Szabella Pasztor is an Emerging Leader finalist. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Szabella Pasztor is an Emerging Leader finalist. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Szabella Pasztor: Change begins at a grassroots level

As development director at Farmer Frog, Pasztor supports social justice, equity and community empowerment.

This is one of 12 finalists for The Herald Business Journal’s annual Emerging Leaders awards for 2024. The winner will be named at an event on April 17.

Szabella Pasztor, 31

Director of Advocacy and Development, Farmer Frog

In the late 1980s, Szabella “Szabi” Pasztor’s parents left an Austrian refugee camp with nothing on their backs but “toys for my older sister, a guitar and a fishing pole for my dad because he had to play music and fish,” and immigrated to the United States, Pasztor said.

In 2009, Pasztor’s parents founded Farmer Frog, an emergency food distribution network.

The nonprofit began as food garden at a South Everett school. Today, it supports more than a dozen school gardens, offering hands-on learning and other programs.

Each month, it distributes several hundred thousand pounds of food to families in need.

Pasztor serves as the group’s advocacy and development director.

“Throughout my life, I’ve embraced every opportunity to give back, guided by the belief that positive change begins at the grassroots level,” Pasztor said. “As a transwoman fortunate to have gender-affirming care and a loving support network, I am passionate about LGBTQIA+ rights. I support trans folks with medicine, resources, mentorship, networking,” she wrote.

“Szabella has a strong work ethic and has been making a difference for the past 14 years with Farmer Frog and is now taking action to run for the Washington state senate,” a nominator wrote.

Pasztor is currently running for state representative in the 1st district, which includes Brier and Bothell and most of Mountlake Terrace.

Farmer Frog recently relocated to rural Snohomish, where they continue to farm, raise livestock, distribute food to the community, hold educational programs, train emergency preparedness, protect and monitor wildlife, and create art, Pasztor said.

“I have supported expanding farming rights and capacity in Snohomish County for our future generations, provided human services and training to those in need, and promoted economic development, growth and easier access in our communities,” Pasztor said.

She serves as volunteer major, chief of staff and acting controller for the United States Volunteer Joint Services Command 10the Regional Command, which oversees Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Alaska. The nonprofit supports veterans in need, provides Military Funeral Honors to deceased veterans and offers assistance during natural disasters.

“My contributions to Snohomish County reflect my unwavering commitment to social justice, equity and community empowerment,” Pasztor said. “By actively engaging with and supporting organizations, events and causes that promote these values, I strive to create a more inclusive, compassionate and vibrant community for all residents of Snohomish County.”

Janice Podsada: 425-339-3097;; Twitter: @JanicePods.

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