Maura Rapkin

Research Associate


Maura is a New York City chef, western Pennsylvania farmer, and small business owner guided by principles of community engagement and enlightened hospitality. She is passionate about conceiving solutions for a socially just, equitable, sustainable, and environmentally conscious food system.

She started her career in 2011 as a sustainability-oriented chef in New York. She worked as a chef and manager in hospitality businesses including Michelin-rated restaurants The Modern and Blue Hill at Stone Barns, internationally renowned Breads Bakery, and premier catering company Abigail Kirsch.

After receiving her Masters, Maura founded Napkin LLC, a mission-driven consulting company, when she saw a need emerge for lean, agile, and sustainable business solutions in the food and agriculture sectors. With Napkin, Maura has been able to expand her impact working with stakeholders to build a more equitable, environmentally conscious, and hospitable food and ag industry. Now consulting with New Venture Advisors, Maura applies the knowledge she has gained in the kitchen, on the farm, and advising small business owners as research specialist.

Maura received her MBA and Masters in Food Studies from Chatham University’s sustainability program and a Bachelor’s in Environmental Studies and Film Studies from University of Rochester.





 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)