Rachel Vernon, Chinese Progressive Association
Rachel is of Yaqui, Mescalero Apache, Mexicana and Caucasian descent and has spent most of her life in Northern Colorado. She has a Master's Degree in Ethnic Studies which focuses on community-owned food systems among American Indians living in Oakland, California. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Stanford University in 2008, with a major in Comparative Studies of Race and Ethnicity. Rachel works for the Chinese Progressive Association, which educates, organizes and empowers the low income and working class immigrant Chinese community in San Francisco to build collective power with other oppressed communities to demand better living and working conditions and justice for all people. She currently resides in Oakland, CA.
Steve Dubb, Democracy Collaborative
Steve Dubb is Research Director of The Democracy Collaborative at the University of Maryland, where he has led the development of the Community-Wealth.org web-based information portal and has been lead author or co-author of a number of publications including Building Wealth: The New Asset-Based Approach to Solving Social and Economic Problems (Aspen, 2005), Linking Colleges to Communities: Engaging the University for Community Development (2007), Growing a Green Economy for All: From Green Jobs to Green Ownership (with Deborah Warren, 2010) and co-author (with Rita Axelroth Hodges) of The Road Half Traveled: University Engagement at a Crossroads (MSU Press, 2012). Dubb also conducted (with Ted Howard) the initial strategic planning that led to the development of the Evergreen Cooperative initiative in Cleveland, Ohio and currently helps guide efforts to adopt that model to meet the needs of other cities. Previously, Dubb was Executive Director of the North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO), a U.S. and Canadian nonprofit association that provides education and technical assistance to university and community-based housing and retail cooperatives. Dubb received his Masters and Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, San Diego and his Bachelor’s in Economics (with honors) and Spanish from the University of California, Berkeley. While in college, Dubb was also a member of cooperatives, being a member of the Berkeley Student Co-op from 1986 to 1989 and a member of the Groundwork Books collective from 1989 to 1998.
Anim Steel, Real Food Challenge
Anim is the Executive Director and co-founder of the Real Food Challenge, a campaign to re-direct $1 billion of college food purchases towards local, fair, and sustainable sources within 10 years. Prior to Real Food Challenge, Anim led national initiatives at The Food Project in Boston, consulted with Economic Development Assistance Consortium, and developed employment training programs at the Bowery Residents Committee. Anim holds a B.A. in Astrophysics and History from Williams College and a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is the recipient of a Prime Mover Fellowship for movement-building and an Echoing Green award for social entrepreneurship.
Samantha Shain, The Common Market
Samantha has spent the last 10 years teaching, learning and rabble rousing with leaders who care about good food, economic dignity, sustainable agriculture and environmental justice. Most recently, she joined the team at The Common Market where she works as the Coordinator of People Operations, supporting and on boarding new staff members and developing training curriculum at the quickly growing not-for-profit food hub in Philadelphia. Previously, she completed a two year Local Food Operations Fellowship at The Common Market, where she had the chance to rotate through nearly every department and learn what it takes to aggregate and distribute locally-sourced, sustainable food at scale. Outside of work, Samantha serves as a board member and volunteer with the Earth Quaker Action Team, a Quaker and interfaith organization that uses non-violent direct action to target corporations and win (!) campaigns at the intersection of economic and environmental justice. Samantha is a CoFED and Real Food Challenge alumna as well as a former board member of NASCO Education. When she's not working and organizing, you might find her surrounded by yarn and crafts, wrist-deep in cooking projects or attending Jewish and Quaker religious services. She calls West Philly her home.
Michael Roberts, 11th Hour Project
Michael came to know CoFED through his work at The 11th Hour Project of the Schmidt Family Foundation, where he is an associate in the Ecological Agriculture and Regional Food System grant making program. At 11th Hour, Michael works with projects across the country devoted to reforming the food system, providing financial resources, strategic advice, and connections with other activists and leaders necessary to scale innovation. Relatively new to philanthropy, he brings with him the values of community empowerment and local actors as the most important agents of change. Michael holds a Master of Science from University College London (UK) in Environment and Sustainable Development, where he focused on the transformative nature of community food projects and urban agriculture. While at UCL in 2009, he was a regular volunteer at Organic Lea, a worker-owned cooperative and home of the largest certified organic farm within Greater London’s city limits. Michael’s MSc dissertation explored the role of community-driven entrepreneurship in supporting alternative models and policies for food, agriculture, and trade. A section devoted to local community food projects was published in the UCL compilation The Food Junctions Cookbook: Living Recipes for Social Innovation. He also used Participatory Action Research methods to work alongside rural migrant farmers in Ashaiman, Ghana to organize as a cooperative and assert their right to their land just outside the capital city of Accra. Though he grew up in South Carolina and Georgia, Michael has lived and worked all over. He has worked as an organizer for the League of Conservation Voters in Salem, Oregon during the 2004 presidential campaign and in 2008, became the production manager at Piedmont Biofuels Cooperative in Moncure, North Carolina. He currently resides in Oakland, CA where he has the pleasure of interacting with some of the most exciting entrepreneurial projects in the food system both as a funder and an engaged citizen.