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The Colorado Food Summit
Speakers

John Abizaid

Representative - Vence - Merck Animal Health

Representative - Vence - Merck Animal Health

John works with private producers, NGOs, and State + Federal agencies to promote and implement Virtual Fencing projects across the American West. He came to Vence through his fascination with the relationship between ruminants and grasslands and how important grazing species are to ecosystem health when managed properly. His hope is that Vence can provide a tool to land managers that allows them to improve rangeland ecology while minimizing negative impacts to wildlife. His work includes business development, RF modeling, and field deployment. He is based in Denver, Colorado.
Session Info

Lauren Ames

Food Security Director - Good Food Collective

Food Security Director - Good Food Collective

Lauren Ames is the Food Security Director for the Good Food Collective– a nonprofit based in Southwest Colorado that works with partners to collectively build a just and thriving food system. Currently, Lauren supports a “Farms to Food Access” and “Healthy Food Retail Access Initiative,” which brings together Farmers and Ranchers, Food Pantries, Hospitals, Schools, Community Advocates, Food Businesses, and Government Agencies to build a stronger regional food network. Lauren holds a Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems from CU Boulder and a Bachelor's Degree in Supply Chain Management from CSU. She has called Colorado home for ten years.
Session Info

Nicholas Anicich

Farm to School Program Manager - California Department of Food and Agriculture

Farm to School Program Manager - California Department of Food and Agriculture

Nick Anicich is the Farm to School Program Manager at the CA Dept. of Food and Agriculture where he leads the CA Farm to School Network, the CA Farm to School Working Group, and CDFA's Urban Agriculture Grant Program. Before joining CDFA, Nick worked as Community Programs Coordinator at Soil Born Farms in Rancho Cordova, CA, and as School Garden and Nutrition Coordinator at Sacramento Charter High School in Sacramento, CA. Nick is excited to share his experience building networks, supporting changemakers, and expanding farm to school programs across California. He lives in Sacramento, CA with his family.
Session Info

Kathryn Ardoin

Food Hub Director - East Denver Food Hub

Food Hub Director - East Denver Food Hub

Kathryn Ardoin (she/her/ella) has been a leader in social enterprises, non-profits, and community organizations working to address inequities in the food system for over 10 years. As the Director of East Denver Food Hub, she brings a wealth of expertise in fostering resilient food networks that promote economic growth, food security, and regenerative agriculture. With a career dedicated to enhancing the viability of regional food systems, Kathryn advocates for community-driven, local food solutions. At EDFH, she works diligently to establish a robust value chain, fostering transparency and collaboration to create lasting systems change.
Session Info

Daniel Asher

Chef/Co-Founder - Working Title Food Group. Executive Chef/Owner- EcoChef Culinary Senior Account Executive, Cut+Dry

Chef/Co-Founder - Working Title Food Group. Executive Chef/Owner- EcoChef Culinary Senior Account Executive, Cut+Dry

Chef Daniel Asher, a culinary expert and thought leader with three decades of immersive foodservice experience, champions local agriculture, sustainable sourcing, and food justice programs both locally and globally. Engaged with the James Beard Chef Action Summit, Slow Food USA Cook’s Alliance, World Central Kitchen Chef Corps, and Zero Foodprint, he advocates for food equity and regenerative agriculture, embodying the core elements of nourishing hospitality. Chef Daniel’s devotion to ethically driven, relentlessly beautiful, celebratory food is whole-heartedly intended to forge human connections and sustain resilient communities of farmers, ranchers and food artisans.
Session Info

Mimi Bestwick

CFO - Replate

CFO - Replate

Mimi Bestwick is the CFO for Replate where she manages financial strategy, leads fundraising, and oversees earned revenue. Previously, Mimi led an impact investment portfolio focused on educational equity with ECMC Foundation. Mimi earned her MBA from UCLA Anderson, where she specialized in social entrepreneurship and managed Anderson's student-led impact investment fund. She gained financial expertise through Prudential's Finance Leadership Development Program after earning her BS in Finance from Lehigh University. As a PA-born East Coaster who has lived across the US, she enjoys climbing, skiing, astrology, and long talks about systems change.
Session Info

Jorey Billings

Student-Leader

Student-Leader

Jorey is a junior at Campo High School in Southeastern Colorado. He worked his way into agriculture with one set of grandparents farming and ranching, and the other raising sheep for the market. Throughout the years, he has become intrigued about keeping food local and using local resources whenever possible. He has realized the need to protect disappearing small farming and ranching operations and for corporations to uphold more people-centric practices rather than profit-driven consumption of land. Jorey hopes to help keep people farming and ranching in rural areas so that the legacies of families’ like his can live on.
Session Info

Karina Branson

Conversketch - Graphic REcorder & Facilitator

Conversketch - Graphic REcorder & Facilitator

As a graphic facilitator with a background in science communication, I get to weave the threads between deep scientific understanding and art, which tend to intermingle anyway when we pay attention.

Using hand-drawn images and words helps my clients visualize new futures, see systems and patterns and synthesize information to help groups better collaborate and find solutions.

I work locally and internationally with higher education, government, non-profit and corporate groups. My unique skill set of deep listening, science & environmental knowledge, and creative illustration is the perfect conduit for your innovative ideas. I have worked on 6 of the 7 continents connecting people, ideas, and insights for action!
Session Info

Clare Brock

Assistant Professor - Colorado State University, Department of Political Science

Assistant Professor - Colorado State University, Department of Political Science

Clare Brock is an Assistant Professor of Public Policy at CSU. Brock’s research focuses on the policy process, agricultural policy, lobbying, and money in politics. Her book, Farmed Out: Agricultural Lobbying in a Polarized Congress, forthcoming this fall with Oxford University Press, considers how polarization impacts lobbying behavior and legislative outcomes in the agricultural and food sectors. In addition, her current research projects focus on subjects such as the relationship between punctuated equilibrium theory and partisan polarization, and on the use of social media by school districts to communicate changes to the National School Lunch program during the pandemic.
Session Info

Perdita Butler

farmer - Quarter Acre and a Mule

farmer - Quarter Acre and a Mule

Perdita Butler is an experienced urban agriculturalist and farmer. She owns her own farm business, but most of her experience is in nonprofit and community farm settings. Her diversified experience has included education coordinator for New Farmers (which transitioned Ethiopian immigrant farmers into organic farming in WA), director of Sustainable Lands Community Garden Program; program director of Powderhorn Youth Farm; CSA farmer and community outreach coordinator for AfroEco in St. Paul. Recently, she farmed with Frontline Farms in Denver, a nonprofit farm focused on food justice and advocacy. In 2021 she moved to Pueblo, volunteering with the Pueblo Food Project.
Session Info

Jonathan Cable

Graduate Student - CSU College of Agricultural Sciences

Graduate Student - CSU College of Agricultural Sciences

Jonathan is currently pursuing a Master of Agricultural Sciences- Agricultural Education at Colorado State University. A native of rural Northeast Colorado, he found his passions for agriculture, service, and advocacy through 4-H programs and hands-on experiences around his hometown of Brush. He graduated from CSU in 2022 with a B.S. in Landscape Architecture and enjoys exploring the intersections of community development, rural resilience, and agricultural literacy. A passionate Aggie, Jonathan continues to pursue new ways to support and inspire the next generation of agricultural leaders to create a more inclusive and sustainable industry and world.
Session Info

Dave Carter

Flower Hill Institute

Flower Hill Institute

Dave Carter is a regional director for the Flower Hill Institute, an indigenous-led nonprofit coordinating the technical assistance network USDA’s AMS established for a more resilient, diversified, and equitable meat and poultry processing system.

Previously, Carter served as executive director of the National Bison Association. He helped lead the campaign to designate bison as the National Mammal in 2016. He also helped organize the Center of Excellence for Bison Studies at SDSU..

He is the former Chair of USDA’s National Organic Standards Board and later helped gain approval for non-GMO labeling of meat, poultry, and dairy products.
Session Info

Nicholas Chambers

GM & Cheif Fungi - Valley Roots Food Hub

GM & Cheif Fungi - Valley Roots Food Hub

Nicholas Chambers has been the founding GM of the Valley Roots Food Hub since 2014 and President of the Tap Root Cooperative. Based in the San Luis Valley the food hub delivers Colorado source-identified local foods from Durango to Denver/Springs/Pueblo, and from Alamosa to Leadville. They have about 120 producers in the network across produce, meat, dairy, and value-added foods. They operate wholesale markets as well as direct to consumers at home.
Session Info

Libby Christensen

Statewide Food and Agriculture Specialist - Colorado State University

Statewide Food and Agriculture Specialist - Colorado State University

Libby has 15 years of experience working in food systems with a focus on the interconnectivity of rural and urban places through food and agriculture. She is passionate about identifying, expanding, and leveraging demand for agricultural and food products to improve the social, environmental, and economic wellbeing of farmers and ranchers. Libby Christensen received her Masters and Phd at the University of California at Davis. She has worked in every stage of the produce supply chain from production to distribution. She and her husband own and operate Routt Distillery in Steamboat Springs, Colorado sourcing only Colorado malted grains.
Session Info

Holly Conn

Executive Director - Mountain Roots

Executive Director - Mountain Roots

Holly was one of the founders of Mountain Roots in 2010. She came to Mountain Roots after spending twelve years in the restaurant industry, including seven as a private yacht chef. Holly manages the day-to-day operations of the organization, trains and oversees other key staff, manages organizational budget and finances, fundraises, nurtures strategic partnerships, coordinates outreach efforts, promotion and marketing, program development, resource development, grant management and reporting, and monitoring and evaluation. Holly believes that localizing our food system is one of the most accessible and actionable things we can do to solve so many of our global problems.
Session Info

Brian Coppom

Agricultural Future Loans Program Manager - Colorado Dept. of Agriculture

Agricultural Future Loans Program Manager - Colorado Dept. of Agriculture

Brian joined the CDA in 2021 as the Agricultural Future Loan Program Manager where he launched and manages a $30MM mission-driven loan fund for growers and processors. Prior to joining the CDA, Brian served as the Executive Director of the Boulder County Farmers Markets, a nationally recognized organization. He has a background in business leadership since the early 90's and has the distinction of being the only non-profit director to be voted Colorado's CEO of the Year by ColoradoBiz Magazine.
Session Info

DaZha Creal

Community Climate Educator- Mile High Youth Corps

Community Climate Educator- Mile High Youth Corps

DaZha is originally from northern California and grew up surrounded by agriculture and food production in California and Wisconsin. She recently completed her masters in International Human Rights at the the University of Denver. She is excited to participate in coordination of the Youth Track of this year's Colorado Food Summit. Through this opportunity she is committed to learning and sharing more about the intersections of health, agriculture, and climate.
Session Info

Franklin Cruz

Poet - Denver Museum of Nature

Poet - Denver Museum of Nature

Franklin Cruz is a queer latin poet born in Idaho, raised in Texas, and polished in Denver. Born from an immigrant family he works at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, is an emcee, and dances. A Tedx Mile High performer he has taught and performed in the southwest, Peru, Puerto Rico, for universities and environmental leadership camps, and had poetry in the Denver Art Museum. His work encompasses self love, immigration, culture, nature, and more. Franklin always aims to address intersectional liberation, confronting our complicity to privilege and oppression and the pressing lesson of specificity over simplicity.
Session Info

Sydney Cure

Student-Colorado State University

Student-Colorado State University

Sydney Cure is a student at Colorado State University where she is studying Crop and Soil Sciences with a concentration in genetics. She is a former Colorado FFA State Officer where she traveled the state and served 9,000 members in 142 different agricultural programs, and is the recipient of the Boettcher Scholarship allowing her to continue to pursue her love of agronomy. Sydney is originally from Eastern Colorado where her family owns and operates a feedlot operation. Her family is her biggest inspiration, and she hopes to continue to influence youth in agriculture, beginning with her five younger siblings.
Session Info

Ynke de Koe

Nutrition Integration Specialist - Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Nutrition Integration Specialist - Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

Ynke de Koe, MS, RD is the Nutrition Integration Specialist at the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE). She is a Registered Dietitian with a master’s degree in Nutrition. In her role at CDPHE she is the subject matter expert for food policy, systems, and environmental (PSE) change grantees. Ynke works with other state agencies, local public health agencies, state-wide food advocacy organizations, community based organizations and the charitable food system to increase access to healthy food and beverages, healthy food incentive programs, and policies to improve the nutrition environment.
Session Info

Tammie Delaney

Managing Member/Owner, Hayden Granary LLC

Managing Member/Owner, Hayden Granary LLC

Tammie and her husband, Patrick, purchased a feed and tack store within an old grain elevator in 2008. They quickly embarked upon a journey to steward and preserve the historic facility and its relevance in their community's future. By repurposing the structure and creating space for food, beverage, arts, and gathering, the "Hayden Granary", built in 1917, connects the community back to the land and one another. Through the years Tammie has been highly active in the community visioning, planning and economic development realms with a focus on agriculture, education, and community engagement. “Can’t never could” is her favorite motto.
Session Info

Taylor Drew

Executive Director - Veterans to Farmers

Executive Director - Veterans to Farmers

Taylor Drew is the Executive Director of Veterans to Farmers which is a Colorado based non-profit that trains veterans in agriculture and sustainability. Taylor has been involved in the local food system in Colorado for the last 15+ years, first as a chef and restaurant owner and then as a farmer and rancher. Currently, Taylor has a small farm in the Yampa Valley where he and his family raise heritage livestock and grow vegetables and small grains. Taylor is also a Navy Veteran and works hard to help other veterans connect with their local communities through food.
Session Info

Hailey Edmondson

VP of Sales & Retention - The Food Corridor

VP of Sales & Retention - The Food Corridor

Hailey started her work in local food as an AmeriCorps VISTA member with Crossroads Community Food Network in Maryland, supporting their farmers market and community kitchen. She earned her Masters degree at Colorado State University in Agricultural Economics, focusing on local and regional food market channels. Her current role is at The Food Corridor, a technology company supporting shared kitchen operators, connecting them to food businesses seeking commercial kitchen space. As VP of Sales and Retention, she works with hundreds of shared kitchens across the US and Canada, providing resources and tools to support this key food systems group.
Session Info

Erika Edwards

Director of Operations, Food and Nutrition Services

Director of Operations, Food and Nutrition Services

Erika is currently the Director of Operations for Jeffco Public Schools Food and Nutrition Services and has worked in Child Nutrition for about 13 years. She previously worked in the Cherry Creek School District. In addition, she has been actively involved in the Colorado School Nutrition Association throughout her career in School Nutrition acting as Conference and Education Chair, President and is currently serving as the Public Policy and Legislation Chair.
Session Info

Jim Ehrlich

Executive Director-Colorado Potato Adm. Committee

Executive Director-Colorado Potato Adm. Committee

Jim Ehrlich is the Executive Director of the Colorado Potato Administrative Committee in the San Luis Valley of Colorado. Jim has a B.S. in Agronomy from Colorado State University and has spent his entire adult life working in agriculture. First as a farmer, then as an agronomist for Coors Brewing Company, and now represents Colorado’s potato growers with a true passion for potatoes and potato growers. His mantra is potatoes are good for you, and farmers are the life blood of our country.
Session Info

Nora Flynn

Agriculture Water Specialist - Colorado Water Conservation Board

Agriculture Water Specialist - Colorado Water Conservation Board

Nora is the Senior Agriculture Water Specialist at the Colorado Water Conservation Board, where she works on a variety of projects and strategies for increasing the drought resilience of agriculture and Colorado including the Water Plan Grant Program. She holds a Ph.D. in Soil and Crop Science from Colorado State University and lives in Fort Collins.
Session Info

Brandon Francis

Research Assistant-NMSU ASC

Research Assistant-NMSU ASC


Brandon Francis was born and raised on Black Mesa, Arizona. His clans are: Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii nishli, Tótsohnii bashishchiin, Tódich'ii'nii ei dashichei, Kinłichii'nii dashinali.

Since 2014, Brandon Francis has been working as a Research Laboratory Technician and Education Resource Coordinator for the NMSU Agricultural Science Center in Farmington, New Mexico. He is currently a graduate student in the NMSU AXED program.
Session Info

Beatriz Garcia

Community Empowerment Coordinator - Good Food Collective/La Plata Food Equity Coalition

Community Empowerment Coordinator - Good Food Collective/La Plata Food Equity Coalition

Beatriz is a passionate activist, who cares deeply about social justice, equity, and the immigrant community. She was born in Guanajuato, Mexico. Beatriz has been exposed to social problems including Nicaragua´s insurrection in 2018, homelessness, hunger, inadequate access to housing and education, and food insecurity. Through these experiences, she has come to realize that the solution to our biggest social barriers begin at home with local activism. Today, She lives in Durango, Colorado where she works La Plata Food Equity Coalition. She aim to continue contributing to a better world by empowering families with the skills they need to thrive.
Session Info

Patrick Garrett

Economic Resilience Coordinator- Department of Local Affairs

Economic Resilience Coordinator- Department of Local Affairs

Patrick currently serves as the Economic Resilience Coordinator at the Colorado Resiliency Office (CRO) at the Colorado Department of Local Affairs. In this role, Patrick helps provide local Colorado communities with the tools and resources to help them be resilient to the economic challenges our state faces. Patrick holds a Master's Degree in International Studies from the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver, and a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science from Colorado State University.
Session Info

Brizai Gomez Cortes

Coalition Lead- The Denver Community Food Access Coalition

Coalition Lead- The Denver Community Food Access Coalition

Brizai is the Coalition Lead for the Denver Community Food Access Coalition which focuses on expanding an equitable, affordable food system that works for all communities from direct services to policy. She is a first gen-immigrant and DACA recipient with lived experience around economic and food insecurity. Her background is the driving force for her work in food justice and centering traditionally marginalized communities in food access to reduce food insecurity and health disparities in the metro area.
Session Info

Kate Greenberg

Commissioner - Colorado Department of Agriculture

Commissioner - Colorado Department of Agriculture

Kate Greenberg was appointed to serve as Colorado’s first woman Commissioner of Agriculture by Governor Jared Polis in December of 2018. As Commissioner, Greenberg provides leadership and direction to the Colorado Department of Agriculture, which serves producers operating more than 38,000 farms and ranches in the state. Commissioner Greenberg is the recipient of the Emerging Conservation Leader Award from Western Resource Advocates and a 2019 Who’s Who In Agriculture honoree. She has worked in and advocated for agriculture for more than 15 years.
Session Info

Maureen Hearty

Director - Prairie Sea Projects

Director - Prairie Sea Projects

Maureen Hearty Maureen is a co-director of Prairie Sea Projects, located in Joes, CO and leads the community engagement and artist coordination. Maureen's community activist experience, in both urban and rural landscapes, builds connection, compassion and opportunity for diverse communities. Her work was recognized by the Colorado Governor's Creative Leadership Award in 2016. In addition to Maureen’s community building experience, she is a sculptress and story collector who has experience archiving narratives with the bARTer Collective, Voices of the Plains and the Long-Term Offender Program.
Session Info

Lauren Howe

Healthy Food for Denver's Kids Grant Program Supervisor - Denver Department of Public Health and Environment

Healthy Food for Denver's Kids Grant Program Supervisor - Denver Department of Public Health and Environment

Lauren Howe manages the Healthy Food for Denver’s Kids initiative out of the Denver Department of Public Health & Environment. She has a BA in Environmental Studies from Hamilton College and a master’s degree in International Agricultural Development from the University of California, Davis. After college, she spent a year studying agricultural development around the world as a Watson Fellow, and in 2014, she moved to Denver to manage the National School Garden Program for Slow Food USA. Lauren enjoys rock climbing, road cycling, skiing, gardening and cooking, especially with her husband who is a chef-farmer turned educator.
Session Info

Amelia Hulbert

Healthy Eating Active Living/Built Environment Team Lead- Boulder County Public Health

Healthy Eating Active Living/Built Environment Team Lead- Boulder County Public Health

Amelia Hulbert is passionate about improving access to healthy foods and beverages for under-resourced communities. She serves as the Healthy Eating, Active Living (HEAL) Team Lead at Boulder County Public Health where she works collaboratively to identify community needs and implement upstream solutions to address barriers to health. Amelia leads and supports various fruit and vegetable incentive programs designed to increase fresh fruit and vegetable access and consumption for low-income individuals. Amelia received her MPH from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health with a certificate in Food Systems, the Environment, and Public Health.
Session Info

Becca Jablonski

Co-Director of the Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University

Co-Director of the Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University

Becca Jablonski is the co-Director of the Food Systems Institute at Colorado State University and an Associate Professor and Food Systems Extension Economist in the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics. Dr. Jablonski’s research and extension program is comprised of two primary components: 1) evaluating the farm and ranch profitability impacts of sales through non-commodity markets (e.g., local food markets, farm to school programs); and, 2) assessing the community economic impacts of food system policies, investments, and programs, including strategies focused on strengthening rural-urban linkages. As part of her position she co-leads CSU’s Food Systems Extension team. Dr. Jablonski holds a PhD from Cornell University.
Session Info

Marc Jacobson

CEO - Hunger Free Colorado

CEO - Hunger Free Colorado

Marc has served for the last 5 years as CEO of Hunger Free Colorado, a statewide organization that connects people to food resources to meet existing needs and drives policy, systems and social change to end hunger. Hunger Free Colorado recently led a broad collaborative campaign to pass Healthy School Meals for All through Proposition FF, they have been at the forefront of efforts to increase access to SNAP, and they have worked to build connections between farmers and local food pantries to increase the availability of fresh, healthy locally-sourced food.
Session Info

Patience Kabwasa

Executive Director of Food to Power

Executive Director of Food to Power

Patience Kabwasa has lived in Colorado for the past 24 years and is the Executive Director of Food to Power, a non-profit whose mission is to cultivate a more equitable food system in the greater Colorado Springs region. As a non-profit leader and community advocate, Patience is passionate about economic justice, food justice, health equity and land access, education, and criminal justice transformation. She has more than 15 years of experience partnering and organizing with communities to build and maintain community gardens, improve community safety, make policy recommendations to the Board of Education for Colorado Springs School District 11, increase fresh food access, advocate for affordable housing and houseless solutions and increase voter registration and turnout.
Session Info

Geonna King

Pueblo Fooducates - Pueblo Food Project

Pueblo Fooducates - Pueblo Food Project

Geonna is a founding member of the Pueblo Fooducates in Pueblo, CO, and a student at Colorado State University-Pueblo. She works to encourage youth in the Pueblo community to channel their ambitions and abilities to collectively work toward governance within their local food system. Since 2021, the youth-led council has sought to gain and distribute knowledge of food and nutrition amongst peers and the Pueblo County community! Fueled by her peer members' success and dedication, Geonna enjoys pursuing this important work to expand access to culturally relevant and nutritionally appropriate foods.
Session Info

Amanda Laban

Sr Programs Manager - Colorado Department of Agriculture

Sr Programs Manager - Colorado Department of Agriculture

Amanda has been working across the food system landscape for almost 20 years supporting farmers and ranchers, small food businesses, and the next generation of our ag community. She thrives on creative collaboration and new initiatives in support of strengthening Colorado's food and agricultural systems.
Session Info

Amber Lansing

Director- Dolores Family Project and Dolores Community Garden

Director- Dolores Family Project and Dolores Community Garden

I am an Indigenous woman from the Dine’, Shawnee and Acoma tribes. I was born and raised in Dinetah in a small town called Fort Defiance. I have lived in the town of Dolores, Colorado for 17 years. I am the Director for the Dolores Family Project and the Dolores Community Garden. I am a Co-Founder of the Four Corners Food Coalition and currently serve on the Cortez Common Grounds Steering Committee. My work is dedicated to building sustainable systems so that communities are no longer reliant on outside resources while focusing on strengthening Indigenous food systems.
Session Info

Regina Lopez-Whiteskunk

Montezuma Land Conservancy Cross-Cultural Programs Director

Montezuma Land Conservancy Cross-Cultural Programs Director

Born and raised in southwestern Colorado, resides on the Ute Mountain Ute reservation. In October of 2013-16, was elected to serve as a member of the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal council. At an early age, Lopez-Whiteskunk began to advocate for land, air, water, and animals, and strongly believes that the inner core of healing comes from the knowledge of our land and elders. Is currently a master's candidate at Western Colorado University and employed as the Cross-Cultural Programs Director with the Montezuma Land Conservancy in Cortez, Colorado.
Session Info

Andrea Loudd

Regional Community Navigator

Regional Community Navigator

I am a single mother of one son and a grandmother of three. I embrace life through my faith, cooking and community. I have been an advocate for community for over 34 years here in Metro Denver. For the pass 4 years my dream and passion have come to fruition, empowering and strengthening my community with fresh produce! I am living proof among so many, that food is truly medicine. I am a witness that gardening can bring you up out of the darkest places. Most of all, I share my truth through helping others.
Session Info

Mylo Lovejoy

Food Production Student - Campo High School

Food Production Student - Campo High School

Mylo is a senior at Campo High School–located in Southeastern Colorado, in the rural agricultural community of Campo. Through his summers working for local farmers and ranchers, he has enjoyed learning more about the production of food and crops. Returning to the Food Summit this year as a Young Leaders Track Committee member, Mylo is excited to share his perspectives and experiences in production agriculture with youth from across the state. He is especially passionate about engaging in conversations with fellow young leaders that meld perspectives from rural and urban producers and consumers to explore food systems and food security.
Session Info

Steven Lupien

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming

Steven Lupien is the Director of the University of Wyoming Center for Blockchain & Digital Innovation and lecturer of blockchain, digital assets and cryptocurrency at the University of Wyoming’s College of Business. In addition, Mr. Lupien is the Founder of American Certified Brands, LLC (ACB), owners of BeefChain; the first company that connects ranchers and consumers using multiple blockchain protocols and the first blockchain agricultural organization to receive USDA approval. A seasoned executive, Mr. Lupien previously held senior leadership roles in Five Star Products, Inc, IMS, Ltd/Land O’ Lakes Specialty Foods Group, the Bigelow Tea Company, and , AT&T.
Session Info

Jay Lynx

Young Leaders Track Creative Director

Young Leaders Track Creative Director

Jay Lynx is a political artist born and raised in Denver, Colorado. He Graduated from Jefferson County Open School this last spring, and from Platteforum’s ArtLab internship this last August, with a focus of environmental science and food access. He has found passion designing flyers, posters, logos and more for different organizations, and creating art pieces representing food access specifically in his community. His participation in the 2022 Colorado Food Summit has given him the opportunity to collaborate with other young leaders of Colorado to create one-of-a-kind panels and promote community connections.
Session Info

Gregor MacGregor

Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Specialization Lead - University of Colorado

Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Specialization Lead - University of Colorado

Gregor MacGregor is a Teaching Assistant Professor and the Environmental and Natural Resources Policy Specialization Lead in the University of Colorado’s Masters of the Environment professional graduate program. He is also a Faculty Fellow at the University of Colorado Law School. He teaches courses on natural resources, with an emphasis on field study and work. He directs the Acequia Assistance Project, a pro bono effort the provide Hispano irrigators in southern Colorado with legal services related to their land, water rights, and businesses.
Session Info

Monique Marez

Founder, Eptimizo LLC

Founder, Eptimizo LLC

Monique Marez is a food systems practitioner with experience at every scale of the sector, from farming to grassroots community organizing, to international food policy. Her consulting practice, Eptimizo LLC provides strategic services to businesses, governments, and non-profits in an effort to build a more resilient and just food system. She was raised in Pueblo, and has worked in nearly 40 countries around the world. Monique holds degrees from Yale University and New York University. She received her permaculture design certification from the Central Rocky Mountain Permaculture Institute, and farm certification from the Farm School.
Session Info

Liza Marron

Co-Director and Co-Founder of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition

Co-Director and Co-Founder of the San Luis Valley Local Foods Coalition

Came to Colorado to work at Rocky Mountain National Park and never left.
Many years as ranch and farm hand - especially at Green Earth Organic Farm in Saguache. Liza and others initiated the LiveWell Healthy Eating and Active Living work in 2007. The SLV Local Foods Coalition was formed to foster an equitable local foods system in the region. This mission is accomplished through an incubator farm, a vibrant food hub, food literacy education and community activation. Marron, of Saguache serves as co-director of the SLVLFC and is a Saguache County Commissioner.
Session Info

Joël McClurg

Executive Director of Integration - The Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger

Executive Director of Integration - The Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger

Joël oversees all projects and initiatives for the Blueprint as well as co-leads the process for organizational transformation in concert with community. Previously, he served as the Blueprint’s policy and communication manager. In this role, Joël advanced the Blueprint network’s legislative agenda by coordinating with lobbyists and stakeholders to support policy priorities. Prior to joining the Blueprint, Joël was the SNAP Compliance Officer at the Colorado Department of Human Services, the Policy Director for Hunger Free Colorado, and the SNAP Outreach Manager at the Food Bank of Contra Costa and Solano. He holds an MS in Food Security from CSU.
Session Info

Kale McMonagle

Collaboration Director - The Civic Canopy

Collaboration Director - The Civic Canopy

Kale manages Canopy projects that provide capacity building for individuals, organizations and coalitions. This includes providing training, facilitation, coaching, and project management for collaborative initiatives across the state. Throughout her work, she ensures alignment with the Canopy’s Community Learning Model by championing the Canopy’s evaluation tools. Kale brings extensive ample experience in cultivating regional relationships, designing innovative public processes, recruiting diverse stakeholders, and crafting powerful stories about collaboration. Kale received her BA and MA in Communication Studies, Deliberative Studies Specialization from Colorado State University.
Session Info

Tash Mitchell

Director of Programs & Impact

Director of Programs & Impact

Tashmesia “Tash” Mitchell is Metro Caring’s Director of Programs and Impact. She collaborates on overall strategic management, co-develops and supports the implementation of program objectives and deliverables, and collaborates on resource development with accountable resource allocation. 
Her nonprofit journey spans 17 years. Throughout her career, she has learned the power of community. Her experience is largely focused on authentic  community engagement, convening and collaborating with multi-sector partners, and building the capacity of community members to lead change.
Session Info

Mindy Montgomery

Vice President ESG & Corporate Sustainability - CoBank

Vice President ESG & Corporate Sustainability - CoBank

As Vice President of ESG and Corporate Sustainability, Mindy Montgomery is responsible for assisting the Chief Sustainability Officer in the development and oversight of CoBank’s ESG strategy and related framework. She also assists business partners in the identification and execution of key initiatives. Ms. Montgomery has 20 years of experience in financial accounting and reporting positions, including 10 years managing the external reporting at CoBank as Vice President of Financial Reporting.
Ms. Montgomery earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree in accountancy from Oklahoma State University.
Session Info

Julie Moore

Director of Nutrition & Education - Colorado Beef Council

Director of Nutrition & Education - Colorado Beef Council

Julie has been the Director of Nutrition & Education for the Colorado Beef Council since May 1997. Over the years she has worked to help others understand the nutritional benefits of beef as well as beef cattle ranching. A Nebraska native, Julie grew up on a diversified farming and ranching operation and loves agriculture. She has been involved with healthy eating efforts including COPAN/Worksite Wellness Task Force, Colorado Farm to School Task Force (2010-2019) and the Colorado Food System Advisory Council (2019-). Julie lives in Aurora with her husband Rex and has two adult sons William and Ethan.
Session Info

Wendy Moschetti

Executive Director - Nourish Colorado

Executive Director - Nourish Colorado

Wendy is the Executive Director of Nourish Colorado, a statewide-focused organization that strengthens connections with farms, ranches, and communities so that all Coloradans have equitable access to fresh, nutritious foods. Nourish coordinates statewide initiatives that increase fresh foods in public institutions and produce access for participants in nutrition assistance programs such as SNAP and WIC. Nourish also mobilizes state and federal policy advocacy to make this work the norm in our country. In her current position, Wendy actively works on state and federal policy priorities that advance Nourish’s mission and collaborates with hundreds of partners across the state.
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Justice Onwordi

Impact Director | Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger

Impact Director | Colorado Blueprint to End Hunger

Justices' passion in public health is to serve underrepresented communities as an advocate and ally. Her aim is to utilize the social determinants of health to bridge the gaps that have that have been created through systemic barriers. Everyday there is more to learn and more to do and she looks forward to bringing her best to make sure all people have access to the foods they deserve when they want them!
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Katharina Papenbrock

Director - Rural Opportunity Office, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Director - Rural Opportunity Office, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade

Katharina (Kat) Papenbrock is the Director of the Rural Opportunity Office at the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (OEDIT), which provides economic development resources to Colorado's rural communities, economic development organizations and entrepreneurs. Before joining OEDIT, Kat owned a locally-sourced restaurant in Ouray, CO and then served as the Executive Director for the Ouray Chamber Resort Association. She also served on the Board and Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy Committee for Region 10 and the Colorado Association of Destination Marketing Organizations.
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Devon Peña

President - The Acequia Institute

President - The Acequia Institute

Dr. Devon G. Peña is Founder and President of The Acequia Institute and is Full Professor in Anthropology and Chicanx Studies at the University of Washington. Professor Peña lives in San Luis where he follows Indigenous agroecological farming practices and serves as Executive Project Manager for the San Luis Food Sovereignty Initiative. In this latter role, Dr. Peña leads the rescue and re-organization of the historic R&R Market which is the oldest business in the state (est. 1857). Renamed the San Luis Peoples Market, the establishment is being reorganized as a community food cooperative and local foods business incubator.
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Yazmin Perez-McGee

Pantry Lead - Atlas Preparatory School Food Pantry

Pantry Lead - Atlas Preparatory School Food Pantry

Yazmin Perez-McGee is a recent high school graduate and school pantry lead from Colorado Springs who is up for anything. She is on the verge of attending college at Pikes Peak Community College for an associates degree in the culinary arts. Alongside the aforementioned accomplishments, she has completed a culinary internship at Embassy Suites and hopes to continue nurturing a career in the culinary arts. Beyond her recent efforts, she likes to spend her free time rereading old classics and pursuing her artistic endeavors. All while nurturing a curiosity for the psychological impacts of pop culture and media.
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Angelique Pino

Youth Leader/Pantry Lead - Atlas Preparatory School Food pantry

Youth Leader/Pantry Lead - Atlas Preparatory School Food pantry

Angelique is from El Paso County in central Colorado. A bilingual junior at Atlas Preparatory School, she enjoys lending a hand and participating in clubs. Angelique is an active volunteer at The Food Pantry, where she and other volunteers assist in distributing food to people who are facing food insecurity. She is a vegetarian who likes to bake and is keen on building her knowledge on new topics, including the food industry. Through experiences with the Young Leaders Track Host Committee, her interest in agriculture has grown and inspired her to learn more about the development of today's food systems.
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James Pritchett

Colorado State University - College of Agricultural Sciences, Dean

Colorado State University - College of Agricultural Sciences, Dean

Dr. Pritchett currently serves as the Dean in the College of Agricultural Sciences (CAS) and the Director of the Colorado Agricultural Experiment Station (AES) at Colorado State University (CSU). Guided by the land grant mission, Dean Pritchett catalyzes strategic planning, directs administration, and leads operations for research, learning and engagement activities. In addition to his administrative role, Pritchett is an agricultural economist who enjoys working in a wide range of teaching, research and engagement activities including agricultural policy, agribusiness management, water resource economics, community development and interdisciplinary land management strategies. Originally from southeastern Colorado, Pritchett is a two-time alumnus of
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Sarah Rhodes

Entrepreneurship Business Resident- Institute for Entrepreneurship, College of Business- CSU

Entrepreneurship Business Resident- Institute for Entrepreneurship, College of Business- CSU

Sarah Rhodes serves as Entrepreneurship Business Resident and is responsible for supporting the Economic Development Administration (EDA) Grant and the launch of the Beverage Business Institute. Sarah works alongside other campus partners in the Regional Economic Development Institute, supporting entrepreneurship & innovation programing, planning and technical support to diversify economic opportunities in Colorado. While also pursuing a degree in the inaugural cohort of the Agribusiness and Food Innovation Management Masters Program,
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Elizabeth Ryan

Professor- Colorado State University

Professor- Colorado State University

Elizabeth Ryan leads a translational, clinical and public health program of research on whole grain and legume fiber rich foods such as rice bran, common beans and cowpeas. She collaborates with plant scientists, veterinarians and medical professionals for assessing health benefits and disease fighting properties across the lifespan. Ryan has identified roles for gut microbiome metabolism to support the immune system for improving human and animal health outcomes, such as prevention of diarrheal disease and reducing risk for some types of cancer. Ryan’s global health research program also includes developing innovative solutions to food systems that will enhance food security.
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Morgan Schmehl

Collaboration Manager - The Civic Canopy

Collaboration Manager - The Civic Canopy

Morgan balances head, heart, and hands in their work to create inclusive, engaging spaces for collaboration. They plan gatherings, organize logistics, and support projects. They do this by thinking strategically, learning from communities, telling stories, and authentically showing up as their true self. Grounded in emergent principles of anti-racism, trauma-informed practice, and consent, their work at the Civic Canopy seeks to honor difference and foster opportunities for people to come together to build a more nourishing reality. They bring experience in education, nonprofit operations, food justice, activism, and place-based engagement. Morgan’s contribution today reflects a long lineage of change-makers of the past, and their visions reach generations into the future.
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Emily Settlecowski

Manager of Strategic Initiatives - Metro Caring

Manager of Strategic Initiatives - Metro Caring

Emily, she/her, is the Manager of Strategic Initiatives at Metro Caring in Denver, CO. In her role, she works across program teams, with organizations, and with community to imagine and implement strategic programs aimed at ending hunger at its root in Metro Caring's community. Such programs include Farm to Food Assitance work and Right to Food through establishing a Denver Community Food Utility. Emily grew up in New Jersey before moving out to Colorado to pursue education at the University of Denver. Her background is in Environmental Science and Mathematics.
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Sarah Stoeber

Executive Director - San Luis Valley Development Resources Group

Executive Director - San Luis Valley Development Resources Group

Sarah Stoeber returned to the San Luis Valley in 2009 after living in Houston for about 20 years. She has over four decades of experience in investment banking and residential/commercial finance. In November 2013, she became the Director of Business Development at the San Luis Valley Development Resources Group (SLVDRG), expanding her expertise in commercial finance. Amid the pandemic, Sarah took on the role of Economic Recovery Coordinator at SLVDRG, supporting local economic and community development through initiatives like organizing a regional economic summit and providing access to technical trainings. Currently, she is now the Executive Director of the organization.
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Miguel Torres

Youth Leader - Atlas Preparatory Food Pantry

Youth Leader - Atlas Preparatory Food Pantry

Miguel Torres is a junior at Atlas Preparatory School in Colorado Springs. He actively partakes in his community, devoting 30 hours monthly to community acts. He aspires to offer a hospitable environment to neighbors seeking food assistance. In May 2023, Miguel applied for the Colorado Food Pantry Assistance Grant and awarded his school's local food pantry $45K. Miguel aspires to offer a hospitable environment to neighbors seeking food assistance.
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Kathy Underhill

Colorado Dept. of Human Services

Colorado Dept. of Human Services

Kathy Underhill is a seasoned leader across the government, nonprofit, academic and foundation sectors. Specializing in domestic hunger policy and programming, she has won numerous awards for her innovation and impact and is a frequent keynote speaker. She currently administers all the USDA food programs and food bank related grants for Colorado and teaches at the Graduate School of Social Work at DU. When not busy with her three daughters, you may find her gardening, volunteering or painting.
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Armando Valdez

State Director - USDA Rural Development for Colorado

State Director - USDA Rural Development for Colorado

Armando is the State Director for USDA-Rural Development in Colorado. A native of Capulin, located in the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado, Armando was raised on a farm & ranch consisting of cattle, sheep, small grains, and hay. Armando continues to be actively engaged with this family farm along with his wife and children. In addition to his passions for agriculture, Armando spent over two decades as a professor and administrator in the higher education system in Colorado. In various roles, Armando has been involved with community development, water leadership, local government, rural health care, and small business creation.
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Maureen (Mo) Eich VanWalleghan

Writer, filmmaker, podcaster and equity strategist

Writer, filmmaker, podcaster and equity strategist

Mo works as a writer / filmmaker / podcaster and equity strategist focused on rural advocacy—working to leverage collaboration in the San Luis Valley of Colorado across government agencies, non-profit organizations, and community activist groups for grant funding equity at the county, state, and federal level. Her projects include organizing and fundraising for the grassroots initiative Saguache County Food Access Coalition; and writing the national newsletter HEAR: Healing through Evidence-based Actionable Reporting. Her company ReHEAR inc. Restorative Healing through EARTH Aligned Regeneration consults with county, state, and federal agencies to reimagine solutions to promote equitable rural funding strategies that incorporate best practices in maintaining a healthy planet for future generations.
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Danielle Varda

CEO and Founder - Visible Network Labs

CEO and Founder - Visible Network Labs

Danielle Varda is the CEO and Founder of Visible Network Labs, a data science technology organization that works to strengthen social connectedness at the individual and systems levels. Prior to founding VNL, Dr. Varda was a Policy Scientist at the RAND Corporation and a tenured professor at the University of CO Denver in the School of Public Affairs. She launched and scaled the CU Center on Network Science, and is the developer of the PARTNER (Program to Analyze Record and Track Networks to Enhance Relationships) platform. She is a published author, keynote speaker, and other to 3 spirited girls.
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Katie Wallace

District Director - Office of Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo

District Director - Office of Congresswoman Yadira Caraveo

Starting as a Field Organizer in her hometown, Katie Wallace has spent her career in politics and government. Katie worked as a Legislative Aide in the Colorado State House for three years and, after helping run his campaign for Congress, she served on the policy team for Congressman Neguse covering a wide-array of issues. From 2021 to 2023, Katie ran the Leadership for Society program at Stanford's Graduate School of Business, helping MBA students assess the intersections of government, business, and society. In March 2023, she moved home to Colorado to become the District Director for Congresswoman Caraveo.
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LeAnna Warren

Graduate Student - Colorado State University

Graduate Student - Colorado State University

LeAnna is studying for her Master's in Political Science with a focus in Environmental Policy and Public Policy at Colorado State University. Her research Interests include Environmental Justice and Social Justice, particularly for the migrant and domestic farmworker communities in the U.S. Her intent throughout the program has centered around understanding the criticisms of the H-2A visa program, U.S. Farm Bills, and the proposed Farm Workforce Modernization Acts in an effort to understand how future policy could be shaped to promote justice for migrant farmworker communities, their families, and farmers themselves.
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Ashley Wheeland

Former Director of Public Policy - Hunger Free Colorado

Former Director of Public Policy - Hunger Free Colorado

Ashley Wheeland, MA, JD was the Director of Public Policy at Hunger Free Colorado. Her passion for policy has included work as the Policy Attorney at the Colorado Consumer Health Initiative, the Senior Director of Policy and Advocacy at Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains. She is currently the District Director for Congressman Jason Crow. In her career she has worked with state legislators, Congressional members, and Colorado's Governor staff to put forth policies to help more Coloradans access health care and food. Ashley was born in Greeley, Colorado and grew up in Montrose and the Denver metro area.
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Clinton Wilson

RMFU

RMFU

Clinton is the Program Director for AgWell; a program of Rocky Mountain Farmers Union. He and his family live on a small farm north of Fort Collins, Colorado. Clinton holds master's degrees in Counseling Psychology, and Theology and Culture. He is passionate about agriculture and is a huge fan of all the unseen and often unappreciated hard-working farmers, ranchers, and agriculture workers that provide the food and fiber that we all depend on. “At AgWell we are hoping to build a more connected, community focused, collaborative, and robust support system for Farmers, Ranchers, and agricultural workers here in Colorado."
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Paolo Zialcita

Reporter - Colorado Public Radio

Reporter - Colorado Public Radio

Paolo Zialcita has been with Colorado Public Radio since summer of 2020. As a general assignment reporter, he's been at the forefront of CPR News' breaking news coverage, such as the Marshall Fire and the Club Q shooting. He's followed several long-term stories, including the state of Colorado's higher education and the avian flu outbreak. When he's not working, you can probably find Paolo in his kitchen.
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