A conversation with Jennifer Walden Weprin: Reflecting on a transformative 5 years at the Queens County Farm Museum

Jennifer Walden Weprin served as Executive Director of Queens County Farm
Photo courtesy of Jennifer Walden Weprin

Jennifer Walden Weprin, who served as the executive director of Queens County Farm Museum (QCFM) from October 2018 to December 2023, said that her 5-year tenure with the organization included multiple achievements such as helping the farm incorporate additional land and guiding it through COVID-19.

Weprin, who is married to former assembly member and council member Mark Weprin, came to the position in 2018 with a background in public service. For instance, she worked as the Director of Cultural Affairs and Tourism for then-Borough President Melinda Katz for two years prior to taking the top position at the farm. She was recruited from Borough Hall by the late state Sen. Frank Padavan.

In an interview with QNS, Weprin expressed immense pride in her accomplishments while working at the farm museum and thanked her team for helping them come to fruition.

“I just concluded, as you know, five years with the organization, and it really was an incredible five years. The team and I accomplished so many great things. There’s such a great energy there, and I’m really proud of the work that we’ve done,” Weprin remarked.

She described her tenure as an incredible journey marked by unity and purpose within the organization.

One of the crowning achievements during her leadership was the addition of 1.6 acres of historically significant land into the museum’s fold.

“Can you add any acreage back to a farm in the very densely developed and continually to be developed city? And that really was the brainchild of both the governor’s office and also at the time Council Member Barry Grodenchik,” Weprin explained.

This expansion, part of the farm’s historical footprint dating back to 1697, supported the organization’s mission to cultivate food for the benefit of New Yorkers. The expansion enhancing the farm’s status as a 47-acre historic landmark.

Maize Maze at Queens County Farm (Photo: Queens County Farm)

Weprin also said she helped expand the farm’s partnerships, thereby advancing the organization’s objectives. Furthermore, she and her team played a role in bringing money into the organization.

“Challenges as an executive director are universal, of course, across cultural organizations. Obviously, our challenges are always as a nonprofit, you know, how are you raising more money? Who are your partners? How can you build on that work?” she said.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Weprin steered the organization through the crisis with a focus on virtual programming. “We increased public programs, despite the pandemic business interruptions, and that really is a credit to my team and the organization,” she stated.

Notably, public programs saw a 50% increase from fiscal year 2019 to fiscal year 2023, showcasing her team’s resilience and adaptability in response to the pandemic-induced disruptions.

Weprin highlighted the farm’s significance to the local community, emphasizing its role as a local resource. During the pandemic, it served as a haven for New Yorkers, providing a safe outdoor environment for work, relaxation, and reconnecting with nature.

She also spoke highly about the partnerships that contributed to the success of QCFM—such as with Northwell Health, the Jamaica Hospital Medical Center and the Borough President’s office, all crucial to improving the health and wellness of the farm visitors.

Weprin expressed her deep appreciation for her dedicated team and cherished the opportunity to work alongside many talented individuals. “I think my favorite thing is my team. I have an incredible team, and because of that team, and working together, you know, including staff, volunteers, the Board of Directors, we were able to do so much incredible work together,” she shared.

She also singled out the Thunderbird American Indian Powwow as a favorite program, citing its spiritual and historical significance. “Dancing around this giant bonfire at dusk. It’s beautiful.”

Thunderbird American Indian Powwow event held at Queens County Farm (Photo provided by: Jennifer Walden Weprin)

Weprin did not disclose what she plans to do next in terms of her career but conveyed excitement as to her journey ahead. She gave thanks to the Queens community for its warm sentiments and said she is committed to making a positive impact moving forward.

“I’m very excited about what the future will have for me,” she said.