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Our Team

 
In addition to those listed below, much of the work done by the Real Food Challenge is credited to student leaders and members of national working groups.  

 CORE TEAM

The core team does all the back-end work to keep the campaign progressing: fundraising, training and recruiting organizers, maintaining relationships with partner organizations, and strategic planning.


 
Anim Steel
Director, Real Food Generation
 
Anim Steel is the founder of the Real Food Generation and is instrumental in developing its initiatives (including the Real Food Challenge). He is also the former Director of National Programs at The Food Project in Boston, MA. Anim holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and a B.A. in Astrophysics and History from Williams College. Although his dreams of becoming an astronaut never came to fruition, he is more than happy spending countless hours working on building and bettering a just and sustainable food system.  He is also a fool for soccer and enjoys traveling back to Ghana, where he was born. Email Anim.
 
 
David Schwartz
Campaign Director
 
Originally from Boston, MA, David got involved in food justice work as a teenager, tending community farms in the city with The Food Project.  Ever since, he's been deeply invested in building truly just and sustainable food systems and building powerful youth movements to make it happen!  David graduated from Brown University, where he spent his time organizing with the Real Food Challenge (and studying history!). Raised in a Jewish household and a largely Black and Latino neighborhood, issues of economic and racial justice were common dinner table discussions. While in college David helped start a student garden, a farmer's-market based CSA distribution scheme for local produce, and a campaign to redirect over $1 million of school food dollars to “real food.” Now as a staff person with Real Food Challenge, he helps support the staff team, develop our campaigns, raise money, hold relationships with partners and generally, make sh*t happen! Other things David feels passionately about: democratic education, Szechuan Chinese food, migrants’ rights, and dancing. Email David!
 
Nina Mukherji
Director of Programs
 
Nina has been at Real Food Challenge since 2011. She manages operations, co-leads the Steering Committee and supports organizers and campaigns across the country. In 2013-14, along with a team of Regional Field Organizers and student leaders, she led the successful Real Food for CSUs campaign to create a real food policy for the 23 schools in the California State University system. Nina grew up in Brooklyn, NY in a family with Jewish, Quaker and Hindu roots as well as a history of organizing for social change. Before coming to Real Food Challenge, she worked at Boston Mobilization, organizing teenagers to take action on youth priorities. She was also part of the Boston Mayor’s Urban Agriculture Zoning Working Group, developing zoning language to support urban agriculture in Boston. She holds a B.A. in philosophy from Carleton College, where she was involved in the campaigns against the Iraq war and for renewable energy, LGBT rights, tenants’ rights and campaign finance reform. She also has an M.A. in conservation biology and sustainable development from the University of Wisconsin. In her spare time, Nina loves listening to live music, exploring urban parks and discussing philosophy. Email Nina!
 
 Hannah Weinronk
Program Manager
 
Hannah first heard the words “food” and “justice” in the same sentence as a high school student, working on a campaign for fair trade and human rights in the cocoa industry. She began to see food as a powerful way to address the challenges facing our world. As a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, Hannah broadened her understanding of food justice working with community-based organizations focused on urban agriculture and food access. She first encountered the Real Food Challenge in the fall of 2012, diving into a campaign for the largest campus dining operation in the country to commit to 20% real food. After an exciting win, Hannah joined RFC’s national steering committee, developing her vision for the food movement and the role of youth and universities within it. After graduating with her B.S. in Public Health, she remained at UMass Amherst for a fifth year to complete her M.P.H. in Community Health Education. She explored the impact of our current food system on people and communities across the supply chain while deepening her skills in research, program planning, evaluation, and organizing. In her new role on staff with RFC, Hannah is excited to continue the challenging and inspiring work of fighting for change in the food system. Email Hannah!
 

FIELD STAFF

The regional coordinators do on the ground organizing work, coordinate student campaigns in different regions and act as liaisons between the core team and student leaders.


 
Estefanía Narváez, West Regional Coordinator
Seattle, WA

Estefania graduated in December 2010 from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, which she mobilized to become one of the first Fair Trade Universities in the country. Being born and raised in Ecuador nurtured her lifelong concern for justice. She is an organizer and activist passionate about making real changes to build sustainable food systems, alleviate poverty and hunger, and to let our world breathe some clean air. After a long time of shifting from one home to another, she is now settled in Seattle supporting student food justice initiatives in the West. When she is not organizing she is dancing salsa, eating Ecuadorean food and riding her bike in the sun. Email Stefy.

 

Tlaloc Vasquez, Northeast Regional Coordinator
Boston, MA

Tlaloc hails from the endless sunshine and palm trees of southern California. Many of Tlaloc's formative life experiences are related to growing up as part of a large Mexican-American family in and around the neighborhoods of Long Beach, CA. He brings a wealth of organizing experience from his tenure at the University of California Los Angeles, where he received his B.A.'s in International Development Studies and Chicana/o Studies. While in school, Tlaloc involved himself as an active advocate of student/labor solidarity, Chicana/o Studies, Latina/o students in higher education, environmental justice, Raza Studies for K-12, transfer students, undocumented immigrants, and food justice. Partly as a product of how and where he was raised, Tlaloc feels passionately that access to real food is a necessity, not a privilege. When he's not busy coordinating the Northeast region of RFC, Tlaloc enjoys Dodgers baseball, jamming out to good music, hiking, and getting to know the local food and bar scene. Email Tlaloc!

 

Amanda Jacir, Northeast Regional Coordinator
Boston, MA

Born in Boston, raised in JerZ, Amanda is happy to be back in Massachusetts organizing with RFC. She grew up in a multicultural family where both sides mainly munch on olives and eggplant and sweets. Amanda has been an environmental and social justice activist from an early age. She studied politics and environmental studies at Oberlin College, where she spent her spare time keeping things out of landfills by hauling refrigerators, clothes, and all sorts of knick-knacks into a Free Store (where she'd blast early 90s music for whoever was browsing.) She coordinated solidarity and divestment campaigns and took turns cooking and cleaning for peers in Third World Co-op. In her spare time she travels to give presentations on environmental justice issues, especially water issues in the Middle East. She also enjoys dancing silly and playing outside.  Email Amanda!

 

Katie LeBlanc
Columbus, OH

Growing up ​along the muddy river banks of the Ohio River in ​rural Kentucky, Katie worked on her family's farm;​ skinning catfish and rabbits,​ growing food to put away for the long winters​ and raising cattle to sell ​on the local auction block. Watching the river​​ ​grow dark with runaway soil​, taking jobs downstream as well, it sparked her curiosity to learn about soil conservation​ and regional economies​. After earning her B.S. in Agronomy and Soil Science from Murray State University in 2012, Katie went on to complete her M.S. in Environmental Studies from the University of Montana in 2015 where she focused on the cultural, economic, environmental, and political impacts ​of beef market concentration on Montana's hardworking ranchers and​ ​farmers. Now working for the Real Food Challenge, Katie is Regional Coordinator for the Midwest and Southeast. ​You can find still find Katie ​working on farms and ​putting up food ​for those long winters. Email Katie!
 

Emma Hutchens
Asheville, North Carolina

Emma serves as the University Programs Coordinator with the NC 10% Campaign and the NC Coordinator for Real Food Challenge.  Her other current projects include working with the Asheville Grown Business Alliance and community radio station, Asheville FM. She leads workshops in nonviolent action, playful activism, organizing strategy and more. Emma toured with the Sustainable Living Roadshow from 2010 – 2012  as the Staffing and Outreach Coordinator. She studied non-violence and facilitation in Huehuecoyol, Mexico and graduated with a self-designed degree from UNC Asheville in Social Change, Environmental Policy and Community Health.  She loves riding her bicycle and gardening with her chickens.  She currently lives in Asheville, NC (her very favorite city), spending her days trying not to be a vagabond. Email Emma

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STEERING COMMITTEE

The Steering Committee sits at the center of the organization to address organizational priorities on a national level. They offer guidance on campaigns, programs and operations of the organization. The Steering Committee has student, alumni, staff, and regional field organizer members.  



Steph Yee
California State University Monterey Bay

Stephanie is a student at California State University Monterey Bay pursuing a degree in Environmental Studies.  As a San Francisco native and the  daughter of foodies, she grew up appreciating the different ethnic cuisines and celebrating food. ​She dived in head first with RFC by starting a calculator account on her campus and working other Cal State students and RFC to form the Real Food for CSUs campaign.  Real Food for CSUs is a campaign for the system of CA state universities to sign a real food commitment.  She is really excited to take on the role as a student representative for RFC on a national scale.  When she is not working on campaigns, you can find Stephanie cooking in the kitchen with her housemates or hanging out at the farmers market. Email Stephanie

Sawson Gholami
University of Utah

Sawson is a lover of mathematics, music, animals, and people. He was born to an Iranian family in Salt Lake City, Utah, and had originally planned to pursue neurosurgery. After discovering his goals were to improve the conditions of animals used in the food system, Sawson found Real Food Challenge. Since then, he has had the opportunity of serving as the University of Utah's RFC co-chair and is currently working with his school's administrators to improve their dining contract. Outside his work with RFC, Sawson loves to sing with the Utah Opera Chorus, geek out on popular-physics videos, go on morning runs, and make smoothies. Email Sawson

 

Sunny Kim
Johns Hopkins University

Sunny was born in Seoul, South Korea and spent her childhood in Kansas City, Missouri. She is a farmer at heart, rooted in the fields of New England, where she won the first real food campus commitment on a high school campus. Now at Johns Hopkins University, she has led multiple product shift in the school's implementation process and finds the narrative of the producers and the regional community the most rewarding part of her campus work. In her free time, she likes to learn how to cook things from scratch or develop recipes for her restaurant in Korea which she runs with her mother.  Email Sunny

 

Abby McIntosh
Indiana University

Abby is a Washington D.C. native and a junior at Indiana University studying Human Geography with a concentration in Food and Agriculture. Growing up in a food-obsessed family, cooking and eating quickly became Abby’s favorite pastimes. She got hooked on food justice work during her freshman year at IU, which eventually led her to find Real Food Challenge—she hasn’t looked back since! When she’s not bugging her administration to sign the Campus Commitment and otherwise agitating for food justice on her own campus, she enjoys watching bad movies, going to the park, anything that involves chocolate, and dancing around the apartment with her roommates. Email Abby

Emily Evans
Ohio State University

Emily grew up roaming the wild forests and sandstone cliffs of southeastern Ohio, where she enjoyed taking long walks with her mom, reading and writing fantasy stories, and going on adventures with her cat Sage. Raised a vegetarian from birth, Emily was always encouraged to think about her relationship with food and the world around her—but it wasn’t until high school that she truly began to consider the impact that food had on the health of the people and planet she loved. Although she will always return to her home in the hills, she now explores the urban jungle of Columbus Ohio, where she is studying sustainable community development and food systems at the Ohio State University. She has been an organizer of OSU’s RFC campaign for two years now and is excited to finally be escalating toward a commitment! Emily’s work with the Real Food Challenge has given her the best friends she could ask for, and has inspired her to pursue a career in organizing for food justice. She can’t wait to give back as a member of the 2016-17 steering committee! Email Emily

Elizabeth Wilkes
University of Georgia

Growing up in Atlanta, with relatives in North Carolina, Elizabeth always loved the southern summer harvest: heirloom tomato sandwiches, cucumber salad, peaches... now at the University of Georgia, she is working toward majors in Geography and Ecology to think about the food system and how to make it more just and sustainable. Real Food Challenge hooked her since she set foot on campus, and she’s looking forward to getting the South on the map! As a lifelong composting enthusiast, she’s researched food waste reduction policy and helps run campus composting. You might also find her researching anti-fracking activism, teaching young folks about food and gardening, or at church. In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys biking down hills, reading, and talking with friends and strangers alike about random and exciting topics (which somehow always end up relating to food). Email Elizabeth

Directors Anim Steel, David Schwartz, Nina Mukherji, and regional coordinator Tlaloc Vasquez also serve on the steering committee.


Regional Field Organizers (RFOs)

The regional field organizer fellows do on the ground organizing, extending the network and providing support to students running campaigns on campus. They also act as liaisons between the core team, field staff and student leaders. To learn more about our past RFO's follow the links below:

 

Learn about the 2015-2016 RFOs here!
Learn about the 2012-2013 RFOs here!
Learn about the 2011-2012 RFOs here!
Learn about the 2010-2011 RFOs here!
Learn about the 2009-2010 RFOs here! 

BOARD

Greg Gale, former Director of Programs (and founding staff member) of The Food Project; now with VISIONS Inc., a multicultural consulting firm.

 

Tim Galarneau, Program Coordinator at Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems, Statewide Advisor at the California Student Sustainability Coalition and member of UC Santa Cruz's campus Food Systems Working Group.

 

Karla Van Praag, Executive Director of Jewish Organizing Institute and Network (JOIN for Justice) where she oversees grassroots training programs for aspiring community organizers, rabbinical students and Jewish organizations. 

 

Amara Foster, consultant, former Senior Program Associate at Surdna Foundation.

 

Yoojin Janice Lee, Senior Trainer and Manager, Health Resources in Action

 

Anim Steel, Executive Director, Real Food Challenge

 
 

ADVISORY COMMITTEE

Michael Pollan, professor and best-selling author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food.
  
Vandana Shiva, physicist, feminist, activist, Director of The Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Natural Resource Policy.
 
Anna Lappé, advocate, co-founder of the Small Planet Institute, best-selling author of Hope’s Edge: The Next Diet for a Small Planet.
 
Daveda Russell, educator, consultant, Senior Project Manager at Pyramid Communications.
 
John Turenne, former Executive Chef at Yale University, co-designer of the Yale Sustainable Food Project, President of Sustainable Food Systems, LLC.
 
Tom Kelly, founding member of the Northeast Campus Sustainability Consortium, Director of the University Office of Sustainability at the University of New Hampshire.