Michael Fernandez is Senior Fellow at the GW Sustainability Collaborative where his work focuses on food, agriculture and environmental policy. He was most recently Senior Director of Global Public Policy for Mars, Incorporated, where he was responsible for developing and managing global public policies across the company’s portfolio. Michael joined Mars in 2008 from the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology, where he served first as Director of Science and then as Executive Director. Previous work includes Associate Administrator for the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, Special Assistant to the Assistant Administrator at EPA’s Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances, and science and technology advisor to the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. Michael received a Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Chicago and his undergraduate degree in biology from Princeton University.
Ann Mills served as the U.S. Department of Agriculture Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment from 2009 to January 20, 2017. In this position, Ann had responsibility for the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), a $4.1 billion federal agency with a staff of 10,000 that works with the nation’s farmers, ranchers and forest landowners to advance innovative conservation solutions to protecting water quality and quantity, soil health, and wildlife habitat. In her capacity as the USDA representative on number federal task forces and councils, she advanced regional resource protection goals by leveraging NRCS programs and expertise in large scale ecosystems across the country, including the Gulf of Mexico, Mississippi River Basin, California’s Sierra Nevada and Central Valley, Colorado River Basin, Great Lakes, Chesapeake Bay, Yakima Basin, Puget Sound, and the Everglades. Ann was co-chair of the federal National Drought Resilience Partnership, a collaboration of 13 federal agencies working with regional partners to ensure a more water secure nation by achieving measurable improvements in data integration, critical infrastructure protection, watershed-scale land management, market-based solutions, and innovations in water use.
Before joining the USDA, Ann served as a senior executive at American Rivers, where she directed day-to-day operations and led the expansion of seven offices in targeted states. Prior to that, Ann held a variety of positions in government including as chief of staff for the Senate office of U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle, chief of staff to California Lt. Gov. Leo McCarthy, legislative assistant to then-Congressman Richard J. Durbin, and legislative assistant to Congressman James McClure Clarke. Ann holds a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, and a BA in Political Science from Tufts University. She is a graduate of the National Outdoor Leadership School and has lived in France, Colombia and Haiti.
Elanor Starmer served for 6 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture, most recently as Administrator of the Agricultural Marketing Service, a federal agency with over 4,000 employees and an operating budget of $2.75 billion. While at AMS, Elanor managed complex rulemaking, communications strategy and interaction with the Secretary, the White House and Congress on issues ranging from the national organic standards to GMO labeling and commodity (checkoff) board oversight. She also testified before U.S. House and Senate committees on policy and budgetary issues. Elanor focused on strengthening the agency’s workforce and ensuring that it is equipped to meet emerging needs in agriculture. For example, she created a permanent Local Food Systems Policy Advisor position to support USDA-wide efforts to serve this growing sector; brought egg producers and retailers together to chart a mutually-beneficial path to meet buyers’ demand for cage-free eggs; and signed historic agreements with Southern University and Gallaudet University to create a pipeline of diverse talent into AMS. In previous roles at USDA, Elanor supported Deputy Secretary Kathleen Merrigan and coordinated the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, and then served as Senior Advisor to Secretary Tom Vilsack. Prior to joining USDA, Elanor worked in the nonprofit sector and as a consultant on rural and agriculture issues in the United States and Latin America. She holds an M.S. from Tufts University’s Friedman School, an M.A. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a B.A. from Brown. Originally from a small rural farming community in New Hampshire, she lives with her husband and son in northwest Washington, DC, where she serves on the board of her neighborhood civic association.
Sarah is an undergraduate senior majoring in Economics and minoring in Sustainability. Hermain interests lie at the intersection of food systems and behavioral economics, and more recently in sustainable agriculture after reading Dan Barber’s The Third Plate. Her current research assistant position with Professor Merrigan is focused on determining how milking robots alleviate the constraints of traditional dairy farming.
Isabelle “Izzy” Moody
Izzy Moody is a sophomore at GW with a zeal for sustainable agriculture. Her passion for all things food-related stems from her summers spent working on organic farms and gardens, and establishing an on-site compost system for her high school in Vermont. At GW, Izzy continues to garden and celebrate sustainably sourced food as Co-President and an active member of the GroW Community. Izzy milked goats and harvested vegetables as a WWOOFer in France this summer. She is thrilled to be a part of the Food Institute this fall.
Kayla Williams is a senior at GW studying sociology and creative writing. She hopes to increase access to fresh, affordable, and fair food for all Americans while propelling a culture of symbiotic relationships with farmers, consumers, and the land. At GW, Kayla was an active member of the Food Justice Alliance and GroW Garden during her first two years and since May of 2015, has managed the GroW Community Garden as well as working as a photographer for the Multicultural Student Services Center since August 2013. Since May, Kayla has been working with the Sustainability Collaborative as an intern and looks forward to continue throughout the year.