2020 NGFN Conference Speakers
Looking Back and Looking Forward: Welcome to NGFN 2020!
- Moderator: John Fisk, Wallace Center – John Fisk is the Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the Wallace Center at Winrock International. After 13 years as Director of the Wallace Center, John has taken this new role to support the growth and diversification of the Center. Under his leadership the Wallace Center has emerged as an innovative and national force in the development regional food systems that foster health, wealth and connection in communities across the country. John has over 25 years of experience in sustainable food and agricultural systems development, with training and application in research, program design, project management, philanthropy and evaluation. Prior to the Wallace Center, John supported the work of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation by helping to develop and implement programs that facilitated growth in healthy and sustainable food and agriculture systems nationally. He has served on the board of the of Michigan Food and Farming Systems and Food Routes Network and currently serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. He has been a Fellow with the Donella Meadows Fellows Leadership Program at the Sustainability Institute and a C.S. Mott Graduate Fellow in Sustainable Agriculture at Michigan State University. John holds a BA in Environmental Studies-Agroecology from University of California Santa Cruz and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in Crop and Soil Sciences.
- Jeff Schwartz, City of New Orleans – Bio coming soon.
- Joseph McIntyre, 10 Circles
- Haile Johnston, Common Market
Haile is a Philadelphia native whose passion is to identify and implement entrepreneurial methods and progressive policy to build capacity in diverse communities. His creative approach to program development, community building and resource attraction has led to both the rapid growth of his nonprofit organizations and the improvement of regional communities. Haile is one of the founders of the Common Market Philadelphia and currently serves as Co-Director. Before joining Common Market’s staff he served as the Pennsylvania State Director of the Center for Progressive Leadership (CPL) where he built the capacity of individuals and organizations within underrepresented communities. Haile is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and is proud to serve as a 2012 Food and Community Fellow with the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy.
- Tricia Kovacs, USDA
Tricia Kovacs is a local and regional food systems policy advisor in USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service, where she coordinates efforts across USDA to support the local and regional food sector—including direct-to-consumer, farm-to-institution, and regional processing, aggregation, and distribution. She also works on food safety topics and represents USDA as a convener on the Food Safety Modernization Act Collaborative Training Forum. Prior to joining USDA, Tricia managed Regional Markets programs at Washington State Department of Agriculture, where she was founding Program Manager for the state Farm to School Program and also led the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program. Tricia was lead author on publications that help farmers and buyers understand complex market requirements, including Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide: Good Agricultural Practices and On-Farm Food Safety for Small, Mid-Sized and Diversified Fruit and Vegetable Farms, and A School’s Guide to Buying Washington-Grown Food. Tricia holds a M.Sc. in Sustainability, Planning, and Environmental Policy from Cardiff University in Wales and a BA from University of Virginia. Originally from rural Appalachian Virginia, she lives with her husband and two children in Washington D.C.
- Lindsey Lunsford, Tuskegee University
Scholar activist and agriculture advocate, Lindsey Lunsford, inspired by her alma mater, Tuskegee University, is setting the tone for the upcoming generation of rural and urban agriculturalists. Currently working as a Sustainable Food System Resource Specialist through Tuskegee University’s Carver Integrative Sustainability Center, Ms. Lunsford works in food justice and community sovereignty efforts. Ms. Lunsford is also currently enrolled in the Tuskegee University Integrative Public Policy and Development Doctoral Program, where she studies policy advocacy for strengthening grassroots efforts from state to international levels. Lunsford’s leadership focuses on educating underserved populations on self-sufficiency and healthy lifestyles while encouraging the larger community to pursue a sustainable local economy.
- Andrea Chen, Propeller – Bio coming soon.
- Miles Gordon, Kitchen Table Consulting
Miles Gordon is Principal of Kitchen Table Consulting (KTC), focusing on community empowerment, systems development, and organizational leadership. Prior to his work at (KTC) Miles served as the Food Systems Director for North Coast Opportunities (NCO), located in Mendocino and Lake Counties, California. After several years of growing organic melons in Potter Valley, CA and studying International Relations, Miles served as a bilingual high school and college teacher, teacher trainer, and human rights worker in Central America. As a result of these experiences, Miles founded the Gardens Project of NCO (http://www.gardensproject.org/) to empower low-income, disenfranchised communities in California to grow food in community gardens through facilitated leadership development and self-management. The Gardens Project has developed over 45 gardens with more than 3000 individuals eating food from them. Miles facilitated the expansion of the project to develop and manage numerous Farm to School, Farmer’s Market, Farmer Development, Food Hub, and Nutrition programs. He is co-founder of the Mendocino Food Policy Council and a member of the California Food Policy Council.
From Whence We’ve Come – Lessons from the Movement for Good Food
- Ricardo Salvador, Union of Concerned Scientists – Bio coming soon.
- Sibella Kraus, Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE)
Sibella works at the intersection of sustainable agriculture, local food, economic development and resilient metro-regions. She is the founding director of Sustainable Agriculture Education (SAGE) an entrepreneurial nonprofit that develops frameworks and models for fostering urban and rural connectivity through local food systems. A major SAGE framework initiative is the Bay Area Food Futures Roadmap, a vision and action plan for investing in a sustainable, equitable, healthy local food system as an integral foundation of the Bay Area’s regional resilience and shared prosperity. At the project scale, SAGE is currently helping catalyze the development of a permanent food manufacturing center in San Jose.
- Rich Pirog, Center for Regional Food Systems, Michigan State University
Rich Pirog is director at the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University. The Center’s work includes healthy food access and financing, healthy food procurement, farm to school and farm to early childhood education, food policy councils, food value chains and the intersection of racial equity and food systems. From 1990-2011 he was associate director and program leader for marketing and food systems at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa. Pirog’s recent writings and research include structural racism present in the U.S. food system, and building networks that promote sustainable and equitable food systems.
- Lydia Villanueva, Casa de Llano
Lydia Villanueva is the Director/Founder CASA del Llano, INC., (Established since Oct. 2000) a nonprofit rural outreach center that unites the regional education and training interest of other groups with the goals of a community-based, grassroots organization. CASA del Llano is a job placement center where they offer applications to job seekers in Deaf Smith County from several companies in the Texas Panhandle. The organization works toward identifying Latino farm owners in the Texas Panhandle (Hereford, TX) and works to build leaders who are empowered to take ownership of their own communities. She was the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) Policy Education Coordinator from 2005-2013 and served on SSAWG Board of Directors. Currently Board of Directors of National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and Co-Chair of the Diversity Committee with NSAC (National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition) since its inception. She also serves on the Board of Directors of Panhandle Community Services, a Community Action Agency.
- K. Rashid Nuri – K. Rashid Nuri had a powerful “burning bush” revelation while a student at Harvard. The experience set him on a global food odyssey, managing agricultural operations throughout the U.S. and 35 countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa. Rashid saw, up close, the abuses and inefficiencies of Big Ag. His vision of community food sovereignty and food equity emerged with full clarity. He brought that vision to Atlanta in 2006, founding Truly Living Well Center for Natural Urban Agriculture (TLW). TLW became Atlanta’s premier urban agricultural organization, growing tons of chemical-free, nutritious food, providing jobs, and educating communities about food, nutrition, and self-sufficiency. Now, as the CEO of The Nuri Group, Rashid is working to expand equitable access to the tools for success in urban centers through education, funding, partnerships, and appropriate regulations for urban agriculture. Rashid is the author of Growing Out Loud: Journey of a Food Revolutionary which chronicles his journeys, the failing state of the food supply and offers guidance for the new food movement.
- Ricardo Salvador – Ricardo J. Salvador is Director and Senior Scientist of the Food and Environment Program of the Union of Concerned Scientists. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Agriculture and Natural Resources, the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food, and the Steering Council of the HEAL Food Alliance. Prior to UCS, Ricardo was Program Officer for Food, Health and Wellbeing at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Associate Professor of Agronomy at Iowa State University and Extension Agent at Texas A&M University. Ricardo is originally from Mexico.
The New Orleans Food System: Historical Inequities and Efforts for Equitable Economic Development
- Jenga Mwendo, Gulf Coast Housing Partnership
Jenga Mwendo has worked in equitable land use in New Orleans for over 10 years. Mwendo is the founder of the Backyard Gardeners Network and has worked since 2007 to strengthen the Lower Ninth Ward community – organizing neighbors to revitalize and create gardens, planting trees, and developing support systems to encourage and support the culture of growing in the neighborhood by and for the Lower 9th Ward and the larger Black community of New Orleans. Mwendo has worked with the Center for Sustainable Engagement and Developmenn, leading a Lower 9th Ward Food Action Planning initiative, and Tulane City Center as a Community Organizer. She is a graduate of the Southern University Agricultural Leadership Institute, a 2010 TogetherGreen Fellow, and a 2011-13 IATP Food and Community Fellow. She has received numerous awards and recognitions for her work including 2010 Cox Conserves Heroes, the 2011 Gambit 40 Under Forty, and the 2014 EBONY Magazine “Hero Next Door.” A graduate of the Master of Sustainable Real Estate Development (MSRED) at Tulane University, she served as Deputy Director of Crescent City Community Land Trust on securing permanently affordable housing and commercial development for 3 years. Mwendo currently works as a Project Analyst at Gulf Coast Housing Partnership, a New Orleans based nonprofit organization dedicated to transformational development across the Gulf Coast region.
- Dennis Bagneris, Liberty’s Kitchen
Dennis Bagneris, is a native of New Orleans and graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana. He currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Liberty’s Kitchen Inc., a workforce development training program, which functions as a Social Enterprise, dedicated to transforming the lives of the “Opportunity and Vulnerable Youth” population of New Orleans, La., by providing them with the support to develop self-sustainability, through an intensive life skills curriculum and employability skills training program, set in the culinary environment. He has more than a decade of experience, in mentoring and supporting the challenged and underserved youth in his community, and has dedicated himself, in a continuing effort, to deliver the utmost standard in the provision of Life Skills development, Workforce Skills Training, and Professional Development, both through Liberty’s Kitchen, through other like-minded collaboratives, and initiatives trough out the city.
- Angela Provost
Angela Provost is a multigenerational farmer, visual artist, and activist. She began her sugarcane farming operation in 2014 after experiencing an undeniable connection to the land, while reawakening her ancestral roots. Together with her husband June, Angie co-founded Provost Farm in 2018 with the mission of bringing awareness of the historical importance of African American sugarcane farmers.The work of Provost Farm has been recognized by the Guardian, The New York Times “the 1619 Project,” and other mainstream publications. In 2019, June and Angie completed the Propeller Accelerator Program for young entrepreneurs driven by social missions for improving their communities. Her key motto is, “Does your success impede on the progression of another human being? If so, you need to reconsider your mission.”
- Pamela Broom, NewCorp, Inc.
Pamela is an experienced nonprofit administration professional well versed in urban agriculture development, outreach, infrastructure planning and hands-on community-based growing to promote food as medicine. She facilitates citywide community outreach, training and technical assistance to individuals and organizations with emerging and established urban agriculture initiatives. Pamela joined NewCorp in 2017 and is currently serving as a project manager for neighborhood revitalization overseeing the creation of The FARMacia Wellness Hub (the FARMacia) that is designed to focus on the intersection between urban agriculture and medicine for community wellness.
- Sandy Nguyen, Coastal Communities Consulting, Inc.
Sandy Ha Nguyen founded Coastal Communities Consulting, Inc. (CCC) during the aftermath of the disastrous BP Oil/Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill 2010 to provide disaster technical assistance to Louisiana southeast commercial fisherman. Prior to founding CCC, she was a consultant working for the Louisiana Small Business Development Center (LASBDC). In that role, Mrs. Nguyen continued her lifelong passion of helping more than 1,500 families and businesses in coastal communities across the state. She has worked with the commercial fishing industry since 1992 and possesses an intimate knowledge of the industry and the communities that sustain it. She has continued to work extensively with government agencies, nonprofits, universities, and other organizations to ensure that coastal entrepreneurs be able to sustain their businesses to secure their families’ well-being. Mrs. Nguyen is a graduate of the Tulane School of Business and a proud resident of the New Orleans East community. She has garnered numerous awards and accolades; being named Woman of the Year by City Business in 2007, named State Star in 2012 by the Association of Small Business Development Centers (ASBDC) and generated millions in client capitalization for the years 2011, 2012 and 2014 with the LASBDC. Her highest honor to date was the opportunity to meet former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama in 2015 in recognition of her work during Hurricane Katrina. Most recently, she received the City of New Orleans “Notable Vietnamese Women” Award for her extraordinary work within her immigrant community She is the daughter of a commercial fisherman and an owner of a commercial fishing business with her husband Phuoc (Michael) Nguyen with whom she shares two children, Hana and Dylan.
- Marguerite Green, SPROUT Nola
Marguerite graduated from LSU with a degree in Environmental Horticulture. Over the past 13 years, she has been organizing with farmers, youth and neighbors to create change around agriculture and the environment. Marguerite is the Executive Director of SPROUT NOLA, a farmer training and assistance non-profit. She is a co-organizer of The New Orleans Flower Collective, Greater New Orleans Growers’ Alliance & Louisiana Chapter of the National Young Farmers’ Coalition. Marguerite operates a regenerative farm in New Orleans East.
- Zella Palmer, Dillard University
Leading from the Future: Realizing a More Just Vision for the Good Food Movement
- Susan Schempf, Wallace Center – Bio coming soon.
- Marla Karina Larrave, HEAL Food Alliance
Marla heads up HEAL’s School of Political Leadership (SoPL) and works alongside members to build political education and alignment for a just food and farm system. Having grown up in Los Angeles with deep farming roots in Guatemala, her previous experience includes progressing community-led policy and advocacy initiatives with people of color, migrants and indigenous communities both in the U.S. and abroad. Marla holds an M.A. in International Development from American University and a B.A. in Global Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She is based in Washington, DC.
- Qiana Mickie, Just Food
Qiana is the Executive Director of Just Food, a food justice nonprofit based in New York City. During her tenure as the Executive Director in the past two years, Just Food has made equity it’s “north star” and aims to shift the power, health, and wealth of historically and economically marginalized communities- in particular Black, Latinx, other communities of color, LGBTQ, and small-mid scale sustainable farmers/producers. Qiana earned her Food Hub Management Certificate from the University of Vermont and her B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University. She serves on the International Council of Urgenci, Coordination Committee of the International Food Security & Nutrition Civil Society Mechanism (CSM), Organizational Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC) as well as the boards of The Point CDC, South Bronx Farmers Market, and Revolutionary Fitness.
- Hnin Hnin, Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive
Hnin exists to transform systemic injustices into compost for collective liberation. They are a trauma-informed facilitator, cultural strategist, and vegan cook who has committed the last 14 years of their life to creating a just, joyful and regenerative food system where people can heal their relationships to self, each other, and the earth. Prior to becoming CoFED’s executive director, they worked at ROC United and Slow Food USA, organizing consumers, producers, and restaurateurs for food systems change. They live in Boston with their partner and two cats from Houston.
- Devon Turner, Grow Dat Youth Farm – Bio coming soon.
- Eric Simpson, Farmer/Board Member, West Georgia Farmers Cooperative
Eric Simpson has been a small sustainable grower since 2008. He joined Georgia Organics around that time in an effort to gain the knowledge, resources, and network to enhance his competencies for organic farming. For the last several years, he has been working to build his own farm, New Eden ecosystem with the goal of feeding himself, customers and community. Eric joined West Georgia Farmers Cooperative in 2012 where he currently serve in the role of member of Board of Directors and Development Committee. Since that time, he has become a passionate champion of cooperative economics.
Think Globally Act Locally
- Moderator: Tiffani Patton, Real Food Media
A lifelong “foodie” turned activist, Tiffani has been writing and researching food system change for over five years. Particularly motivated by the nexus of race and food, Tiffani is an advocate for just food systems and can be found talking about it with anyone who will listen. She supports several areas of educational programming, communications strategy, engagement, and internal operations at Real Food Media. A gifted writer and storyteller, she draws on these skills as content curator and managing editor for our Real Food Scoop newsletter and the Real Food Reads bookclub. She holds an MBA and an MPA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School. She is based in Oakland, CA.
- Rodney Foxworth, Common Future
Rodney Foxworth is the Chief Executive of Common Future (formerly Business of Alliance for Local Living Economies, “BALLE”), a national network fighting to build economically empowered communities through equitable approaches to entrepreneurship, investing, and ownership. Rodney’s career has focused on social entrepreneurship, philanthropy, impact investing, and economic development. Most recently, he founded Invested Impact, a consulting firm and intermediary to better connect philanthropic and impact investment capital to underrepresented social entrepreneurs. Rodney serves on the board of directors of Nonprofit Finance Fund, the steering committee of Justice Funders, and the advisory board of Social Capital Markets (SOCAP).
- Brennan Washington, Southern SARE
Brennan Washington is the 1890 Liaison and Southeastern Outreach Coordinator for Southern SARE. After serving on the Southern SARE Administrative Council for six years, Mr. Washington assumed this position in September 2016 where he promotes the SARE program to 1890 Universities, Non-profit organizations working with farmers and directly with minority and limited resources farmers. Brennan Washington is co-owner of Phoenix Gardens along with his wife, Gwendolyn. Phoenix Gardens is a small diversified farm that grows produce and raises laying hens and broiler chickens. He is a graduate of the Southern University Small Farm Agricultural Leadership Institute and the University of Georgia’s Advancing Georgia Leaders in Agriculture leadership program. He has served as a board member of Southern SARE, the sustainable research arm of the USDA, Georgia Organics, the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group (SSAWG) and is the co-founder and farmer Board Chair of the Georgia Farmers Market Association.
- Christina Spach, National Organizer, Food Chain Workers Alliance
Christina Spach is a National Organizer for the Food Chain Workers Alliance, a coalition of worker-based groups organizing to improve wages and working conditions for all workers along the food chain. She joins the Alliance with over a decade of experience in community organizing and advocating for racially-equitable food policy. Christina currently provides direct campaign support to grassroots coalitions leveraging public purchasing to build transparent supply chains that reflect our collective values and protect the dignity of food workers.
- Vincent Kimura, CEO, Smart Yields, Program Director, Social Enterprise Program, Pacific Gateway Center
Born in Honolulu and raised in various Asian countries, Vincent has worked for KPMG Consulting, DoD funded innovation research and been an entrepreneur, running three startups. He holds a Master’s in Global Management from Thunderbird and studied at Beijing Foreign Studies University. A Design Thinker and entrepreneur, he has built scalable, nationally and internationally-recognized companies, focusing on data and food value chains. Vincent was named the 2016 Clean Tech/Ag Entrepreneur by the Hawaii Venture Capital Association, Pacific Business News 2016 40 Under 40 cohort.
- Angela Chalk, Healthy Community Services
Angela M Chalk is a 4th generation 7th Ward resident.
She is the Founder and Executive Director of Healthy Community Services, a non-profit organization, located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, LA. Healthy Community Services, a non-profit organization, located in the 7th Ward of New Orleans, LA. The organization focuses on the social determinants of health with respect to environmental challenges and helps residents to live healthier lifestyles in a sustainable manner, focuses on stormwater management in communities of color; teaches residents how to increase food security by utilizing Green Infrastructure Agriculture; gets residents of urban areas to understand the effects of climate changes caused by sea level rise and land lost as well as serves as health resource repository. These goals are achieved by extensive community engagement, education and empowerment of others to advocate for behavioral and policy changes.
She is a Past President for the Louisiana Public Health Association; former Secretary of the 5th District Police Community Advisory Board, (PCAB); a Foundation for Louisiana LEAD the Coast Cohort and Curriculum Advisory Committee and a retired Civil Service Employee with the Louisiana Department of Health & Hospital. Also, she serves on both the American Public Health Association’s Center for Climate, Health & Equity Steering Committe and Advisory Board; an APHA Food & Nutrition Abstract Reviewer; a member of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority’s Community Engagement Committee. Ms. Chalk has testified before the 116th U.S. Congress Sub-Committee on Waters, Oceans and Wildlife Recently, she was asked by the National Audubon Society to submit a Native Plant Academy instructional cohort curriculum to be used statewide across all of the LA Audubon Society’s platforms. Currently, she is directing plans for Phase 1 of an Agricultural Green Infrastructure Educational Farm.
Ms. Chalk received a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications; Minor: Public Health from Dillard University and holds a Master of Science Health Care Management from the University of New Orleans. She is recognized by the Water Environment Federation as a Nationally Green Infrastructure Certified Professional and is a certified Produce Safety Alliance Grower. She recently completed the LSU/Southern Agriculture GROW LA Cohort.