Colleen Matts

Colleen Matts

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Center for Regional Food Systems



As the director of the Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center, Colleen works to foster sustainable success for food and farm businesseswith a focus on historically marginalized farmers and entrepreneurs. Throughout the five-year USDA-funded program, she and a CRFS leadership team will direct this work with key partners in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin, as well as a partner to lead tribal coordination across the region. The Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center will develop a comprehensive and equitable technical assistance plan, administer Business Builder grants, and assist farm and food business entrepreneurs to access new markets and navigate federal, state, and local resources.  

Previously, Colleen was the Director, Farm to Institution Programs at CRFS, working throughout Michigan and beyond to help cultivate local food purchasing programs at institutions such schools and hospitals by connecting partners, developing and sharing resources, and providing direct assistance and evaluation support. She coordinated the Michigan Farm to Institution Network and its local food purchasing campaign, Cultivate Michigan, since their launch in 2014 until 2023, and had supported farm to school and farm to institution efforts at CRFS since 2007. Colleen served as a long-time Michigan Partner for the National Farm to School Network and a member of the National Farm to Institution Metrics Collaborative. As a Michigan co-lead, she also helped to launch the Lake Michigan School Food System Innovation Hub, a grant-making initiative funded by USDA in 2023 and led by the Illinois Public Health Institute to support collaborative community-driven efforts to reimagine school meals across four states (IL, IN, MI, and WI). Colleen will continue to be part of this project team to support communication, cooperation, and collaboration opportunities with the Great Lakes Midwest Regional Food Business Center that covers the same geographic region.  

Colleen has an M.S. in Agriculture, Food, and Environment with a specialization in community development from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She also loves to bring people together with delicious food and completed an Associate in Applied Science Degree in Culinary and Hospitality Management at Washtenaw Community College in 2019.