Growing Regional Food System Opportunity: Capital and Beyond | April 12, 2018

Speaker Biographies

Jim Barham is an agricultural economist for the U.S .Department of Agriculture's (USDA) Rural Development agency. Before joining the USDA, Barham worked extensively in the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean with a number of nonprofit organizations and government agencies on agricultural development projects targeting small holder producers. He joined USDA in 2007 where he works to improve marketing opportunities for small and midsize producers through a combination of research, technical assistance, and financial support. Barham has presented research and published a number of articles on regional food hubs, food value chains, local food distribution, and food service procurement. He is the USDA lead for Food LINC, a public-private partnership to support value chain coordination efforts, and serves as Rural Development's program lead for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative. He earned a MA in cultural anthropology and a PhD in interdisciplinary ecology from the University of Florida.

David Beck joined Self-Help Credit Union in 1998 and serves as director of policy coordinating federal and state policy work on a wide range of community development policy issues such as sustainable agriculture, healthy food systems, mortgage lending, small business lending, and lending to nonprofits. Beck has extensive experience in building partnerships as a founding member of the New Markets Tax Credit Coalition board and as previous chair and current CDFI Coalition board member. He serves on the government affairs committee of the Carolinas Credit Union League, previously chaired the North Carolina Center for Voter Education board, and was on the executive committee of the North Carolina Assets Alliance.*

Raphael W. Bostic is president and chief executive officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He is currently a voting member of the Federal Open Market Committee, the monetary policymaking body of the Federal Reserve System. He is responsible for all the Bank's activities, including monetary policy, bank supervision and regulation, and payment services. From 2012 to 2017, Bostic was the Judith and John Bedrosian Chair in Governance and the Public Enterprise at the Sol Price School of Public Policy at the University of Southern California. His research has spanned many fields, including home ownership, housing finance, neighborhood change, and the role of institutions in shaping policy effectiveness. From 2009 to 2012, Bostic was the assistant secretary for policy development and research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Bostic worked at the Federal Reserve Board of Governors from 1995 to 2001, first as an economist and then senior economist in the monetary and financial studies section, where his work on the Community Reinvestment Act earned him a special achievement award. He graduated from Harvard University in 1987 with a combined major in economics and psychology. He earned his doctorate in economics from Stanford University in 1995.

Kelly Brownell is the director of Duke World Food Policy Center. He also serves as dean of the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University where he is a Robert L. Flowers Professor of Public Policy and professor of psychology and neuroscience. Prior to joining the faculty at Duke, Brownell was at Yale University where he was the James Rowland Angell Professor of Psychology, professor of epidemiology and public health, and director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. While at Yale he served as chair of the department of psychology and as master of Silliman College. Brownell has published 15 books and more than 350 scientific articles and chapters. He has served as president of several national organizations, including the Society of Behavioral Medicine, Association for the Advancement of Behavior Therapy, and the Division of Health Psychology of the American Psychological Association. He has advised the White House, members of Congress, governors, world health and nutrition organizations, and media leaders on issues of nutrition, obesity, and public policy. He earned his PhD from Rutgers University.

Kevin Coogan serves as the vice president for community and economic development at Hope Enterprise Corporation (HOPE). Coogan works to support HOPE's mission of strengthening communities, building assets, and improving lives in economically distressed areas of the mid-South. Previously, he worked for Whole Foods Market in the areas of store marketing, supplier relations, and community outreach, and relocated from Los Angeles to Jackson in 2013 to assist with the opening and operations of the grocery chain's first and only Mississippi location. Coogan holds a bachelor's degree in business marketing from Loyola University New Orleans and has completed the executive program in business administration at the UCLA Anderson School of Management.

Andrew Dumont is a community development analyst at the Federal Reserve Board where he leads the Board's work on rural development, affordable housing, and other place-conscious community and economic development policy areas. Prior to joining the Board, Dumont worked at Pathway Lending—a community development financial institution serving Tennessee and Alabama—where he worked as a program specialist, structuring and underwriting small business loans to further the organization's economic development priorities. He has a master's degree in public policy from the George Washington University, a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo, and is a certified public accountant.*

Diane Harris is a health scientist in the Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). She is lead for the Healthy Food Environment Team in the Obesity Prevention and Control Branch, which focuses on research and guidance on increasing access to healthy foods. Harris's primary interest is creating healthy food environments in child care, schools, work sites, health care, and other institutional settings. The Healthy Food Environment Team provides technical assistance and programmatic support to federal agencies and state, local, territorial, and tribal public health organizations working on implementing food service guidelines in work sites and other venues, and on increasing access to and demand for healthy food in retail. She is the CDC lead for Salad Bars to Schools, a comprehensive public health effort to mobilize and engage stakeholders at the local, state, and national level to support salad bars in schools. Harris is also a member of the advisory board of the National Farm to School Network, supporting the growth of farm to school and early care and education nationwide. She earned her PhD at Cornell University.*

Will Harris is a fourth-generation cattleman who tends the same land that his great-grandfather settled in 1866. Born and raised at White Oak Pastures, in Bluffton, Georgia, Harris left home to attend the University of Georgia's School of Agriculture, where he was trained in the industrial farming methods that had taken hold after World War II. He graduated in 1976 and returned to Bluffton where he and his father continued to raise cattle using pesticides, herbicides, hormones, and antibiotics. These tools did a fantastic job of taking the cost out of the system, but in the mid-1990s Harris became disenchanted with the excesses of these industrialized methods. They had created a monoculture for the cattle, and, as Harris says, "nature abhors a monoculture." In 1995, he made the audacious decision to return to the farming methods his great-grandfather had used 130 years before. Since he has successfully implemented these changes, he has been recognized all over the world as a leader in humane animal husbandry and environmental sustainability.

Haile Johnston is a Philadelphia-based father who works to improve the vitality of rural and urban communities through food systems reform. Along with his wife, Tatiana, he is the codirector and a founder of the Common Market, a nonprofit distribution enterprise that connects communities to good food from sustainable family farms. Founded in the mid-Atlantic region, the model has recently been replicated to serve communities and farmers in Georgia, Alabama, and soon in Texas. Johnston is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business where he concentrated in entrepreneurial management and is proud to have served as a food and community fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. He currently serves as a Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation Entrepreneur, a trustee of the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation, and as an advisory board member of the National Farm to School Network.

Tamara Jones's skill at leading organizations through effective planning and implementation led to her being honored as a 2011 White House Champion of Change. She currently serves as the executive director of the Southeastern African American Farmers Organic Network. Its members are black farmers committed to ecologically sustainable growing methods. Members are located across the Southeast in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Maryland, Virginia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Prior to her current role, Jones led an independent management consulting firm that focused on working with governmental agencies and nonprofit organizations, many of which were in the sustainable agriculture sector. She has also served in the offices of Houston mayor Bill White and Atlanta mayor Shirley Franklin; as director of programs at Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance; as director of programs at Southface Energy Institute; as director of policy and management analysis in the City of Atlanta Department of Finance; and as chief of staff for City of Houston Council Member Ada Edwards. Jones holds a master of arts degree in political science from Yale University and a bachelor of arts degree in political science from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus.

Reverend Richard Joyner is the pastor at Conetoe Chapel Missionary Baptist Church, the founder of the Conetoe Family Life Center, and the director of pastoral care at Nash-UNC Health Care in Edgecombe County, North Carolina. He was raised in Pitt County, North Carolina, and spent his childhood on farmland tended by his family of sharecroppers. Tired of the economic injustice and racial discrimination his family faced as sharecroppers, he enlisted in the Army as soon as eligible. Despite his determination to leave, he returned to North Carolina and has been serving the small, rural community of Conetoe since 2001. Through his pastoral role, Reverend Joyner witnessed firsthand more than 30 funerals in one year for people under the age of 32, due largely to complications from chronic health problems related to obesity. This moment was pivotal in his decision to turn his focus back to farming as a means to improve the health of his community by founding the Conetoe Family Life Center in 2007. The central focus of the center is a 25-acre garden that provides approximately 60 youth the opportunity to develop leadership abilities, social skills, and stress management techniques through gardening. The garden also increases access to healthy, locally grown foods to the broader county.

Kim Karris joined Food Well Alliance in 2015 as a member of its founding team. During her three years as the grants and community capital manager, she led the development of the organization's grant-making and capacity-building program to scale Atlanta's local food leadership. In this role, Karris managed the investment of more than $2 million and has built a diverse network of more than 120 grantee-partners that are making systemic impacts across economic development, health and nutrition, community vitality, and environmental stewardship. Karris was named executive director in March of 2018, and will lead the organization's mission to connect people, ideas, leadership, and capital to grow healthier communities in Atlanta that value locally grown food. Prior to working at Food Well Alliance, Karris launched the first U.S. office of global NGO HelpAge International, developing start-up operations and implementing strategic fundraising and digital marketing strategies to support interventions to address old age poverty in developing countries, including older farmers affected by climate change. 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 master's degree in sustainable food systems from the United Nations University for Peace in Costa Rica.

Will Lambe is the senior community and economic development adviser at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. He specializes in community development finance and has written and spoken on topics ranging from rural development finance, public-private partnerships, tax credit finance, the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), and the EB-5 immigrant investor program. Prior to joining the Atlanta Fed, Lambe was director of CED programming at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Government, where he carried out research and advised local governments on public-private partnership structures to attract private investment into distressed real estate. He has published numerous articles and a book, Small Towns, Big Ideas: Case Studies in Small Town Community Economic Development. In 2015, Lambe was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship to travel and study public-private finance in China. He is a member of the Urban Land Institute Atlanta Center for Leadership class of 2016. He holds a bachelor of arts from the University of Colorado at Boulder and a master of public policy from Duke University's Sanford School of Public Policy.*

Gary Matteson works for Farm Credit Council's trade association in Washington, DC, as vice president of young, beginning, and small farmer programs and outreach. This includes policy work on local foods, sustainable agriculture, and direct-to-consumer agriculture. Matteson is responsible for spreading best practices for beginning farmer lending and training among Farm Credit Associations, such as providing training sessions in business leadership, governance, financial skills, and generating new program ideas to benefit beginning farmers. He has researched, designed curricula, and taught financial and business planning skills for more than 10 years to thousands of beginning farmers in conferences, seminars, webinars, and college classrooms. Matteson specializes in making basic business concepts approachable and relevant to beginning farmers. For 30 years he was a small farmer raising greenhouse wholesale cut flowers marketed in the Northeast and beef cattle for local sales. He has served on numerous boards of directors, including Farm Credit, the Boston Flower Exchange, and many nonprofits. He holds bachelor degrees in agronomy and biology from the University of Connecticut.

Eloris Speight joined Alcorn State University in March 2016 as director of the Socially Disadvantaged Farmers and Ranchers Policy Research Center. She leads the center in conducting research on policy affecting socially disadvantaged farmers and ranchers and making policy recommendations that will improve their success. Speight brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in the administrative disciplines, including civil rights, program outreach and advocacy, education and human resources strategy and development, finance, acquisitions, information technology, and management services. She spent 10 years at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), reaching the rank of senior executive, and 20 years in the private sector serving in key administrative positions. At the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service, Speight served as the deputy chief for management. She was the first black female to hold the position of deputy chief in the 85-year history of the agency. She has a BS in accounting from Hampton University, an MBA in finance from the University of Maryland, and a master's of arts in human resources development from the George Washington University. She completed her course work toward a doctorate in education and human development at the George Washington University.

Christina Szczepanski serves as Reinvestment Fund's managing director of the Southeast. She manages budgeting, staffing, and business development in support of Reinvestment Fund's Southeast regional strategy. She also serves as Reinvestment Fund's manager for structured financing programs, responsible for deal structuring, relationship management, deal closing, and post-closing asset management for the New Markets Tax Credit portfolio and CDFI Bond Guarantee program capital. She has been with Reinvestment Fund since 2008 and was previously responsible for implementing and managing its healthy food financing programs. Prior to joining Reinvestment Fund, Szczepanski was an active equity research associate at TIAA-CREF in New York, where she was lead financial analyst of the global paper and forest products sector and responsible for developing and presenting ideas based on proprietary models and research. Szczepanski is a chartered financial analyst and has a master's degree in city and regional planning from the University of Pennsylvania, and a BS in construction science and management from Clemson University. She has also been an adjunct lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania's Master of City Planning program.*


* We recognize these individuals for their technical support in the planning of this event. Other contributors include Ann Carpenter of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta; Ed Sivak and Shelia Byrd of Hope Credit Union; Steve Saltzman and Hannah Quigley of Self-Help Credit Union; and Laura Kettel-Khan of the CDC.