The 2017 Better Selves Fellowship

Angella Gibbons

Angella Gibbons is the founder and director of EarthWalk Vermont, a non-profit community and nature education organization. Angella believes we take care of who and what we love, and has been mentoring children, teens and adults in wild places, reconnecting us to to one another and the earth for almost 30 years.

Ashley Look

Ashley Look is the founder of “How to Feed a Senior,” a blog that provides recipes and nutrition tips, as well as meditations on loss, grieving and the process of carving out a meaningful life in circumstances you would have never chosen for yourself.  It’s the result of a two year transition away from a traditional employment structure to being a full-time caregiver to her parents, who are living with Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Becky Cushing

Becky is director for Mass Audubon’s Berkshire Wildlife Sanctuaries and working on developing a strategic plan for Mass Audubon’s work in the region, Becky’s work integrates her academic background in the natural sciences with an inclination for problem solving and a passion for balancing conservation with the management of natural resources. She’s especially interested in the connection of people with nature and the impacts of recreation on natural landscapes.

Bethany Cherry

Bethany Cherry is a graduate of Brigham Young University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She is a teacher of learning and music, and enjoys sharing her vision and passion about social empowerment through her writing. Her main passion and motivation is people. Her current focus is on helping Black women and girls to cultivate a love of self, beginning with their royal African heritage.

Christina Fleming

Christina Fleming is a nurse-midwife currently working on her dissertation for a PhD in Nursing at Johns Hopkins. She has been a midwife since 2005 and worked all over the world caring for mamas and babies. Her current research aims to better assess the skills of healthcare providers who care for women with female genital cutting in order to improve health outcomes and prevent the practice in the future.

Edward Connelly

Edward Connelly is the President of New Ecology, an innovative environmental organization that serves as a catalyst for community-based sustainable development projects.  Ed has extensive experience working at the nexus of community development and environmental protection.

Gail Myers

Dr. Gail Myers is a cultural anthropologist specializing in the rich historical traditions of Black farmers’ material culture and traditional food ways.  Since 1997, she has researched, lectured, written about, and filmed stories of African American farmers, sharecroppers, and gardeners.  Myers continues a wide spectrum of grass roots organizing and coalition building through the organization she founded, Farms to Grow, Inc.  Her upcoming documentary/multi-media project, “Rhythms of the Land”, is currently in post-production.

Hannah Gosnell

Hannah Gosnell is an Associate Professor of Geography at Oregon State University where she conducts research and teaches about the human dimensions of natural resource management (land, water, wildlife), climate change, and environmental governance, mostly in the US West. She is especially interested in rural agricultural landscapes, and the factors that shape landowner decision-making, e.g. ranchers’ and farmers’ decisions to transition from conventional to regenerative, “climate smart” agriculture.

Ivan Rahman

Ivan Rahman is an MPA Candidate and a Gleitsman Leadership Fellow at Harvard University and an MBA Candidate at Stanford University. He envisions founding and leading an urban charter school network that prioritizes civic and human rights education.

Jeff Chelf

Jeff Chelf is a professional boat builder and educator currently living in Chapel Hill, NC. His life is centered around the core principles of permaculture: Earth Care, People Care, and Fair Share.

Jennifer Kobylecky

Jen currently serves as Director of Education for the Aldo Leopold Foundation in Baraboo, Wisconsin. The foundation’s mission is focused on advancing Leopold’s call for a “land ethic” (care for people, land, and communities). The foundation’s key educational programs seek to convene people to ask big questions about the relationship between people and nature, catalyze community leadership, and foster dialogue across difference.

Jenna Umbriac

Jenna is a registered dietitian dedicated to educating about and contributing to the creation of a healthful, sustainable, and equitable food system.  For the past 5 years, she has served as Director of Programs and Policies at Manna Food Center in Montgomery County, MD.  Jenna directs Manna’s weekend food assistance program and oversees nutrition education programming.

Jennifer Steverson

Jennifer Steverson is an artist and writer based in Austin, Texas.  She is currently working on Holding Ground, an exploration of historic freedmen communities in Austin through cultural cartography, a series of maps using plant based dyes, embroidery, quilting stitches, and archival photographs. The work was started in January 2017 with the intention of connecting to the long, often unseen Black history of central Texas in the wake of the political upheavals.

Jennifer Brockway-Irving

Jennifer’s passion for local food, land and community fueled the creation of her position as Community Cultivator at 47 Daisies, a Maine nonprofit that uses food and farming as tools for social change. Before setting roots at 47 Daisies, Jennifer invested 16 years in land conservation as executive director of two Maine land trusts.

Jennifer White

Jennifer White is the Director of Sustainability and Assistant Professor in the Environmental Studies Department at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire.  She is also the Program Coordinator for the Sustainable Learning Initiative (SLI) at Franklin Falls, which pairs students’ learning outcomes across campus with the to-do lists of community partners who are spearheading the revitalization of one of NH’s smallest and poorest cities.

Josh Hastings

Josh Hastings is the Policy Manager at the Eastern Shore Land Conservancy (ESLC) and he monitors land use policies at the local, state, and federal government levels. Josh is a 2016 Institute for Policy Studies- New Economy Fellow, and is serving a 3-year term on Maryland’s Rural Legacy Advisory Board. He is the current Chairman of the Partners for Open Space coalition, Vice Chair of the Lower Shore Land Trust, and serves as the current Chairman of the Rural Maryland Council.

Justice Rajee

Justice is the CHI Elevate Program Manager for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center. CHI Elevate serves young, gang-impacted African American males on state supervision, connecting them with education, employment, and self development opportunities. He is dedicated to helping young men find their value and advocating for system reconstruction.

Kate Johnson

A writer and performer, Kate is one of three core teachers in Advanced Training in Social Presencing Theater, offered by the Presencing Institute.  She is an adjunct teacher at New York Insight Meditation Center, and is also on staff at Buddhist Peace Fellowship. She offers meditation and movement for people of all ages, and facilitates training for schools, businesses and organizations looking for mindful and embodied approaches to cultivating greater diversity and inclusion.

Katie Kamelamela

Katie currently lives in Washington D.C. working as part of the inaugural cohort of the Native Hawaiian Federal Service Fellowship.  She is passionate about her home islands and the people who make the community of Hawaii.

Kirsten Walter
Kirsten is the director of a non-profit food justice effort, the St. Mary’s Nutrition Center, in Lewiston Maine. The Nutrition Center is a people-focused organization that believes deeply in the inherent worthiness of each person and works to create caring, safe environments where people can thrive. The NC intentionally uses good food as a tool for community building, leadership and youth development, and neighborhood revitalization.
Kristopher Smith

Kris has served as an independent consultant working with philanthropy and intermediaries to identify, design and implement strategic grantmaking to improve life outcomes for vulnerable populations, emphasizing workforce development and education programs, services and policies that create systems change.

Laurel Johnson

Laurel Johnson is a young adult librarian from Chicago. Her work focuses on positive youth development and social and emotional learning for teens, as well as equity and inclusion in public library services to people of all ages.

Lawrence Barriner II

Lawrence is a narrative strategist, connector, and systems thinker. His current work includes communications and narrative strategy at the Community Innovators Lab at MIT. He also runs a productivity coaching practice aimed at helping people transform themselves in order to transform the world (inspired by Grace Lee Boggs).

Lisa Feldstein

Lisa is a native New Yorker who has been living as an expat in San Francisco since 1989. Until recently, Lisa was the entire full time faculty of the Masters of Public Affairs program at the University of San Francisco. Previous to that she taught at UC Berkeley and San Francisco State University in their Urban Studies and Planning Departments. She was the founding executive director of the Land Use and Public Health Program of the Public Health Law Program at the Public Health Institute where she trained professionals and communities in understanding and addressing the links between the public’s health and the built environment, focusing on food access.

Lisa Griffith

Lisa Griffith spent her youth on a family farm in northeast Missouri, holds anthropology and regional planning​ degrees, and since 2007 has worked for the National Family Farm Coalition​ representing 25 grassroots organizations ​comprised of family farmers and fishermen​ as well as rural and food sovereignty activists.

Liz O’Gilvie

Liz serves as board chair of the youth development urban agriculture organization Gardening the Community, Chair of the Springfield Food Policy Council, and as a Project Advisor with the team that developed and is implementing the 2015 Massachusetts State Food System Plan. Her work in the food system, public health and community building is built on lessons learned from her earlier work in affordable housing, workforce and economic development.

Marissa Watson

Marissa came to NOFA and VT-FEED (Food Education Every Day) after falling in love with the Farm to School program in Georgia, where she got her MS in Agricultural Economics. For the previous five years, she worked as a farm manager for two different farms in South Carolina.

Michael Dimock

Michael Dimock is a movement organizer and thought leader on food and farming systems and heads Roots of Change, a project of the Public Health Institute. He is currently developing and advocating for smart, incentive-based food and farm policies that position agriculture and food enterprises as solutions to critical challenges of the 21st century.

Mieko Ozeki

Mieko is a Vermont-based educator and seasoned program manager, who has worked in areas of sustainable food systems, green building and design, and campus sustainability. She has been program director at Vermont’s Yestermorrow Design Build School, managed the University of Vermont’s Office of Sustainability and led education programs for The Food Project. Mieko is a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program.

Molly Messenger

Molly Messenger is a community organizer, specializing in rural and youth organizing, participatory leadership development, facilitating roundtable conversations, and building intergenerational networks for social change. She lives in New Hampshire.

Neftali Duran

Neftali Duran leads the Nuestra Comida Project at Nuestras Raices, a grassroots urban agriculture organization that creates healthy environments and more equitable food system in New England by facilitating community leadership, education, food access and policy change at the local, state and national level. He is interested in documenting the culinary traditions of the different regions of Oaxaca, Mexico as well as reclaiming the roots and culture of the original peoples of the Americas.

Park Cannon

Park ran for office in 2015 and 2016 and is the Democratic State Representative for Georgia House 58.  She had to spend less time with her puppy, Nellie to do so. Now she is spending the summer of 2017 with Nellie in Vermont and plans to de-stress from southern politics!

Rachel Brown

Rachel’s passion is preventing communal violence and enabling communities to come together around shared needs. She is the Executive Director of Over Zero. Any number over zero cannot be divided, and Over Zero supports societies to resist division and create long-term resilience to identity-based conflict. She is the author of Defusing Hate: A Strategic Communications Guide to Counteract Dangerous Speech, which brings together insights from diverse fields of expertise – from marketing to cognitive neuroscience – to support practitioners who want to design communication-based interventions.

Rebecca Brown

Rebecca Brown is the founder and executive director of Ammonoosuc Conservation Trust, the regional lands conservancy in northern New Hampshire. Earlier in her career she was a journalist, editor, author, and general contractor. She also served two terms in the New Hampshire legislature.

Rob Wade

Rob Wade is a place-based educator in the Upper Feather River region of California’s northern Sierra Nevada. During his twenty-year career he has developed regional K-12 partnerships and programs that support all teachers and some 2000 students annually.

Robin White

Throughout her long career in the national park service, Robin White has built a strong background in interpretation and heritage education and a reputation for building community driven programs and sustainable partnerships. She partnered with the Chicago Department of Human Services on gang intervention work, and with the Five Sandoval Indian Pueblo and the Southern Ute in Ignacio, Colorado to develop cultural curricula to increase cultural pride and empowerment.  She is currently a parks superintendent in Little Rock, Arkansas where she convenes gatherings on civil rights and social change.

Samantha Harvey

Samantha Harvey is currently a Fellow with EDGE Funders Alliance, working with philanthropy and movement partners to co-develop a learning and strategy collaborative toward a Just Transition. Until recently, she was a Program Officer with The Overbrook Foundation, where she supported and developed the Foundation’s Environment and Movement Building programs.

Sarah Lupberger

Sarah Lupberger is an environmental scientist with a passion for bringing together local activists and external support and resources to create a more just future. As Landscape Manager at Verified Carbon Standard, she develops tools to promote sustainability and equity in global supply chains by accounting for the social and environmental costs of commodity production.

Saudade Ware

From ink and charcoal drawings to mixed media and assemblage, painting will always be the first love of Saudade Toxosi. However, in recent years Saudade began a meditative process of selecting and organizing found images that articulate her thoughts about the black experience in this nation and around the world.

Simon Kiddel

Simon has been baking bread for friends and family since he was sixteen years old and has a long history of working with artisanal foods. Originally from the United Kingdom, Simon has a dream of starting a community bread oven in his back yard in Austin, Texas. He has been fortunate enough to travel to different regions of the world and witness first-hand the role that food can play in the breaking down of barriers and the establishment of community.

Sylvia Stocker

Sylvia Stocker is celebrating her tenth anniversary as Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Brunswick, Maine, where she has served since August 1, 2007. Her calling to ministry followed a career in technical writing and editing in both the computer and environmental consulting fields.

Tomas Garduno

Tomás Garduño is a Native New Mexican Chicano, born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has worked for more than a handful of grassroots social justice organizations. His most formative years were his 7 years as a state-wide organizer, political director, and ultimately co-director of the SouthWest Organizing Project (SWOP), a 35 year-old grassroots social justice movement organization in New Mexico. In 2013 Tomás moved to New York City where he helped organize the People’s Climate March in September 2014.

Vanessa Vincent

Vanessa Vincent is the Director of Development at Harlem Grown. A New York native, she graduated from Duke University in 2010 with a B.S. in Economics. After five years of working Media & Advertising, she was lucky enough to combine her passion for food justice, writing, and relationship building in her current role at Harlem Grown.

Whitney Files

Whitney Files is chief of operations at Harlem Grown (HG), a nonprofit organization dedicated to inspiring youth through mentorship and education in urban farming, nutrition and sustainability. Prior to joining HG, Whitney ran a volunteer program at Partnerships for Parks, which engaged over 21,000 volunteers each year at 350 parks and greenspaces in New York City.

Xochilth Franklin

Xochilth is the Operations Manager at the Center for Equity and Inclusion (CEI) located in Portland, Oregon. She is responsible for logistics, operational strategizing and program support for CE&I staff and partner organizations.  As a bi-cultural, bi-lingual person of color, Xochilth feels it is her duty to continue the work for racial equity in which her ancestors played a role.

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