Local Matters, the nonprofit organization founded five years ago to prove to central Ohioans that local does matter when it comes to food, will have a new leader in the new year.

Local Matters, the nonprofit organization founded five years ago to prove to central Ohioans that local does matter when it comes to food, will have a new leader in the new year.

Michelle Moskowitz Brown of Clintonville is set to become executive director of the Broad Street-based organization Jan. 1, according to an announcement last week. Currently the director of operations for Local Matters, Moskowitz Brown will take over the post being vacated by co-founder Michael Jones, who will become chairman of the board.

Moskowitz Brown said her interest in food and poverty issues stems from her childhood; she grew up in a housing project in Brooklyn, one of three children cared for by a single mother. The family often had to rely on food stamps, she said.

Moskowitz Brown holds a bachelor's degree in dance anthropology from Antioch College. She also studied urban planning at New York University's Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, according to an announcement from Local Matters.

Prior to moving to Columbus three years ago with her husband, Dayton native Aaron W. Brown, and their two small children, Moskowitz Brown managed several nonprofit organizations, including the Foundation for Jewish Culture and Dancing in the Streets.

Not long after coming to Columbus, in part to be close to a sister-in-law and cousin, Moskowitz Brown began exploring the local food scene.

"That's always been a passion of mine," she said.

A friend told her about Local Matters, and it seemed like a good fit, Moskowitz Brown said. She has been director of operations for the last two years, overseeing finance, programs and human resources.

"What made Local Matters unique from the beginning was the importance and emphasis on education about local foods," Moskowitz Brown said.

Local Matters offers four programs to help people become more aware of the role food plays in their lives, according to the announcement. These are:

* Food Matters, a hands-on cooking and healthful-foods program for children.

* Cooking Matters, classes on food preparation and nutrition for lower-income families and people living on a budget.

* Growing Matters, which teaches people how to grow their own food.

* Wellness Matters, healthful-food education geared for the workplace.

"Our program covers not just what is healthy food but also literacy, sharing cultures," Moskowitz Brown said. "It pretty much covers the spectrum of how kids can get set for the rest of their lives. We want to set the tone, and I think we can do it if we put it together in the right way."

"Michelle presents an effective combination of a commitment to planning, detail and follow through, while also being someone who sees opportunities and potential to increase impact," Jones said in the announcement. "The board and I believe she is the right leader at the right time for our team and the community."

"We are grateful to Michael Jones for Local Matters' extraordinary achievements during his tenure," Joshua Gaines, current board chairman, said in the announcement. "Local Matters is fortunate, and greatly pleased, to be able to promote Michelle, an exceptional leader and manager, as his successor."

"I intend to broaden and deepen our reach in collaboration with our incredible staff, board and community partners," Moskowitz Brown said in a statement. "I am inspired by leaders and activists, local and global, who have taken on pressing food issues, and I am honored to lead a small-but-mighty organization into its next iteration."

Moskowitz Brown's sister, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, is a vegan chef and author, the announcement noted.