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2017 Statewide Food Council Gathering Speakers



Nov 30 – Dec 1, 2017 || Bermuda Run, NC

Schedule   ||   Registration & Scholarships   ||  Speakers  ||  Sessions  ||  Location


Karen Bassarab, Senior Program Officer, Food Communities and Public Health program at Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future (CLF)  

Karen’s work focuses on addressing community level challenges in access to healthy food and nutrition through research and practice.  She spends most of her time at CLF working on the Food Policy Networks project, a national resource hub for food policy councils and similar organizations that represent multiple stakeholders to address food and farm issues through policy.  She coordinates educational activities and provides direct technical assistance to councils and communities across North American to build their capacity to effectively engage in food systems policy change.  Karen has a masters degree in community and regional planning and public policy and has worked for over a decade on food systems programs and policy.  When not talking food, Karen is guaranteed to be cooking, walking her two dogs or working one of many never-ending house projects that keep her 100 year old house standing.


Rev. Dr. Joe BlosserAssistant Professor, High Point University

Rev. Dr. Joe Blosser is the Robert G. Culp Jr. Director of Service Learning and Assistant Professor of Religion and Philosophy at High Point University.  He received his Ph.D. in Religious Ethics from the University of Chicago, M.Div. at Vanderbilt University, and his B.S. at Texas Christian University. He is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He joined the HPU faculty in 2011 after teaching at the University of Chicago and DePaul University.  He primarily teaches Business Ethics, Educational Ethics, Religion in America, and Contemporary Christian Theology. He serves on the board of the Greater High Point YMCA Association, High Point Community Foundation, and he is a founding member of the Greater High Point Food Alliance where he serves of the executive team, helping to change the paradigm of service in High Point from charity models to development ones.

Shannon Carroll, High Country Food Hub Coordinator, Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

Shannon has 30+ years of experience providing leadership and support for instructional technology for Watauga County Schools. She retired from the school system in 2013 and is currently dividing her time between her part-time position with Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture as the High Country Food Hub Coordinator, volunteering as the Lettuce Learn garden coordinator for Parkway School, and helping her husband, Terry, with his SunCatcher Passive Solar Greenhouse business. She also recently earned her Master Gardener certification.

John Coggin, The Rural Center

Henry Crews, Green Rural Redevelopment Organization

Henry and Ardis Crews, run Green Rural Redevelopment Organization (GRRO), a nonprofit organization that is supporting micro-market farms in Vance and surrounding counties. Henry and Ardis started with a community garden in the empty lot beside their house after retiring and moving back to his hometown of Henderson, NC. GRRO has formed partnerships and promoted collaborations among agencies across Henderson, including local government agencies, police, and schools. Complete with walk-up farmstands, these micro-farms are creating profitable entrepreneurship opportunities and increasing access to fresh, healthy local produce in economically-depressed areas. The cooperative farms sell at a local Farmers Market, an on-farm market, to Farmers Food Share, and to restaurants. Henry has been able to draw on resources available through the Farm Bill as well as local non-profits and food related businesses to strategically grow this organization and its ability to bring entrepreneurship to Vance and surrounding counties in NE North Carolina through growing good food on small plots.

Neal Curran, Bull City Cool (BCC) Coordinator, Reinvestment Partners

Neal currently coordinates the Bull City Cool Food Hub in Durham, NC. He has worked in various aspects of food production and logistics since 2008, from small-scale farming in California to building regional food distribution networks in Michigan. BCC is part of a Reinvestment Partners broader strategy to promote health, social equity, and sustainability through working on regional food system issues. Neal is also the Co-Chair of the Durham Farm and Food Network.

Sarah Daniels, Executive Director of Feast Down East

Sarah holds a Masters of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science from UNC Wilmington, and is interested in persistent issues in southeastern North Carolina around poverty, food insecurity, and the decline of small family farms. A long-time supporter of local food systems work, Sarah is especially passionate about this topic as it relates to economic development, social justice and interorganizational collaboration and is currently involved with the development of the Cape Fear Food Council.

Clifton Dial, St. Andrews University & ScotLand Grows

Clifton D. Dial, born and raised in Scotland County, NC.  I have attended the University of North Carolina at Pembroke (B.S Biology 05′ & M.A in Science Education 08′) and am currently writing my dissertation on ecological worldviews and sustainable leadership to complete my PhD. in Organizational Leadership from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  I have a variety of roles in local educational venues here in southeastern NC:  1.  Director of Residence Life and Housing for St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, NC  2.  Farm to Table Instructor for Robeson Community Colleges Culinary Dept in Lumberton, NC  3.     Organizational Coach for local industry via Workforce and Economic Development Dept at Richmond Community College in Hamlet, NC.  I enjoy spending time with my wife and three kids, as well as volunteering and assisting with local green initiatives.

Emily Edmonds, NC Growing Together, Center for Environmental Farming Systems

Emily Edmonds, MPA, currently serves as the Extension & Outreach Program Manager for the NC Growing Together Project, an initiative of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems. She has over a decade of experience in local and regional food systems, rural economic development, and project management in a variety of public & private fields and received an MPA as a Public Service Leader Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ?

Michelle Eley, A&T State University & NC Local Food Council

Brett Evans, Farmer, Red Hawk Farm

Brett Evans owns Red Hawk Farm in Hurdle Mills, NC. Now in its fourth season. the farm has recently scaled up from beginnings as a diversified market garden into a more specialized operation focused primarily on salad greens for smaller wholesale opportunities with local grocery stores, restaurants, and aggregators.  

Savi Horne, North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project

Savi Horne is Executive Director of the North Carolina Association of Black Lawyers, Land Loss Prevention Project,  a non-profit law firm has offered for more than thirty-three years, legal representation of clients, community economic development, and professional outreach in the effort to promote wealth, land preservation, and rural livelihoods. As a state, regional and national non-governmental organization leader, she has been instrumental in addressing the needs of socially-disadvantage farmers and rural communities. She graduated from Rutgers University, School of Law-Newark, New Jersey and was admitted to the New York State Bar in 1990.

Sarah Jacobson, American Heart Association

Grace Kanoy, GeoCore Films, Davidson Food Systems Network

Grace Kanoy in partnership with Cary Kanoy, form the husband and wife filmmaking team for GeoCore Films, through which they have become specialists in agriculture, education and food activism. Prior to founding GeoCore Creative, Kanoy worked as a marketing executive for over 7 years.

In addition to GeoCore Films, Kanoy oversees two publications, Davidson County magazine and Good Sport magazine through her printing company Sidekick Media Solutions, Inc.

Currently, she serves as the Vice President of the Thomasville Farmers Market Association, co-founder of the Davidson County Local Food Network, board member of People Achieving Community Enhancement of Thomasville (a downtown revitalization group) and as Secretary on the Executive Board for Thomasville Tourism Commission.

Tracy Kunkler, Circle Forward Partners & Appalachian Foodshed Network Map

Thomas Moore, NC Food Systems Coordinator, Carolina Farm Stewardship Association

Thomas grew up in Concord, NC and graduated from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill with a BA in Religious Studies and Peace, War, and Defense. Following graduation, he continued his studies in Vancouver, BC Canada and received a Post Baccalaureate Diploma from the Faculty of Environmental Studies at Simon Fraser University. He has experience in sustainable community development, supply chain management, food security initiatives, and developing sustainable food systems and is currently the Co-Chair of the Cabarrus Farm and Food Council. Thomas lives in Concord, NC with his wife, Rindy, and their two children where they raise backyard chickens, ducks, bees, and grow seasonal vegetables.

Katherine Metzo, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council

Katherine Metzo works as a freelance research consultant to non-profits and small businesses. She specializes in user experience research and human-centered design, using qualitative and quantitative measures. In 2015, she completed State of the Plate research with Victor Romano.  She also teaches Anthropology at Winthrop University. Katherine earned her PhD from Indiana University and her B.A. from Lawrence University and has a certificate in non-profit management from Winthrop University.

Kivi Leroux Miller, Founder & CEO, Nonprofit Marketing Guide

Kivi Leroux Miller is the founder and CEO of Nonprofit Marketing Guide, where she helps nonprofit communications professionals learn their jobs and love their jobs through a variety of training and coaching programs. She has personally mentored more than 100 nonprofit communications directors and communications teams as a certified executive coach.  She is a popular keynote, workshop, and webinar presenter, speaking dozens of times each year.  Kivi is also the award-winning author of three books, as well as a popular blog:

  • CALM not BUSY: How to Manage Your Nonprofit’s Communications for Great Results (Coming Fall 2017)
  • Content Marketing for Nonprofits: A Communications Map for Engaging Your Community, Becoming a Favorite Cause, and Raising More Money (2013, Winner of the Terry McAdam Book Award)
  • The Nonprofit Marketing Guide: High-Impact, Low-Cost Ways to Build Support for Your Good Cause (2010, used as the textbook in many college and certificate programs on nonprofit communications)

After many years in the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, DC, Kivi gave up big city life to raise a family in rural North Carolina with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and countless backyard wildlife. She enjoys writing, gardening, volunteering with Girl Scouts and her church, hiking, vegetarian cooking, and teaching her kids how to bake.

Edgar Miller, Conservation Trust for NC & North Carolina Local Food Council

Emma Olson, North Carolina Center for Health and Wellness

Mike Ortosky, Agriculture Economic Developer, Orange County

Mike Ortosky is a Landscape Architect, Soil Scientist, and Planner. His career has included environmental assessment and restoration, land planning and design, business management, and community and food system development. A graduate of North Carolina State University, he has worked for NC State University and the US Department of Agriculture. He cofounded and managed Soil & Environmental Consultants, PA, ( an environmental consulting and design firm as well as The Earthwise Company (, a community and agricultural development effort.  Most recently Mike has taken a position with Orange County, North Carolina as Agriculture Economic  Developer where he is working on Agriculture Economic Development.

Preston Peck, Toxic Free NC

Cecelia Polanco, So Good Pupusas

Born in Los Angeles, California to Salvadoran immigrant parents,  and raised in Durham, NC along with her three older sisters, Cecilia is a  2016 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where she was a Morehead-Cain Scholars and a Global Gap Year Fellow. She started So Good Pupusas with her family in 2015 and the non-profit Pupusas for Education in 2016. She majored in Global Studies with a minor in Geography, and received a Business Essentials certificate from Kenan Flagler. Cecilia also serves on the board for the Helius Foundation, which works with low-income, and entrepreneurs of color like herself, and has been a Fellow with Frontline Solutions as we as with the Jamie Kirk Hahn Foundation. She is passionate about working with Latinx and immigrant communities and making higher education more accessible and affordable, she believes business can be a force for good, and that pupusas can change the world.

Rebecca Reeve, Results Works Consulting

Noran Sanford, Growing Change & ScotLand Grows

Joy Salyers, Social Activist, Folklorist

Joy Salyers is a social activist, folklorist (MA, UNC-Chapel Hill) and healing practitioner. She has worked in the academy and other educational fields, the business world, and nonprofit sector, and now helps individuals, organizations, and groups enact their deepest values with effectiveness, integrity, and joy.  Joy’s classes in the certificate program for Duke University’s Center for Documentary Studies are open for public registration. You can learn more about custom classes, consulting or coaching, or booking Joy for your event at her website:

Julia Sendor, Farmer/Program Coordinator, Anathoth Community Garden & Farm

Julia Sendor is the co-farmer and program coordinator at Anathoth Community Garden & Farm in Cedar Grove, NC. Anathoth’s garden, now grown to a farm, began as a response to a murder that brought to light divisions in the community. Anathoth’s mission is to heal divisions by growing food together. Julia coordinates Anathoth’s core production program – HarvestShare, a sliding-scale, 180-member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture program). Julia is also a member of the Orange County Food Council.

Danielle Sherman, Project Manager, Active Living By Design

Danielle contributes to the development and delivery of technical assistance, virtual learning activities, consultation, communication, and evaluation services to build capacity of communities to become healthier. Danielle also identifies and shares best practices related to healthy community programs, policies, and innovative tools. Learn more about Danielle’s background.

Tenita Solanto, Navy Veteran Farmer, Green Panda Farms

Tenita is a serial entrepreneur and currently owns two businesses – Solver Business Solutions and Green Panda Farms. The farm focuses on growing healthy superfoods for customers. Tenita is truly a strong leader and wants to give back to the community she works in. Solver Business Solutions is used to help others reach their business goals with IT and administrative duties so they can fully function as a growing business. Green Panda Farms will be used as a source to connect the community to healthier food sources.   She worked for IBM for ten years and also served in the Navy for 4.5 years.

Robyn Stout, NC 10% Campaign, Statewide Program Coordinator

Robyn Stout grew up in Mississippi, wanting nothing to do with agriculture and thinking a medical career would enable her to help people be healthy. Over time Robyn realized preventative health care and sustainability was what she was really passionate about, and she began to see an intersection of healthy people, healthy environment, and social and economic justice through sustainable agriculture. She earned a Master’s Degree from NC State University in the Crop Science Department, focusing on sustainable agriculture, food systems, and nutrition. Now, based out of NC State University, she coordinates the NC 10% Campaign, a statewide program out of the Center for Environmental Farming Systems (“CEFS”) and NC Cooperative Extension, working with Extension agents across the state to encourage NC families, businesses, and institutions to purchase local food from NC farmers and fishers. Robyn helped create the Local Food Ambassador Program at 6 NC universities and collaborates on a farm-to-university research and extension project entitled UFoods.

Dr. Vanessa Stuart, PhD, Ex.C.E.L.L. Community Development Corp.

Vanessa Y. Stuart, PhD, affectionately called Dr.V by colleagues and clients is an industrial/ organizational (I/O) psychologist, leadership development consultant, diversity & inclusion facilitator and an empowerment speaker. As a strategic thought partner Vanessa leverages her over 15yrs of professional expertise and formal education in the areas of business strategy and human behavior to enhance organizational effectiveness and strengthen performance. Her multi-industry knowledge, which spans agriculture, banking/finance, healthcare, higher education, real estate and technology proves invaluable to her clients. Moreover, her multi-cultural background and international exposure across five continents and the Caribbean enriches her with a global perspective.  In her words, her investment into the development of others is surmised with the following “I am directed by my moral compass and fueled by my social responsibility to improve the human condition through my service”. However, above all accolades she is proudest of being the mother of her son, Victor Emmanuel.

Carl Vierling,

For ten years Carl served as a pastor of a racially and culturally diverse congregation where he started an innovative food pantry that was serving the homeless, seniors, and those struggling with hunger.  Prior to serving a church he worked in the private sector as the Corporate Benefits Manager responsible for health and welfare benefits nationally and internationally for a major corporation.  While working in the private sector, he worked with a number of non-profits including serving as the President of the United Way Board of Richmond County.  Carl has a Masters of Personnel and Employee Relations from the University of South Carolina and a Masters in Christian Ministry from Carolina Graduate School of Divinity.

Dave Walker, Watauga Food Council & Blue Ridge Women in Agriculture

Josie Walker, NC Council of Churches

Josie Walker is a native of Eastern North Carolina and currently works there as Southeast Regional Coordinator for Partners in Health and Wholeness, an initiative through the North Carolina Council of Churches.  She feels that people should be able to have access to fresh, healthy food and growing it themselves should be a right, not a privilege.  While pursuing a degree in Urban and Community Horticulture at North Carolina A&T State University, Josie served as a the Local Food Ambassador, an NC 10% Campaign program for college students to promote local food and sustainability on their individual campuses and was named a 2016 Local Food Hero by Farm to Fork.  Josie also worked as the Farmer Research and Outreach Coordinator with UFoods, a two-year project designed to develop new market opportunities for farmers by building collaborative supply chains links from farms to university campuses in North Carolina.

Napoleon Wallace, Deputy Secretary for Rural Economic Development and Workforce Solutions,  NC Department of Commerce

In his role at the N.C. Department of Commerce, Wallace manages the Department’s support for North Carolina’s ruralcommunities, leading a team of specialists that help communities make the necessary preparations and infrastructure investments to attract business and spur economic growth. He also directs departmental efforts to strengthen the state’s workforce programs. Prior to joining the Department, Wallace worked as the social investment officer at the Kresge Foundation and as part of the executive staff at Self-Help. Napoleon is a native of Pitt and Beaufort counties.

James Watts, Weaver St. Market

Since 1992, James has been part of the management team at Weaver Street Market, the largest retail food cooperative in the southeastern US.  He currently manages the merchandising department as well as the grocery and wellness department categories.  Weaver Street consistently seeks to be a vital part of the food system and a good partner for local producers.  Virtually all of its recent sales growth has come from producers that are local or organized as producer cooperatives, and the company is proud to have been the launching pad for several local brands.

As a community member, James serves as the board chair for Piedmont Food and Agricultural Processing Center, which offers commercial kitchen space to enable local food and agricultural entrepreneurship. He also sits on the Economic Development Advisory Board for Orange County, and works closely with local suppliers to introduce primary, value-added products to the local food system.

Jenn Weaver

Jenn Weaver is a ten-year resident of Hillsborough, NC, where she has served on the town board for four years. She is a stay at home parent, a yoga teacher, former public policy researcher, and rabble rouser when appropriate. Jenn represents the town of Hillsborough to the Orange County Food Council, and is an enthusiastic supporter of the OCFC for the possibilities this model offers in addressing the numerous and interconnected challenges of the broader community.

Erin White, Founder, Community Food Labs

Erin White is a designer and entrepreneur working to build sustainable community food systems.   In 2013 he founded Community Food Lab to bring design thinking to the complex, urgent problems our communities face as a result of our conventional food system. Through this award-winning international firm, White helps organizations and local government develop innovative solutions to food systems and community problems.

A native of North Carolina, he has a Masters in Architecture from NC State University and an undergraduate degree from Bowdoin College.

Maxine White, Executive Director, Coalition for Healthier Eating (CHE)

Through her role as Executive Director, Maxine has been instrumental in organizing farmers to pilot the CHE Community Food Hub. She is a Disabled Vietnam Veteran who is a retired State Government Manager and Bell System employee. At the food hub, Maxine is working to connect local sustainably grown growers with consumers so that they can learn to understand each other in ways that will promote the consumption of sustainably grown products.

Special thanks to our event sponsors:

SelfHelp_logo           CFSA_sm      CEFS20thAnnivLogo_3PantoneColors      ncstate-ext-2x1-b-v-red-blk-cmyk       36882 Carolina NC Associations Logos-Option 1 (2)         carolina small bus logo    CareShare  Print             PLAN4HealthNC frontblueline logo (002)           NCFB logo     rural_center

NCIF   NCDA    ProduceBox_logo    FoodBankCENC     BullCityLogo_Print

Bhramari Brewery   580CraftBeer      Burt's Logo

We are inviting organizations and businesses to support this event with financial sponsorship.  We are open to creative ideas for sponsors to contribute and add value to this event.  See the varying sponsorship levels and benefits here.  Please contact Gini Knight at (919) 515-5362 or at with questions or ideas.