2018 Conference Planning Committee

Thank you to the 2018 conference planning committee!


Aiyana Potts

Aiyana Potts works at The Food Trust as the Project Manager for the Get HYPE Philly! initiative and convenes the collective's citywide Youth Leadership Council. She graduated from Mount Holyoke College with a self-designed degree in Urban Sociology and Educational Studies. Over the course of 12 years, her youth empowerment experience has included teaching, program design and curriculum development, and working as a Dean of Students. Social justice, equity, and community driven advocacy are key foundational components of the work she does. When she is not with young people or at her desk, she is off memorizing lines, on the mats doing mixed martial arts, or rehearsing choreography in a dance studio.

Amirio Freeman

Originally from Hampton, VA and currently based in Washington D.C., Amirio Freeman is a Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellow with the Congressional Hunger Center. You can follow their work at beinggreenwhileblack.club.

Angela Davis

Angela Davis is the Director of the Division of Food & Nutrition for the Jersey City Department of Health & Human Services. Before coming to the Department of Health & Human Services in January 2017, she spent almost a decade managing two food and nutrition education programs for Just Food, a nonprofit based in New York City that empowers and supports community leaders in their efforts to increase access to locally grown food, especially in underserved New York neighborhoods. Angela has more than 20 years of program management, education, and public relations experience. Throughout her career, she has served a variety of institutions including the Service Employees International Union Local 32BJ, the National Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, and the Children's Defense Fund. She has a Masters of Education degree from the George Washington University and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Oberlin College. She holds a certificate in Culinary Nutrition from the Natural Gourmet Institute and is a 2009 Environmental Leadership Program Fellow.

Ann Karlen

Ann Karlen was the founding Executive Director of Fair Food, a non-profit organization in Philadelphia launched in 2000 to build a sustainable and humane local food economy. In 2003, she opened the Fair Food Farmstand in the Reading Terminal Market, the city’s first all-local retail grocery store. From 2010-2016, she served on Philadelphia’s Food Policy Advisory Council. Ms. Karlen is Faculty Director of the University of Vermont’s Food Hub Management Certificate Program, and an Entrepreneur in Residence for Kitchen Table Consultants.

ari rosenberg

ari rosenberg is a passionate activist working to create a more just society through community building, anti-racism trainings, and radical financing. She currently lives and works in Philadelphia with her amazing cat, Opal. ari has been growing food for over 15 years in both rural and urban environments and supporting urban youth in connecting with their food, gaining entrepreneurship skills and developing and enhancing leadership skills for over 11 years. She is involved in a number of community initiatives that center leadership of color including Rooted in Community, a national grassroots network of youth and adults that works to create a just food system centering youth leadership, and Soil Generation, a black & brown led coalition of growers in Philadelphia. For paid work she is the Finance & HR Manager at Greensgrow, a nonprofit focused on food, flowers, and neighborhoods. When not growing, cooking, or preserving food you can find her biking or running around the city, reading a book, or writing letters to dear ones.

Ariana Taylor-Stanley

Ariana is the Northeast Regional Organizer for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition. Ariana works to educate, connect, and empower grassroots food and farm groups in the northeast. She also co-owns and operates Here We Are Farm in Trumansburg, NY, growing vegetables for CSA and farmers markets. She is active in her community as a chapter leader of Showing Up for Racial Justice and the National Young Farmers Coalition. Before moving east, Ariana farmed and coordinated policy advocacy work for two NSAC member organizations in Washington state. She holds an M.P.A. and B.A. from the University of Washington.

Aunnalea Grove

Aunnalea Grove has been a resident of Philadelphia for nearly 15 years. She has an M.A. in Public Anthropology from American University. She has worked in non-profit education, social services, program management, and outreach for over ten years. She currently serves as the Get HYPE Philly! Program Manager at The Food Trust. Her interest in food systems began while she served in restaurants in college, and she is excited to bring her love of youth development work and her passion for food justice together to support NESAWG.

Corey Blant

Corey has been working in the fields of youth development and food sovereignty for much of his adult life. He earned two Bachelor of Arts degrees from the University of Michigan, in Brain Behavior & Cognitive Science and Latin American Studies. He has facilitated theater workshops at a juvenile detention facility and taught English as well as Spanish. From 2012-2013, Corey ran a service-learning program in Managua, Nicaragua and helped create 'El Vivero' - a community garden in one of the most underserved neighborhoods in the city. He is also very involved with Food First - The Institute for Food and Development Policy, facilitating their Oaxaca Food and Sovereignty Tours. Corey was born and raised in Manhattan, and now happily lives in Red Hook, Brooklyn and is the Education & Market Manager at Added Value.

Hannah Chatterjee

Hannah is the Food Policy Advisory Council Manager at the Office of Sustainability. She manages subcommittee projects and fundraising for FPAC, and oversees the Council’s meetings and general operations. She previously served as an AmeriCorps VISTA with FPAC through SERVE Philadelphia and the New York City Coalition Against Hunger’s Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps. Hannah developed an interest in food systems while studying the history of commodities at Cornell University, where she worked as a line cook and graduated in 2013 with a BA in History and International Relations. In another life, she lives in Paris, operates a food truck, and plans her vacations around places to eat.

Immaculate Nyaigoti

Immaculate Nyaigoti is Outreach Specialist at World Farmers and responsible for outreach and communication with all farmers, particularly small & beginner farmers; marketing assistance at Farmers Markets; as well as supporting with wholesale/CSA development and communication. As a first-generation immigrant, daughter of farmers, and former congressional intern for a Representative on the House Agriculture Committee, she is continuing to take steps towards finding her role in this fight against hunger and for food justice.

Iyeshima Harris

Iyeshima Harris started her mark in the food justice movement at the age of 14. As a Jamaican native, she struggled with the process of assimilation into a new culture. Through farming she found great comfort in her community. Throughout her involvement in the movement, Iyeshima has taught food justice, advocate for universal free school lunch, assisted in the development and sustainment of a youth-led organization, and is now the organizer for the Youth Food Justice Network. She is dedicated to integrate youth empowerment and leadership into adult dominated sectors. With a double major of Political Science and Sociology, Iyeshima wishes to combined her passion for food justice and her knowledge of the American politics to drive the importance of food in people’s everyday life.

Kirtrina M. Baxter, M.A.

Kirtrina M. Baxter, M.A. is a dedicated mother, drummer, and afroecologist. She is committed to assisting in the creation of an equitable, community-led food system in Philadelphia where she also co-organizes Soil Generation (SG). SG is a Black and Brown-led coalition of food justice activists that work within a racial and economic justice framework to help inform policy, provide community education, create alternative institutions and support growers in the city. An educator and trainer of afroecology with Black Dirt Farm Collective, she loves getting her hands dirty and meeting kindred spirits. Kirtrina is a board member of Urban Creators, Mill Creek Farm and CoFed, she sits on the leadership teams of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance and HEAL Food Alliance. In 2008, she received her M.A from Union Institute and University in Cultural Studies.

Lorette Picciano

Lorette Picciano has served as Executive Director of the Rural Coalition/Coalición Rural, a Washington, DC-based alliance of more than 70 culturally diverse community based organizations representing small producers and farmworkers in the US and Mexico, since 1992.

Mackenize Johnson

Mackenzie started working with LEAF in 2015 as a Crew Leader, and has been involved since. She discovered sustainable agriculture through a summer job in high school, and since then has spent time investigating the intersectional issues that relate to food, how it is produced, who produces it, and who consumes it. Originally from Massachusetts, Mackenzie came to South Central Pennsylvania for her undergraduate degree at Dickinson College. She loves working for LEAF, as she believes young people are powerful actors in their communities with a lot of potential to create positive change.

Marla Larrave

Marla works with grassroots members to link identified priorities and needs with policy efforts and advocacy opportunities on a national scale. She facilitates NSAC’s work on equity within the food and farm system through the Diversity Committee and alongside member leaders. Having grown up in Los Angeles with deep farming roots in Guatemala, her previous experience includes progressing community-based and leadership 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.

Qiana Mickie

Qiana is Executive Director of Just Food. Qiana’s journey with Just Food began in 2009 when she took the Just Food Community Advocacy training course. She has since served on staff as our CSA Network Manager, and after working for a local food hub, has returned to Just Food in September 2016 as Policy & Advocacy Director and Farmers Market Network Manager, and stepped up as ED in May 2017. She is a veteran advocate for sustainable and equitable food and farm policies on the local, regional, and federal level and leads Just Food's trainings on advocacy and how to launch new community-run farmers' markets and CSAs. Qiana earned her Food Hub Management Certificate from the University of Vermont in October 2015 and her B.S. in Marketing from Hampton University. She is a member of the Peas and Justice Collaborative and the Alliance for Food and Racial Equity (AFRE), and recently served on the Organizational Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition (NSAC). Qiana loves being an active CSA member, practicing Vinyasa yoga, and serves on the boards of The Point CDC, Revolutionary Fitness, and the South Bronx Farmers Market.

Reana Kovalcik

Reana supports National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition’s policy and grassroots efforts by translating challenging policy language into digestible communications and by providing the development support needed for robust fundraising. Reana grew up in the Chicago area and earned her BA in Urban Policy from De Paul University. She later moved to NYC, where earned her MA in Urban Policy Analysis from The New School for Public Engagement. While there, she helped create healthier school food programs and policies for NYC children as part of the Wellness in the Schools team. Reana also served as Legislative Aide for Food Policy under New York City Council Member Gale Brewer, with whom she helped develop NYC’s first package of local food sourcing legislation in 2011.

Ruth Tyson

After studying Sociology and Environmental Studies at St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Ruth Tyson has committed to building sovereign, sustainable, transparent, and equitable local food economies in communities of color. She has brought her black queer feminist analysis to work in the gardening, education, advocacy, nutrition, service, and retail sectors of the food system in DC. Through the Union of Concerned Scientists’ Food & Environment program, Ruth coordinates the Good Food For All Coalition focused on advancing racial equity in federal food and farm policy like the Farm Bill by uplifting grassroots and frontline voices in political advocacy. She is also a member of the Chesapeake Foodshed Network’s Steering Team where she supports equitable and sustainable food system development in her home region.

Souhair Kenas

Souhair is a budding urban farmer with a background in youth education. She spent a summer building community gardens in under-served communities while also teaching the beauty and liberating activity of gardening through comprehensive STEM programming in group homes and juvenile detention centers. One project was leading youth from three NYC detention centers in growing and harvesting peppers for the award-winning Bronx Hot Sauce. A Brooklyn College graduate of International Business and Philosophy, Souhair approaches her home borough of Brooklyn with a universal philosophy: that growing food and sharing both the experience and the (literal) fruits of your labor is one of the most powerful things we as humans can do for each other, connecting us not only to each other but also to nature. Passionate about plants, she continues to learn and teach about the healing power of plants for both the body and the community.

Suzanna Urminska

Suzanna Urminska is the Library Coordinator of the Culinary Literacy Center. Suzanna joined the Culinary Literacy Center in 2015 and became the Library Coordinator in June 2016. As library coordinator, she develops, coordinates, and presents innovative programming, and builds and maintains key partnerships. Suzanna has a BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania, a Master’s in American Studies from Yale University, and a MLIS from the University of Pittsburgh.

Ty Holmberg

Since graduating from Muhlenberg College with a BA in environmental studies, Ty has had extensive expereince in youth development, food justice, and education reform. Previous to his work as one of the founding directors of the Sankofa Community Farm at Bartram’s Garden, he served for ten years with the University of Pennsylvania's Center for Community Partnerships as Director of Health Promotion and Director of the West Philadelphia based Sayre Community School. He has also spent time in the classroom as Philadelphia Teaching Fellow and Philadelphia School District science teacher, as well as two years of national service as a member of Habitat for Humanity AmeriCorps, and a teaching fellow at the esteemed Eagle Rock School and Professional Development Center in Estes Park, Colorado

Vanessa Garcia Polanco

Vanessa Garcia Polanco is a visionary and servant leader Dominican immigrant based in Rhode Island. She is passionate and writes about immigrants, the environment, food systems and Dominican food culture. Vanessa is a 2017 Food Solutions New England Network Leadership Institute Participant and a Chair at the RI Food Policy Council. Follow more from her @vgpvisions.