Chef, Caterer, and Student of Traditional Indigenous Cuisines
Chef Nico Albert (Cherokee Nation) is a self-taught chef, caterer, and student of traditional indigenous cuisines based in Tulsa, Oklahoma. She began her culinary education at a very young age, growing up in California and Arizona. Her fondest memories began in her mother’s garden and
in the kitchen preparing meals, and culminated around the family dinner table. Her journey of reconnection with traditional Cherokee foodways and the wild and cultivated ingredients involved in their preparation has grown to encompass the cuisines of tribes from all regions of North America.
Albert’s efforts to expand her knowledge of ingredients and techniques continue through research and collaboration with Indigenous chefs and traditionalists from many Nations. As the founder and owner of the catering and consulting company Burning Cedar Indigenous Foods, Albert provides healthy, traditionally inspired catering options and educational events, promotes
healing and wellness in the Native American community, and advocates for the ongoing
revitalization of indigenous cuisine. Albert’s work has been featured regionally and
Atlas Obscura, PBS, Gilcrease Museum, Philbrook Museum, BBC’s Hairy Bikers, and Food Network,
Chef/Owner of ThinkFoodGroup, Founder of World Central Kitchen, 2019 Julia Child Award Recipient
Twice named to Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list and recipient of the 2015 National Humanities Medal, José Andrés is an internationally recognized culinary innovator, New York Times best-selling author, educator, humanitarian, and chef and owner of ThinkFoodGroup, the award-winning collective of nearly 30 restaurants throughout the country and beyond. In 2010 Andrés founded World Central Kitchen, a nonprofit specializing in delivering food relief in the wake of natural and humanitarian disasters. Notably, his team served 3.7 million meals to the people of Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria and has since served more than 40 million meals worldwide. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, WCK has partnered with restaurants, small farms, and local partners around the country to combat food insecurity. A naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Spain, Andrés has been a tireless advocate for immigration reform and on July 4, 2014, was named by President Barack Obama as that year’s Outstanding American by Choice. Andrés was the 2019 recipient of the Julia Child Award.
Chef and Co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns
Dan Barber is the chef and co-owner of Blue Hill and Blue Hill at Stone Barns in New York, and the author of The Third Plate. Barber also co-founded Row 7 Seed Company, which brings together chefs and plant breeders to develop new varieties of vegetables and grains.
Perhaps best known as the winner of TV’s Top Chef Masters, Chef Rick Bayless is the owner of highly acclaimed Mexican restaurants in Chicago, including Frontera Grill and Topolobampo, side-by-side institutions that have earned the James Beard Foundation’s highest achievement for “Outstanding Restaurant.” The street food fiesta known as Xoco opened in 2009, drawing guests in with tortas from the wood-burning oven and golden crispy churros. In 2018, he opened Bar Sótano, a mezcal cocktail bar and hip taco spot located in the basement of Frontera Grill.
Rick and his staff established the Frontera Farmer Foundation in 2003 to support small Midwestern farms, awarding nearly 200 grants totaling nearly $3 million. He also launched the Frontera Scholarship, a culinary school scholarship for Mexican American students in Chicago, and in 2019 founded Impact Culinary Training, a restaurant job readiness program on the city’s west side. Rick received the Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts in 2016.
Lonnie G. Bunch III is the 14th secretary of the Smithsonian. He assumed his position June 16, 2019. As secretary, he oversees 19 museums, 21 libraries, the National Zoo, numerous research centers, and several education units and centers.
Previously, Bunch was the director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. The museum has welcomed more than 6 million visitors since it opened in September 2016 and compiled a collection of 40,000 objects that are housed in the first “green building” on the National Mall.
The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting, and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history.
A widely published author, Bunch has written on topics ranging from the Black military experience, the American presidency, and all-Black towns in the American West to diversity in museum management and the impact of funding and politics on American museums. His most recent book, A Fool’s Errand: Creating the National Museum of African American History and Culture in the Age of Bush, Obama, and Trump, chronicles the making of the museum that would become one of the most popular destinations in Washington.
Before his appointment as director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Bunch served as the president of the Chicago Historical Society (2001–2005). Bunch has worked at the Smithsonian in the past, holding several positions at its National Museum of American History from 1989 through 2000. As the museum’s associate director for curatorial affairs for six years (1994–2000), he oversaw the curatorial and collections management staff and led the team that developed a major permanent exhibition on the American presidency.
Dennis Malcolm Byron aka Ale Sharpton is a world-renowned beer authority, award-winning journalist, blogger (AleSharpton.com), photographer, event planner, host, copywriter, and creative director for numerous projects. While passionately traveling the globe to cover everything from automobiles to culinary scenes, celebrity profiles, sports, hotel destinations, art, and what he terms “the world’s best beverage,” Ale has contributed to more than 30 magazines and websites combined. His current media outlets include Thrillist.com, Craft Beer & Brewing, CraftBeer.com, USA Today, Lifestyle Publishing, City Lifestyle, Atlanta magazine, and others.
Along with being featured in various publications, on the web, radio, podcasts, television, and ongoing Cruisin’ For A Brewsin’ video series, Ale utilizes his Cornell University School of Hotel Administration education and vast work experience to consult in the culinary industry as well.
Ale also owns AllWays Open Creative Solutions, an agency specializing in creative direction, logo design, branding, web design, video production, photography, and social media. This agency also produces various events including product launches, automobile exhibits, restaurant tastings, festivals, and art shows. Lexus, Loews Hotels, Heineken, Bon & Viv, New Belgium, Delirium, Monday Night Brewing, Pabst, Cathead Vodka, Svedka, Woodchuck Cider, Wicked Weed, Jekyll Brewing, and elite artist Hebru Brantley are just some of the many clients who have worked with AllWays Open.
Although a native New Yorker, Ale proudly calls Atlanta, Georgia, his home.
Latiesha Cook is the CEO, co-founder, and president of Beer Kulture, a nonprofit organization whose vision is to increase diversity, inclusion, and equity within the craft beer space through humanitarian assistance, educational programs, and compassionate community services. Beer Kulture Inc. is organized and operated exclusively for charitable purposes in accordance with section 501(c)3 of the Internal Revenue Code. Beer Kulture’s passion is to BE THE CHANGE, do good in their communities, and build a brighter tomorrow by starting with what they can do today.
Devita Davison’s overall goal is to create a food economy that acknowledges the importance of food justice, community health, and local ownership. She honed the theory and practice of Equitable Food Oriented Development that is at the core of FoodLab’s work. Davison was a 2017 TED speaker; her TED Talk on the big stage has been seen over one million times. She is a 2017 Grist Top 50 Leader in sustainability and a 2019 Sustainability Champion. She is a graduate of Michigan State University, where she received a BS in Social Science. FoodLab is a nonprofit organization that fosters the creation of an equitable local food economy by providing food entrepreneurs with education, peer-to-peer mentoring, and access to market opportunities. By primarily focusing on supporting women-owned food businesses from communities of color, FoodLab aims to improve Detroit’s neighborhoods by allowing everyone to take part in the development of a local food culture.
Vinny Eng (he/him) is a community organizer and founding member of San Francisco New Deal, a rapid response program formed to support neighbors facing food insecurity and to provide immediate financial relief to local small businesses. To date, SF New Deal efforts in response to COVID-19 have provided over 800,000 meals and granted $8 million to the San Francisco community. Eng also focuses his activism advancing the dignity of those with mental health disabilities, supporting individuals impacted by police violence, and advocating for transformative approaches to building community safety. This work is done in memory of his sister, Jazmyne Ha Eng, killed by police in 2012. In 2019 Vinny Eng was named a Food and Wine magazine Sommelier of the Year. He is a published writer, is the proud American-born son of Cambodian refugees, and holds a degree in economics from Duke University.
Co-chef and Owner, Socalo and Border Grill, 2018 Julia Child Award Recipient
Iconic culinarian, author, and entrepreneur Susan Feniger may be best known for her Modern Mexican concept, as seen in Border Grill restaurants, trucks, and catering, which she runs with her business partner of more than 35 years, Mary Sue Milliken. Now with locations in Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Downtown LA, LAX Airport, The Huntington Library, and Rose Bowl, Border Grill continues to serve street food-inspired regional Mexican cuisine with a commitment to sustainability and the best quality ingredients. In June 2018, Feniger and Milliken debuted BBQ Mexicana, a fast-casual eatery with locations at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Ballpark, and most recently inside the new Allegiant Stadium. The chefs returned to Santa Monica with Socalo, an all-day California canteen and Mexican pub, in December 2019.
After graduating from the Culinary Institute of America in New York, she made a groundbreaking move in joining the nearly all-male kitchen at Chicago’s Le Perroquet, serendipitously meeting the only other woman in the kitchen—Mary Sue Milliken. Feniger opened City Café with Milliken in 1981 and Border Grill in 1985. A James Beard Award that same year confirmed their impact on the nation’s cuisine.
In 2018, Feniger and Milliken were named the recipients of the fourth annual Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, marking the first women to be honored.
Feniger is an active member of the community, and currently sits on the boards of the Scleroderma Research Foundation, Los Angeles LGBT Center, and L.A. Tourism & Conventions; works closely with Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, Share Our Strength, and Human Rights Campaign; and co-founded Chefs Collaborative.
Tiffany Fixter is an educator-turned-entrepreneur who is passionate about creating life-changing careers for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Fixter’s education includes a BS in Special Education and Elementary Education from Northwest Missouri State University, along with a master’s degree in Education from the University of Kansas in Special Education with an emphasis on Autism Spectrum Disorders. Fixter was a teacher for 11 years in the inner-city Kansas City, Missouri, schools where she taught children who are neurodiverse. She moved to Denver to be closer to her family in Estes Park, Colorado, and accepted a position as a day program director. It was there she realized the employment crisis that many adults with I/DD face. She decided to enter Denver’s popular craft beer scene by employing adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities to brew and serve beer through Brewability Lab. This brewery started in October 2016. The brewery led to a turn-key pizzeria opportunity in May 2018, which is now being built within the brewery space in Englewood, Colorado. The brewery and pizzeria employ 20 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities by creating a workspace with research-based supports such as a mirror with a ready-to-work checklist and visual menus and sales system. The brewpub includes many features which make it inviting to people of all ages and abilities.
Kim R. Ford serves as president and CEO of Martha’s Table. Ford previously served as Deputy Assistant Secretary and Acting Assistant Secretary in the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education. Ford provided leadership, direction, and management on over $2 billion in career and technical education, adult education, correctional and re-entry education, and community college initiatives, which collectively serve over 25 million students annually. Previously, Ford served as the Dean of Workforce Development and Lifelong Learning at the University of the District of Columbia Community College (UDC-CC). She promoted an environment of student success focused on building community, instituting feedback loops, and helping students transition into higher levels of education and careers. Prior to joining UDC-CC, Ford served in the Obama Administration’s Recovery Implementation Office, which was responsible for implementing the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. She directed working relationships between the Office of the Vice President and eight federal agencies on over $350 billion in Recovery Act programs. Ford holds a bachelor’s degree in international business from Vanderbilt University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Pennsylvania.
Diane Gooding, vice president of Gooding Farms, Inc., in southwestern Idaho, manages 950 acres of hops along with both family and friends. She returned to the farm in 2010 after receiving a BA in History from San Francisco State University. Currently, the farm is in transition toward regenerative and organic farming methods with the hopes of improving farming practices and setting up sustainable farming for future generations. Gooding sits on the Hop Research Council board of directors and is an active participant in hop research as well as public hop breeding efforts. In the off season she enjoys traveling, skiing, biking, and of course, trying new and different beers from the United States and beyond!
Jon Gray is the co-founder of the Bronx-born creative collective Ghetto Gastro, defining their own lane that transcends food, art, music, fashion, and design. Gray’s curiosity has taken him around the globe and has had him seated across the table from world-renowned thinkers, artists, and chefs, but he’s most passionate about home. The Bronx is part of the team’s lifeblood, and every piece of the Ghetto Gastro universe is meant to uplift and celebrate the borough, and other places like it, as an unsung driver of global culture.
Jessica B. Harris is the author, editor, or translator of 18 books including 12 cookbooks documenting the foodways of the African Diaspora, a topic on which she is considereda ranking expert. She has lectured widely and has written extensively for scholarly and popular
publications. Harris consults internationally and worked with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture on their cafeteria. She holds degrees from Bryn Mawr College; Queens College/CUNY; the Université de Nancy, France; and New York University. Harris was granted an honorary doctorate of humane letters from Johnson & Wales University and holds numerous awards and accolades. Harris is a member of the James Beard Who’s Who of Food & Beverage in America and her books were inducted into their Cookbook Hall of Fame. In March 2020, she became a James Beard Lifetime Achievement awardee. Harris was a professor at Queens College/CUNY in New York for five decades and is currently professor emerita at that institution.
Elizabeth MacMillan Director, National Museum of American History
Anthea M. Hartig is the Elizabeth MacMillan Director of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the first woman to hold the position since the museum opened in 1964. Hartig oversees more than 250 employees, a budget of over $40 million, and a collection that includes 1.8 million objects and more than three shelf-miles of archives. She officially began her tenure on February 18, 2019.
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Hartig has put in place two task forces, one on collecting around the current crisis and the other a digital response team to create new content, particularly in the area of K-12 education. During this time, Hartig is also coordinating security, facilities, and other functions in cooperation with the Smithsonian leadership and other museum directors.
Hartig is currently leading the museum in crafting a vibrant new strategic plan to take the museum through to the Semiquincentennial of the United States in 2026 and beyond. It will support the museum’s efforts to become the most accessible, inclusive, relevant, and sustainable American history museum. Through incomparable collections, rigorous research and dynamic public outreach, the National Museum of American History seeks to empower people to create a just and compassionate future by exploring, preserving, and sharing the complexity of our past.
An award-winning public historian and cultural heritage expert, Hartig is dedicated to making the nation’s richly diverse history accessible and relevant. Before joining the Smithsonian, she served as the executive director and CEO of the California Historical Society (CHS) in San Francisco. Under her leadership, CHS doubled its staff, created over 30 exhibitions, created its digital library, and created the Teaching California initiative, a free online history portal for K-12 stuents that brings the archive into the classroom.
Frances Moore Lappé is the author or coauthor of 19 books, including the three-million-copy selling Diet for a Small Planet. Her latest work is Daring Democracy: Igniting Power, Meaning, and Connection for the America We Want, coauthored with Adam Eichen and focusing on the roots of the U.S. democracy crisis and how Americans are creatively responding to the challenge. Frances is co-founder of Oakland-based Food First and the Cambridge-based Small Planet Institute, which she leads with her daughter Anna Lappé. The recipient of 19 honorary degrees, Frances has been a visiting scholar at MIT and U.C. Berkeley and in 1987 received the Right Livelihood Award, often called the “Alternative Nobel.”
Executive Director, Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems
Merrigan is an expert in food and agriculture, celebrated by TIME magazine as one of the 100 “Most Influential People in the World” in 2010. She serves as the Kelly and Brian Swette Professor in the School of Sustainability and executive director of the Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems at Arizona State University. From 2013-2018, she was executive director of sustainability, director of the GW Food Institute, and professor of public policy at George Washington University. From 2009 to 2013, Merrigan was deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the United States Department of Agriculture, a 110,000-person, $150 billion federal department. Over the decades, Merrigan has been actively involved with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, including serving as the first woman chair of the Conference of Ministers. She is well known for having authored U.S. law establishing organic food standards. Merrigan is currently a board member of FoodCorps, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Center for Climate and Energy Solutions (C2ES), Artemis, and the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF). She is a partner in Astanor Ventures and an advisor to S2G Ventures, two firms investing in ag-tech innovations. Merrigan holds a PhD in public policy and environmental planning from Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an MA in public affairs from University of Texas at Austin, and a BA from Williams College.
Founder and CEO, Union Square Hospitality Group, 2017 Julia Child Award Recipient
In 1985, at the age of 27, Danny opened his first restaurant, Union Square Cafe, launching what would become a lifelong career in hospitality. Thirty years later, Danny’s Union Square Hospitality Group (USHG) comprises some of New York’s most beloved and acclaimed restaurants, including Gramercy Tavern, The Modern, Maialino, and more. Danny and USHG founded Shake Shack, the modern-day “roadside” burger restaurant, which became a public company in 2015.
Under Danny’s leadership, USHG is renowned not only for its acclaimed restaurants but also for its distinctive and celebrated culture of Enlightened Hospitality. This guiding principle of prioritizing employees first and foremost has driven and shaped USHG’s ongoing evolution from a small group of restaurants into a multi-faceted hospitality organization.
Danny’s groundbreaking business book, Setting the Table (HarperCollins, 2006), a New York Times Bestseller, articulates a set of signature business and life principles that translate to a wide range of industries. A celebrated speaker and educator, Danny has set industry standards in areas such as hiring practices, innovative leadership, and corporate responsibility and addresses a wide range of audiences on such topics around the country.
Danny has been generously recognized for his leadership, business achievements, and humanitarianism, including the 2017 Julia Child Award, the 2015 TIME 100 “Most Influential People” list, the 2012 Aspen Institute Preston Robert Tisch Award in Civic Leadership, the 2011 NYU Lewis Rudin Award for Exemplary Service to New York City, and the 2000 IFMA Gold Plate Award. Together, Danny and USHG’s restaurants and individuals have won an unprecedented 28 James Beard Awards, including Outstanding Restaurateur (2005) and Who’s Who of Food and Beverage in America (1996). Danny and his wife, Audrey, live in New York City and have four children.
Co-chef and Owner, Socalo and Border Grill, 2018 Julia Child Award Recipient
Throughout a groundbreaking, nearly 40-year career, Mary Sue Milliken finds the key to her success in following her insatiable curiosity. She is best known for Border Grill restaurants, trucks, and catering, which she runs with her business partner of more than 35 years, Susan Feniger. Mary Sue seeks to amplify the flavors of amazing ingredients, surprising guests with texture and color while maintaining harmony on the plate at every Border Grill location—Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Downtown LA, LAX Airport, The Huntington Library, and Rose Bowl, as well as gourmet food trucks and catering. In June 2018, Milliken and Feniger debuted BBQ Mexicana a fast-casual eatery with locations at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, Las Vegas Ballpark, and most recently inside the new Allegiant Stadium. The chefs returned to Santa Monica with Socalo, an all-day California canteen and Mexican pub, in December 2019.
Milliken leads with a staff and community-forward approach with sustainability at its core. She has also witnessed the industry catch up to Border Grill in offering accessible, seasonal, ethnic cuisine, and empowering women to join the male-dominated realm of professional cooking. “We ditched the patriarchy long ago,” Milliken recalls, “and took charge of our own destiny.”
Along with Feniger, Milliken found acclaim with CITY Restaurant in 1985 and captured the hearts of Angelenos with Border Grill’s ’85 debut, evidenced by a James Beard Award the same year. Milliken uses her platform to enact societal change, serving on the boards of both Share Our Strength and the James Beard Foundation. In 2018, Feniger and Milliken were named the recipients of the fourth annual Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts, marking the first women to be honored.
David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy, National Museum of American History
Amanda Moniz is the David M. Rubenstein Curator of Philanthropy at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and is the author of From Empire to Humanity: The American Revolution and the Origins of Humanitarianism. She curates the museum’s long-term philanthropy exhibition, Giving in America. She approaches the history of philanthropy as a lens onto Americans’ experiences of shared humanity, the pursuit of opportunity, and inequality, and collects objects and oral histories exploring the breadth and diversity of Americans’ giving of time, money, and other resources. Moniz was a pastry chef in New York City and Washington, D.C., before becoming a historian. Combining her professional backgrounds, she spent a few years teaching hands-on historic cooking classes and writing about food history. Her work has been published in the The Washington Post,American Food Roots, NPR’s Kitchen Window, and other publications.
Co-Founder and President, Food Tank, 2020 Julia Child Award Recipient
In 2013 Danielle Nierenberg co-founded Food Tank, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization focused on building a global community for safe, healthy, nourished eaters. Food Tank is a global convener, research organization, and non-biased creator of original research impacting the food system. Nierenberg also conducts extensive on-the-ground research, traveling to more than 70 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, and Latin America. She has met with thousands of farmers and farmers’ groups, scientists and researchers, policymakers and government leaders, students and academics, as well as journalists, documenting what’s working to help alleviate hunger and poverty while protecting the environment. Nierenberg’s knowledge of global agriculture issues has been cited widely in more than 20,000 major print and broadcast outlets worldwide, and she speaks at more than 100 events per year, including major conferences all over the world. Nierenberg is the recipient of the 2020 Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.
Linda Novick O’Keefe’s desire to develop innovative solutions to social problems and passion for food led her to start Common Threads with Chef Art Smith and artist Jesus Salgueiro in May 2003. Under her leadership, Common Threads has grown its in-school, after-school, teacher and provider trainings, and family programming to more than 750 schools and community partner sites, serving 580,000 children in 13 major U.S. cities. Common Threads recently received funding from the federal U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food and Nutrition Services (FNS) SNAP-Ed program to expand to New York City, Pittsburgh, and Erie, and throughout the six largest counties in Texas. From Common Threads’ inception, O’Keefe prioritized developing nutrition education programs designed to achieve real behavior change. She is a champion of rigorous evaluation and external collaboration with academic experts. By creating a scaled and sustainable program, O’Keefe has provided a platform for innovation in nutrition education.
Recently, O’Keefe led the strategic expansion of Common Threads’ programs into health care settings such as primary care clinics. O’Keefe has been a Kellogg School of Management Board Governance Fellowship Mentor and served on the Building a Healthier Chicago Task Force. She was the recipient of the Anti-Defamation League’s Rising Star Award, was featured by Today’s Chicago Woman as one of 100 Women Making a Difference, was included as one of Clean Plates’ Moms on a Mission and was a 2018 SWSX Community Service Award Honoree. She currently serves on the Smithsonian’s Kitchen Cabinet and as a Babson College Social Innovation Fellow. O’Keefe has her Executive Education Certificate, Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management, from Harvard University; her Master of Science in Public Service Management from DePaul University; and her Bachelor of Science in Journalism from Arizona State University. O’Keefe lives in Austin with her husband, Nick; two children, Zack and Julia; and two rescue chi-weenies, LG and Mona.
Leah Penniman (li/she/ya/elle) is a Black Kreyol farmer/peyizan, mother, soil nerd, author, and food justice activist from Soul Fire Farm in Grafton, New York. She co-founded Soul Fire Farm in 2010 with the mission to end racism in the food system and reclaim our ancestral connection to land. As co-director and farm manager, Penniman is part of a team that facilitates powerful food sovereignty programs—including farmer training for Black and Brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system. Penniman has been farming since 1996, holds an MA in Science Education and a BA in Environmental Science and International Development from Clark University, and is a Manye (Queen Mother) in Vodun. Penniman trained at Many Hands Organic Farm and The Farm School, both in Massachusetts, and internationally with farmers in Ghana, Haiti, and Mexico. She also served as a high school biology and environmental science teacher for 17 years. The work of Penniman and Soul Fire Farm has been recognized by the Soros Equality Fellowship, the Fulbright Program, the Grist 50, and the James Beard Foundation’s Leadership Award, among others. Her book Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land is a love song for the land and her people.
Jacques Pépin is world-renowned as a chef and the host of 13 acclaimed and popular cooking programs on public television. He is also celebrated as a respected instructor, a prolific author of dozens of cookbooks, and a gifted artist. Through his long and distinguished career, Pépin has advanced the art and craft of culinary technique, as showcased in an American Masters film chronicling his life, Jacques Pépin: The Art of Craft, which debuted on PBS in May 2017. In May 2019, he received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 46th Annual Daytime Creative Arts Emmy Awards.
Born near Lyon, France, Pépin’s love for cooking started early in his parents’ restaurant. He began his culinary training at age 13 in Paris, and subsequently served as personal chef to three French heads of state. Moving to the United States in 1959, he worked as a chef and recipe developer for many restaurants, including Howard Johnson’s, while completing his education. Pépin’s 1976 book La Technique, a volume on the fundamentals of French cuisine, became a standard in the field. He has received 16 James Beard Awards, including the James Beard Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He is especially remembered for the Julia and Jacques Cooking at Home television series, for which both he and Julia Child won a Daytime Emmy Award in 2001. In addition, he has created, along with his son-in-law, Rollie Wesen, The Jacques Pépin Foundation, with the goal of transforming lives and enriching communities through the power of culinary education. In 2015, Pépin was the first to receive the Julia Child Award from The Julia Child Foundation for Gastronomy and the Culinary Arts.
Executive Director, Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity
Lorena Quiroz-Lewis is the executive director and founder of the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity, an organization whose purpose is to amplify the voices of marginalized, multiracial, and immigrant communities by active participation in civic engagement in deconstructing barriers that perpetuate racial, xenophobic, socioeconomic, and gender identity and sexuality disparities and oppression. This organization emerged as a direct result of the organizing efforts that followed the August 7, 2019, ICE raids: the largest raids in the nation’s history. Quiroz-Lewis is an organizer, activist, and public health professional with 20 years in public health, various leadership roles, and grassroots organizing experience. In her role as an organizer for the Industrial Areas Foundation, she helps to build statewide power for the underserved populations of Mississippi. Prior to her role as an organizer and executive director of Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity, Quiroz-Lewis served for two years as executive director of LABAlink, where she was responsible for helping restructure the board and grow the vision of the organization. Through these efforts she secured contracts with Health Connect One, a national birth equity organization, ROSE (Reaching Our Sisters Everywhere), and the Mississippi State Department of Health, through which she held the first statewide Language Access conference—a call to action and a sobering reminder that our state’s immigrant population had grown exponentially in the last decade. As a result of the conference, she founded the Mississippi Language Access Coalition with over 20 member and partner organizations, including the Mississippi Center for Justice, the Mississippi College, Millsaps College, My Brothers’ Keeper, and University of Mississippi Medical Center. Her work at the Office of Health Disparities Elimination spanned a total of seven years where she served as Latino outreach coordinator, and then director of Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement. Quiroz-Lewis is the proud mother of three brilliant and politically engaged Afro-Latinas, who are proud of their heritage, culture, and Afro-Indigenous ancestry.
Todo Verde founder Jocelyn Ramirez is a plant-based chef, college professor, yoga instructor, and advocate for healthy food access in her community. Ramirez founded Todo Verde in 2015 with a mission to create delicious and healthy plant-based food inspired by her Mexican and South American roots for the Eastside community. As she continues to learn about the health benefits of nutrient-dense food and healthy ecosystems, she offers knowledge on healthy living with the community through workshops, dialogues, and food demonstrations. Her work has been featured in several press outlets including Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Vice, Spotify, Buzzfeed, Smithsonian, Bon Appétit, and more. Wanting to share her expertise in delicious plant-based Mexican food, Ramirez published her first cookbook, La Vida Verde: Plant-Based Mexican Cooking with Authentic Flavor, in 2020.
In 2017, Ramirez co-founded Across Our Kitchen Tables, an organization focused on uplifting women of color in the food industry that hosts skillshares and an annual symposium. She currently sits on the Culinary Advisory Board for Food Forward and the Leadership Board for the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
Laura Reiley is the Business of Food Reporter for The Washington Post. She was previously a food critic at the Tampa Bay Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, and The Baltimore Sun. She has authored four books in the Moon Handbook series, has cooked professionally, and is a graduate of the California Culinary Academy. She was a Pulitzer finalist in 2017 and a James Beard finalist in 2017 and 2019. The early part of her career was focused very closely on what was on the plate—as she has gotten older, she’s been distracted by how it got there. In 2016 she wrote a series for the Tampa Bay Times called “Farm to Fable” that exposed misrepresentations and fraud in the stories we are told about restaurant food and farmers’ markets. Since joining The Post, she has focused on issues of food ethics and safety, sustainability and food waste, and disruptive technologies in food and farming. The pandemic has, for perhaps the first time, focused the general public’s attention on the fragility of the food chain and on disparities in access, which has legitimized Reiley’s geeky preoccupations. In the past six months she has cooked so much that the palm callus she had from her chef’s knife in the early 1990s has reemerged. She is worried that her big ’90s hair may be next.
Cheryse Julitta Kauikeolani Sana, Kaui, was born and raised in Waiʻanae, Hawaiʻi. She is a graduate of Waiʻanae High School and joined MAʻO Organic Farms, a not-for-profit native Hawaiian social enterprise venture whose mission is “to grow certified organic veggies and youth leaders.” As an intern, she learned organic farming practices, food systems, social and food justice, and aloha ʻāina, ʻāina aloha practices. While being in the internship, she experienced how to plant, wash, pack, and sell fresh organic produce for her community. Learning MAʻO Organic Farm’s core values of love, respect, and the willingness to work, she has been able to apply these values to be a leader in her community and to her family. Kaui received her bachelor’s in Hawaiian studies from Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Kaui is currently the general manager of MA‘O Organic Farms. With her team she helps to manage the organic farm operations while mentoring young adults from the community through their college pathway, all while producing two tons of organic produce a week. Recently MA‘O Organic Farms has been able to fundraise to purchase 200+ acres in Lualualei Valley. Kaui is driven and excited for the new opportunities to grow more organic food and to expand the social mission of the MAʻO.
Director, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Liaison Office for North America
Vimlendra Sharan is director of the FAO Liaison Office for North America. Sharan brings with him more than two decades of national and international government leadership experience focusing on rural development, agriculture, and food security issues. Sharan has worked with the Indian Government extensively in rural and tribal areas of Maharashtra and has also been actively involved in agriculture and food policy formulation, working with the Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare in New Delhi. He comes to Washington, D.C., from his previous posting as permanent representative of India to the Rome-based UN Agencies, where he served as vice president of the World Food Programme Executive Board, chairman of International Fund for Agricultural Development Evaluation Committee, Asia Group representative on FAO Programme Committee, and a member of the FAO Council.
Les Talusan is a DJ, photographer, curator, teaching artist, and organizer whose practice immerses people in the joy of discovery, empowerment, and community. This approach is informed by Talusan’s own story of resilience, liberation, and courage as an immigrant, mother, and victim/survivor. With over 20 years of experience, Talusan is known for her perfectly crafted mixes and commitment to artistic excellence. She also has a long history of supporting organizations that empower Asian American Pacific Islander and LGBTQ+ communities, women, and youth.
Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, Talusan fell in love with music at a young age, DJing at local clubs and playing in bands. Since moving to Washington, D.C., at age 20, she has continued to develop her talents, performing behind the decks in the United States and abroad. Talusan has DJed for the National League of Cities, the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Geographic Channel. Talusan has been featured in media outlets such as The Washington Post and Refinery29.
Wellness + Compassion Activist, Speaker, Author, CEO of The HAPPY Org
Haile Thomas is 19 years old, an international speaker, wellness and compassion activist, author of the newly released empowerment cookbook Living Lively, the youngest to graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition as a Certified Integrative Nutrition Health Coach, and the founder/CEO of the nonprofit HAPPY(Healthy, Active, Positive, Purposeful, Youth). Thomas founded HAPPY when she was 12 years old to redefine youth empowerment through holistic education and address the need for peer-to-peer free/affordable plant-based nutrition and wellness education in underserved/at-risk communities. Thomas has personally engaged over 80,000 people around the world since 2010 and has spoken at events like SXSW, WeDay UN at the Barclays Center, and GITEX Future Stars in Dubai. Thomas has worked with brands like Williams-Sonoma, Nike, Bank of America, Vitamix, United Airlines, and Audible. She’s been featured by BuzzFeed, MTV, CNN, the Today show, O Magazine, and Teen Vogue.
Hoʻowaiwai Youth Leadership Training Intern, MAʻO Organic Farms
Tiare Toetuʻu-aipa was born and raised in Waiʻanae and is an alumna of Waiʻanae High School class of 2018. Toetuʻu-aipa recently graduated from Leeward Community College with her associate degree in Liberal Arts and plans to attain her bachelorʻs degree in Applied Science in Hawaiian and Indigenous Health and Healing at University of Hawaiʻi West Oʻahu Campus. Toetuʻu-aipa has been at MAʻO Organic Farms for over two years now in multiple leadership roles. She aspires to learn different ways of healing through Indigenous practice.
Cookbook Author + Founder of Equity at the Table (EATT)
Julia Turshen is the bestselling author of Now & Again, Feed the Resistance, and Small Victories. She has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, Vogue, Bon Appétit, Food & Wine, and Saveur. She is the founder of Equity At The Table (EATT), an inclusive digital directory of women/non-binary individuals in food, and the host of Keep Calm and Cook On, a podcast. Turshen lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife and pets.
Co-Founder and Vice President of Development, Raíces Brewing Co.
Tamil Maldonado Vega was born in Puerto Rico. Growing up, she was always involved in cultural groups and community service while studying math and science. She learned to appreciate arts, science, culture, people, and life. She has led movements that promote appreciation of arts, culture, nature, human rights, and social justice. Her passion for having a positive impact in others would drive her to continue her community service and now her work at Raíces Brewing Company. She is co-founder of Raíces. She serves as an active transformational leader making strategic decisions while handling programs and front of house. She is responsible for the design and implementation of a comprehensive plan for Raíces, in addition to outreach, establishing external alliances, cultivating relationships, and developing activities that exalt identities, promote value to cultural heritages, and support community. Her knowledge in self-managed organizations and running cultural organizations ensures Raíces has year-round programming and community engagement developed around its pillars: Community, Culture, and Cerveza. This provides the opportunity for Raíces to craft high-quality beers while adding opportunity and access to underrepresented groups into the industry and to serve as a community, cultural, and resource center at large. Raíces provides a platform of visibility for Latino/a/x artists, entrepreneurs, and organizations while celebrating Latino culture and traditions. She also produces Suave Fest, the first Latino craft beer festival in the United States, which highlights Latino-owned breweries and crafts.
Raíces has won grants: from the Urban Arts Fund, Denver Public Art, for its iconic mural, and the Brewers Association’s Diversity and Inclusion Grant for Suave Fest 2019 and 2020. Raíces’s concept has garnered the attention of other prestigious awards such as Westword’s Best New Brewery Taproom 2020, the Downtown Denver Award 2020, and the Governor’s Minority Business Award 2020.
Stephen Velasquez is a curator for the Division of Cultural and Community Life at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History. His research interest includes Latinx history and identity, material culture, foodways, and immigration/migration history. He was co-curator for Food: Transforming the American Table, 1950–2000, and Many Voices, One Nation. He is currently involved in the exhibition Entertaining America as well as a research project on Mexican vineyard workers in Napa and a future exhibit on lowriders. Past projects include the Bracero Oral History Project and associated traveling exhibit, Bittersweet Harvest: The Bracero Program, 1942–1964; Mexican Treasures of the Smithsonian;AZUCAR! The Life and Music of Celia Cruz; A Collector’s Vision of Puerto Rico; and Julia Child’s Kitchen at the Smithsonian, as well as many other exhibit cases and special projects. He holds a master’s degree in anthropology from The George Washington University, and a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of Missouri.
Associate Professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and author of Freedom Fighters
Dr. Monica M. White is an award-winning scholar and currently serves as an associate professor of environmental justice at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. She holds a joint appointment in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and the Nelson Institute for Environmental Studies. She is the first Black woman to earn tenure in both the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences (1889) and the Nelson Institute (1970) at UW–Madison. Her research investigates
Black, Latinx, and Indigenous grassroots organizations that are engaged in the development of sustainable, community-based food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility. As the founding director of the Office of Environmental Justice and Engagement (OEJE) at UW–Madison, she works to bridge the gap between the community and the university and its resources by connecting community-based organizations that are working on areas of environmental/food/land justice to faculty and students. Her first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement, published
with University of North Carolina Press, was released January 2019. It received the 2019 Eduardo Bonilla Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Division of Race and Ethnic Minorities Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems.
In addition to her academic work, White has been active in the food justice movement for over a decade. She served as president of the Board of Directors of
the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, and has served on the advisory board of the Southeast African American Farmers Organic Network. Her
work in the classroom and community embodies the theoretical framework of Collective Agency and Community Resilience and the use of community-based food
systems and agriculture as a strategy of community development.
Director, Street Vendor Project at the Urban Justice Center
Mohamed Attia immigrated to the United States from Alexandria, Egypt, in 2008. He worked as a food vendor for nearly 10 years. He became a member of the Street Vendor Project in 2012, was elected to the Leadership Board, and served on the board until 2018, when he joined Street Vendor Project’s staff. He participated in and led the work of SVP’s biggest campaign, Lift The Caps, which aims to eliminate the limits on the number of permits and licenses and legalizing the work of all street vendors in New York City. He is committed to organizing street vendors in New York City and building power within their communities to ensure that their voice is being heard and they won’t be overlooked any longer.