Local Foods Impact Conference Speakers

Plenary Speakers

Jim Barham

Jim Barham is an Agricultural Economist for USDA’s Rural Development agency. Jim obtained a MA in Cultural Anthropology and a PhD in Interdisciplinary Ecology from the University of Florida. Before joining the USDA, Jim worked extensively in the Middle East, Africa and the Caribbean with a number of nonprofit organizations and government agencies on agricultural development projects targeting smallholder producers. Jim joined USDA in 2007 where he has worked to improve marketing opportunities for small and mid-size producers through a combination of research, technical assistance, and grant support. Jim has presented research and published a number of articles on regional food hubs, food value chains, local food distribution, and foodservice procurement. He is also the program lead for the newly established Healthy Food Financing Initiative, which is housed in Rural Development.

Gary Black

Serving his second term, Commissioner Gary W. Black is the sixteenth Georgian to hold the office of Commissioner of Agriculture since the department’s inception in 1874.

Black earned a degree in Agricultural Education from the University of Georgia College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. Throughout his 35 year career in agriculture he has championed sound state and federal policies impacting food safety, science-based environmental stewardship and agricultural marketing.

He would rather be referred to as Lydia’s husband and Ward and Caroline’s dad. He and Lydia raise commercial beef cattle on the family farm in Commerce. Black serves in the Sunday school and music ministries of Maysville Baptist Church.

Kimberly Brown

Kimberly Brown, Chief Program Officer at DC Central Kitchen, has worked to provide educational opportunities for youth and adults for over 15 years.  She began her career as a faculty member teaching immigrants and English language learners at Montana State University and the University of Maryland, then moved to Montgomery Community College where she developed specialized employment-focused curricula and programs for immigrants, refugees and other underserved and marginalized populations including victims of human trafficking, victims of domestic violence, survivors of torture and trauma, displaced youth, and returning citizens. Her areas of expertise include workforce development and continuing education, career pathways, and accelerated and contextualized programming. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics from the University of Montana, and an M.A. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Maryland.


Kate Clancy

Kate Clancy is currently a food systems consultant, Visiting Scholar at the Center for a Livable Future Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health, Adjunct Professor at Tufts University, and Senior Fellow in the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture, University of Minnesota (she resides in University Park, Maryland). She earned her doctorate in Nutrition at the University of California, Berkeley. Her resume includes positions at Cornell and Syracuse University and sabbatical appointments at the Universities of Wisconsin and Minnesota, the latter as a rotating endowed chair in 2007. She has worked as a nutrition and policy advisor at the Federal Trade Commission, and at several nonprofits such as the Wallace Center. Clancy developed a graduate course on food systems in 1982 and since then has published, taught, spoken, and consulted widely on sustainable agriculture, food systems, and food policy with government agencies, universities, and nonprofits around the country. She has promoted the idea of sustainable diets since 1983. She has served on many boards including the Food and Drug Administration Food Advisory Council. She is the deputy director of the USDA-funded six-year EFSNE systems project in the Northeast United States, and engaged with many initiatives including Agriculture of the Middle and It Takes a Region. She publishes a column in the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems and Community Development on topics related to the application of systems concepts to food systems.

Dana Coale

Dana H. Coale was selected as Deputy Administrator of the AMS Dairy Program in September 2004.  Ms. Coale oversees a wide array of programs and services that establish and maintain orderly dairy marketing conditions and ensure that consumers have adequate supplies of pure and wholesome milk at all times.  She manages an organization of more than 470 employees who implement these programs across the Nation.
Ms. Coale began her career with the AMS Fruit and Vegetable Program in 1989 as a Marketing Specialist, but she has spent nearly her entire career with Dairy Programs, starting as an Agricultural Marketing Specialist in 1990 working with the Federal Milk Marketing Order Program.  Prior to her appointment as Deputy Administrator, she served as Associate Deputy Administrator for Dairy Program for almost 3 years.
Ms. Coale received a Bachelor of Science degree in Public Service and Administration in Agriculture and International Agriculture from Iowa State University.  She grew up on a grain and livestock farm in Central Iowa, and she continues to maintain ownership in the operation.  Ms. Coale and her husband have two children and reside in Gainesville, Virginia.

Cris Coffin

Cris is Policy Director for Land For Good, a New England-based organization that seeks to help more farmers gain more secure access to farmland. With expertise in policy development, advocacy, research and coalition building, Cris works with partners and policy makers around New England to advance strategies around farmland access, tenure, transfer and succession. Cris has served as Professional Staff Member on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; as Legislative Assistant and Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl; and as consultant to both the Vermont and Wisconsin Departments of Agriculture. As New England Director for American Farmland Trust from 2001-2015, Cris built public and political support for state farmland protection programs and policies, helped communities more effectively support and plan for agriculture, and forged multi-state and multi-sector coalitions to address regional food system challenges, including Farm to Institution New England, Connecticut’s Working Lands Alliance, and the Massachusetts Food System Collaborative, which she currently chairs. Cris has led several regional research and policy initiatives, including Gaining Insights, Gaining Access (Land For Good; American Farmland Trust), and New England Food Policy: Building a Sustainable Food System (American Farmland Trust; Conservation Law Foundation; Land For Good; Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Working Group). Cris holds a B.A. in geography from the University of MassachusettsAmherst and a J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center. She is a member of her town’s Agriculture Commission, and, with her husband, raises pastured poultry on their farm in western Massachusetts.

Jillian Dy

Jillian Dy is a  good food advocate who works to build partnerships that improve public health and create vibrant communities. As Deputy Director of The Common Market Mid-Atlantic, Jillian leads our outreach team that connects institutions, retailers, restaurants and community organizations to local farms and producers, directs The Common Market’s producer marketing strategy, and develops institutional partnerships that foster healthier food procurement in the region. Prior to joining The Common Market, Jillian ran a vegetable farm in Buckingham, Virginia. She received a BA in Fine Arts from Boston University.

Joshua Eilers

Josh Eilers served as an Airborne Army Ranger for 5 years. As a Sergeant, he served as team leader in the U.S. Army’s elite First Ranger Battalion.  During this time, he honed his leadership techniques by leading his team of Rangers on hundreds of special operation missions involving high-value targets throughout Iraq and Afghanistan.  After being wounded in combat, Josh received a Purple Heart. Following his military career Josh attended The University of Texas at Austin where he majored in Biology. While at UT, he invested his military savings in a herd of Wagyu cattle and Ranger Cattle was born. Today Josh continues to serve by providing high quality, sustainable beef to his community. Ranger Cattle is a farm-to-table Wagyu Beef operation that specializes in breeding, raising, and direct marketing Wagyu Beef to local restaurants and farmers markets.

Claudette Fernandez

Claudette Fernandez brings over 15 years of organizational leadership, strategic planning, policy development, human capital and resource oversight, program management, and economic development experiences at the local, regional, federal and international levels. Currently, she serves as Deputy Administrator for Business Programs at USDA, overseeing Business & Industry Guaranteed Loan and a variety of grants and revolving loan fund programs that finance businesses including local and regional food projects. Previously, Claudette served as the Director for USDA’s Community Economic Development Division, leading staff and initiatives that provide training and technical assistance to local and regional food, cooperatives, regional planning, and place-based initiatives. She also previously served as the Director for the Agency’s Grants Division and Specialty Programs Division managing key local and regional food financing programs such as Value Added Producer Grant Program, Rural Business Development Grant Program, and Intermediary Relending Program to name a few. Prior to joining USDA in 2012, Claudette served as a Senior Program Manager for FEMA’s multi-hazard mitigation and preparedness programs which included grant administration, cadre management, policy development, field outreach, and regional & national disaster operations coordination. Claudette also served as a community planner for South Georgia Regional Development Center and Prince George’s County Department of Housing & Community Development and supported African and Middle-Eastern humanitarian affairs at the United Nations Secretariat in New York. Originally from the Philippines, Claudette has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Political Science and a Master of Public Administration from Valdosta State University, a Master of Engineering Science from George Washington University and a Graduate Certificate in International Business Management from Georgetown University.

Erin Healy

Before joining USDA, Erin Healy served as the Healthy Eating Initiative Director at The Health Trust, an operating health foundation in San Jose, where she oversaw a $1M portfolio of healthy food access and local food programs as well as food policy change efforts. Erin had previously founded and directed Youth L.E.A.D., a food justice organization in South Florida. She also served as Miami Dade County Public School’s first Farm-to-School Manager in 2011 and was selected as one of “20 emerging leaders under 40” by the Miami Herald in 2011 and one of CASE Foundation’s “Fearless Leaders” in 2012 for her contributions to local food systems, policy change, and youth development programs. She previously worked as a Public Health Manager for Catholic Relief Services in West Africa and formerly led youth development and health education programs in Brooklyn and Philadelphia. She holds an M.P.H. from Tulane University and a B.A. from University of Pennsylvania.

J. Latrice Hill

J. Latrice Hill serves as an Assistant to the Deputy Administrator of Field Operations, where she is Director of the Farm Service Agency’s (FSA) Office of Program Education and Stakeholder Engagement. In this position, Hill provides outreach policy and guidance to FSA leadership and field staff located in FSA’s 2,124 offices across the country.

In 2011, Hill was selected as the Outreach Program Lead in the Field Operations Division, issuing the first ever established policy for program outreach. She was later selected as Director of Outreach in 2013.

Hill began her federal career as a clerk with the Farm Service Agency (then known as the Farmers Home Administration). She later served in the positions of loan officer and district outreach coordinator where she was responsible for determining feasibility, assessing financial situations and risks, approving and servicing borrower farm loan accounts for six counties. With a strong background in communications and passion for serving others, Hill was later selected to serve as the FSA State Public Relations & Outreach Specialist, overseeing outreach activities in 71 counties.

In that position, she received several awards and recognition for her collaborations and work with rural farmers and students as well as being appointed by two U.S. Secretaries of Agriculture to serve on the National Advisory Committee for Beginning Farmers and Ranchers for three two year terms.

Hill continues to be an active volunteer in the community and is a member of numerous organizations. A native of Mississippi, Hill received her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. She maintains residences in Mississippi and Virginia with her two children.

Donald Hinkle-Brown

Donald Hinkle-Brown, President and CEO, leads a staff of more than 90 highly skilled financial experts, research analysts, community developers and other professionals at Reinvestment Fund, a catalyst for change in low-income communities. Reinvestment Fund integrates data, policy and strategic investments to improve the quality of life in low-income towns and cities.  Mr. Hinkle-Brown is widely recognized as an expert in mission investing and capacity building through his work developing new programmatic initiatives, raising capital and creating new products that improve opportunity, equity and health for underserved people and places. Under his leadership, Reinvestment Fund launched ReFresh, the nation’s first practitioner network of community lenders committed to improving access to healthy food for all Americans. He has also been instrumental in shaping strategies that leverage efforts at the intersection of health and community development to build thriving communities, including Reinvestment Fund’s pioneering multi-sector initiative in partnership with Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Invest Health. Mr. Hinkle-Brown provides his expertise to many community development loan funds, community organizations, and students, demonstrating a strong personal commitment to building the capacity of peer organizations, community partners, and the next generation of community development professionals. Closer to home, he also serves as board member to Reinvestment Fund affiliate PolicyMap. Mr. Hinkle-Brown has served as adjunct faculty at Temple University’s Geography and Urban Studies program and the University of Pennsylvania’s City Planning department. He holds an M.B.A. from the Fox School at Temple University in Real Estate and Urban Planning as well as a B.A. in Economics.

Christine James

Christine James came to The John Merck Fund in 2008, after 20+ years working for small, community-based human service and environmental nonprofit organizations in Maine and Massachusetts. She has a BA in art history from Bowdoin College and an MA in public policy from Tufts University’s Urban & Environmental Policy program. Just prior to coming to JMF, she was executive director of EarthWorks, a small urban greening organization based in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Her work in Maine included four years as executive director of an educational organic farm and two years working on clean energy and climate change issues. As Director of Programs for JMF, she oversees the foundation’s environmental grants programs: Clean Energy, Health and the Environment, and Regional Food Systems.

Haile Johnston

Haile Johnston is a Philadelphia-based social entrepreneur who works to improve the vitality of rural and urban communities through food systems reform and policy change. As a father of four, Haile actively pursues his core purpose to “repair the earth for our children and prepare our children for the earth.”

Along with his wife Tatiana, he is the Co-Director and a founder of The Common Market, a nonprofit distribution enterprise headquartered in Philadelphia that connects communities in the Mid Atlantic states and the Atlanta, Georgia region to sustainable, locally grown farm food.  The two have also teamed up to found the East Park Revitalization Alliance in their community of Strawberry Mansion where they have resided for thirteen years.
Haile is a graduate of University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business where he concentrated in entrepreneurial management. He is proud to have served as a Food and Community Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. Haile currently serves as a Board Trustee for the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation and as an Advisory Board Member for the National Farm to School Network. Haile and Tatiana were recently named Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneurs for their work to grow regional food systems impact through The Common Market.

Ken Keck

Ken Keck joined the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service in early 2015 as Director of the Marketing Services Division. He came from the California Citrus Research Board, where he served for nearly two years as its president.  He has deep knowledge and experience in working with farmers of all sizes and commissioning research that helps to address many of the challenges they face.  Before serving as the president of the California Citrus Research Board, Ken served as general counsel and executive director of the Florida Department of Citrus from 2006-2012.  Organized a state agency, it is the primary entity for grower-funded marketing, research and regulatory programs on behalf of Florida’s citrus growers. In addition, he served as that organization’s director of government affairs and general counsel from 2002-2006, and director of legislative and regulatory affairs with the state’s largest grower trade association, Florida Citrus Mutual from 1999-2002.  Not only does Ken have legislative experience at the State level, he served as legislative director for U.S. Congressman Sanford Bishop (Macon, GA) from 1997-1999. Ken earned his JD from Widener University Delaware Law School, and his BA from Stetson University in DeLand, Florida.

Steven Knapp

Steven Knapp became the 16th president of the George Washington University in August 2007. His priorities include enhancing the university’s partnerships with neighboring institutions, expanding the scope of its research, strengthening its worldwide community of alumni, enlarging its students’ opportunities for pubic service, and leading its transformation into a model of urban sustainability. A specialist in Romanticism, literary theory, and the relation of literature to philosophy and religion, Dr. Knapp taught English Literature at the University of California, Berkeley before serving as Dean of Arts and Sciences and then Provost of the Johns Hopkins University. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, and a member of the Modern Language Association. The author of three books and numerous articles, he earned his Doctorate and Masters degrees from Cornell University and his Bachelor of Arts degree from Yale University.

Tricia Kovacs

Tricia Kovacs is the Local and Regional Food Systems Policy Advisor at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), based in Agricultural Marketing Service. She coordinates efforts across USDA to support the local and regional food sector. Prior to joining USDA, Tricia managed Regional Markets programs at Washington State Department of Agriculture, where she was founding Program Manager for the state Farm to School Program and also led the Small Farm Direct Marketing Program. Tricia was lead author on publications that help farmers and buyers understand complex market requirements, including Bridging the GAPs Farm Guide: Good Agricultural Practices and On-Farm Food Safety for Small, Mid-Sized and Diversified Fruit and Vegetable Farms, and A School’s Guide to Buying Washington-Grown Food. Tricia holds a M.Sc. in Sustainability, Planning, and Environmental Policy from Cardiff University in Wales and a BA from University of Virginia. Originally from rural Appalachian Virginia, she lives with her husband and two children in Washington D.C.

Mark Lipson

Mark Lipson is a 30-year pioneer and influential leader in the organic farming and food community in California and nationally. In 2016 Mark received the “Champion of Sustainable Agriculture Award” from the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.  He served a 4 ½ -year term of service as the Organic and Sustainable Agriculture Policy Advisor in the Office of the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (until late 2014). At the USDA he led the department-wide Organic Working Group and co-led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food (“KYF2”) Task Force. Since completing his term at USDA, Mark has been appointed as a Research Associate in Organic Agriculture Policy at the University of California at Santa Cruz, affiliated with the Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. Mark graduated with honors from U.C. Santa Cruz in 1981 with a B.A. in environmental studies. Since 1983 he has been a member in Molino Creek Farm, a cooperative multi-family organic farming community near Davenport, California and the original home of the famed, dry-farmed tomatoes.  He was the Assistant Executive Director of California Certified Organic Farmers (’85-’93) and the Policy Director at Organic Farming Research Foundation (’95-2010).  Mark serves as a Trustee of the Homeless Garden Project and the Organic Center.

Dr. Jane Clary Loveless

Dr. Jane Clary Loveless, is the National Program Leader for nutrition/extension for the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, USDA, in the Institute of Food Safety and Nutrition. Her specialization area is community nutrition and health and technology based nutrition and health education for young families with children to help combat childhood obesity. Clary Loveless is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist. For over 20 years, Clary Loveless has worked as a professor and extension specialist, at Purdue University, where she completed both her undergraduate and graduate programs, and Mississippi State University, on the design, implementation, and evaluation of community based programs for land-grant institutions providing evidence-based healthy lifestyle programs to families in the Midwest and the Southern regions. Currently, she is working with the Community Food Projects, Food Insecurity Nutrition Incentive Program, and the Childhood Obesity issues at USDA, co-leading the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative (AFRI) Childhood Obesity Prevention Program with Dr. Deirdra Chester. On November 5 th 2015, she received as group leader, along with the team, the “ USDA Abraham Lincoln Honor Award for successfully implementing the Food insecurity Nutrition Incentive interagency program to address food insecurity and increase the purchase of fruits and vegetables among low- income consumers. “

Currently, Dr. Clary Loveless holds memberships in the following professional organizations: The American Society for Nutrition, the American Public Health Association, Society of Nutrition Education and Behavior, and the American Diabetes Association. Dr. Clary Loveless has spoken both nationally and internationally on nutrition and health topics as well as on community based wellness programs using technology and social media.

Scott Marlow

Scott Marlow is the Executive Director of the Rural Advancement Foundation International – USA, a non-profit organization based in Pittsboro, NC. Scott previously directed RAFI’s Farm Sustainability program, providing in-depth financial counseling to farmers in crisis, education on disaster assistance programs and access to credit, and addressing the needs of mid-scale farmers who are increasing the sustainability of their farms by transitioning to higher-value specialty markets. Scott’s specialty is financial infrastructure, including access to credit and risk management, and how that infrastructure addresses food security and global climate change. He has served on the steering committee of the National Task Force to Renew Agriculture of the Middle, the Organization Council of the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, the Board of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group, the Board of the NC Farm Transition Network, and the NC Agricultural Advancement Consortium and serves on the Advisory Committee of the NC Agricultural Development and Farmland Preservation Trust Fund. He has a Masters Degree in Crop Science from NC State University, and a BA in Political Science from Duke University.

Kathleen Merrigan 

Kathleen Merrigan is Executive Director of Sustainability at the George Washington University, where she leads the GW Sustainability Collaborative, GW Food Institute, and serves as Professor of Public Policy. Merrigan serves as a Board Director for the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture and Food Corps, a member of the Harvard Pilgrim Healthy Food Fund Advisory Committee, Senior Advisor at the Kendall Foundation, and steering committee member of the Council of Environmental Deans and Directors of the National Council for Science and the Environment. From 2009-2013, Merrigan was U.S. Deputy Secretary and Chief Operating Officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a $150 billion, 110,000 employee institution. As Deputy Secretary, Merrigan created and led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems; was a key architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign; and made history as the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Before joining the USDA, Merrigan held a variety of agriculture policy positions, including faculty member at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, Administrator of the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service, and senior staff on the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry, where she wrote the law establishing national standards for organic food.

Merrigan holds a Ph.D. in environmental planning and policy from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas, and a B.A. from Williams College. Recognizing the history and scope of her work, Time Magazine named Dr. Merrigan among the “100 most influential people in the world” in 2010.


Arthur Neal

Arthur L. Neal, Jr. serves as the Deputy Administrator of the Transportation and Marketing (TM) Program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS) in Washington, DC.

To help accomplish the agency’s mission of facilitating the competitive and efficient marketing of agricultural products, Arthur provides leadership and direction for the agency’s multi-million dollar grant programs that support the development and growth of local and regional food systems, as well as fund research that addresses marketing challenges for agriculture industries. He leads a talented team that is responsible for providing economic analysis on bulk agricultural transportation from farm to market and improving market access for local and regional agricultural producers.

Before joining the Transportation and Marketing Program in 2011, Arthur spent over ten years at USDA’s National Organic Program (NOP) where he served as Associate Deputy Administrator and played a leading role in the development and enforcement of regulations for the organic industry. He also served several years with the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Civil Rights, strengthening relationships between Historically Black Land-Grant Universities and USDA, and resolving cases related to the Equal Credit Opportunity Act.

Arthur, a native of Louisiana, graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree from
Southern University and A&M College, and earned a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville and the Scottish Agricultural College in Aberdeen, Scotland (UK). Arthur and his wife reside in the Washington, DC metro area.

Kathy Newcomer

Kathryn Newcomer is the Director of the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration at the George Washington University where she teaches public and nonprofit program evaluation and research design. She routinely conducts research and training for federal and local government agencies and nonprofit organizations on performance measurement and program evaluation, and has designed and conducted evaluations for many U.S. federal agencies and dozens of nonprofit organizations.

Dr. Newcomer has published five books, Improving Government Performance (1989), The Handbook of Practical Program Evaluation (1994, 2nd edition 2004, 3rd edition 2010 and 4th edition 2015), Meeting the Challenges of Performance-Oriented Government (2002), Getting Results: A Guide for Federal Leaders and Managers (2005), Transformational Leadership: Leading Change in Public and Nonprofit Agencies (2008), a volume of New Directions for Public Program Evaluation, Using Performance Measurement to Improve Public and Nonprofit Programs (1997), and numerous articles in journals including the Public Administration Review.

Dr. Newcomer is a Fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration, and currently serves on the Comptroller General’s Educators’ Advisory Panel. She served as President of the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) for 2006-2007 and as a member of the board for the American Evaluation Association from 2012-2015. In summer 2015, she was elected President Elect of the American Evaluation Association and will hold the President position throughout 2017. She has received two Fulbright awards, one for Taiwan (1993) and one for Egypt (2001-04). She received the Elmer Staats Award for Achievements in Government Accountability, awarded by the National Capital Area Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration in 2008. She has lectured on performance measurement and public program evaluation in Ukraine, Brazil, Italy, Costa Rica, Egypt, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates, Israel, Poland, Colombia, Nicaragua, and the UK.

Representative Dan Newhouse

Representative Dan Newhouse is a lifelong resident of Central Washington and is honored to represent the 4th District in Congress. A third-generation Yakima Valley farmer, Dan brings real-world experience to Congress as a businessman and former state legislator ready to work hard in support of conservative solutions that encourage job creation and economic opportunity in Central Washington. Dan understands that looking out for taxpayers means that Congress must stay on budget and make the government work efficiently to fulfill its responsibilities.
Dan serves on three committees with jurisdiction on critical legislative issues for the 4th District; these include the Appropriations and Rules committees.

From 2009 to 2013, Dan served as Director of Washington State’s Department of Agriculture, where he listened to the concerns of Washington farmers and promoted the state’s agricultural resources.

Representative Chellie Pingree

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree moved to Maine in 1970s, and after graduating from College of the Atlantic she started a small farm on the island of North Haven. A knitting business she started in the early 80s soon grew to ten year-round employees producing knitting kits and books that were sold in hundreds of stores across the country.She was elected to the Maine Senate in 1992 and after serving four terms—two as Senate Majority Leader—went on to become the national President of Common Cause.
In 2008 Chellie Pingree was elected to Congress to serve Maine’s 1st District.
When she was first elected she served as a member of the Agriculture Committee and has become a national voice for local, sustainable farming.
In the current Congress, she sits on the powerful Appropriations Committee, serving on the Interior and Agriculture subcommittees.

Rich Pirog

Rich Pirog is director at the Center for Regional Food Systems (CRFS) at Michigan State University. He is responsible for the strategic direction, management, and achievement of mission for the Center. From 2011 through 2015 he was senior associate director at CRFS. His programmatic work includes the Michigan Food Hub Network, the the Michigan Good Food Fund as well as the Michigan Good Food Charter. From 1990-2011 he was associate director and program leader for marketing and food systems at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture in Iowa. Pirog’s work in local foods, food hubs, food system networks, economic impact of local foods, and food value chains has been publicized and cited widely across the U.S. His recent writings and research include impact of local foods, evolution of the local food movement, structural racism present in the U.S. food system, and building networks to address social, health and economic challenges in the food system.

Barbara Rater

Barbara Rater is the Director of the Census and Survey Division at USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS). Appointed in 2015, Barbara provides leadership and oversight to the agency’s Census Planning, Survey Administration, and Data Collection branches. She is responsible for sustaining the high quality of NASS’s census and survey data collection processes by serving as the central point of contact for operations and support activities.

As part of her 30-year career, she has served as Chief of the Survey Administration Branch from 2012-2015 and as Director of the Maryland Field Office from 2006-2012. She has over 20 years of international development experience and expertise aimed at helping developing countries measure agricultural productivity. Barbara started her federal government career in service to agriculture as a student trainee at the U.S. Bureau of the Census. Growing up in a military family, she is a native of Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. Barbara received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Maryland College Park and is a graduate of the Key Executive Leadership Program from American University’s School of Public Administration.


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 which time he 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.

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.

He graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Stanford University in 1976 and is a proud father and grandfather with two sons, a daughter, and four grandchildren.

A-dae Romero-Briones 

A-dae Romero-Briones (Cochiti/Kiowa) was born and raised in Cochiti Pueblo, NM. She is the Associate Director of Research at First Nations Development Institute-Native Agriculture and Programs, and is also the co-founder and former Executive Director of non-profit for Cochiti Pueblo, New Mexico. She formerly worked for Pulama Lana’i on the island of Lana’i, Hawai’i. Previously, Ms. Romero-Briones worked for the University of Arkansas’ Indigenous Food and Agricultural Intuitive while she was getting her LLM in Food and Agricultural Law. Her thesis was on the Food Safety Modernization Act as it applied to the Federal Tribal relationship. She wrote extensively about Food Safety, the Produce Safety rule and tribes, and the protection of tribal traditional foods. A U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Ms. Romero-Briones received her Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy from Princeton University, and received a Law Doctorate from Arizona State University’s College of Law, and LLM in Food and Agricultural Law from the University of Arkansas.

Doreen Schultz

Doreen Schultz is a graduate of UW Madison and managed Stoney Acres Farm as a 50 cow dairy from 1976 until 1997. She taught gifted and talented programs 3rd and 4th grade from 1985 until 2016 at St Anthony’s school in Athens and Marathon Elementary in Marathon, WI. She currently provides lots of intergenerational support to Stoney Acres and plays with her three beautiful grand kids.
Tony Schultz
Tony Schultz is a third-generation farmer in North Central Wisconsin. He owns Stoney Acre Farms, a certified organic farm which offers a 20 week Community Supported Agriculture Program and produces vegetables, herbs, fruits and flowers, as well as grass fed beef, pastured pork, eggs, and organic grains. From May through November, Tony and his family host “Pizza on the Farm” every Friday, using meats, produce, wheat, and herbs grown and raised on the farm to feed hundreds of local community members. He also sells food to the local school district, supporting Wisconsin’s farm-to-school effort to bring healthy food into school meals and reconnect children with where and how food is grown.  Schultz is a strong advocate for local, sustainable, organic farming. Schultz is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He has three children who enjoy fresh vegetables and digging in the dirt.

Debra Tropp

Debra Tropp is a 24-year veteran of USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS), where she presently serves as Deputy Director of AMS’s Marketing Services Division and oversees the Division’s applied research and technical assistance work on local food system development.  Much of her work over the past two decades has focused on identifying marketing opportunities for locally-produced food in institutional and commercial channels, and tracking the evolution and development of business models that seek to facilitate cost-effective local food distribution.


Ms. Tropp has a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of International Affairs in Economic and Political Development, and a A.B. in Political Science from Bryn Mawr College.  In the spring of 2013, she was one of five USDA employees selected to participate in the President’s Management Council  Interagency Rotation Program for mid-career professionals, and in 2016, she received a Certificate in Public Leadership from the Brookings Institute’s Executive Education program.

Workshop Presenters

Marika Bertram

Marika Bertram is the Team Lead for Data Evaluation in HUD’s Office of Field Policy and Management (FPM) and has worked in Field Operations for over 6 years.   She currently focuses on evaluating the impact of HUD’s place-based work and tying it to HUD’s Strategic Goals through the local operating plans and efforts around a variety of place-based initiatives.  She is the business owner of HUD’s Community Assessment Reporting Tool, which allows the public to see HUD’s investments in their local communities at the click of a button.  Marika has a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University and a Bachelor of Arts in Economic and Urban History from Columbia University.  She is an Excellence in Government Fellow and former Presidential Management Fellow.  She is also the loving mother of two adorable kids.


Kumar Chandran

Kumar Chandran has almost a decade of experience working on food and nutrition policy. Most recently, he worked in the Obama administration as Chief of Staff for USDA’s Food, Nutrition, and Consumer Services, under the leadership of Undersecretary Kevin Concannon. As Chief of Staff, Kumar worked on the regulations, policies, and communications related to the federal food and nutrition programs, as well as the Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Prior to his tenure at USDA, Kumar worked at Share Our Strength from November 2011 through September 2014. Share Our Strength is a national non-profit working to end childhood hunger in America. At Share Our Strength, he worked with federal, state, and local government agencies as well as state and national organizations on strategies to end childhood hunger through better leveraging the federal nutrition programs. Prior to Share Our Strength, he worked at California Food Policy Advocates in Oakland, California where his focus was on legislative and administrative policy changes to improve the health and nutrition of low-income Californians, primarily through strengthening the federal nutrition assistance safety net.

Kumar has a Master of Science in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, a Master of Public Health from the Tufts University School of Medicine, and a Bachelor’s degree in Political Economy from the University of California at Berkeley. Kumar grew up in northern New Jersey and the central coast of California. He currently lives in Washington DC with his wife and son.


Jen Cheek

Jen Cheek is the Executive Director of the Farmers Market Coalition (FMC), a national nonprofit dedicated to strengthening farmers markets so that they can serve as community assets while providing real income opportunities for farmers. Over the past four years, Jen has been working to fulfill FMC’s mission to document and publicize the triumphs of farmers markets, while responding to the training, networking, and advocacy needs of the growing farmers market community. During her tenure at FMC, projects have included the development of the Free SNAP EBT Equipment Program in partnership with the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, research into data collection and communication models for farmers markets, and surveying food safety practices at the local level. Jen believes that in addition to serving as important economic and agricultural incubators, community centers, and platforms for food education, farmers markets are the happiest places on earth.

Previously working in urban planning, Jen collaborated with numerous municipalities and government agencies to create civic meeting spaces, preserve natural areas, and design parks and gardens all over the U.S. Specializing in communication design and outreach, she worked closely with community stakeholders to research and distill data, build consensus, create educational materials, and craft plans and policies. She holds a Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree from the University of Virginia, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan.


Carlos Coleman

Carlos Coleman is an Agricultural Marketing Specialist in the Local Food Research and Development Division (formerly MSD) of the United States Department of Agriculture who works to improve economic opportunities for small and mid-sized agricultural producers. He conducts research on best practices for the development of direct-to- consumer and intermediated marketing channels and is interested in exploring their potential for anchoring economic development efforts in underserved and blighted communities across the rural/urban spectrum. Current projects include the USDA National Farmers Market Manager Survey, The Local Food Research Design Workshop for Communities and Practitioners, and an Analysis of Farmers Market Incentive Programs on Farmers Market Vendors in Maryland.


Stacia Clinton, RD. LDN.

Stacia Clinton, is National Director for the Healthy Food in Health Care Program at Health Care Without Harm and chairs the Clinician Champions in Comprehensive Antibiotic Stewardship (CCCAS) collaborative, a joint effort of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society and Health Care Without Harm. Stacia provides leadership and vision to the Program to engage the health care sector in advocating for and investing in healthy and sustainable regional food systems. As a Registered and Licensed Dietitian, Stacia has extensive experience in the field of food service and clinical nutrition management with past positions in small and large scale health care facilities.  Her commentary has been featured in publications such as Today’s Dietitian, Time Magazine, Food Service Director Magazine and numerous local outlets.


Andrew Dumont

Andrew Dumont is a Community Development Analyst at the Federal Reserve Board where he leads the Board’s work on rural development, affordable housing, and other place-conscious community and economic development policy areas. Prior to joining the Board, Andrew worked at Pathway Lending, a community development financial institution serving Tennessee and Alabama, where he worked as a program specialist structuring and underwriting small business loans, among a variety of other responsibilities, to further the organization’s economic development priorities. Andrew has a Masters Degree in Public Policy from The George Washington University, a Bachelors Degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is a Certified Public Accountant.

Rebecca Dunning

Rebecca Dunning designs and manages food system initiatives at the Center for Environmental Farming Systems at North Carolina State University, building programming and relationships with private businesses, food system non-profits including hospitals, educational institutions (university and community college system), and planning and economic development agencies; she also serves as a consultant on food systems development initiatives.  She holds advanced degrees in agricultural economics and sociology, and has 20+ years of experience working in food and agriculture with positions in private industry, government, and higher education. Rebecca’s favorite activity? Working with students to match their enthusiasm and skill sets with purposeful work.


Karen Fedor

Karen Fedor is the Senior Agricultural Marketing Specialist for the Maryland Department of Agriculture (MDA) where she works to connect Maryland farmers, producers and watermen to schools, institutions, wholesale distributors, grocery store chains and other buyers. Karen has over 20 years of experience in government and public relations, program and grant management, marketing, and fundraising. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from The Ohio State University and a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management from University of Maryland. Karen is currently the Co-Principal Investigator for the FDA Maryland Produce Safety Implementation Cooperative Agreement. She also administers the Maryland Specialty Crop Block Grant program and Maryland’s Wine and Grape Promotion Fund. Additionally, Karen is the state lead for the Maryland Farm to School program, which has increased sales of local product in schools to $18 million.

John Fisk

John Fisk is the Director of the Wallace Center at Winrock International.  He has over 25 years of experience in sustainable food and agricultural systems development, with training and application in research, program design, project management, philanthropy and evaluation. Under his leadership the Wallace Center has emerged as an innovative and national force in sustainable and regional food systems with leadership for the National Good Food Network. Prior to the Wallace Center, John supported the work of the W.K. Kellogg Foundation on Food and Agriculture systems helping to develop and implement strategies and grant making in sustainable, local and equitable food and farming systems.  He was a founding board member of the Food Routes Network which developed the Buy Fresh Buy Local campaign that is now active in many regions of the US. He currently serves on the editorial board of the Journal of Sustainable Agriculture and on the Advisory Board of ReFED, an organization focused on food waste reduction.  John holds a PhD from Michigan State University in Crop and Soil Sciences where he was a C.S Mott Fellow in Sustainable Agriculture

Jill Fitzsimmons

Jill is an Agricultural Marketing Specialist with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Services Division.  She is a community economic development practitioner with nearly 20 years of field experience in the United States, leading grassroots organizing, advocacy, and project management to support national, state, and local organizations’ initiatives. Jill has worked with the communities to research, develop, and manage mid-scale supply chains for regionally differentiated agricultural products. Jill holds an MS in community economic development and is completing a PhD in resource economics, focusing on industrial organization and behavioral economics. Jill’s research explores the relationship between agricultural firm profitability and market structure, and the role of economic actors’ social preferences in regional market participation.

David Glasgow

David Glasgow currently serves as Public Affairs Director for the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service. With 28 years of experience in the public and private sectors his expertise includes internal and external communications, media relations, crisis communications, legal analysis, facilitation and strategic community planning. He served as the White House Strong Cities Team Lead for Rocky Mount, NC, working with elected officials, farmers, businesses and other local leaders to grow the local/regional food sector as a tool for economic and community development. During his public service career, David has served as a Senior Communications Coordinator for USDA, Director of Communications for USDA Rural Development Tennessee State Office, as a senior policy advisor at the Appalachian Regional Commission, and policy advisor for the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance. Awarded two Presidential Gold Volunteer Service Awards, he has served in leadership positions on numerous boards and commissions and coaches rugby. David earned a Juris Doctor from the University of Alabama School of Law, and a B.A. from Birmingham-Southern College, majoring in economics and political science. He is licensed to practice in Tennessee.

David Hughes

David Hughes is Professor and Greever Chair of Agribusiness Development in the Department of Agricultural & Resource Economics at the University of Tennessee. Past and current areas of outreach and research include agribusiness-based economic development, rural entrepreneurship with an emphasis on agribusiness, and economic impact analysis, primarily for agribusiness-based activities. David holds a PhD from Washington State University.


Anupama Joshi

Anupama Joshi is the Executive Director & Co-Founder of the National Farm to School Network. Ms. Joshi co-founded the organization in 2007, to serve as an information, advocacy, and networking hub for communities working to bring local food sourcing and food and agriculture education into school systems and early care and education sites. Ms. Joshi is a recognized leader in the field of farm to school, food justice and local and regional food systems. She is co-author of Food Justice (MIT Press, 2010) and led the development of “Evaluation for Transformation” – a pioneering cross-sectoral framework for farm to school research and evaluation. Ms. Joshi has been engaged with nutrition, agriculture and food systems issues in various countries around the world. She has worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations, the Pesticide Action Network; and consulted with various non-profit organizations in Asia. She is an Advisory Board member for Inside School Food on Heritage Radio Network, and has served on the board of FoodCorps, Community Alliance with Family Farmers. She loves to travel, and cook, especially with her son.


Becca Jablonski

Becca Jablonski is an Assistant Professor and Food Systems Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at Colorado State University. As part of her position, she facilitates the Colorado Governor’s Food Systems Advisory Council and is a co-leader of Colorado State University’s Food Systems Extension Team. She has 15 years of experience working across many aspects of the food system, most recently serving as a Doctoral Fellow with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National Institute of Food and Agriculture, a Visiting Scholar with the USDA’s Economic Research Service, and an Agricultural Economic Development Specialist with Cornell Cooperative Extension of Madison County. Dr. Jablonski’s research and extension efforts focus on understanding processes of rural and regional development, with an emphasis on identifying strategies to support entrepreneurship, improve agribusiness performance and enhance regional food systems. Dr. Jablonski holds a PhD from Cornell University.

Darlene Knipe

Darlene Knipe is Co-founder of the National Food MarketMaker Program , an internet based interactive mapping system that connects food producers to markets and aggregates food systems data for research and policy making purposes.   Formerly an Extension Specialist with University of IL for over 20 years, Knipe has served as Principal Investigator of numerous projects involving the development of quality driven food supply chains which give producers of value-added agricultural products better market access. She has presented local, regional and national workshops and seminars on a variety of topics including marketing, entrepreneurship and brand marketing for agricultural products. She has worked internationally, providing technical support for entrepreneurship development programs targeted to developing countries. Knipe has also served as a subject matter expert in Food Systems Development for Riverside Research Institute, Board Chair of the Illinois State Microenterprise Initiative and is a member of the AMS Local Food Resource Mapping team. She is a Principal in the Global Food and Ag Network, LLC which currently manages the National Food MarketMaker Program.   

Kellen L. Liebsch

Kellen is the economist for the Kansas Department of Agriculture and has spent her professional career dedicated to government service in the agriculture industry. She works to ensure that economic analysis and the impact of the agriculture, food, and food processing sectors are disseminated to stakeholders and the general public, as well as administers multiple federal grant programs. As a life-long Kansan, her family also owns and operates a cattle ranching operation in south-central Kansas.

Hugo Mogollon

Hugo Mogollon is the Executive Director of Community Foodworks. Hugo brings 20 years of experience working for Nonprofit organizations covering a range of issues from food systems to sustainability to biodiversity conservation. Under Hugo’s leadership, Community Foodworks has emerged as one of the leading organization in the food access movement in Washington DC, creating substantial additional income for the farmers that sell at their farmers markets. Hugo has deep experience in NGO management, planning, development, outreach, And stakeholder engagement, particularly in multicultural settings. A Native of Ecuador, Hugo is fluent in both English and Spanish. He has a Bachelor of Science in Biology from The Catholic University Of Quito, Ecuador and and an Executive Master’s Degree in Natural Resources and Leadership for Sustainability from Virginia Tech.

Michael Norton

As Chief Policy Analyst at Reinvestment Fund, Dr. Norton supports all research related to Reinvestment Fund’s organizational goals and mission.  Policy Solutions’ research activities include the Market Value Analysis; assessing gaps between the supply of and demand for child care; and the Limited Supermarket Access (LSA) Analysis. In addition, Policy Solutions conducts a range of internal and external program evaluations and analyses across Reinvestment Fund’s business lines: affordable housing, food retail, commercial real estate, early childhood education and K-12 education, federally qualified health care facilities, and energy efficiency.

Recent studies related to food access and food systems include the development of a methodology to identify likely shoppers at new supermarket developments, an analysis of gaps in the red meat supply chain in New England, feasibility studies for supermarket development in Charlotte, NC and New Orleans, and a 2017 update of the Limited Supermarket Access analysis.

Dr. Norton completed his doctoral studies in the Sociology Department at Temple University, where his research examined the relationship between secondary mortgage market activity and neighborhood change in the Philadelphia region at the turn of the 21st century. Prior to joining Reinvestment Fund in 2015 Dr. Norton served as a Senior Research Associate at Research for Action in Philadelphia. In this role he led and co-led a range of mixed-methods evaluations of educational reform initiatives and policies at the local and state levels. He has previously served as a lecturer in statistics and urban education at Temple University.

Cliff Porzenheim

Cliff Porzenheim is the COO of FarmLogix, LLC. FarmLogix provides unique technology and logistics solutions to manage source identified, sustainable supply chains that connect farmers with institutional markets. FarmLogix is a market leader in the education segment, managing local food programs for over 1,000 K-12 schools. FarmLogix has also provided data analytics and reporting for the USDA through the Local Food Promotion and Specialty Block Grant programs. Prior to joining FarmLogix in 2014, Cliff was the President of Milestone Equipment Holdings and held various leadership positions at GATX Corporation. At the start of his career he was a strategy consultant at the Boston Consulting Group and A.T. Kearney. He holds an MBA from the Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, and a BS in Economics from the Wharton School.

Ed Ragland

Ed is an Economist with USDA’s Agricultural Marketing Service (AMS). His responsibilities include designing and reviewing research studies on farmers markets, CSA’s, food hubs and on-farm markets. He currently manages USDA’s Local Food Directories. Mr. Ragland obtained his undergraduate degree in Agricultural Business and Economics from Virginia State University in Petersburg, Virginia. He also holds a Master’s Degree in Economics from Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio.

Mallory Rahe

Mallory Rahe, in her position as an Extension Community Economist at Oregon State University, works with community groups across the state that are engaging in economic development projects or considering public investment options. As more communities in Oregon look to strengthening and expanding local food systems, Rahe provides access to data and she recently partnered with Central Oregon stakeholders to estimate the economic impact of local food production in a developing producer system. Rahe is part of the Rural Studies Program at Oregon State University and has collaborated with Rural Development Initiatives to bring a rural wealth creation economic development program to Oregon.


Katherine Ralston

Katherine Ralston is a Senior Economist with the USDA Economic Research Service. She conducts research on USDA food assistance programs and led the first USDA Farm to School Census in 2013. Prior to her position at ERS she conducted research on economic determinants of nutritional status in Indonesia and the Indonesian Timely Warning and Intervention System to avert food crises. Dr. Ralston received her PhD in Agricultural Economics from the University of California, Berkeley and a BS from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Patrick Revord

Between researching sustainable community planning and economic development at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, studying Urban Planning as a graduate student at Georgetown, and living in Washington, DC, Pat Revord is a full-time urbanist. From his work on the Sustainable Communities Initiative, HUD’s flagship regional planning grant program, Pat has proven experience incorporating design thinking into data management, program evaluation, and project management. He is accredited as a LEED Green Associate, and was recently recognized with the Hoya Professional 30 award, an honor exemplifying leadership and excellence at Georgetown University’s School of Continuing Studies. Pat volunteers as communications manager for Biophilic DC, an organization incorporating nature into the built environment, and sits on the board of the Washington Men’s Camerata chorus, in which he also sings.

Sarah Rocker

Sarah Rocker is a PhD candidate in Rural Sociology in the Department of Agricultural Economics, Sociology and Education at Penn State University. Her interests lie at the intersection of food systems, agricultural change, and community development.  Her research focuses on the use of social network analysis (SNA) as a tool for understanding social and community dynamics in regional food value chains. She holds a Masters in Public Administration with a focus on food policy from The Evergreen State College and an M.A. in Germanic studies from the University of Colorado. She is a founding steering committee member for the North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN) and a former board member of the Cooperative Food Empowerment Directive (CoFED), a national non-profit committed to empowering students to create cooperatively-run food businesses on college campuses, of which she was a founder.


Valerie Segrest

Valerie Segrest (Muckleshoot) is a native nutrition educator who specializes in local and traditional foods. As an enrolled member of the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, she serves her community as the coordinator of the Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project and also works as the Traditional Foods and Medicines Program Manager. In 2010, she co-authored the book “Feeding the People, Feeding the Spirit: Revitalizing Northwest Coastal Indian Food Culture”. Valerie received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition from Bastyr University in 2009 and a Masters Degree in Environment and Community from Antioch University. She is a fellow for the Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy and a PhD student at the University of Washington’s College of Built Environment. Valerie aims to inspire and enlighten others about the importance of a nutrient-dense diet through a culturally appropriate, common sense approach to eating.  http://www.tedxrainier.com/speakers/valerie-segrest/


Frank Sesno

Frank Sesno is director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University. He is also an internationally recognized journalist, with more than 30 years of experience reporting from around the world and he spent more than 20 years at CNN, serving as senior vp, Washington bureau chief, White House correspondent, anchor and special correspondent. Sesno’s latest project, Planet Forward, is a user-driven website and television program that focuses on energy, climate and sustainability issues. Sesno’s recently published book, Ask More: The Power of Questions to Open Doors, Uncover Solutions and Spark Change, explores the art of inquiry- how inspirational people have discovered truth and success through curiosity, questions and ability to actively listen.

Jessica Smith

This Old Farm, Inc., is Indiana’s only bricks-and- mortar Food Hub, and one of only 4 recognized Food Hubs in Indiana.The business comprises a USDA-inspected meat processing facility that slaughters, packs, and distributes local beef, pork, poultry, lamb and goat throughout Indiana and the Greater Chicago Area. The meat is sourced from an alliance of over 190 family farmers located in Indiana, Illinois, and Kentucky. With the recent addition of a staged cooler facility, completed in part with a generous grant from the Wallace Center, This Old Farm is moving into aggregation and distribution of sustainably- grown whole produce from our growing list of alliance members. Jessica Smith holds a BS in Biology from Purdue University, and is the owner and manager of This Old Farm, Inc., located in Colfax, Indiana. In 2000, she started an 80-acre family farm, raising Katahdin sheep, poultry, hay, and vegetable crops. The farm is now USDA Organic. What started as a single farm operation grew to include an alliance of over 190 family farms centered around a small USDA meat processing facility and Food Hub. Jessica is passionate about farm-based education, and is a leader in Indiana’s Farm-to- School Initiative. She is a regular speaker at farm and food conferences. Her personal mission is to revitalize rural communities by investing in one farm at a time to bring life back to the family farmer.


Stephen Tachiera

Stephen Tachiera is a program manager with the California Department of Food and Agriculture. Before being promoted to his current position he worked as an analyst and supervisor for the Department of Food and Agriculture, all with the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. Under his leadership, California has implemented a number of new initiatives to maximize the benefit of program funds to the specialty crop industry, including becoming the first state to utilize fixed amount awards to help California specialty crop farmers adapt to the Food Safety Modernization Act in 2016. Prior to joining the California Department of Food and Agriculture Stephen spent more than a decade in regulatory compliance in the financial services industry. He obtained a Bachelor of Science in Applied Economics from the University of San Francisco.


Dawn Thilmany

Dawn Thilmany McFadden is a Professor of Agribusiness and Agribusiness Extension Economist with Colorado State University, serving in that role since 1997, and specializes in analyzing markets, consumer behavior and economic development related to local, organic and other value-added food market segments.  She has published over 80 journal articles on consumer behavior, agricultural markets and food systems, and presented similar material to over 200 Extension audiences.

She is on the leadership team of the CSU Extension Food Systems work team and Chairs the Colorado Food Systems Advisory Council.   Currently, she serves the US Dept of Agriculture by sitting on the Secretary’s Advisory Board on Research, Extension, Education and Economics. She has served on Boards and in leadership positions with the Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, the Western Agricultural Economics Association, the Food Distribution Research Society and several regional research committees.  


Pamela Trammell

Pamela Trammell is Community Development Specialist for the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (CARPDC).  She also serves as Healthy Food Project Coordinator for the REACH Project, a CDC funded grant, which CARPDC serves as lead co-partner with The Wellness Coalition.   REACH represents: Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health.  Ms. Trammell leads the heathy foods access, sustainability, and economics components of REACH.

Through the REACH Project, Ms. Trammell developed and implemented the Healthy Foods, Healthy Economics Seminar 2016, which allowed a diverse audience, including farmers, to have conversations around Farm to Table, Farm to School, the economics of healthy food accessibility; generational lack of healthy food education within families and communities; generational impact on poverty and healthy food access; sustainability; and economic impact to local farmers/growers in Alabama.  The Seminar continue in 2017 through the REACH grant, but has gathered tremendous support and partnerships that will ensure its work when REACH concludes.  She assists in coordinating the Healthy Corner Store program and the Community Garden Program for the REACH Project.  She is active in developing a mobile market program for the rural communities of CARPDC’s region and those severed by REACH; working to establish the Farm Food Collaborative of the River Region focusing on keeping the largest percentage of dollars and produce within the State of Alabama.

Formerly the Director for Telamon Corporation, Alabama, Ms. Trammell administered the U.S. Department of Labor grants for the Migrant and Seasonal Farmworker programs; managed and administered the final grant of Alabama’s USDA Katrina funds for Farmers and Migrant and Seasonal Farmworkers.  While at Telamon, she implemented a Farmworker Health & Safety program.  The program sought to mitigate the health and safety risks that farmworkers and their families are exposed to daily and empower farmworkers to protect themselves against pesticides and heat stress through health and safety education.  Funding support came through grants from EPA and OSHA.

While serving on the Board of Directors for the national Association of Farmworker Opportunity Programs (AFOP), she implemented a Children in the Fields Campaign in Alabama (a program of AFOP), dedicated to ensuring that Alabama farmworker children are protected and given an opportunity to succeed in life. By educating the public, advocating for educational programs for farmworker children, and supporting fair living wages for all farmworkers, the Children in the Fields Campaign focused on moving children out of the fields and back into schools.

Ms. Trammell earned a B.A. in Political Science, Texas Lutheran College (now University); B.A. in Journalism, University of Alabama (Roll Tide!); and Master of Public Policy, American University.  She has travelled the globe the majority of her life, growing up U.S. Air Force and, then, married to an U.S.A.F. Officer.  She currently resides in Prattville, Alabama, but spends the majority of her time in Tuscaloosa with her daughter and family.  The greatest joy comes with all the adventures with Annabelle, her 6 yr. old granddaughter.  Ms. Trammell’s other interests focus around youth ministry, her church drama team, Community Theater and quilting.

Steve Vogel

Stephen “Steve” Vogel joined the Economic Research Service in 1992 as an Agricultural Economist and works in the Resources and Rural Economics Division. His current research program broadly investigates the farm-community linkages distinct from those generated by traditional commodity production. Specific topics and publications include farmer participation in local and regional food systems, farm portfolio entrepreneurship, and small farmers’ importance in the rural economy. For the last 15 years, he has been working to improve national farm microdata for its use in analyzing the overlap between farm and rural economic policy. He earned his Ph.D. in agricultural economics at the University of California, Berkeley. His fields are economic development, economic history, and statistics.

Eric Williams

Dr. Eric Sean Williams is a social science research analyst at the USDA/Food and Nutrition Service specialization in retailer issues in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. His research portfolio includes nutrition incentives, retailer fraud, and structural aspects of the SNAP retailer system. He has a PhD in sociology from The Catholic University of America, and is an undergrad alumnus of The George Washington University.

Breakout Sessions

Session A1: National-level local food surveys and data collection efforts

Numerous surveys of local food market activity have been developed in recent years.  This breakout session will feature an overview of such surveys and include a discussion about how such data can be accessed and potentially used for local food program evaluation.  This session will feature a presentation about USDA farm-level data collection efforts that have ascertained production practices and marketing strategies employed by local food farmers.  In addition, the session will feature presentations on a USDA survey to school districts that ascertains data about farm-to-school activities, a survey administered by Michigan State University to food hubs that assesses their financial performance, and a USDA farmers market manager survey that solicits information on the capacity and marketing strategies that farmers markets employ. By the end of the session, attendees will have a greater understanding of secondary data sources that represent local food activity and what kinds of information they provide.


Steve Vogel, USDA ERS

Katherine Ralston, USDA ERS

Rich Pirog, Michigan State Center for Regional Food Systems

Ed Ragland, USDA AMS

Session B1: Measuring Value Chain Indicators

This session will explore tools that can be used to assess impacts of local foods along the value chain.  These measures include the profitability and viability of the businesses that comprise the local foods supply chain, as well as qualitative tools to help assess best practices.  We will ask: are these profitable markets for farmers, and other supply chain actors?  What other indicators are important to understand the success of a value chain? What policies can support these markets?  What role can USDA play in helping identify profitability in these market.


Rebecca Dunning, North Carolina State University

Becca Jablonski, Colorado State University

Jill Fitzsimmons, USDA AMS

Jessica Smith, This Old Farm

Session C1: Stories from health, economic development and foundation sectors

This session will feature presentations about the interest in supporting local food system investments and data needed to inform such decisions from the health and economic development sectors.  The session will include presentations from The Reinvestment Fund, which has developed PolicyMap in order to better inform economic development investments (including those pertaining to food systems); a representative from Health Care Without Harm, who will describe the results of a research project at the interest level of  the non-profit hospital sector in supporting local food systems; a representative from the Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission (CARPDC) that has received a Center for Disease Control Reach Grant to undertake healthy food assessments in five counties in central Alabama with the AMS economic impact toolkit; and the Wallace Center, which is leading efforts at incorporating local food system initiatives into economic development strategies. At the end of the session, attendees will have a better understanding of data and research that is pertinent to the health and economic development sectors at supporting food systems investments.


Michael Norton, The Reinvestment Fund

Stacia Clinton, Healthcare Without Harm

Pamela Trammel, Central Alabama Regional Planning and Development Commission

John Fisk, The Wallace Center

Session A2: Community-level local food surveys and data collection efforts

Numerous resources have been developed in recent years that provide technical assistance for local food practitioners in collecting project-level data.  This session will feature presentations on how farmers markets can collect metrics on market performance using a tool developed by the Farmers Market Coalition, a guide that has been developed by the National Farm to School Network in assisting school districts with developing standardized reporting metrics for farm-to-school programs, and a database developed by Community Foodworks that assists farmers market managers in tracking various benefit redemptions by vendors across numerous markets.  By the end of the session, attendees will be aware of these available resources and understand how they can be accessed and utilized to improve project-level data reporting.


Kumar Chandran, FoodCorps

Jen Cheek, Farmers Market Coalition

Anupama Joshi, National Farm to School Network

Hugo Mogollon, Community Foodworks

Session B2: Measuring state-level program and business impacts

Some federal programs are administered by state government agencies.  This session will feature a discussion amongst states of what kinds of metrics they are using, how best practices can be shared among states, and how such efforts can be standardized so that the results can be aggregated.  The session will feature a discussion amongst representatives from state departments of agriculture, with a particular focus on the Specialty Crop Block Grant (SCBG) program.  The session will also feature a presentation from FarmLogix about a database developed to track the implementation of a SCBG in Michigan.  At the end of the session, attendees will have a better understanding how program performance metrics can be improved and standardized among state departments of agriculture.


Kellen Liebsch, Kansas Department of Agriculture

Cliff Porzenheim, Farmlogix

Karen Fedor, Maryland Department of Agriculture

Stephen Tachiera, California Department of Food and Agriculture (participating remotely)

Session C2: Other Federal agencies efforts to communicate program impacts

This session will feature presentations on how other agencies are implementing and assessing programs.  There will be presentations by representatives from Housing and Urban Development (HUD) on a tool they have designed for field staff so that they can report on and measure the impact that HUD is having through deep community engagements.  The session will also feature a presentation by the Federal Reserve Board of Governors on a local food systems compendium of papers that they will be releasing this summer.  At the end of the session, attendees will have a better understanding of best practices used in implementing other programs, the interest in supporting food system activities among other government agencies, and how these techniques could be adopted in food system programs.


Pat Revord, HUD

Marika Bertram, HUD

Andrew Dumont, Federal Reserve Board

Session A3: Workshop on estimating economic impacts of local food system initiatives

The increase in demand for local foods has sparked interest in investing in local food systems.  To provide planners and their community partners with methods of assessing proposed outcomes, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Marketing Service (USDA AMS) funded the development of an economic impact “toolkit”.  The presentation content will include framing the community economic assessment process, using secondary data sources, generating and using primary data, and engaging your community process with data.   By the end of the session, participants will a) be able to engage community partners and stakeholders about framing a local foods economic impact assessment, b) enhance their skills in planning and implementing a comprehensive effort to measure economic impacts of local food initiatives, and c) be equipped to assess how to use primary and/or secondary data in evaluating local food system activity.


Dawn Thilmany, Colorado State University

David Hughes, University of Tennessee

Mallory Rahe, Oregon State University

Session B3: Local Foods Mapping and Visualization Overview

The emphasis of this workshop will be on understanding best practices about how local food systems data can be communicated visually.  The session will feature a presentation from MarketMaker on how they aggregate disparate data sources to create data overlays and maps of local food systems.  The session will also feature presentations of research regarding social network analysis of the USDA Food LINC program and of SNAP attendance at farmers markets.  At the end of the session, attendees will have a better understanding of innovative techniques that visually communicate the results of food systems research.


Sarah Rocker, Penn State University

Dar Knipe, Market Maker

Eric Williams, USDA FNS

Session C3: Storytelling workshop

This session will feature presentations on the importance and art of storytelling for communicating impacts and inspiring action. Following the initial presentations, attendees will breakout into small groups to practice rapid fire storytelling under expert guidance. At the end of the session, attendees will have a clear understanding of the essential elements of effective storytelling and will leave prepared to inspire others to action around local and regional food systems. Presenters: Frank Sesno, George Washington University; Valerie Segrest, Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project.


Valerie Segrest, Muckleshoot Food Sovereignty Project

Frank Sesno, GW School of Media and Public Affairs

Conference Presentations for Download