By Suzannah Schneider, Communications Manager and Certification Coordinator
We are thrilled to welcome four new board members to our grassroots group! They bring with them a true breadth of experience from different fields within the food system and all around the country. These new members hail from Virginia, Oregon, Georgia, and New York, and join the Certified Naturally Grown Board of Directors for a three-year term.
But before we introduce them, we'd like to offer deep thanks to our two outgoing board members: Jonathan Duffy, former board Chair, and Elizabeth Weller, former board Secretary, for their dedication and contributions over the past three and six (!) years, respectively. We look forward to staying connected with them both in their continuing roles as beekeeper (Jonathan) and farmer (Elizabeth).
Thank you Jonathan Duffy and Elizabeth Weller!
Read on to meet the new folks joining our returning board members: Andrew Linker, board Chair and Ross Margulies. Welcome Leonard Githinji, Katie Gourley, Kim Karris, and Jasmine Nielsen!
Virginia State University
Dr. Leonard Githinji serves as an Assistant Professor and Extension Specialist of Sustainable and Urban Agriculture at Virginia State University, with prior experience as a Horticulture Specialist at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and in a similar capacity at Tuskegee University in Alabama. He has a Ph.D. in Agronomy and Soils, an MS in Physical Land Resources, and a BS in Agriculture with more than 10 years of related experience across three continents. His research interests include sustainable agriculture, organic agriculture, enhancing the viability of limited-resource farmers, urban food systems, and integrated crop-livestock production systems. He has published over 30 research and Extension articles focusing on sustainable agricultural practices. He has taught several courses including soil science, vegetable crops production, soil morphology, soil physics, and Geographic Information System. Leonard has been awarded multiple grants as a project investigator and has received several professional awards including the Showcasing Scholarship; a Showcase of Excellence Award; Faculty Performance Award; Academic Excellence Award, and the A.L. Smith Award.
Born and raised in Portland, OR, Katie Gourley has experience working as a community organizer, advocate, educator, and practitioner of sustainable food systems. She is currently a professional baker operating a community supported bakery to combine a lifelong passion for feeding others with an interest in biodiversity, ecological sustainability, and social justice. Katie is actively involved in movements to revitalize heritage grain economies as a member of the PDX Whole Grain Bakers Guild. She also works as a creative consultant for the Culinary Breeding Network. In Spring 2019, Katie graduated with her Masters in Urban Planning from the Harvard University Graduate School of Design. Her thesis on community seed libraries and local seed sovereignty movements was the recipient of the Harvard Urban Planning and Design Thesis Prize. Her academic background is in urban planning, regional food systems, and movements for food sovereignty.
Food Well Alliance
Kim Karris joined Food Well Alliance in 2015 as a member of its founding team. As Executive Director, Karris leads the organization’s mission to mobilize a regional coalition that works together to build viable, thriving urban farms and community gardens across metro Atlanta. She was instrumental in developing the organization’s formative grantmaking and capacity building program, which has invested more than $4 million into a diverse network of more than 150 grantee-partners that includes gardens, farms, markets and community food organizations. In 2019, under Karris’ leadership, Food Well Alliance launched metro Atlanta’s first City Agriculture Planning process with the Atlanta Regional Commission. Prior to Food Well Alliance, Karris launched the first U.S office of global NGO HelpAge International. She has lived, farmed, and worked directly with agricultural communities in Hawaii, Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, and Nicaragua. Karris is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and received a Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.
Jasmine Nielsen draws on two decades of experience leading New York City nonprofit organizations to provide strategic advisement, coaching, and training to boards of directors, executive directors, and senior management. A trained facilitator, Jasmine is adept at guiding groups through challenging conversations. Her holistic approach to organizational development encompasses strategic planning, governance, fundraising, communications, and fiscal and operating systems. Jasmine consults with nonprofit organizations working in food, social justice, arts and culture, urbanism and open space, and the environment. Jasmine is an Adjunct Instructor in the Food Studies program at New York University and Treasurer of the Board of Directors of Equity Advocates. From 2014 to 2016, she was the Executive Director of Just Food. Prior to that, Jasmine spent 16 years as the Executive Director of Love Heals (now an initiative of GMHC). Jasmine has a BA from Vassar College and an MA in Food Studies from New York University.