Dan Sierra, the Cultivate’s Board President

Dan Sierra, the Cultivate’s Board President

I took the Board President’s position at Cultivate Care Farms because I love the mission and I love the work the Farm is doing.

It was my daughter, Jillian, who first introduced me to the Cultivate Care Farms. Jillian is a Northeastern University graduate with a major in Human Services. She came to the farm as an intern. She was living at home at the time and she started telling my wife and I wonderful stories about Cultivate, about work clinicians were doing here, and how successful they were with their approaches. She described breakthroughs she was witnessing and experiences she was having on the Farm. 

As an intern, Jillian supported groups of children who were struggling at schools and suffering from anxiety and bullying. My daughter said that early on in the sessions, the kids were very reserved and quiet. The animals’ presence and farm activity helped them to open up and start sharing stories, describing how they overcame bullying situations with each other. Clients were able to more efficiency work on their challenges and come up with solutions.

 Jillian had a wonderful time and great experience on the Farm, and every night, my wife and I waited to hear her stories from the day. One evening, Jillian came home very upset, saying that there was a problem. The farm had financial difficulties as a new entity, and Jillian was concerned that they wouldn’t be able to stay in business. Jillian asked, “Dad, can you help?” She knew that we like to give back to the community and we’re very fortunate in that we’re able to. So, in October 2017, I came down to the farm to meet the founders, Andrew Lapin and Debra Madera. We talked about the business perspectives of the Farm, as well as the help they needed from people with business backgrounds. My past is in the tech industry, where I grew three different businesses, so I said that I would be interested in trying to help Cultivate Care Farms with the organizational aspect of the entity. Andrew and Debra invited me to join the board, and April 2018 I took the president role to help the Cultivate to grow them business.

So, this is how I got here. To tell the truth, the experience is quite interesting- when you first start a company, there are always lots of struggles and challenges, and you don’t know what is coming next. But if you’re excited about the work you are doing and the mission it stands for, it gives you the enthusiasm and the energy to keep working and solving problems, and keeping the business moving forward.

I’m in love with this mission. Cultivate Care Farms is truly helping people. We started from helping a handful of them, and now we are helping almost a hundred!  Before my involvement with the Farm, I knew how critically short social work funds were (and still are) in Massachusetts. I’d read stories about nonprofits helping the community work through challenges, both from a wider perspective down to the individual; life can be hard enough without the weight of mental health illness. That’s why I am so excited about working with Cultivate Care Farms. On the Farm we’re helping people, and we’re helping animals, too.

While I’m still solving high-tech issues and business problems, I’m also shovelling out stalls sometimes! But, you know what? Farm activity helps you feel good, and I’m helping with Cultivate Care Farm’s mission and the important work they do. I feel good about that, too.