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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, Inc.  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 in December 2009, 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, the value of *play,* Szechuan chinese food, migrants’ rights, and dancing. Email David!
 
Nina Mukherji
Director of Programs
West Coast, Northwest, and Southwest Regional Coordinator
 
Nina has been at Real Food Challenge since 2011. She manages operations, directs the Regional Field Organizing Fellowship, and coordinates organizing in the Western regions. 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 and Quaker and Hindu roots and a history of organizing for social change. Before coming to Real Food Challenge, she worked at Boston Mobilization, organized 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!
 
 
Emma Brewster
National Program Coordinator
Northwest Organizer
 
Originally from the tiny town of Lyme, NH, Emma has made her way westward to Seattle via Cornell University’s College of Agriculture, where she studied Rural Sociology, Social Inequality, and Communications and Marketing — an unlikely but fascinating combination. Emma came to the Real Food Challenge through a similarly interdisciplinary interest in the intersection of food traditions and culture; community resiliency; and public health. She got her food systems sea legs in the Pacific Northwest by supporting institutions like pre-schools, senior centers, and hospitals in sourcing local food for their meal programs from family farms, and working on local food infrastructure development.  With RFC, Emma both organizes campaigns in the NW, and supports key national RFC programs like the Real Food Calculator, the National Summit, the RFO Fellowship Program, and the Implementation of the Real Food Campus Commitment. When she’s not organizing with RFC, Emma enjoys browsing in junk stores, stompin’ to bluegrass music, willing tomatoes to grow in Seattle’s climate, and sampling the house specials at rural roadside eateries. Email Emma
 

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, RFOs and student leaders.


Katie Blanchard, Midwest Regional Coordinator 
Chicago, IL
 
Katie grew up amidst the lumberyards and orchards of Northern Michigan, and started to learn about the beauty and complexity of the food system while working on small farms there. She started to challenge corporate agriculture while living around the actually-endless cornfields surrounding Carleton College in southern Minnesota, where she became a founding student leader of Real Food Challenge. In college, Katie re-started the student-run farm and founded Eat the Lawn, a public garden in the center of campus. She also did significant organizing, and farm work with young, women, and immigrant farmers across the region. In RFC, Katie organizes in the Midwest and is at the helm of fundraising, design, and communications projects. Katie's agricultural aspirations currently exist in containers on her pack porch in Chicago, where she also spends time organizing in solidarity with food service workers, seeing live music, and trying to finish too many art projects. Email Katie!
 
 
Carmen Black, Midwest Assistant Coordinator
Eastern Kentucky
 
Growing up in rural Iowa, food and farming were basic parts of life, and Carmen learned a lot about corn, pigs, and what to cook for potlucks in churches. As her curiosity about the world outside of Solon, Iowa grew, so did her interest in social justice and peace. This lead her to Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana where she majored in Peace and Global Studies and Spanish. While living at the Earlham student-operated Miller Farm, she was able to see the connection between her interest in peace studies and her passion for food and farming. She now feels passionately about spreading the Real Food Challenge all over the Midwest, where so much food is grown. She also loves, goats, dancing, Indonesian Gamelan music, and making pie. Sometime this fall or winter she will be moving to the mountains of Eastern Kentucky, and is looking forward to bringing RFC to Appalachia as well! Email Carmen.
 
 
Jon Berger, Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator
Washington, DC
 
Jon grew up in Brussels, Belgium and Silver Spring, Maryland, right outside of DC where he now lives.  He first got involved with movement work through anti-war activism in high school, and quickly became involved in environmental, labor, and racial justice issues.  All through his time as a student at the University of Maryland - College Park, he organized with the Students for a Democratic Society network.  On campus, he was involved with campaigns to preserve library access, reduce textbook prices, expose war profiteering corporations on campus, prevent cuts to academic departments, save a forest from bulldozers, and prevent sexual assault and relationship violence on campus.  Jon has been organizing with the Real Food Challenge since graduation, working with students in the Mid-Atlantic, the Southeast, and the Midwest to build student power towards a fair, community-controlled food system.  In his spare time he enjoys reading, watching science fiction shows, sharing food, the outdoors, and cooking outside. Email Jon.
 
 
Estefanía Narváez, Northeast Regional Coordinator
Boston, MA

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 Boston supporting student food justice initiatives in the Northeast. When she is not organizing she is dancing salsa, eating Ecuadorean food and riding her bike in the sun. Email Stefy.

 
 
Drew Love, Northeast Assistant Regional Coordinator
Boston, MA
 
Drew graduated from Boston University with a BA in Philosophy in 2007. He promptly had no idea what to do with that, and spent time working with international students, teaching yoga, and reading voraciously about sustainability and social justice issues. Changing the food system seemed like the perfect place to combine both interests, which led to a volunteer and intern experience with The Real Food Challenge. Afterwards, he worked on a variety of projects ranging from increasing food stamp redemption at farmers markets to webinars about health insurance for farm workers. He is thrilled to be back with the Real Food Challenge, and when not doing food work, is busy trimming his beard, reading, running, and eating ice cream. Email Drew.
 
 
Ollín Rodriguez, Northeast Assistant Regional Coordinator
Brooklyn, NY

Ollín was raised and proudly lives in Brooklyn, NY. In high school, Ollín organized the school's first LGBTQ alliance and it was his first introduction to social justice work. He has done solidarity work in Oaxaca, MX, working with grassroots organizations for migrant rights, and working with LGBTQ communities. Soon after, he became part of the Steering Committee for Student Farmworker Alliance, focusing on farmworker justice, community organizing, and other food justice work. Ollín organizes with students throughout the Northeast working towards sustainability food models within the food system, and dismantling all systems of oppression. He attended the Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, studying Political Science. Ollín comes from a family of Mexican/Native and Salvadorian immigrants. In his spare time he enjoys supporting racial justice initiatives, eating donuts, and watching project runway.  Email Ollín.

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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.

View the Regional Field Organizers from your home region: 

Northwest | West Coast | Southwest | Midwest | Southeast | Mid-Atlantic | Northeast

Click here to apply to become a Regional Field Organizer!


WEST COAST

 

Jackie Martinez 
Los Angeles, CA

Jackie was born and raised in South Los Angeles and is a recent graduate of Humboldt State University (HSU) where she studied Sociology and Spanish. Her entry point to the food movement was when she took a social ecology class at HSU. The class enabled her to realize that her experience with public school food and food overall was directly connected to a much larger issue: injustice in our food system. She then became extremely interested in learning more about food justice and how she could become an agent of social change. As a result, she took various classes on topics like community organizing, social movements, ethnic studies, and environmental inequality and globalization. Ultimately, her passion to advocate for better food led her to create change within her own college campus.  At HSU, Jackie helped organize events on food issues, spearheaded the Real Food Challenge campaign, was a member of the Food Insecurity Task Force, and endorsed student government resolutions in support of the campaign and the creation of a Food Systems Working Group. Aside from her passion of bringing justice to our food system, Jackie also loves adventures, chocolate, long walks, being optimistic, biking, laughing, and most importantly, eating really good real food! Email Jackie!

 

Jessica Gonzales
Los Angeles, CA

Jessica grew up in Southern California, where her love of cooking developed at the tender age of 13 after too many years of eating microwavable foods. As a young girl she wanted to attend culinary school, but instead she entered college to study Food Science. As she began to immerse in coursework she learned about a food industry centered on synthetics, rather than ethics. Learning about injustices in the food system in combination with having faced food insecurity herself, led Jessica to to promote food justice. She is a co-founder and lead organizer of the successful Real Food For CSUs campaign — a statewide campaign for the California State University system to commit to real food. In her free time she can be found playing with her bunny, discovering new restaurants, or cooking. Email Jessica!

Kitty Bolte
Davis, CA

Kitty is a native of Santa Cruz, CA and a recent graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz. At UCSC, she majored in Plant Sciences and Environmental Studies, focusing on botany and sustainable agriculture. She got excited about changing the food system at an RFC event in high school, and since then has been engaged with many parts of it, from farming to gardening and cooking with kids to working as a bee researcher in agricultural landscapes. If she's not doing one of those things, she can be found rock climbing and guiding wilderness trips, riding her trusty bicycle, or contemplating bad puns. Email Kitty!

 

 


SOUTHWEST

 

Ashley Grabb
Boulder, CO

 

Ashley grew up in a very small, rural farming community in central Illinois.  Learning a lot about corn, corn, more corn, and the occasional soybean rotation, food and agricultural played a large role in her development. Studying sociology in college helped to explain the intersectionailites of poverty, race, class, and access, resulting in a deeper understanding of being food insecure, the overproduction of commodity crops in America and the governmental policies that support a system that creates unhealthy eating habits.  She connects her own experience of growing up food insecure and in poverty with the overall need for food justice in America. Ashley graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a Masters in Social Work, where she focused on Advocacy, Leadership and Social Change.  She now spends her days working for a farm incubator program in Boulder, Colorado; playing in the dirt, and working collectively with the community to increase the access to locally grown, affordable and organic produce on the Front Range. Email Ashley!

NORTHWEST

 

Breanne Flynn
Seattle, WA

Breanne is a Washington native, born and raised in quiet Olympia, WA which is both an obscure capital and a wonderfully lush and green oasis of sustainability and environmental justice. She graduated from Gonzaga University in May, where she further fueled her interest in social justice issues ranging from systemic racism, educational inequality, domestic violence and especially food justice! She became a student leader for Real Food Challenge fall of her sophomore year and after creating a student group, Gonzaga E.A.T, and a two-year campaign, helped Gonzaga sign the Real Food Challenge Campus Commitment at 25% right before graduation! She has since moved to Seattle where, between RFC and working in the produce department of a grocery store, her life entirely revolves around food. When not talking your ear off about social justice, she loves to dance, sing, practice yoga and drink coffee and wine (not usually at the same time.) In the near future she hopes to return to law school to be able to use the law as a tool for social change. Email Bre!

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MIDWEST

Karen Weldon
St. Paul, MN

Growing up in Norman, Oklahoma, Karen began thinking deeply about where her food came from during high school. Painting the cornfields of industrial agriculture and writing essays on Japanese food traditions, Karen spent hours exploring different facets of the food system.  At Macalester College, she continued this exploration and earned an Environmental Studies degree with an emphasis in Food Systems. During her sophomore year, after attending a Real Food Challenge training, Karen realized that there existed a community of people who held similar passions and that by working together they could change the system. Over the next three years, Karen cofounded Macalester’s Food Hub, campaigned to pass the Real Food Campus Commitment and drafted her campus’s food policy—while spending her free time orchestrating farmers’ market trips for the wanna-be-vegans of Macalester’s EcoHouse. Besides making fried rice and hosting potlucks, Karen enjoys throwing teapots, collecting postcards, and meandering along the Mississippi. Email Karen!

Kendra Cruse
St. Louis, MO

Kendra grew up surrounded by corn and cows and colleges and corporations in the quasi-rural town that is Bloomington, Illinois. She transitioned to city life in pursuit of a social work degree at Saint Louis University. During that time, Kendra was introduced to and began organizing alongside the Coalition of Immokalee Workers’ Campaign for Fair Food thanks to an internship at the Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America. Working with the Real Food Challenge seemed like the perfect next step to foster her interest in food and her desire to redirect our food system. Kendra is honored and super excited to be an RFO, and hopes to inspire the passion that she feels for this movement in other young people starting in St. Louis, her adopted hometown. When she’s not organizing, you can probably find Kendra writing letters in coffee shops, learning to play guitar, baking vegan desserts, or changing her hair color. Email Kendra!


SOUTHEAST

 

Clesi Bennett
Sewanee, TN

Growing up in New Orleans, Clesi knew the importance of local and seasonal foods from an early age. It wasn’t until she went off to college at Sewanee: The University of the South in rural Tennessee that she saw the downfalls of our food system and the challenges universities were facing. As an Environmental Policy major, she was able to take classes on agriculture policy and put this knowledge to use as the leader of Sewanee’s Peace Coalition. After graduating in 2013, Clesi was a Post-Baccalaureate Fellow in Sustainability and Environmental Stewardship at Sewanee where she helped write and implement a campus sustainability plan, focusing mainly on the “food” section. She worked on designing a campus compost operation, changing dining purchasing policies, and more. After interning as a student, Clesi has returned to Sewanee’s University Farm where she helps to showcase a number of sustainable agriculture practices and grow real food for the university dining hall. Email Clesi! 

 

Emma Hutchens
Asheville, NC

Emma is a Founder and Coordinator of the REAL Cooperative (Regenerative Education Action and Leadership) for activists.  She toured with the Sustainable Living Roadshow from 2010 – 2012, and worked as the Staffing and Outreach Coordinator before returning to Asheville, NC.  Her current projects include increasing awareness and appropriate policy around Genetically Modified Foods, the Asheville Grown Local Business Alliance and the Ujamaa Freedom Market, a mobile vegetable shop for low-income communities. She leads workshops in nonviolent action for sustainability, Playful Activism, organizing strategy and more.  Emma studied non-violence and facilitation in Huehuecoyol, Mexico and recently graduated with a self-designed degree at UNC Asheville as a student of Social Change, Environmental Policy and Community Health.  She loves teaching people to teach, traveling and making art out of trash.  She currently lives in Asheville (her very favorite city), spending her days trying not to be a vagabond. Email Emma!

 

 


NORTHEAST

 

Ani Quigley
New York, NY

Ani graduated from the University of Vermont in 2014 with a BA in Global Studies, which prepared her very well for seeming informed at cocktail parties but didn't do much else.  Thankfully she spent most of her time at university working with the Real Food Challenge, which gave her both a framework for contextualizing the injustices in this world and the hope that together, we can change things.  A vegan for four years, Ani is passionate about marrying animal rights and food justice issues.  She is currently living in New York City, where she attends culinary school at the Natural Gourmet Institute and works at an herbalism shop.  In her free time she likes to read about intersectionality, dance terribly, ferment vegetables, clean her apartment with essential oils and vodka, and talk about her greyhound ad nauseam. Email Ani!

 
Kate Aronoff
Philadelphia, PA

Kate grew up in tiny, post-industrial Millville, NJ and graduated from Swarthmore College in 2014, where she studied history, social movements, and the art of managing to graduate while spending 70% of your time organizing. Kate comes to the Real Food Challenge from the climate justice movement, helping found her campus's fossil fuel divestment campaign in 2010 and the Fossil Fuel Divestment Student Network (DSN), where she serves on the Coordinating Committee. Kate moonlights as an independent journalist, and in 2014 will be helping to build the Pennsylvania Student Power Network. She's worked previously as a social media intern with the New Economy Coalition, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Responsible Endowments Coalition. When not stuck behind a computer, Kate loves watching and over-analyzing big-budget action movies, experimenting with meat substitutes and reading about commodity chains and civil resistance. Email Kate!

 

Kira Foley
Berwick, ME

Kira is a recent graduate of Clark University in Worcester, MA where she majorly studied Social Psychology with a focus on theories of ethics, global health, and food policy. During her time at Clark, Kira served as president of Food Truth and as the student co-chair of Clark's Food Systems Working Group. She first discovered the power of Real Food while growing up in a family who journeyed from vegetarianism to the paleo diet to 100% raw food to (what is currently) raw veganism. During college, Kira's passion for alternative nutrition transformed into an understanding of food systems that are inherently connected to larger forces of culture and power. She's now hooked on organizing for real food justice and in her free time enjoys cooking, eating, karate, yoga, poker, how-to books, collaging, dancing, beaches, and watching documentaries.  Email Kira!

 

 

Shelby Mack
Providence, RI

Shelby grew up in Rhode Island, graduated from Barrington Christian Academy and Brown University, and now works at a café in Providence.  Questions and discontent about her own and others' experiences of gender, sexuality, race, and class led Shelby to the Student Labor Alliance, a university student group that organizes students and university resources to support working people's struggles for justice in the workplace.  Being part of victories led by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, workers in Indonesian and Bangladeshi garment factories, Brown University dining workers, and hotel workers in Providence, as well as being around the amazing people in her life, has spurred Shelby on to continue work for a more just world (and understand more deeply what a just world would entail!) in a way that is ethical, strategic, and fun.  With so much more to learn and so much great work to be done, Shelby is thrilled to be working this year with students in the Pioneer Valley in partnership with people organizing at all levels of the food chain in Western Massachusetts and around the country and world to win justice.  Shelby is also a member of the steering committee of the Student/Farmworker Alliance.  She loves being silly, spending time with her family and friends, and learning about how people are building loving community and being so creative in the face of the problems of everyday life, perpetrated by oppressive systems.  

To learn more about our past RFO's follow the links below:

Learn about the 2013-2014 RFOs here! (coming soon)
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! 

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.  


Stephanie Yee
California State University-Monterey Bay

Stephanie is student currently attending California State University Monterey Bay pursuing a major in Environmental Studies.  She is a daughter of foodies and grew up appreciating the different ethnic cuisines and celebrating food.  Recognizing the impact food has on wide range of social and environmental injustices did not become clear to her until taking a writing class during her first year of college.  She jumped head first into RFC with starting a calculator account on her campus and working other Cal State students and RFC supports 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 suitemates or hanging out at the farmers market. Email Stephanie

 

Sunny Kim
Johns Hopkins University

Sunny was born in Seoul, South Korea, raised in Kansas City, Missouri, and recently graduated from Hotchkiss, a boarding school in Lakeville, Connecticut. At Hotchkiss, she worked on the school owned farm and got hooked on the satisfaction that simple labor and the working landscape gives. She co-founded the Real Food chapter and signed the commitment as the first high school in the nation. Now at Johns Hopkins University majoring in Global Environmental Change and Sustainability, she runs the calculator and product shift towards JHU’s commitment of 35%. In her free time, Sunny likes to sing and jam on the guitar or uke, go on spontaneous adventures, and be super silly! She is excited to be a part of the Steering Committee and try on the dual role as a student organizer and decision maker on a national level. Email Sunny

 

Hannah Weinronk
University of Massachusetts-Amherst

Hannah is a student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst pursuing a major in Public Health with a concentration in Food Systems.  Growing up with a love of gardening, she first began to think about transparency in our food system through running a fair trade chocolate campaign at her high school.  Continuing on to university, Hannah broadened her understanding of food justice working with community-based organizations focused on urban agriculture and food access.  Seeing food as a means to address the overwhelming social and environmental injustice that exists in our world, she joined the RFC team at her school and has never looked back.  Jumping into an exciting campaign to get the commitment signed, Hannah has continued working towards making UMass Amherst a successful Implementation school- and she is excited to be a student representative on the national steering committee!  When she is not organizing for Real Food on campus, Hannah enjoys traveling, biking, reading, and sitting down to long meals with friends. Email Hannah

 

 

Laura Dorle

University of Minnesota-Twin Cities '14

Laura is currently a student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities studying Environmental Policy. She will be graduating in May, and will be continuing organizing work with Environment America in Portland, Maine. When she's not organizing student leaders around food, you can likely find her playing with animals, hula hooping, or reading a mystery novel...and of course, eating delicious, REAL food! Email Laura

 
 
 
Kitty Bolte
University of California Santa Cruz '14, Regional Field Organizer
Kitty is a student at the University of California, Santa Cruz majoring in Plant Sciences and Environmental Studies. She got excited about changing the food system at an RFC event in high school, and since then has been engaged with many parts of it, from farming to gardening and cooking with kids to working as a bee researcher in agricultural landscapes. If she's not doing on of those things, she can be found dorking out about birds and flowers, riding her trusty bicycle, or participating in fermentation (mis)adventures. Email Kitty
 
 
 
 
Directors Anim Steel, David Schwartz, and Nina Mukherji also serve on the steering committee. 
 

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. 

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.