Faculty Team

faculty team

Alexander Müller, Joe Glauber, Kathleen Merrigan.

Kathleen Merrigan and Walter Robb.

More than 200 years of combined on-the-ground experience as policymakers and policy influencers

Kathleen Merrigan

Kathleen Merrigan is Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University, where she leads the GW Sustainability Collaborative, the GW Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. From 2009-2013, Dr. Merrigan was U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Prior to joining USDA, she directed the Agriculture, Food and Environment program at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. She has also served as Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service and as senior staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where she wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food.

William Dietz

William Dietz is Director of the Redstone Global Center for Prevention and Wellness at the GW Milken Institute School for Public Health, a member of the National Academy of Medicine, and a consultant to the Roundtable on Obesity Solutions. He is also Co-Chair of the Washington, DC Department of Health’s Diabesity Committee. Until 2012, Dr. Dietz was the Director of the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). He has served on the federal Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee and has received awards for his efforts to improve school lunch.


Michael Fernandez

Michael Fernandez came to GW from the role of Senior Director of Global Public Policy for Mars, Inc. Previously, Dr. Fernandez served as Executive Director of the Pew Initiative on Food and Biotechnology; he is a wellknown expert on biotechnology and related issues. He has also held leadership roles at USDA, EPA, and on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry.

William Gillon

William Gillon is CEO of the Cotton Board. Prior to joining the Board in 2010, Mr. Gillon was legal counsel for the National Cotton Council and served as Senior Counsel for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry. He also served as an attorney in the Office of General Counsel at USDA. During his time in Washington, he helped draft numerous significant pieces of legislation covering conservation, trade, commodities and organic agriculture.

Joe Glauber

Joe Glauber is a Senior Research Fellow at the International Food Policy Research Institute in Washington DC. Prior to joining IFPRI, Dr. Glauber spent over 30 years at USDA, including as Chief Economist and Chair of the Board of the Federal Crop Insurance Corporation from 2008-14. Dr. Glauber served as the Special Doha Agricultural Envoy at the office of the US Trade Representative. He is author of numerous studies on crop insurance, disaster policy and U.S. farm policy.

Janie Hipp

Janie Hipp (Chickasaw) is the Director of the Indigenous Food and Agriculture Initiative and visiting Professor of Law at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Prior to joining the law school, she was the senior advisor for tribal relations at USDA. She is the founder of the USDA Office of Tribal Relations and served two terms on the Secretary’s Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers.

Ferd Hoefner

Ferd Hoefner is a founding staff member of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition and has been a leader in the sustainable agriculture community for over 30 years. He led NSAC’s federal policy work from 1988 through 2016 and now serves in a mentoring and advisory role to the coalition. Throughout his time at NSAC, he has cultivated strategic and effective leaders through mentorship of NSAC staff members and support for NSAC member organizations across the U.S.

Mark Lipson

Mark Lipson is a partner at the Molino Creek Farming Collective and a researcher with the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. He served as Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor for the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture from 2010- 14, and before that as Policy Director at the Organic Farming Research Foundation. In each of these roles, he has mentored the next generation of leaders in the organic field. He has been farming for over 30 years.


Ann Mills

Ann Mills served as USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources and Environment throughout the Obama Administration, where she advanced regional resource protection goals in large-scale ecosystems across the country. Before joining USDA, she served as a senior executive at American Rivers and held a variety of positions in federal and state government.

Alexander Müller

Alexander Müller is the Former Assistant Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and oversaw the FAO’s Natural Resources and Environment department. He was also chair of the United Nations System Standing Committee on Nutrition. He is study leader of “The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity for Agriculture and Food,” a project of the UN Environment Program and the Global Alliance for the Future of Food. The European Commission recently appointed him to the Independent Expert Committee on the Junction of Health, Environment and the Bioeconomy.

Ashli Palmer

Ashli Palmer currently serves as the Policy Director for the Office of the Assistant Democratic Leader, Congressman James E. Clyburn, the top ranking African American in the US Congress. In her capacity as Policy Director, Ashli oversees all policy initiatives and the legislative agenda. Prior to joining the Congressman, she was Chief of Staff for the Rural Business Service Agency at USDA and served as Senior Legislative Assistant for former Congressman John Spratt covering healthcare, education, civil rights and economic development.

Bob Perciasepe

Bob Perciasepe is President of the Center for Climate and Energy Solutions, a leading voice for policy and action to address energy and climate change. He has been an environmental policy leader in and outside government for more than 30 years, most recently as Deputy Administrator of the EPA. He also served as Chief Operating Officer at the National Audubon Society and has held top positions in state and municipal government, including Secretary of Environment for the State of Maryland.

Walter Robb

With a long and varied entrepreneurial history in natural foods ranging from retailer to farmer to consultant, Walter Robb joined Whole Foods Market in 1991 and in 2010 was named co-CEO along with John Mackey. At that time, he also joined the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors. In 2017, Robb transitioned his leadership focus to his role as Chairman of the Board for Whole Kids Foundation and Whole Cities Foundation. He also continues to serve on the Whole Foods Market Board of Directors, as well as Union Square Hospitality Group and The Container Store. Robb is an ardent organic advocate; he works his own organic garden and has served on the Board of Directors of the Organic Trade Association and the Organic Center for Education and Promotion.

Kim Robien

Kim Robien is an Associate Professor, Registered Dietitian, and Director of the Master of Public Health Nutrition Program at the GW Milken Institute School of Public Health. Prior to joining GW, Dr. Robien was an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota’s School of Public Health, where she directed the Public Health Nutrition MPH program.

Ricardo Salvador

Ricardo Salvador is a senior scientist and director of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, where he works with citizens, scientists, economists, and politicians to promote health and social equity in the food system. Prior to joining UCS, Dr. Salvador served as a program officer with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and was an associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University.

Elanor Starmer

Elanor Starmer served at USDA from 2010-17, first as coordinator of the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative, then as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture, and finally as Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. Prior to coming to USDA, she worked in the nonprofit sector on rural and agriculture policy issues with a focus on economic and social justice.