael Braverman

Board Member

Michael Braverman has lived in East Hampton for most of his life and has deep roots in the community having started and built a real estate brokerage business with three offices, now part of Sotheby’s. As a journalist he has written a wine column for the East Hampton Star, hosted the TV broadcasts of Bridgehampton Polo, and until 2019 was senior editor-at-large of Hamptons Magazine. He has held board and officer positions on a number of local nonprofit organizations.

Anthony Cappa

Board Member

Anthony Cappa has been providing executive-level management consulting services for more than 20 years. He has wide-ranging experience working with Fortune 500 corporations, nonprofits, and start-up companies. After a corporate career at IBM and Credit Suisse, he worked with several entrepreneurial ventures and served in numerous leadership positions, including CEO and CIO. He has helped organizations with strategic planning, business development, marketing, and raising investment capital. Anthony lives in Sag Harbor and is an advocate for EEFI’s important programs here on the East End. As a member of the Outreach Committee, he has used his skills to help improve marketability for EEFI products.

Amy Dorn Kopelan

Board Member

Amy Dorn Kopelan is Executive Producer, President and Founder of Bedlam Productions Inc., a leading media training, presentation coaching, and conference strategy company that has been training CEOs and senior leaders for over 25 years. Having launched her company in 1999, Amy’s clients range from leaders of Fortune 500 companies, universities, and entrepreneurial ventures to leaders in medicine, technology, and government. Over the last several months, Amy has worked with EEFI as a volunteer in the kitchen and has begun to provide branding and marketing advice, as well as executive coaching.

Evan Mason

Board Member

Evan Mason is founder of Deco Works/Evan Mason Designs, a sustainable interior design firm that performs a range of design and energy services. Her background in historic preservation, energy efficiency, green building and landscaping informs her unique interior design perspective. In addition to running her design firm, Evan consults for a woman-owned engineering firm, conducting energy audits, green physical needs assessments and inspections of NYC buildings. These projects include ice rinks, nursing homes, affordable housing residential projects, brownstone renovations and apartments.

Claudia Pilato

Board Member

Claudia Pilato is the founder and president of Pilato PR + Marketing Consultants, a new firm that brings strategic thinking and smart marketing skills to a diverse group of businesses and nonprofit organizations. In addition to her role as Co-Chair of The Retreat Board of Directors, she is a founding member and Board Chair of All For The East End, an organization that raises funds to support the NPO community of the five east end towns, currently focused on food insecurity and issues related to the pandemic. She and her husband live in East Hampton and New York City. Claudia has worked with EEFI in the last couple years to explore brand development and fundraising capacity.

Sheri Sandler

Board Member

Sheri Sandler has a deep passion for food that originates from her family’s history in the business of sourcing and selling fish. She has served on numerous nonprofit boards to promote the arts, as well as ensuring safety and empowerment for women and girls of all backgrounds. As a member of East End Food Institute's Board of Directors, Sheri lends her wide array of talents and interests to provide healthy local food to those in need, support local farms and food producers, and grow a network of supporters to help create a better local food system.

Mark Smith

Board Member

A native of the New York metropolitan area, Mark Smith is the managing partner of Honest Man Company based in East Hampton. The restaurant management company operates five unique concepts in the Hamptons including one of the most eponymous restaurants in the Hamptons, Nick & Toni’s, who pioneered the farm to table movement utilizing local bounty. Additional restaurants include: Rowdy Hall, a pub/bistro venture in East Hampton, La Fondita, a Mexican taqueria in Amagansett, Townline BBQ, an authentic BBQ joint in Sagaponack and Coche Comedor, a regional Mexican cuisine restaurant in Amagansett. Honest Man also operates Honest Catering producing memorable events in the Hamptons.

Mark-Antonio Smith

Board Member

Mark-Antonio Smith is a former educator who has taught in the elementary education setting for the past 20 years in Los Angeles, CA, and Brooklyn, NY. During this period, he was given the opportunity to integrate his experiences in agriculture to the school’s existing curriculum. Having taught in both traditional and progressive settings, his experiences have shaped his conviction that children learn more deeply through their own experiences. In 2014, he created The Nurtury For Kids, a nonprofit that strives to create an atmosphere that affords children the opportunity to choose how they interact with regenerative and sustainable agriculture while demonstrating that growing food is possible in many spaces.

Deborah Van Zijl

Board Member

Deborah Van Zijl currently works as a wealth management advisor. She had a lengthy career in banking in New York City and was a partner of a private consulting firm. Deborah earned an MBA from Wake Forest University School of Business and a BA in English from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Originally from North Carolina, her relatives still own an over 100-year-old farm where she experienced farm to table food production firsthand with her grandparents. She currently lives in Southampton, NY with her husband Rick and has two children.


John de Cuevas


Aside from his interest in baking bread and cooking food grown in Amagansett, Mr. de Cuevas was involved as an educator in the East End food movement and was a generous contributor to the Peconic Land Trust and Quail Hill Farm. The place he most enjoyed living in was Amagansett. And he derived much satisfaction and joy from supporting not only food production projects but also environmental and climate change initiatives in a quiet way with his own resources. In 2010, he and several neighbors started the Amagansett Food Institute, now East End Food Institute.

Katie Baldwin & Amanda Merrow

Amanda Merrow and Katie Baldwin founded Amber Waves Farm in 2009. They now grow 250 varieties of organic fruits and vegetables, maintain a flock of 100 laying hens, and have revived the cultivation of organic wheat on the East End. They have also made education a central part of their mission and work with local schools to introduce children to the basics of farming. Amber Waves Farm offers a CSA membership and sells its products at local farmers markets.

Carissa Waechter

Carissa Waechter of Carissa'a Breads uses local whole wheat flour that she hand mills herself in the breads and other products she bakes. She also uses only fresh, local herbs and vegetables in her focaccias and pizzas. Carissa now operates a bakery and a restaurant, both in East Hampton.