GRATIENNE (SIENNA) BASKIN is director of NEO Philanthropy’s Anti-Trafficking Fund, with the support of the Oak Foundation. The Fund promotes a human rights response to human trafficking, funding interventions at many points along a continuum–from reducing vulnerabilities in key populations, to improving labor rights frameworks, to promoting safer and more informed migration, to identifying and offering support to victims, to protecting victims’ rights in law enforcement responses, to enabling survivors’ self-determination in their recovery. Sienna brings extensive senior level work in fighting for the rights of sex workers and survivors of trafficking. Baskin was managing director, and, before that, Equal Justice Works Fellow/staff attorney, for the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project. While there she developed mission and strategy to protect the rights of victims of trafficking; acted as chief counsel in legal cases; managed human rights documentation research; and was a principal media spokesperson on the issue. Prior to that she worked on reproductive health and criminal justice issues at the Philadelphia Woman’s Center, and she recently conducted research as a U.S. Fulbright Scholar on New Zealand’s decriminalization of prostitution. She holds an undergraduate degree from Hampshire College and a law degree from The City University of New York.
GARY D. BASS is executive director of the Bauman Foundation and affiliated professor at Georgetown University’s McCourt School of Public Policy where he teaches about social change and advocacy. Through the Bauman Foundation, he plays a leadership role in philanthropic circles on promoting a fair and accurate census, redistricting reforms, and other civic engagement issues, particularly those related to economic inequality and promoting government accountability.
Dr. Bass founded and for 28 years, until mid-2011, directed OMB Watch, a national research and advocacy organization. He has received various awards for his leadership in the nonprofit sector, has written numerous publications, serves on several nonprofit boards, and is a member of the Administrative Conference of the United States and a fellow with the National Academy of Public Administration.
Dr. Bass is known for his role in helping then-Senators Barack Obama and Tom Coburn write and get enacted a law mandating federal spending transparency; he also built a website required by the law that ultimately became USAspending.gov. He is also known for leading various initiatives to protect the advocacy voice of nonprofit organizations; stop balanced budget constitutional amendments; oppose rolling back health, safety, and environmental regulations; and create opportunities to protect and advance the public’s right to know.
Dr. Bass received his doctorate from the University of Michigan.
AMBER BELL Bell is program director for the Southwest Georgia Project. Amber is a graduate of Armstrong Atlantic State University and went on to receive a master’s in public health from the Jiann Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University. While at Georgia Southern, she served as research assistant and project coordinator of the CHANGES Project for the Rural Health Research Institute. Amber joined the SWGPs team in 2013 as project coordinator, and in 2015 she was selected as a 2015-2016 Maya Wiley Fellow. The Maya Wiley Fellowship program celebrates and supports grassroots leaders seeking to achieve racial equity through structurally transformative policy strategies and campaigns. Amber is a fellow in the Food Policy Leadership Institute at the George Washington University.
JILL BIRNBAUM is an advocate for nutrition, tobacco control, and health care reform policy who has worked at the federal, state, and local levels. She began her work locally in Minnesota, and now serves as the vice president of State Advocacy and Public Health at the American Heart Association (AHA). Her grassroots experience, combined with her national role, gives her unique insights into public health policy at all levels of government. Jill currently serves as the executive director of Voices for Healthy Kids, a unique advocacy collaboration between the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation working to engage, organize, and mobilize people to improve the health of their communities and reverse the childhood obesity epidemic. In addition, she serves as the principle investigator on two CDC-funded projects at the AHA: The Collaboration to Prevent Heart Disease and Stroke (DHDSP) and National Implementation and Dissemination/National Organizations (DCH).
HELENA BOTTEMILLER EVICH is a senior food and agriculture reporter for POLITICO Pro. Before joining POLITICO, Helena spent four years reporting on food politics and policy at Food Safety News, where she covered Congress, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Helena’s work has also appeared in the Columbia Journalism Review and on NBC News. Her reporting has taken her to the Louisiana coast during the Gulf oil spill, Arizona lettuce fields, North Carolina hog farms, and the occasional presidential turkey pardoning. A native of Washington state and an alumna of Claremont McKenna College, she now lives in Washington, DC, with her husband.
KENDAL CHAVEZ is the farm to school director at Farm to Table, a nonprofit based in Santa Fe, NM that focuses on food systems work at local, regional, and national levels through innovative and community-driven programs and partnerships. Kendal’s work is rooted in both program and policy, with a focus on capacity, coalition building and systems change. Before joining Farm to Table, Kendal served as a service member in the inaugural class of FoodCorps in 2011, and then the state fellow for the FoodCorps New Mexico program. She is a proud Chicana from the San Joaquin Valley of California, where farmland and orchards stretch as far as the eye can see.
VIRGINIA CLARKE is the executive director of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), an international network of grantmakers working to create networking, educational, and collaboration opportunities for the philanthropic community working to support vibrant, healthy, and just food and farm systems. She has worked with a variety of international education programs, including the University of California’s Education Abroad Program (2000 – 2002) and the Salzburg Seminar in Salzburg, Austria (1995 – 2000). Fluent in Spanish, Virginia has a Master’s in international administration from the School for International Training in Brattleboro, VT. In addition to her years in Austria, she has lived and worked in Spain, Bolivia, Mexico, and seven states in the U.S. Virginia is a TEDx Manhattan alumni (2014) and currently serves on the Advisory Committee of the Kresge Foundation’s Fresh Local and Equitable Initiative. She lives in Santa Barbara, CA and has two daughters.
SCOTT CULLEN is the executive director at GRACE Communications Foundation. He is also an environmental attorney and previously worked on coastal and marine conservation issues with The Nature Conservancy and on energy issues with various nonprofits. Scott has also served on several county, state and federal advisory committees and is a member of the board of directors of the Environmental Grantmakers Association and the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders Network, as well as the Vermont Law School Environmental Advisory Board.
STACY DEAN is the vice president for food assistance policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. She directs CBPP’s food assistance team, which publishes frequent reports on how federal nutrition programs affect families and communities and develops policies to improve them. Dean’s team also works closely with program administrators, policymakers, and nonprofit organizations to improve federal nutrition programs and provide eligible low-income families with easier access to benefits. She brings her deep programmatic and operational knowledge along with a strong strategic sense to help advance CBPP’s priorities. In addition to her work on federal nutrition programs, Dean directs CBPP efforts to integrate the delivery of health and human services programs at the state and local levels.
Dean has testified before Congress and spoken extensively to national and state nonprofit groups. She has been quoted in such publications as the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, and Politico, as well as the Associated Press. Dean joined CBPP in 1997 as a senior policy analyst working on national policy issues such as the federal budget, SNAP, and benefits for immigrants. Previously, as a budget analyst at the Office of Management and Budget, she worked on policy development, regulatory and legislative review, and budgetary process and execution for a variety of income support programs.
Dean earned her B.A. and master’s degree in public policy from the University of Michigan. She sits on the Board of Social Interest Solutions, a non-profit technology firm. You can follow her on Twitter @DeanCBPP.
COLBY DUREN, J.D. is the policy director and staff attorney for the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Based in Washington, DC, Colby has nearly ten years of experience in federal Indian law and policy, with a specific focus on food, agriculture, and natural resources issues. Before joining the Initiative, Colby served as a staff attorney and legislative counsel for the National Congress of American Indians (NCAI) in Washington, DC, advocating on behalf of Tribal Nations on land, natural resources, and agriculture issues, including the 2014 farm bill. Previously, he was a legal assistant for the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) Washington, DC office, and a paralegal and legislative assistant at a Washington, DC law firm specializing in food and agriculture, and represented Tribes on land reparation and agriculture issues.
Colby earned his law degree from the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, DC, and his bachelor of arts from Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. He is licensed to practice in Maryland, the District of Columbia, the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the Supreme Court of the United States. In 2016, Colby was nominated by the Native American Bar Association of Washington, DC for its Significant Contribution in Indian Law Award for his work on environmental issues in Indian Country.
AMBER EBARB is a program manager with the Policy Research Center at the National Congress of American Indians. She is Tlingit Indian from Alaska and belongs to the Raven Dog salmon clan (L’eeneidi). She works on data quality issues, tribal capacity building for data collection and analysis, as well as federal budget and policy analysis for NCAI’s legislative team. She has a master’s in public policy with a focus on budget and public finance from George Washington University.
ELLYN FERGUSON has covered Congress, agriculture, and related issues for nearly 30 years in some form or fashion. She joined CQ Roll Call as a policy reporter in 2009 after serving as a Washington-based regional reporter for Gannett-owned papers beyond the Beltway for nearly 20 years. Ellyn grew up mostly in the South and graduated from the University of Florida. Over the years, she worked for several papers in Florida, including the Miami Herald, before coming to Washington. As a child, she liked mythology because the multi-layered stories people spun sought to explain human nature and the way of the world; she thinks that was good preparation for covering Congress. To Ellyn, covering the federal legislative process is like peeling back the layers of grand and not-so-grand stories about policy, bills and people. She expects the saga of the 2018 farm bill to offer up many opportunities to explore food, business, and politics.
BARBARA GLENN joined the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA) as CEO in August 2014. NASDA is a nonpartisan, nonprofit association which represents the elected and appointed commissioners, secretaries, and directors of the departments of agriculture in all fifty states and four U.S. territories. Barb is a scientist with decades of experience as a policy researcher and advocate for agriculture. She previously served as senior vice president of Science and Regulatory Affairs for CropLife America, where she was responsible for developing policies and regulations to support agriculture through crop protection. Before joining CropLife America, she served as managing director of the Animal Biotechnology, Food and Agriculture Section of the Biotechnology Industry Association in Washington, DC. Barb holds a BS in animal science and a PhD in ruminant nutrition from the University of Kentucky. She previously worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service, and the Federation of Animal Science Societies. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska and raised in Centerville, Ohio, she developed a passion for agriculture from her parents and her involvement in 4-H. She lives on a small farm in Maryland with her husband and three children, and serves on various boards for farm bureau and 4-H.
JOSEPH GRADY, PhD is a cognitive linguist whose academic research and publications have focused on the role of metaphor in thought and communication. Before founding Topos Partnership, Grady taught linguistics at Georgetown University and the University of Maryland, and also spent a number of years as a consultant helping to analyze and develop brand names. He received his PhD from the University of California at Berkeley.
SARAH GREEN is the project manager for a Kansas Health Foundation initiative focused on improving health outcomes by improving Kansans’ access to clean, safe drinking water. She has experience in the private and public sectors communicating with broad, diverse audiences about public health and agriculture policy, particularly as it relates to local food systems.
MAGGIE GUNTHER OSBORN is chief strategy officer and senior vice president of United Philanthropy Forum. She joined the Forum in August 2016 after serving as president of the Connecticut Council for Philanthropy. Before joining the Council, Osborn served as vice president of the Florida Philanthropic Network, grant director for the Conn Memorial Foundation, vice president of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, and chief development officer for The Florida Aquarium following an early career in the designer fashion industry. MGO Partners, Osborn’s consulting firm from 1998-2013, provided training and capacity building support to the social purpose sector. Ms. Osborn holds a master’s degree in leadership and philanthropy from Antioch University and a BA from Notre Dame of Maryland University, where she was a Morrissy Scholar.
SARAH HACKNEY works with NSAC’s member organizations and allies to empower and mobilize grassroots food and farm voices nationwide. She staffs NSAC’s Grassroots Council and facilitates its work developing grassroots advocacy campaigns. Raised in rural Florida, her prior work has included community-led efforts to improve small farm viability, increase fresh food access, and build leadership in rural communities in the Pacific Northwest. She holds a B.A. in environmental studies from Dartmouth College.
SENATOR TOM HARKIN represented Iowa in the United States Congress for more than four decades. He served Iowa’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1975 to 1985 and was a U.S. Senator from 1985 to 2015.
Harkin’s legislative policy priorities have included federal farm policy, civil rights for Americans with disabilities, childhood nutrition and food access, healthcare access and reform, labor issues, and access to and improvement of education. His accomplishments include leading the effort that required school districts participating in the National Student Lunch program to establish School Wellness policies, requiring almost every school in America to have a plan to promote sound nutrition and physical activity. He played a leading role in authorizing and enacting the 2010 child nutrition bill, the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which included the most significant reforms of child nutrition programs in decades.
Senator Harkin also worked to ensure that individuals could easily access federal nutrition programs. The 2004 Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act, which Senator Harkin drafted, in concert with then-Agriculture Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, made it easier for children of modest means to receive school lunch and school breakfast benefits and provided migrant and homeless children with automatic eligibility for school meals. In the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, Senator Harkin built on this work by making it easier for school districts to serve free meals to all kids regardless of income or circumstance. Senator Harkin also authored the FDA Food Safety Modernization Act, the most sweeping reform of our food safety laws in more than 70 years, signed into law in January 2011.
Senator Harkin led efforts to increase Americans’ access to fresh produce and local foods by funding Community Food Projects, which provide flexible funds to address local food production and food insecurity, and by creating the Farmers Market Promotion Program, which supports the expansion of farmers markets across the country. In the 2008 farm bill, he secured $33 million in direct funding, the first time this type of funding was devoted to the expansion of farmers markets.
Tom Harkin was born in Cumming, Iowa (pop. 150) on November 19, 1939, the son of an Iowa coal miner father and a Slovenian immigrant mother. To this day, he still lives in the house in Cumming where he was born. In 1968, Tom married Ruth Raduenz, the daughter of a farmer and a school teacher from Minnesota. Tom and Ruth have two daughters, Amy and Jenny, and three grandchildren.
LESLIE HATFIELD is the senior partnership and outreach advisor at GRACE Communications Foundation, where she advises on communications matters and collaborates with like-minded organizations on the development and refinement of external communications. Leslie has contributed to The Huffington Post, EcoWatch, Alternet, Edible Hudson Valley, Acres USA and others, and served as lead author of the publication Cultivating the Web: High Tech Tools for the Sustainable Food Movement. Leslie earned her BA from The Evergreen State College, and her MA in public communication from American University. Every few years, she teaches a masters level food policy elective at The Evergreen State College. Leslie loves to travel but hates her carbon footprint.
PAMELA HESS has been with Arcadia Center for Food and Agriculture as executive director since March 2013. She came to Arcadia from journalism. A career national security journalist, Pam covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as the Pentagon and CIA with the Associated Press and United Press International. After a brief foray into national politics as a communications director on Capitol Hill, Pam returned to her first love: food and sustainable farms. In 2011, she took the helm of a local food and wine magazine that celebrated sustainable food and farming in the Capitol Foodshed, and in the course of it, met and fell in love with Arcadia. She brings to Arcadia a deep commitment to its mission, a large and expanding network of farmers and food advocates, and a great reputation within the sustainable food community.
CUONG P. HOANG is the director of programs at Mott Philanthropic, where he works across a range of issues, including climate justice and just transitions, democracy and civic engagement, tax policy, K-12 education, and arts and culture. He supports the work of the Chorus Foundation, among other philanthropic organizations across the United States. He serves as co-chair of the EDGE (Engaged Donors for Global Equity) Funders Alliance and is on the boards of the Alliance for Youth Organizing, Appalachia Funders Network (AFN), Funders Committee for Civic Participation (FCCP), and the Partnership Funds. He is also the immediate past chair of The Theater Offensive, the largest LGBT cultural organizing group in New England.
Cuong was born in Vietnam and graduated from Harvard University in 2001 with a bachelor’s degree in Russian Studies and East Asian Studies; his thesis examined the political economy of post-Socialist economic transitions. He also holds a certificate in Russian language from the Herzen State Pedagogical University of Russia in St. Petersburg.
JIM HOBART is a partner at Public Opinion Strategies, a national political and public affairs research firm. Described by The New York Times as “the leading Republican polling company” in the country, Public Opinion Strategies’ political clients include twelve U.S. senators, 59 members of Congress, seven governors, and numerous state legislators and local elected officials across the country. The firm is also part of the bipartisan research team that conducts the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
Over the past four election cycles, Jim has been a part of the polling team in some of the most competitive and important elections in the country and in 2013, he received the prestigious Rising Star Award from Campaign and Elections Magazine. Along with his political work, Jim also has a significant amount of corporate and public affairs polling experience; he has directed the research on projects for numerous Fortune 100 clients. Jim and his wife, Megan, live in Alexandria with their dog Riley.
FERD HOEFNER is the policy director for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC), and has been the group’s senior Washington, DC representative since its founding in 1988. NSAC is the leading voice for sustainable agriculture in the federal policy arena, joining together the voices of more than 100 grassroots farm, food, conservation, and rural organizations from all regions of the country to advocate for federal policies supporting the long-term economic and environmental sustainability of agriculture, natural resources, […]
and rural communities. Before his work with NSAC, Hoefner represented Interfaith Action for Economic Justice and its predecessor, the Interreligious Taskforce on U.S. Food Policy, on federal policy on farm, food, and international development issues for nearly a decade. He has also served as a policy consultant to Bread for the World, Center for Rural Affairs, Conference on Alternative State and Local Public Policies, Land Stewardship Project, Lutheran Office for Governmental Affairs, and U.S. Catholic Conference, among others.
ROBERT FARID KARIMI entertains and educates with 25 years of experience as a community engagement specialist and comedic storyteller. Working for corporate clients like HBO, General Mills, and the Kresge Foundation, he brings food, comedy, and interactive storytelling to events as small as 25 as large as 5000+. With his background as a producer/writer of his own comedy cooking show and veteran of stages all over the world, he knows how to bring home issues that inspire audiences and even spark innovation in organizations globally. He facilitates staff and board retreats, serves as keynote speaker for organizations worldwide, and creates interactive food experiences for corporate and nonprofit clients with his critically acclaimed wit and warmth.
Karimi tours the planet as producer/director, performance trickster, and speaker on issues as mixed as race/consciousness, food politics, and the power of the Fool to change the world. He works with everyday people in cities, companies, and health centers on making healthy messaging delicious using comedy, culture, and food with his culinary cultural engagement project: ThePeoplesCook Project. And, he currently designs interactive games and experiences that engage players to share stories and discuss social issues that concern the various communities he visits.
His next project, Champion Swimmer, a Knight Cities Challenge Winner, focuses on how culture shapes our fear of water with a pool-based performance piece to bring cultural history and humor back to the conversation about why communities of color don’t swim and create a world where those that fear the pool can find joy and transcend their fear/trauma. For more, go to www.KaRRRimi.com.
FRANK JAMES has been Dakota Rural Action’s staff director since 2006. Frank has experience building organizations, training staff and members, building coalitions and developing grassroots strategies. He began organizing in the late 1990s with DRA. Since then he’s been the staff director at the Idaho Rural Council and a regional organizer with the Western Organization of Resource Councils. Frank was raised on a South Dakota family farm in Day County and farmed with his family for four years before returning to Dakota Rural Action. He is married to Kim and they live in Toronto, SD. Together Kim and Frank have built a small local foods farm called Foodtopia Farms. They specialize in a jalapeno jelly which is sold through a local restaurant and food stores and supermarkets in eastern South Dakota.
CHRISTINA JIMÉNEZ MORETA is executive director and co-founder of United We Dream (UWD), the largest immigrant youth-led organization in the country. Growing up, Cristina always knew she was undocumented. Originally from Quito, Ecuador, Cristina came to the United States at age 13. Her parents risked everything and fled poverty to give her family a better life here. She grew up in Queens, New York, a place she still proudly calls home. As an undocumented young person, Cristina and her family experienced poverty, abuse by police, wage theft from employers and fear of deportation. From a young age, Cristina made a decision to fight back against unjust practices that plagued people of color and the immigrant community.
Cristina’s work has helped change the national conversation on immigration and create a new youth-led model of social justice organizing and movement building. Cristina was instrumental in organizing the successful national campaign that led to the creation and implementation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival Program (DACA) under President Obama. Under Cristina’s leadership, UWD has grown to a powerful network of 48 affiliates in 26 states and over 400,000 members. The organization has supported and trained tens of thousands of immigrant youth leaders to find and express their voice, and inspired millions.
In October 2017, Cristina was awarded a MacArthur Foundation fellowship, also known as a “genius grant,” one of the highest and most prestigious honors that creative leaders can receive in the United States. Cristina has received several other high-profile awards and honors while leading UWD. In 2014, she was named to Forbes’s “30 under 30 in Law and Policy;” She has also been named one of “40 under 40 Young Leaders Who are Solving Problems of Today and Tomorrow” by the Chronicle of Philanthropy; and one of “50 Fearless Women” by Cosmopolitan.
Prior to work at UWD, Cristina co-founded the New York State Youth Leadership Council, and the Dream Mentorship Program at Queens College. She also worked as an immigration policy analyst for the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy and an immigrant rights organizer at Make the Road New York. Cristina holds a master’s degree in public administration and public policy from the School of Public of Affairs at Baruch College, CUNY and graduated cum laude with a B.A. in political science and business from Queens College, CUNY.
NAVINA KHANNA is the director of the HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance, a national multi-sector, multi-racial coalition of food and farm justice organizations. She’s worked as an educator, community organizer, and policy advocate toward justice through transforming agri-food systems. Based in Oakland, Navina serves on the board of Richmond’s Urban Tilth and organizes with #Asians4BlackLives. She is a fellow at Movement Strategy Center, and in 2014, her work was recognized with a James Beard Leadership Award. Navina holds an MS in international agricultural development from UCDavis, where she co-developed the first undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university. A first-generation South Asian American, Navina’s worldview is shaped by growing up – and growing food – in India and the U.S.
MEREDITH LATHBURY GIRARD joined the Town Creek Foundation as the senior program officer in October 2011. Meredith leads the foundation’s Chesapeake Bay restoration and food system reform work. Town Creek Foundation currently is co-chair of the Washington Regional Food Funders and Meredith is a past co-chair of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network (2014-2016). She has a background in Chesapeake Bay environmental issues in both the government and nonprofit sectors. Meredith joined Town Creek Foundation after serving as director of Land Acquisition and Planning for the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, which administers Maryland’s nationally recognized land conservation effort known as Program Open Space. She earned a BA in economics from Penn State University, and a JD and master’s in environmental law from Vermont Law School. Meredith is a member of the Maryland and Federal bar.
DENA LEIBMAN is the executive director of Future Harvest, the Chesapeake Alliance for Sustainable Agriculture. For nearly 20 years, she has worked for conservation and sustainable agriculture organizations. Starting as a park ranger and wildlife biologist, she decided she would rather write about nature than research it. After receiving her master’s in journalism, she began working for environmental and sustainable agriculture organizations, first producing publications and then growing into managerial jobs overseeing website development, social media, press outreach, and the gamut of social media tools. Dena is most proud, however, of her and her family’s latest endeavor: ZigBone Farm Retreat, a 100-acre sheep and goat farm and agritourism enterprise in Maryland’s Catoctin Mountains.
JOE MAXWELL grew up on a family farm in Missouri. Joe has served his state as a state representative, state senator, and Lt. Governor. Joe began his political career as a campaign staffer for several legislative and statewide races. He successfully defeated the so-called “Right to Farm” in Oklahoma, an effort by multi-national corporations to gain fundamental constitutional rights so they could exhibit their power over family farmers and destroy the rural way of life. As a legislator, he passed many bills that supported value-added agriculture projects and programs for family farmers and their traditional animal husbandry practices while working against large-scale, multi-national industrialized farms. He and his brother Steve raise humanely certified pigs under the Global Animal Partnership 5-step program.
Today, as the executive director of the Organization for Competitive Markets, Maxwell works every day to fight to keep markets open for family farmers and independent ranchers. His experience has set him on a course to break the lock industrial agriculture has on almost three quarters of a billion dollars of federal funds known as the checkoff programs. He knows that for any person or organization to have any chance at legislatively advancing independent family farm agriculture, our opponents can’t be allowed to use our tax dollars to build their influence to work against these measures.
CAROLYN MUGAR was handpicked by Willie Nelson to serve as the executive director at Farm Aid when he raised close to $7 million during the first Farm Aid concert in 1985. Before coming to Farm Aid, Carolyn was an activist for many years, working on many social issues including labor, environment, toxics, literacy, and community empowerment. Being half-Armenian, Carolyn started a reforestation project in Armenia. In her “spare” time, she serves on a variety of nonprofit boards, and is constantly finding new hobbies.
SAM MUNGER is director of strategic engagement and senior advisor at SiX. He began his political career while he was still in high school as a volunteer on the 1992 Clinton campaign, and has been working in the fields of public policy and politics ever since. Sam’s previous experience includes working as an analyst for a prominent Democratic polling firm, as a legislative researcher for a national consumer advocacy watchdog, and as a researcher for The Nation magazine, as well as working for John Kerry’s 2004 Presidential campaign, where he ran the campaign’s overnight tracking and other research. Before joining SiX, he was a founding member and head of outreach for the American Legislative and Issue Campaign Exchange (ALICE), a project to develop an online library of model and exemplary laws and provide legislative research support to state legislators. From 2008 to 2014, he was managing director of the Center for State Innovation (CSI), which provided policy resources and technical assistance to governors and state and local policymakers. Sam has presented on public policy topics for a wide range of audiences and written for publications including Campaigns and Elections, The Nation, and the Newsletter of the National Center for Children in Poverty. He holds a JD from NYU School of Law and clerked for two years in the Southern District of New York. Sam currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his lovely wife and two highly energetic children, and in his spare time enjoys hiking, biking, writing about and playing Ultimate Frisbee, and drinking local beer.
ABBIE NISSENSON officially joined the SAFSF staff in January 2014, after having completed several projects for SAFSF as a consultant since 2011. She currently serves as the staff lead on SAFSF’s policy programming, working closely with the funder planning committee to develop the annual Policy Briefing conference and policy-themed funder learning webinars. She received her Master’s in Public Policy and Management from the Heinz School at Carnegie Mellon University. It was while living in Pittsburgh that Abbie first got her hands dirty with urban agriculture, spending time volunteering on an organic farm in the Morningside neighborhood. Abbie received her B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Abbie’s previous job experience includes several years as a Program Director for The Junior State of America, a nonprofit, nonpartisan, civic education organization for high school students. As a GIS analyst for a Pittsburgh-based nonprofit consulting firm, she used mapping technology to help community-development and arts organizations understand their demographics and impacts. During a summer internship with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Abbie researched biodiversity-preservation project proposals and helped run the UNAIDS Red Ribbon Community Dialogue Space at the AIDS 2006 international conference.
Abbie lives in Santa Barbara with her husband—an industrial ecology researcher at UCSB—and their young daughter. She delights in hitting the local farmers’ markets, cooking, camping, and making bad puns.
ERIK D. OLSON currently directs NRDC’s advocacy initiatives on health, food, and agriculture, including campaigns on drinking water protection, toxins in products and the environment, pesticides, food additives, antibiotics, and efforts related to agriculture and climate change. He has more than 30 years of experience working at the intersection of public policy and consumer advocacy. For 15 years, he worked as a senior attorney at NRDC and as the director of its Advocacy Center and Public Health program before leaving to serve as general counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. Later, he oversaw food safety and other food-related work at The Pew Charitable Trusts; he rejoined NRDC in 2013. Olson’s work has led to the first major overhaul of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s food safety laws in more than 70 years, as well as revamped laws protecting the nation’s drinking water and food supply from pesticides. He holds degrees from Columbia University and the University of Virginia School of Law. He is based in Washington, D.C.
KAVITA PATEL was born and raised in Texas and after studying computer science decided to pursue a career in food. For the last 13 years, she has been with Whole Foods Market, working in marketing, technology and now as the local coordinator for the Mid-Atlantic Region. As the local coordinator – her dream job – she spends her time seeking out the best producers, farmers and makers in the area of southern New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, DC, Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky.
SHANON PHILLIPS is the Water Quality Division director for the Oklahoma Conservation Commission (OCC). She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from Kansas State University and her masters’ in zoology from Oklahoma State University, studying nutrient impacts in lakes. She has been working on water quality protection programs in Oklahoma State government since 1995. Her agency is the lead agency for nonpoint source water pollution. Much of the OCC’s work focuses on collaboration with conservation districts to help agricultural producers protect water quality and improve soil health. The OCC’s water quality programs have been recognized nationally for efficiency, innovation, leadership, and success.
LORETTE PICCIANO is executive director of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, a Washington, DC-based alliance of more than 70 culturally diverse community based organizations representing small producers and farmworkers in the US and Mexico, since 1992. RC promotes just and sustainable development in rural areas. Lorette is participating in her eighth farm bill debate. In the 2008 farm bill debate, Lorette coordinated Farm and Food Policy Diversity Initiative, a collaboration of almost a dozen organizations representing socially disadvantaged producers and farmworkers in a unified effort to assure equal access to USDA programs by farmers, ranchers, and farmworkers. As a result of the initiative, more than 30 sections of new policy were included in the farm bill to benefit socially disadvantaged producers. One success of RC’s efforts was the approval of the pilot project to fund high tunnels as a conservation practice under the EQIP program. Lorette has helped initiate and coordinate the “Getting Our Act Together (GOAT)” network, which has been meeting since the 2014 farm bill process.
CAROL PICKERING joined Dietel Partners in 2009 after a career path that took her through business and technology journalism and food businesses. Carol is responsible for various client program areas, working most closely with Tory Dietel Hopps and Ren Dietel. Carol started her career as a business reporter at The Writing Company in Portland, ME in 1995 and later joined the editorial boards of Forbes ASAP and Business 2.0 magazines as staff writer. In 2001, Carol left the world of technology journalism to join a startup food company. After selling the business in 2006, she joined another food business that closed its doors in 2009. During this time, Carol became active in Maine’s value-added food industry, where she helped start the Maine Food Producers Alliance, a nonprofit business association for Maine’s food producers. Carol joined Dietel Partners in 2009 as a program assistant, and is currently a program officer in the Maine office. She is a trustee of the Pickering Foundation in Salem, MA, a foundation dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the Pickering House and family. Carol is a graduate of the University of Puget Sound and Holderness School. She lives in Portland, ME with her husband and two children.
STEVEN K. REVICZKY was named the 19th commissioner of agriculture by Governor Dannel P. Malloy in January 2011, and reappointed by the governor in 2015. In his time leading the agency, Commissioner Reviczky has focused on opportunities to create jobs and strengthen the state’s agricultural economy. As commissioner, he has led the Governor’s Council for Agricultural Development, farmland protection efforts, and legislative agendas that grow Connecticut farms.
In addition to leading the Connecticut Department of Agriculture, Commissioner Reviczky has been recognized for his advocacy and expertise by his peers from departments of agriculture across the country. He was elected president of the Northeast Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NEASDA) and served in that post in 2014 and 2015. He serves as president of Food Export USA – Northeast, a nonprofit organization that promotes the export of food and agricultural products from the Northeast region of the United States.
On September 14, 2017, Commissioner Reviczky was elected president of the National Association of State Departments of Agriculture (NASDA), a leading policy advocacy group representing agriculture at the federal level, and is at the helm as Congress crafts the next farm bill. This is the first time a Connecticut commissioner has led the organization in its 100-year history. As president, he heads NASDA’s board of directors. The organization seeks to grow agriculture by forging partnerships and creating consensus to achieve sound policy outcomes between state departments of agriculture, the federal government and stakeholders.
Steve is a Connecticut native and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in public policy and government from Eastern Connecticut State University. From 2006 until his 2011 appointment as commissioner, he served as the executive director of the Connecticut Farm Bureau Association. From 1998 to 2006, Steve was a property agent with the Connecticut Department of Agriculture’s Farmland Preservation Program.
Prior, he served for nine years in various capacities at the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, and worked for five years at the state Capitol as a special legislative assistant to the secretary of the Office of Policy and Management, clerk of the Public Safety Committee, and assistant clerk of the Education Committee. In 1985, while still a student at the University of Connecticut, he was elected Ashford’s first selectman, becoming one of the youngest chief elected officials in the state.
QUINTON ROBINSON is policy advocate for the National Family Farm Coalition, a Washington, a DC-based coalition of 26 local, state, and regional membership organizations representing small and mid-sized farmers. NFFC challenges existing farm, food, trade, and rural economic policy with policy alternatives that ensure that family farmers receive a fair price for what they produce and have access to the credit and land they need to remain in business; support new programs and policies that capture a greater share of agricultural profits in rural communities; reduce agribusiness corporations’ increasing control of the food system; and increase the effectiveness and capacity of its member groups. Quinton served for six years in the House of Representatives as legislative staffer to several members and for almost four years with the Committee on Agriculture before assuming the role of agriculture policy advisor with the Rural Coalition, which he held for six years. He has written policy position papers and drafted floor statements and legislative language, including some for the 2002 and 2008 farm bills in areas of civil rights, forestry, fisheries, food and nutrition, and land grant research and education. A licensed attorney, he was also responsible for drafting contracts and agreements and for informing members of Congress on federal laws and legislation impacting small farmers and ranchers.
SARA RUMMEL is the Animal Agriculture Reform Collaborative’s (AARC) key connector, organizing leaders from a wide-range of perspectives around a shared vision, and architecting the collaborative platform where members work together to develop campaigns and strategy, share knowledge and learn from each other, and weave a network of genuine trust-based relationships. Her leadership with AARC grows out of her previous work in advocacy in the labor and environmental movements, where she organized formal and informal coalitions on a variety of environmental, health, and economic justice issues. As the legislative director for the Service Employees’ International Union (SEIU) Minnesota State Council, Sara organized formal and informal coalitions to successfully win health care policy reform at the state level, and connected environmental leaders into the campaign for good and green jobs for janitors. At Clean Water Action Alliance of Minnesota, she organized voter education to help elect environmental champions, and supported coalition work on a range of issues from climate change and renewable energy to increased funding for water protection and toxic chemical policy reform. She holds an MPA in environmental science and policy from Columbia University, and a BA from Mount Holyoke College.<
ARYAH SOMERS LANDSBERGER, director of programs for Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugeees, is responsible for developing programs and information resources. She joined GCIR in February 2016. Aryah has more than 12 years of experience with immigrant and refugee issues. She served as director of advocacy at KIND, championing administrative and legislative protections for unaccompanied children. While a consultant, she co-authored UNHCR’s “Children on the Run” report on the root causes of migration of unaccompanied children from Central America and Mexico to the U.S. As a Fulbright Scholar in Guatemala, she researched safe repatriation and reintegration of children removed from the U.S. to Guatemala. Aryah has also represented hundreds of children in immigration removal proceedings as a children’s attorney in New York at The Door and in Arizona at the Florence Project. Internationally, she worked in Egypt and Ecuador advocating for refugee children. She has published law journal articles, practice advisories, white papers, statements, and talking points. Aryah earned a JD from Georgetown University Law Center, an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University, and a BA in international affairs from George Washington University. Aryah loves spending time with her family, outdoor walks, and trying out all kinds of amazing cuisine.
U.S. SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW is the senior senator from Michigan and serves as the ranking member of the Senate Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee. She is also a senior member of the Senate Finance Committee, Energy Committee, and Budget Committee, and co-chairs the bipartisan Senate Great Lakes Task Force and the Senate Manufacturing Caucus.
Senator Stabenow has long been a champion for sustainable agriculture in her home state of Michigan and all across the country. She has consistently served on Agriculture Committees throughout her career in the state legislature, U.S. House, and U.S. Senate. As chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, she worked alongside a broad coalition of food, farm, nutrition, and conservation stakeholders to author the 2014 Farm Bill. The bipartisan law recognizes the diversity of American agriculture and made historic investments in local food systems, specialty crops, organics, and the conservation of land and water.
As Congress begins to write the next Farm Bill, Senator Stabenow will continue to fight for a more sustainable food system and look for new ways to continue to encourage innovation in local food and urban agriculture.
DANA STEIN is a member of the Maryland House of Delegates and represents District 11 in Baltimore County. He was first elected to the House in 2006 and is vice-chair of the environment and transportation committee and chair of the natural resources and agriculture subcommittee. He also chairs the education subcommittee of the Baltimore County delegation and co-chairs the State’s financial education and capability commission. Dana also is the executive director and founder of Civic Works, a nationally-recognized “urban Peace Corps” that transforms the lives of young adults through community service. Participants rehab homes, build parks and gardens, tutor and mentor students, make improvements in the homes of senior citizens, and grow fresh produce at an urban farm. Civic Works also operates a high school in Baltimore City and is based in the historic Clifton Mansion. Before establishing Civic Works, Dana practiced law for several years at Squire, Sanders & Dempsey in Washington, D.C. He has a BA in government from Harvard University, a law degree from Columbia Law School, and a master’s in public affairs from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University. Dana is an adjunct professor at the University of Baltimore and is the author of the novel Fire in the Wind (Tate Publishing: 2010), which imagines a future in which significant climate change has set in.
STEPHANIE TAMA-SWEET serves as the senior foundation relations advisor for advocacy for the American Heart Association. In this role she manages foundation relations for the Association on matters related to public policy advocacy. Previously she served as a campaign manager with Voices for Healthy Kids, a joint initiative of the American Heart Association and Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, committed to helping all children grow up at a healthy weight. In this role she provided direct policy and campaign consultation to funded and unfunded coalitions working on advocacy campaigns across the country. Stephanie has over a decade of experience in government relations and advocacy work and has lobbied on a number of health and human services issues including social determinants of health, school health policies, health reform, food systems and food security, and issues of public health. In addition to public policy work, Stephanie has worked as a community organizer, managed local electoral campaigns, and served as the executive director of a small faith-based nonprofit organization. Stephanie holds an MA degree from Biola University and undergraduate degrees from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In her free time she enjoys exploring the Pacific Northwest with her husband and three young children.