Thistle Farms Welcomes Tasha Bandy Kennard as CEO and Scott Ryder as CFO

Executive leadership appointments come as Thistle Farms crosses $12 million mark in annual donations and social enterprise revenue

Scott Ryder and Tasha Kennard

Thistle Farms, a nonprofit social justice enterprise serving women survivors of trafficking, prostitution, and addiction, has announced the appointments of two executive leaders. 

Tasha Kennard has been named chief executive officer. With an extensive leadership history in non-profit, for-profit, and entrepreneurial sectors, Kennard brings a wealth of executive experience, financial oversight, and organizational development to the role. As CEO, she will partner with founder and President Becca Stevens, the board of directors, and the leadership team to fulfill the mission of Thistle Farms, support continued sustainable growth, and further evolve its long-term strategy while ensuring a collaborative, positive, trauma-informed, diverse, and inclusive environment. Kennard follows Hal Cato, who recently stepped down after a six-year period of enormous growth for Thistle Farms.

"Thistle Farms is a beacon of hope — an organization founded on healing and radical hospitality," says Kennard. "I feel a strong calling to this work as it weaves together my values, gifts, and experiences like a patchwork quilt — similar to the women entrepreneurs Thistle Farms supports in our community and across the globe. I'm grateful for the opportunity to support and expand our ability to serve, love, and champion women survivors by providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and lifelong sisterhood of support."

Scott Ryder has joined as Thistle Farms' first chief financial officer. The elevation in financial leadership was set in motion as the organization grew from $8.5 million to $12.6 million over the last 12 months. As CFO, Ryder will help steward the organization's investment in programs, sustainable growth, and overall impact. 

"Thistle Farms' mission is one that I believe in wholeheartedly," Ryder said. "As a mission interwoven with social enterprise, its model is uniquely structured to merge impact with economic opportunity for the women it serves. I am honored to help steward our finances as we step into the future." 

"I am filled with hope as I think about this new chapter for Thistle Farms. Both Tasha and Scott are uniquely qualified for leading Thistle Farms and are passionate about expanding our services for women survivors and increasing our presence nationally," said President Becca Stevens. "Our next chapter will be about creativity and scalable growth made possible by all the donors, volunteers, survivors, and allies that have nurtured us for 25 years."

Driven to serve the community, Kennard has led innovative solutions that simultaneously closed gaps for the underserved while lifting up entrepreneurs. As Executive Director of the Nashville Farmers' Market, Kennard led efforts to revitalize the 200-year-old beloved institution, including a $7 million renovation; establishment of small business incubation programs; and a statewide food-security program that doubled the buying power for EBT customers and secured $1 million in grant funding during the pandemic. Kennard has most recently served at Southall Farms, a farm resort and hospitality company, and has also served as Vice President of Marketing and Communications for Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee. 

Ryder's 25+ years of executive and finance leadership experience will be invaluable on both the nonprofit and social enterprise sides of the organization. Most recently, Ryder served as CFO of Casa de Amparo, an organization addressing child abuse and neglect in San Diego County and beyond. Ryder earned an M.B.A. from the Paul Merage School of Business at U.C. Irvine, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from University of Redlands. 

"On behalf of the Board, I am excited to welcome Tasha and Scott to Thistle Farms," said Parag Desai, Thistle Farms Board of Directors President and Genesco's SVP, Chief Strategy and Digital Officer. "Both Tasha and Scott bring deep and relevant experience and a commitment to culture and community which is closely aligned with Thistle Farms' values and strategy. As leaders, Tasha and Scott embody the spirit that underpins our mission to help women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction." 

The last three years have seen unprecedented growth for the organization. Fiscal support has poured in from customers, donors, wholesale accounts, corporate partnerships, and grants. The resulting cash flow has been reinvested into expansions on both the program and social enterprise sides of the organization — creating more opportunities for healing, housing, and employment for women survivors. 


Thistle Farms works with women survivors to overcome and heal from systems of prostitution and exploitation. The model provides housing, healing, and employment; a national network of more than 550 long-term free beds for women survivors; and a community of advocates who believe that love is the most powerful force for change in the world. For more information, visit

Amanda Clelland
Thistle Farms Sr. Media Relations & Communications Manager 
615.298.1140 x8

Source: Thistle Farms, Inc.