NATHAN AABERG joined the Liberty Prairie Foundation as the program director for Food, Farms, and Environment in 2014. Through his leadership role at the Foundation, Nathan works to advance land conservation and open space protection while also helping to build a resilient and sustainable food system in the Chicago region. Nathan brings to the Foundation expertise in conservation, land preservation, facilitation, strategic planning, education program development, and project management.
Prior to joining the Foundation, Nathan helped to lead Conserve Lake County in several roles, including as the director of development, the associate director, and the interim executive director. During his 10-year career at Conserve, Nathan helped the organization transform from a local conservancy into a major county-wide land trust, preserve over 440 acres of open space, play an invaluable leadership role in the Liberty Prairie Reserve, develop key advocacy positions that shaped the consensus for an innovative and environmentally-sensitive Illinois Route 53 Blue Ribbon Advisory Committee report, and more than double Conserve’s annual operating budget.
Nathan developed a career in the environmental field after a number of experiences, including volunteering for restoration workdays at the North Park Nature Center in Chicago. This led to his work as a grant writer and newsletter editor with Friends of the Chicago River, an urban river restoration group. Prior to Friends of the Chicago River, he worked for Mitsubishi International where, among other things, he managed the export of Winnebago motorhomes to Japan.
Nathan completed a BA degree in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a master’s degree in East Asian Studies from the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor. Nathan also lived in Japan for one year, studying at Nanzan University and living with a Japanese family. A favorite memory from that time was joining the family in harvesting rice from their nearby field.
A native of Chicago, Nathan and his family have lived in the Prairie Crossing conservation community in Grayslake since 2004. Nathan and Mayumi have two sons and one daughter. He enjoys playing soccer, reading, travel, and blogging on the intersection of faith and environmental issues.
Avery C. Anderson Sponholtz directing philanthropy for the Globetrotter Foundation and the #NoRegrets Initiative, NM
LORENA ANDRADE is the director of La Mujer Obrera, a local independent organization located in El Paso, Texas, dedicated to creating communities defined by women. Andrade began working for LMO in 1998 and became its director in 2011. Andrade helped organize the women displaced from the garment industry as a result of the implementation of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). As the organization grew Andrade collaborated with committees within the organization to identify, develop, and implement programs grounded in the history of women workers and Mexican indigenous heritage. She also participated in developing the social enterprise side of La Mujer Obrera, which includes: Rayito de Sol daycare center; Café Mayapan, a restaurant; and LumMetik Trading Co, which focuses on fair trade. The organization’s programing includes Familias Unidas, community organizing, Museo Maychen, a community garden, and annual cultural events.
ERIN AXELROD specializes in accelerating the spread of land-based businesses in the Next Economy. She does this through a range of initiatives including client work with LIFT Economy, where she is a partner, a regenerative agriculture investor network (RAIN), the Force for Good Fund and Restorative Ocean Economies and Building Resilient Communities Field-Building Initiatives. She also co-teaches an online 9-month Next Economy MBA program (www.lifteconomy.com/mba) geared towards empowering entrepreneurs with the skills and network to transform our economic systems towards the benefit of all life. She also lives at Land Restoration Project, Freestone Ranch, just outside of her hometown of Petaluma. When not working, she loves to forage wild mushrooms, huckleberries, elderberries and bay nuts to make nutrient dense foods for her friends.
Suzanne Babb co-director, Nourish Network For The Right To Food, WhyHunger, NY
SUZANNE BABB is a co-director of WhyHunger’s US Programs, supporting the capacity building of community based food access organizations through shared learning around the intersection of hunger, health and poverty. Through participation in local and national level strategic partnerships, Suzanne helps to create space and facilitate dialogue around the systemic inequities that cause hunger and poverty. Originally from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, Suzanne has many years of experience working on community development projects within the English-speaking Black community of Montreal on issues of education, employment and health. Prior to joining WhyHunger, Suzanne was the community outreach coordinator for the Get Healthy Harlem website at the Harlem Health Promotion Center. Suzanne is a member of Black Urban Growers, an organization of volunteers committed to building community support for urban and rural growers and nurturing collective Black leadership, and an urban farmer at La Finca del Sur Urban Farm, a Black and Latina women led farm, in the South Bronx. She holds a BS from Concordia University and an MPH from Columbia University.
STACEY BARBAS is a senior program officer on the Kresge Foundation’s health team. She is responsible for managing a portfolio of approximately $20 million that focuses on increasing health equity by addressing conditions that lead to poor health outcomes. Her portfolio includes grants that address healthy food systems that benefit low-income communities, and she is a lead staff person on Fresh, Local, and Equitable, a $12 million initiative with the Foundation’s arts and culture program that funds projects around the country that use food-oriented programs to contribute to economic revitalization, cultural expression, and health in urban low-income communities. Stacey’s professional career in the nonprofit health and human service fields spans thirty years. She joined the Kresge Foundation in January 2008 after serving for five years as executive director of the Michigan AIDS fund, a statewide nonprofit grantmaking organization. She received a master of science in administration and management from Central Michigan University. She serves on the steering committee of the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders and chairs the Policy Committee.
Sienna Baskin director, Anti-Trafficking Fund, NEO Philanthropy, MA
SIENNA BASKIN is director of the Anti-Trafficking Fund at NEO Philanthropy, currently funded by the Oak Foundation. Sienna’s role is to conduct due diligence and make grants to prevent human trafficking and aid its survivors in the United States; and develop and implement the strategic framework for the portfolio incorporating anti-trafficking, migration, labor rights, economic/social justice, and human rights concerns. Sienna oversees a capacity building program for grantees, collaborates on donor education events, and writes on human trafficking in supply chains, temporary guest workers, and sex workers rights. Her goal is to strengthen the anti-trafficking field, and engage a broad range of donors in field building and aligned grant making.
Before joining NEO Philanthropy, Sienna Baskin was managing director of the Urban Justice Center’s Sex Workers Project, where she worked for 9 years. While there she developed mission and strategy to protect the rights of victims of trafficking; acted as chief counsel in impact cases; managed human rights documentation research; and was a principal media spokesperson on the issue. She has served on the steering committees of local and national networks on human trafficking, including the New York State Bar Association’s Taskforce on Human Trafficking and the Freedom Network.
Sarah Bell program director, The 11th Hour Project, CA
SARAH BELL is program director for the Food & Agriculture program at The 11th Hour Project, a program of The Schmidt Family Foundation. She sits on the board of Pie Ranch in Pescadero, CA and is active in numerous funder affinity groups including SAFSF and Neighborhood Funders Group. With a B.A. in both English Literature and French from the University of Colorado, she is an enthusiastic supporter of permaculture and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons.
Lenore Beyer director of conservation programs, Kinship Foundation, IL
LENORE BEYER is the director of conservation programs at Kinship Foundation where she manages Food:Land:Opportunity, a multi-year initiative that looks to increase the supply of local food in the Chicago region, and supports the strategic planning for Kinship Conservation Fellows. Prior to joining Kinship, Lenore was the vice president of policy and planning at Openlands, a regional conservation land trust, where she planned and implemented Openlands’ policy and advocacy agenda and managed specific projects to protect land, water and natural resources. This included creation of the Hackmatack National Wildlife Refuge, integration of farmland protection with local food initiatives, and transforming Chicago schoolyards into greenspace. Lenore was previously the executive director of the Environmental Defenders of McHenry County, a citizen advocacy organization. She also served as president of the Illinois Environmental Council and on the Endangered Species Protection Board in Illinois. Lenore has a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois.
Marcus Briggs-Cloud co-director, Ekvn-Yefolecv, AL
VERONICA COPTIS joined the Center for Coalfield Justice (CCJ) staff in March 2013 as a community organizer and is now serving as the executive director. She grew up in western Greene County near the Bailey Mine Complex and currently lives in the eastern part of the county. Before joining the CCJ staff, Veronica served on the board of directors for CCJ and as an organizer with Mountain Watershed Association. She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from West Virginia University and is chapter chair for the Pennsylvania Chapter of Sierra Club. She enjoys hiking and geocaching at Ryerson State Park and other areas around Greene County with her husband and daughter. Image credit: Joshua Franzos
Denisse Córdova Montes practitioner in residence, Human Rights Clinic, University of Miami School of Law, FL
TIM CROSBY leads the Thread Fund, which focuses on investing multiple forms of capital to generate social and environmental returns alongside financial returns. Tim is coordinator of the Cascadia Foodshed Financing Project, participant in the Global Alliance for the Future of Food, founding board member of Partners for Rural Washington, and partner with Social Venture Partners. Tim’s previous positions include co-chair for the Sustainable Agriculture and Food System Funders, director of Slow Money Northwest, board chair for the Washington Sustainable Food and Farming Network, board chair and interim executive director for NW Sustainable Energy for Economic Development, and program officer and trustee for the Carolyn Foundation. He also has 15 years of experience as a professional photographer and graphic designer. Tim coached club soccer for 11 years and lives in Edmonds with his wife and two daughters. He holds an MBA in sustainable business from Pinchot University and a BA in anthropology from Kenyon College. Tim will talk fly fishing with anyone.
Betty Cruz founder and All for All project director, Change Agency, PA
Bridget Dobrowski joined the Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders in 2009 and has held many different roles and responsibilities during that time. She has a master’s in environmental science and management from the Bren School at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before grad school, her professional work experience included time with the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary; interning with the Sonoran Institute in Montana and the Environmental Defense Center in Santa Barbara; and working as a biological field technician for the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service in Montana, Idaho, and Utah. She grew up half in Montana and half in Ohio, giving her the perspective to confidently say she always wants to live in the West, without thinking everyone else should feel the same way.
In addition to her professional work with environmental and food system issues over the last 15 years, Bridget has a passion for theater, yoga – especially AcroYoga, building & fixing things, sewing, crocheting, cooking, and helping friends whenever she can.
Linda Jo Doctor program officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, MI
SARAH DOLL is the national director for Safer States, a highly successful strategic campaign that utilizes collective state and local action to secure policy protections and create pressure for market transformation and federal reforms to reduce the threat of harmful chemicals in our daily lives. She has over twenty years of experience managing successful environmental health campaigns. Prior to Safer States, Sarah worked for the Oregon Environmental Council, the City of Portland, and for Congressional Representative John Conyers Jr. on Capitol Hill.
Helen Dombalis senior director, Programs and Policy, National Farm to School Network, CO
FARHAD EBRAHIMI is the founder and chair of the Chorus Foundation, which works for a just transition to a regenerative economy in the United States. The Chorus Foundation supports communities on the front lines of the old, extractive economy to build new bases of political, economic, and cultural power for systemic change.
Through his work with Chorus, Farhad is most interested in the question of how philanthropy might play a role in putting itself out of business. Which is to say, how can the redistribution of consolidated wealth support the transition to a world in which such wealth is no longer extracted and consolidated in the first place? It is in this context that Chorus will be spending down its entire endowment by 2023.
Farhad’s family history has been defined by multiple cultures, nationalities, political revolutions, and refugee experiences. To say that his parents talked politics at home when he was growing up would be an understatement, and the experience of being a first-generation Iranian American throughout the 1980s had a profound impact on Farhad in ways that he’s still unpacking. These early experiences – combined with a lifelong love of punk and subversive art in general – have defined a political trajectory that’s informed both his personal and professional outlook.
Farhad serves on the boards of the Democracy Alliance and the Wildfire Project. He’s also a musician, a lover of film and literature, and a bicycle snob. He graduated from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2002 with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics with Computer Science, and he currently lives in Brooklyn.
MARA FLEISHMAN serves as the CEO of the Chef Ann Foundation (CAF), an organization founded in 2009 to focus on solutions to the school food crisis. After becoming involved in school food as a concerned parent, Mara served on the Chef Ann Foundation’s board of directors, and she later transitioned to executive director in March of 2013. Mara has nearly 20 years of experience working in natural products including 12 years with Whole Foods Market, where she served most recently as global director of partnerships. In addition to CAF, she has held board seats at The Growe Foundation, the Kitchen Community, and Naturally Boulder.
Allyson Frazier campaign research and development senior manager, American Heart Association, MA
CHRIS GEORGACAS is president and CEO of Goff Public, Inc., a public affairs and public relations firm. Over more than 35 years, his career has spanned national and state politics, government, media, business, philanthropy, and crisis management.
He leads Goff Public’s Native American practice, which has been working in Indian Country for 28 years successfully helping tribes protect their sovereignty and enterprises through strategic communications, government relations, litigation support, public opinion research and community relations.
Chris has served as managing consultant to the Shakopee Mdewakanton Sioux Community’s Seeds of Native Health campaign, a $10 million effort to improve Native nutrition and food access through grantmaking, sponsored research, and educational initiatives. He also manages the Native Farm Bill Coalition, an advocacy alliance of more than 170 member tribes, Native organizations, and allies working to achieve greater inclusion in and access to USDA programs for Native nations and producers.
Chris regularly advises members of Congress; was the campaign chairman and principal strategist for a successful gubernatorial campaign; co-chaired a bipartisan state legislative reform task force; and has served on the boards of significant civic, public health, arts, and educational organizations. He was recently elected to the board of the National Indian Gaming Association.
Before joining Goff Public in 1998, Chris served in a variety of political and policy positions, including state Republican chairman in Minnesota, senior aide to two United States senators, and founder of a think tank’s policy prescription project.
WILL GLAZIK is a second generation organic farmer and crop advisor from the town of Paxton, Illinois. Will was raised on a mixed row crop and livestock certified organic farm before he studied Crop Sciences at the University of Illinois. After graduation, Will went to work in agriculture retail sales prior to share-crop farming 640 acres. Currently, he is utilizing some no-till organic practices on his farm as well as consulting for organic row-crop transition farmers. Will is one of the co-founders of the IDEA Farm Network, which is a learning community for organic and conservation-minded farmers in the Midwest. He raises corn, soybeans, and wheat as well as specialty grains like open pollinated corn and wheat for brewers and distillers.
Lisa Anne Hamilton director, Climate and Energy Program, Center for International Environmental Law, DC
LISA ANNE HAMILTON is the director of the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) Energy & Climate program. She leads CIEL’s efforts to use the power of law to accelerate the transition away from fossil fuels, strengthen human rights in climate governance, and empower communities to assert and protect their own rights in the face of climate change.
Prior to joining CIEL, Lisa was a regulatory consultant whose work focused on leveraging the power of finance and securities laws to highlight climate risks and challenge investments in fossil fuel infrastructure. At the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA), she supported a team of energy markets and financial analysts advocating for fair and full disclosure in the energy, mining, and utilities sectors. Lisa also worked alongside stakeholders to develop recommendations for the just transition for communities with retiring electric generation units. She has supported a number of initiatives to encourage the financing of renewable energy projects including a collaboration with the Pace Climate and Energy Center to advocate for the most just and environmentally effective methods to meet the requirements of the Clean Energy Standard in New York State.ing
Malik Hamilton purchasing supervisor, Pittsburgh Public Schools, PA (invited)
JEN JACKSON manages the Toxics Reduction & Healthy Ecosystems Program at the San Francisco Department of the Environment. She and her team lead a variety of campaigns and programs and implement policies that reduce toxic pollution and improve environmental and public health, such as a first-in-the-nation reporting requirement for antibiotics use in meat and poultry production, an integrated pest management program, green purchasing program, an urban biodiversity program, and an extensive residential household hazardous waste disposal program. Prior to joining San Francisco in 2015, Jen worked in wastewater and stormwater pollution prevention for almost eight years in the public sector, and began her environmental career in the non-profit sector at Sierra Club and Save The Bay. Jen earned her master’s degree in Resource Management & Environmental Planning with a focus in water resources.
Christine H. James executive director, The John Merck Fund, MA
CHRISTINE H. JAMES is the executive director of The John Merck Fund. Christine came to The John Merck Fund in 2008 after 20+ years working for small, community-based human service and environmental nonprofit organizations in Maine and Massachusetts. She has a BA in art history from Bowdoin College and an MA in public policy from Tufts University’s Urban and Environmental Policy program. Just before coming to JMF, she was executive director of EarthWorks, a small urban greening organization based in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Her work in Maine included four years as executive director of an educational organic farm and two years working on clean energy and climate change issues. Before becoming executive director, she was JMF’s director of programs from 2008 to 2017, when she oversaw the foundation’s environmental grants programs: Clean Energy, Health and the Environment, and Regional Food Systems.
Saru Jayaraman president, ROC United and ROC Action; director, Food Labor Research Center, NY
SARU JAYARAMAN is the co-founder and president of the Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC United) and director of the Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley.
After 9/11, together with displaced World Trade Center workers, she co-founded ROC, which now
has more than 30,000 worker members, 500 employer partners, and 23,000 consumer members in a dozen states nationwide. Saru is a graduate of Yale Law School and the Harvard Kennedy School of Government. She was listed in CNN’s “Top 10 Visionary Women” recognized as a Champion of Change by the White House in 2014, and granted a James Beard Foundation Leadership Award in 2015.
In January 2018, she attended the Golden Globes as the guest of actor Amy Poehler, where she brought widespread attention to the issue of sexual harassment in the restaurant industry. Saru was one of eight women activists who attended the Globes as part of the #TimesUp initiative. Saru authored Behind the Kitchen Door (Cornell University Press, 2013), a national bestseller, and Forked: A New Standard for American Dining (Oxford University Press, 2016). She has appeared on CNN with Soledad O’Brien, Bill Moyers Journal on PBS, Melissa Harris Perry and UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, the Today Show, and NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams.
Anupama Joshi executive director, Blue Sky Funders Forum, NC
KENDRA KIMBIRAUSKAS serves as the Sustainable Agriculture Program Consultant for State Innovation Exchange (SiX). Kendra works with national staff at SiX as well as in-state and national partners to promote progressive agriculture policies across the country. Kendra brings nearly two decades of experience in agricultural policy and rural organizing to her role. She grew up on a Michigan dairy farm and recently served as chief executive officer for Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP). Kendra has experience working alongside citizen groups, environmental advocates, and sustainable agriculture organizations to shape ecologically-responsible farm and food policies at the state level. Kendra co-founded what is now Oregon’s most influential small farm advocacy organization, Friends of Family Farmers, and served as the group’s registered lobbyist for three legislative sessions. Kendra spent time working as an organizer with the Sierra Club in Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, and Oregon. She also worked as a grassroots organizer for the Illinois Stewardship Alliance and served as the program and communications director for the Oregon League of Conservation Voters. Kendra and her husband live and farm in Oregon where they raise beef cattle, hogs, goats, chickens and turkeys on pasture.
Jamese Kwele director of Food Equity, Ecotrust, OR (formerly with The Food Trust, PA)
ERIN MEYER is the founder and director of Basil’s Harvest. Erin’s passion is connecting chefs, health professionals, educators, and farmers in supporting how food is grown, prepared, and eaten through experiential education. As a dietitian and chef with a MS degree in sustainable food systems, Erin uses her previous experiences as a certified diabetes educator, food service entrepreneur, and an executive director of a nonprofit to lead the development and expansion of farm to institution food systems that emphasize equitable access to local regenerative foods, dietary shifts for community health, and environmental protection.
In addition to being a food systems entrepreneur, Erin loves to start the day on her yoga mat, cook for her daughters, be on her bike, watch all Oscar nominated films, and eat vine-ripened cherry tomatoes in the field.
Karla Miller program director, The Northwest Area Foundation, MN
LIZ MORAN STELK, executive director of Illinois Stewardship Alliance, is a veteran organizer with experience in sustainable agriculture policy and building powerful organizations. Liz previously served as a regional organizer with the Western Organization of Resource Councils (WORC) in Montana where she worked with farmers and ranchers in seven states on local, state, and federal food and agricultural policy. A year working on Crazy View Farm in Wilsall, Montana with her husband David dramatically shifted the focus of her career in organizing and managing field campaigns. While selling salad mix to Crazy View’s devout following at a small town farmers market, she was energized by the idea that if every person who shops at farmers market were organized, we could change the food system. Before the farm, Liz organized home healthcare and nursing home workers with SEIU Healthcare Illinois and managed the field operations for the successful campaign to abolish capital punishment in Illinois. Liz co-founded and serves on the steering committee of the National Healthy Soils Policy Network, helping revitalize the Midwest Sustainable Ag Working Group (SAWG), and is a partner in the Regenerate Illinois collaborative. Follow @lizziestelk on Twitter.
Rosanna Marie Neil policy counsel, Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, DC
LEAH PENNIMAN, co-director of Soul Fire Farm Institute, Inc (Li*/Ya/She/He), has over 20 years of experience as a soil steward and food sovereignty activist, having worked at the Food Project, Farm School, Many Hands Organic Farm, Youth Grow and with farmers internationally in Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico. Li co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2011 with the mission to reclaim our inherent right to belong to the earth and have agency in the food system as Black and Brown people. Ya’s areas of leadership at Soul Fire include farmer training, international solidarity, food justice organizing, writing, speaking, “making it rain,” and anything that involves heavy lifting, sweat, and soil. (*all gender pronoun in Haitian Kreyol)
Rhonda Perry program director, Missouri Rural Crisis Center, MO
CAROL PICKERING is an associate partner with Dietel & Partners. Carol works closely with all the Partners facilitating the development of strategies and program areas of interest to Dietel & Partners’ clients. She’s particularly knowledgeable about issues surrounding sustainable agriculture and food systems, fisheries, gun violence prevention, and archives.
Carol helps individuals and families find the connections between their philanthropic goals and the organizations and initiatives that work in alignment with those interests. She’s a reliable resource in asking and answering tough questions concerning portfolio strategy, policy and advocacy, and funder collaborations.
Her early career as a business journalist fueled her investigative skills. She was a reporter at The Writing Company in Portland, Maine and later joined the editorial boards of Forbes ASAP and Business 2.0 magazines as a staff writer. Her interests led her to join a start-up food company in 2006, where she developed an interest in Maine’s value-added food industry. She helped start the Maine Food Producers Alliance, a non-profit business association for Maine’s food producers.
Carol is an Executive Committee member of the Fund for a Safer Future, a Steering Committee member of the Chesapeake Bay Funders Network, and on the Board of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF).
She lives in Portland, Maine with her husband and two children, and is a proud member of the Sea Bags Women’s J/24 sailing team.
Dawn Plummer executive director, Pittsburgh Food Policy Council, PA
Tuesday, 6:00-9:00 pm: The Right to Food: Toward a Coordinated Reform of Food and Agriculture Biographical profile
DAWN PLUMMER is executive director of the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council. She has extensive experience serving as director, co-founder and coordinator of local, national and international networks, researcher, coalition builder, community organizer, fundraiser, event and program developer, and has worked for 19 years alongside leaders most impacted by critical issues of food, food systems, as well as economic, social and racial inequality.
Since 2014, Dawn has worked with her team to strengthen the Council as a regional mechanism for food systems decision-making, priority setting and cross sectoral collaboration that aims to build a just, equitable and sustainable food system. She has served in various leadership roles working on issues of poverty, food, sustainable agriculture, health, human rights and community development. Dawn has an MA from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York and a BA from the University of Pennsylvania.
Jenny Ramirez director of human resources, California Harvesters, Inc., CA
JENNY RAMIREZ is the director of human resources for California Harvesters Inc., an employee trust farm labor company in Bakersfield, California. Jenny brings over a decade of experience in human resources in California agriculture, as an HR manager and HR director for companies such as Nickel Family Farms and Sun Pacific Farming. She also worked as a senior HR consultant with Barrett Business Services, advising clients across industries on best practices. A native of Los Angeles, she holds an MBA with a focus in HR management from University of St. Mary’s in Leavenworth, Kansas and a certificate in Human Resources Management from UCLA. Jenny is passionate about using her position and training to improve working conditions for farm workers. Early in her business career she identified that the best way she could support workers was to be directly involved with setting policies and procedures, a role that she is reinventing at California Harvesters.
Urvashi Rangan chief science advisor, GRACE Communications Foundation, NY
URVASHI RANGAN has been a scientific investigator, policy decoder, spokesperson, and advocate on a wide range of food safety and sustainability issues for the last 20 years. She is chief science advisor for GRACE Communications Foundation, providing scientific and communications support for programs and partners. She also consults with food advocacy groups and other funders on food safety, labeling, and sustainability issues. She helped funders in Herd develop a consensus around grass-fed baseline principles and has been active in educating groups about organic plus regenerative systems. Before GRACE and consulting, she spent 17 years at Consumer Reports and led several scientific investigations on food and other products with toxic hazards.
Michael Roberts president and CEO, First Nations Development Institute, CO
MICHAEL ROBERTS returned to First Nations Development Institute in 2002, and was appointed president in 2005. He previously had served as chief operating officer for the organization until 1997. In the interim, Mike spent five years in private equity, including advising angel investors, working for a $500 million telecommunications fund and for an early-stage Midwest venture capital firm. Mike has worked at Alaska Native corporations and for local IRA councils.
Mike serves on the board of First Nations Development Institute and is chairman of the board of First Nations Oweesta Corporation. He is also the board treasurer of SAFSF, and serves on the Investment Committee for the Three Affiliated Tribes. His past service includes numerous board or advisory committee positions for Native and other organizations. Most recently, in 2018, he was appointed as a trustee of the $266 million Native American Agriculture Fund.
Mike holds an MBA degree from the University of Washington, and a bachelor’s degree in architecture through the environmental design school at the University of Colorado. In April 2016, he received the Asset Builder Champion (ABC) Award from the Center for Global Policy Solutions and the Insight Center for Community Economic Development.
JUDGE LAURA SAFER ESPINOZA is the executive director of the Fair Food Standards Council, which monitors and enforces the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ groundbreaking agreements with growers and food retail buyers to ensure fundamental human rights for farmworkers. The Fair Food Program has been recognized by the White House, the United Nations, Harvard Business Review, CNN International’s Freedom Project and numerous human rights organizations, as one of the most successful programs in the world today to uncover, eliminate and prevent modern-day slavery, sexual violence, and other systemic abuses.
Judge Safer Espinoza is a retired New York State Acting Supreme Court Justice who served for twenty years. She helped to design and became the first presiding judge of an innovative alternative to incarceration court for non-violent offenders.
Judge Safer Espinoza has an extensive history of work with government, human rights and legal organizations in the United States and Latin America. She has taught extensively in Latin America, in support of law reform and greater transparency.
Justice Safer Espinoza is a graduate of Barnard College and New York Law School. She is a recipient of the City University of New York’s Women in the Law Award and Encore’s ‘Purpose Prize’ Award.
Rev. Dr. Fatimah Salleh founder, A Certain Work, NC
ERIKA SCHREDER has worked on the Toxic-Free Future (TFF) staff since 1997 and leads our research program. Research topics have included testing flame retardants in air, tracing the path of toxic chemicals from the home to waterways, and biomonitoring pregnant women for BPA, phthalates, and other chemicals. In the past, she led TFF’s efforts to secure protections for salmon from pesticides and to advocate for organic and sustainable agriculture. She obtained an M.S. from the School of Natural Resources and Environment at the University of Michigan and a B.S. in molecular biology from MIT. Prior to joining the Toxic-Free Future staff, she worked as a stream and wetland ecologist.
Neelam Sharma executive director, Community Services Unlimited, Inc., CA
MEREDITH STORTON works on RSF Social Finance’s lending team evaluating prospective borrowers, strengthening existing relationships, and deploying capital from RSF’s food &agriculture lending portfolios and capital collaboratives. Prior to joining the lending team in 2015, Meredith spent two years working with RSF’s investor clients. She has a BA in economics and history from the University of Virginia and spent her first few years out of school as an AmeriCorps volunteer.
Hallie Templeton senior oceans campaigner, Friends of the Earth, CA
KOLU ZIGBI has worked as program director at the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation since 2000, where her values align with the Foundation’s emphasis on building the power of people—those who have been marginalized and most negatively impacted—to be actively involved in advancing solutions to the problems they face. She has managed grantmaking in the areas of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems and Sustainable New York City, and provides direct technical assistance, coordinates evaluations, and lifts the visibility of grassroots organizations serving communities and constituencies working at the front lines of the food system. Her work nurtured the discourse on food justice and supported the inclusion of food chain workers as critical change agents for food system transformation. Kolu has a track record of leading shared learning and impactful collaborations. She brought together private foundations through two innovative funding initiatives that provided multi-year funding to grassroots organizations engaged in organizing and advocacy and co-founded Community Food Funders (http://www.communityfoodfunders.org/). She also co-developed a food justice curriculum which she co-taught for five years at Farm School NYC.
Jen Zuckerman director of strategic initiatives, World Food Policy Center, Duke University, NC
JEN ZUCKERMAN joined the World Food Policy Center at Duke University as director of strategic initiatives in July 2017. The Center’s research, educational programming, conferences and policymaker outreach will focus on collaborative problem solving, an approach that is critical — and rare — in the food policy arena. Previously, Jen was with the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation as the director of strategic partnerships where she led the Foundation’s efforts to bring new partnerships and resources to North Carolina while lifting up outside of the state the strong work taking place within North Carolina. She also served for ten years as the Foundation’s senior program officer for Healthy Living, working on increasing access to safe active environments and on providing sources for healthy, locally sourced food with a strong focus on early childhood development and food systems. Jen previously worked at NC State University’s Recreation Resources Service, where she helped parks and recreation agencies across the state develop partnerships for the benefit of community health. Jen has also worked in a variety of North Carolina nonprofits, including the North Carolina High School Athletic Association, Special Olympics North Carolina, and North Carolina Amateur Sports. She currently serves as the vice-chair of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems Advisory Board and the co-chair of the National Institute of Medicine Early Childhood Innovation Collaborative. Jen has also served on the steering committee for the North Carolina Institute of Medicine Early Childhood Obesity Prevention Task Force and the Statewide Prevention Task Force. She earned her undergraduate and masters degrees from NC State University in parks, recreation, and tourism management.