Our Staff

Erin Sigrist

President

Erin Sigrist is the President of Vermont Retail & Grocers Association, and the Executive Director of Vermont Specialty Food Association.

As President of VRGA, the leading resource and advocate for retailers and grocers in Vermont, Erin is a seasoned policy advocate who has successfully testified before the Vermont State Legislature to affect critical policy issues and has worked closely with State Agency leaders to impact regulatory protocols. She is also responsible for executing the vision of the VRGA Board of Directors through membership outreach and development, and ensuring the association continues to provide value-added benefits for members of all kinds.

As Executive Director of VSFA, the oldest specialty food association in the country, Erin is responsible for enhancing the exchange of proven practices between members and industry professionals, fostering statewide and national growth within the industry through various promotional efforts, and encouraging continued support of Vermont products through state-supported grant funding.

Born and raised in the Finger Lakes in New York, Erin grew up working in her family’s 140-year-old hardware store and volunteering in her community. She graduated from Elmira College with a BA in Business with a concentration in marketing, and briefly worked for an AHL hockey team and NLL Lacrosse team before moving on to focus on small business marketing and support. Erin moved to Vermont in 2010 and was fortunate enough to continue her work in representing small businesses in a new capacity. Past experience guided her to work hard to provide value to association membership. Having fallen into the government relations sphere by chance Erin has enjoyed serving as a voice on behalf of business in the halls of the legislature and promoting the value of Vermont businesses and Vermont-made products within Vermont and beyond.

Brady O'Brien

Program and Membership Manager

Brady was born in Burlington, VT and has strong family ties to the state. Brady left the state while young, heading first to Southern Florida and then to Chicago. After graduating from College of DuPage (Glen Ellyn, Illinois), he worked in higher education marketing and student affairs, with a focus on institutional advancement and student success. Visiting Vermont frequently throughout the last decade, he decided that the time was right to return to the Green Mountains permanently. Growing up with a country store (Beaudry's in Huntington, VT) in the family, a position that would allow him to support similar businesses and push for their success was very appealing to him. With that in mind, he joined the VRGA team as Programs and Membership Manager in December 2018. He has focused on fostering communication between members, increasing access to networking, and broadening opportunities for education for membership since his start.

Taryn Maitland

Operations Manager

Taryn was born and raised on the Upper West Side of NYC. In 2010 she came to Vermont to study Environmental Studies and Sustainable Business Development. After graduating in 2014, she began to work at a locally owned store called Homeport located on Church Street in Burlington. Working closely with the family she began to take on more responsibility and became the lead buyer for multiple sections, including Vermont Made products. Growing up in NYC, Taryn had been involved in her community through Girl Scouts since she was 6. It was a natural progression for her to start coordinating her efforts at Homeport with the Church Street Marketplace. She assisted in developing and implementing community events that helped support locally owned businesses. Wanting to take that to another level, Taryn started working at VRGA in January 2020 as the Operations Manager, working with the team to further current efforts and create a more substantial impact for the Association as a whole.

Alexandra Jakab

VSFA Assistant Director

Alexandra Jakab is VSFA’s Assistant Director and first fully dedicated employee. Alexandra grew up in Vermont with a passion for local food, influenced by her mother who founded a Vermont specialty food company back in 2008. Receiving her bachelor’s degree in Communication and completing a Culinary Certificate Program, Alexandra has since gained experience in many different aspects of the food industry. Over the past 10 years Alexandra has worked in marketing, sales, and promotion of Vermont Specialty Food Products both on the producer and retail level. She feels lucky to live and work in a state where small businesses are supported, encouraged, and celebrated. Alexandra is working to develop her supportive role to better connect VSFA’s members with relevant industry professionals and opportunities that foster business growth.