Streaming Media


MaryAnn Martinez, Ph.D. is a 2021 graduate of the PHD Program in Leadership and Change at Antioch University.

MaryAnn Martinez at her Dissertation Defense.

From L-R: Dr. Donna Ladkin, Committee Chair, Dr. Aqeel Tirmizi, Committee Chair, Dr. Claire Reinelt, Committee Member

Dissertation Committee

  • Donna Ladkin, Ph.D., Committee Chair
  • Aqeel Tirmizi, Ph.D., Committee Member
  • Claire Reinelt, Ph.D., Committee Member


Crisis, Food Systems, Leadership, Self-Organized Networks, Social Change

Document Type


Publication Date



Our local and regional food systems are predominately modeled on a failed capitalist market-based economy. In the absence of corporate accountability, and/or support on the federal policy level, local and regional leadership and self-organized networks are critical to the scaling across and evolution of a moral and equitable food system. Networked food systems leaders are developing the capacity to solve wicked problems, and spark change. Understanding the values and practices of local food systems leadership that initiate, influence, and support activities is essential to understanding how to foster conditions for local and regional food network growth. My dissertation research is designed to better understand the leadership practices, values and use of power which contribute to the flourishing of food system networks. In this mixed method study, I set out to answer the question, “What is the nature of leadership in emerging local and regional food networks that provides the foundation for a network to strengthen and scale?” The leadership practices, values, and use of power in three local/regional food networks are studied; synthesizing social network analysis data with semi structured interviews, using the results of an iterative thematic analysis as the foundation from which to consider a critical analysis. This dissertation establishes Human Centeredness as a foundation for Leadership as Practice to occur in self-organized food systems networks. Human Centeredness, for the purposes of my framework and model, is a recognition of the importance and contribution that relationships and connection, essentially a human centered way of being make to laying the foundation for leadership as practice to occur. The findings also reveal the need for a greater understanding of the importance of power and accessing various forms of power within and beyond the known boundaries of networks. This dissertation is available in open access at AURA: Antioch University Repository and Archive, and OhioLINK ETD Center,


MaryAnn Martinez

ORCID Scholar ID #: #0000-0003-3942-222X

Dr. MaryAnn Martinez has a Master’s of Science in Sustainable Food Systems, and a Master’s in Leadership and Change. She is the Executive Director of the New London Community Meal Center in New London, CT. MaryAnn is also a social systems network consultant offering support in network design, facilitation, and the development of structures that activate self-organizing, equity, and justice at the intersection of food systems, politics, and the environment.

To this work, in addition to education, MaryAnn brings years of expertise in non-profit and local government in the areas of health and nutrition, youth substance abuse prevention, and other social issues, as well as practical food systems experience as a vegetable and livestock farmer, in both for-profit and social enterprises.

A former masters cycling champion, MaryAnn, when not working, can usually be found growing food, and running or doing a CrossFit workout. She also enjoys a good game of Scrabble, or hanging out with family, friends, and pets.