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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!
 
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!
 
Sara Jo Malinske 
Director of Development
 
Sara Jo has been fundraising for social change on local, national, and global scales since 2009, and joined Real Food Challenge in 2017. She manages all fundraising activities, drawing on her backgroun in event fundraising, individual giving, and strategic revenue portfolio development. Her past fundraising work benefitted causes such as LGBTQ+ liberation, serving youth experiencing homelessness, and girls’ education in Kenya. Her interest in food justice grew out of the challenges she faced in her personal goal to become an ethically conscious consumer, when she realized that our food system didn’t allow even those privileged consumers much choice or access to information about where food comes from or how producers and workers are treated. Sara Jo graduated from James Madison University with a degree in Sociology and minors in Nonprofit Management and Humanitarian Affairs. Outside of fundraising, Sara Jo spends her time hiking and camping with her pup, listening to podcasts, and tending to her own food garden with her wife. Email Sara Jo!
 
 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!
 
 Dominique Fahmy
Research & Programs Fellow
 
Growing up in an Egyptian-American family of doctors and dentists in southern California, Dominique always thought she would follow suit and enter the medical field (and maybe she still will, who knows!). However, during her time at Princeton University, she joined the Brown Food Cooperative and discovered the powerful role food plays in nourishing and building our minds, bodies, and communities. She also discovered her passion for cooking and food systems. At Princeton, she studied visual art and neuroscience, spending late nights building sculptures in the shop, cooking up awkward social experiments, or working in a lab doing research. In her free time, Dominique likes to get her read on, go to the beach, backpack, discuss art and philosophy, and travel. Email Dominique!
 
 

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!

 
Rosie Linares
San Fancisco, CA

Rosie Linares-Diaz is a graduate student at San Francisco State University (SFSU) in the department of Geography & the Environment, where she also earned a B.A.  Rosie has been involved in various campaigns including SFSU’s Campaign against Pouring Rights, a successful effort on campus to halt exclusivity and marketing rights of major beverage corporations known for human rights violations and their negative impacts on communities of color in the U.S and around the world.  In her downtime, you might catch her jamming around on her bike and exploring the connections between food, culture, community, and nature in the San Francisco Bay Area. Email Rosie

 

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.  


 

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!

 

Emily Evans
Ohio State University

Emily grew up roaming the wild forests and sandstone cliffs of southeastern Ohio, where they enjoyed taking long walks with their mom, reading and writing fantasy stories, and going on adventures with their cat Sage. Raised a vegetarian from birth, Emily was always encouraged to think about their relationship with food and the world around them—but it wasn’t until high school that they truly began to consider the impact that food had on the health of the people and planet they loved. Although they will always return to their home in the hills, Emily now explores the urban jungle of Columbus Ohio, where they are studying sustainable community development and food systems at the Ohio State University. They have 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 them the best friends they could ask for, and has inspired them to pursue a career in organizing for food justice. They can’t wait to give back as a member of the 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!

 

Clarissa Chen
Johns Hopkins University

A lover of friends, food, and writing, Clarissa is an undergraduate and Johns Hopkins University studying Environmental Studies and Public Health, interested in the issues of equity found in the intersection between the two subjects. Working closely on university fossil fuel divestment, food justice, and community work in Baltimore, she hopes to be an activist for the rest of her life while also enjoying conversations about life while also enjoying conversations about life, watching movies, finding new songs to play, and feeding her friends and family. On campus, Clarissa works primarily on researching product shifts toward more just, sustainable food and keeping positive relationships between the stakeholders of the food system involved at Hopkins. Working with the Real Food Challenge has truly been a transformative experience in her life, and she is relentlessly excited to contribute to mobilizing social movements. Email Clarissa!

 

Directors Anim Steel, 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.