September 1, 2022
We are thrilled to introduce Arizona State University’s Food Policy & Sustainability Leadership 2022-2023 class. This is our fourth cohort of students for this graduate program and every year it continues to grow. With a commitment to shaping food and farm policy in the public interest, this cohort of leaders hail from across the country including Arizona, California, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Washington D.C., Washington state, and Wisconsin.
To create the inclusive, diverse and resilient food systems of the future, we need bold and knowledgeable change agents to transform public policy. These rising stars represent business, nonprofit, and academia, modeling the community necessary for food system transformation. They’re passionate about reducing food waste, regenerative and organic agriculture, and local food systems. They’re dedicated to school food reform, racial equity, and food sovereignty.
They are the future of food.
Meet the Leaders:
Janell has lived in the East Valley for most of her life. As an Arizona native, her heart is truly at home in the Sonoran Desert. She is a recent graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Public Health from Arizona State University’s College of Health Solutions. Janell applied to the Master of Science in Sustainable Food Systems program as it offered an unprecedented opportunity to combine her enthusiasm for leveraging the built environment to improve the health of communities and ecologies with her passion for growing delicious fresh produce. Upon completion of the program, Janell says she will apply the knowledge and experience she gains at ASU’s Swette Center for Sustainable Food Systems toward correcting social, economic, educational, and environmental disparities among historically marginalized communities. Her primary interests include urban agriculture, bioremediation and establishing agricultural ecosystem services.
Samking Koihinah Braima
As a multifaceted professional, Samking Koihinah Braima is a consummate banker, development, and agribusiness professional and has dabbled into politics in the capacity of Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry of the Government of Sierra Leone. With extensive experience in private and public organizations, Mr. Braima has held various positions at JP Morgan Chase in the US and the African Development Bank in Tunisia and Cote d’Ivoire. At the African Development Bank, Samking managed loan portfolios of 15 countries and traversed the continent conducting sovereign financial and debt management training. In his capacity as Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr. Braima championed the development of the ministry’s strategic blueprint known as: National Agriculture Transformation plan 2023, which prioritized sustainable rice production and biodiversity management amongst others. Mr. Braima remained a critical member of the team that advanced the policy shift in the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry that positioned the private sector at the heart of the agriculture sector transformation.
Currently, Mr. Braima is a Personal Banking Officer at the First Hawaiian Bank in Kauai, Hawaii. Still driven by his passion to contribute to reducing global hunger and food insecurity, Samking joined other farmers in Kauai at the GoFarm project to continue his work in the ag sector. Motivated by the challenges of the island’s vulnerability to food insecurity as evidenced by food shortage and the logistical nightmare during the height of COVID 19 outbreak, Samking is eager to increase his ability to contribute by joining the community of experts at the Arizona State University, in the program of Sustainable Food Systems.
Jacob was born and raised in Northern California where he has studied and worked for most of his life. He earned his Bachelors of Science in Agriculture, with a concentration in Crops, Horticulture, and Land resource management from California State University at Chico. Since graduating, Jacob has worked in agronomy, biological control research, regenerative agriculture, and electoral politics. Living, learning, and working in the agriculture juggernaut of the world has given Jacob a unique understanding of the issues facing agriculture, ranging from climate issues to food supply chains. Jacob’s broad exposure to the diversity of the agriculture industry has cultivated an interest in regional food systems, agriculture/environmental policy, politics, and sustainable resource management.
Kaysey is originally from Northern California, but moved to Arizona to pursue his Bachelor’s Degrees in Business Sustainability and Global Logistics Management at ASU. His passion for sustainability started while living in Davis, California (The Bike Capital of America) and grew further at ASU when he served as a Program Specialist for Arizona State University Sustainability Practices. There, Kaysey and his team partnered with Borderlands Produce Rescue, a non-profit organization that rescues produce normally destined for the landfill from the Arizona/Mexico border that may have been rejected due to surplus and/or minor imperfections, and distributes healthy produce to members of the Phoenix Metropolitan Area community. Kaysey currently serves as a Zero Waste Specialist for the City of Phoenix where he and his team aim to lead Phoenix to its Zero Waste Goal by 2050. He loves educating others on adopting a new mindset to live a zero-waste, sustainable lifestyle.
Ellie grew up on a small farm in Northern California, where her obsession with food and its production began. After attending culinary school and working in the hospitality industry, she wanted to find a way to make a difference about the food access disparity she had witnessed. In 2018, Ellie moved from the coast of Washington state to attend ASU. Studying landscape architecture, Ellie researched and designed edible landscapes, community gardens, and food forests that could be incorporated into the urban environment. After completing her Masters degree in Landscape Architecture in 2021, she wanted to continue her specific interests in the redesigning of our food systems. Ellie currently works with a non-profit organization to serve and empower those who are food insecure within the community, through outreach and managing the community garden.
Mauricio Cordova Flores
Mauricio has over 20 years of experience in operational leadership in the private sector prior to joining a non-profit Loaves and Fishes in 2017. He is responsible for Loaves & Fishes meal programs, which includes the A La Carte Food recovery program that recovers and distributes over 750K pounds of food to insecure populations in Santa Clara and San Mateo Counties every year. He has a BS in Business Administration from CSU East Bay and a Certificate in Non-Profit Organizational Management from UOP. In 2020, he received his Certification from the SWANA/CRRA as a Certified Practitioner in Zero Waste Principles and Practices. He is vice-chair of the Edible Food Recovery Technical council at CRRA.
Karen Ibarra was born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona and is the daughter of Mexican migrant parents. She has a background in Conservation and Natural Resource Management and completed her undergraduate in Sustainability and Justice Studies at Arizona State University. Karen has over 4 years of experience in community organizing where she has advocated for migrant rights, prison abolition, and climate justice. Karen currently works with the City of Phoenix Office of Environmental in their Food Systems team. In her free time, she enjoys visiting local coffee shops and hiking at South Mountain.
Connor is an Agribusiness Underwriter for COUNTRY Financial, a member of the Illinois Farm Bureau family of companies. In this role, he strives to make a difference in farmers' lives by ensuring that their farm insurance policies are appropriately protecting their operations. He graduated from Hillsdale College with a B.A. in Politics and a minor in History. During his time at Hillsdale, Connor had the opportunity to spend a semester in Washington, D.C., with a political consulting firm and a summer with the Illinois Farm Bureau in their Government Affairs and Commodities division. Connor's passion is for protecting and strengthening family farms and rural communities. He grew up on a dairy farm in Illinois, where this passion was born. Connor currently lives in Wenona, Illinois, with his wife, their dog, and two cats.
Leanne was born and raised in Puna on Hawaiʻi island and resides in Panaʻewa with her husband and two sons. She is a graduate of Pāhoa High School and holds a B.A. in Communication from the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo. Leanne joined Kamehameha Schools (KS) in 2015 as a Sr. Communications Specialist and served as a Land Asset Manager before joining the Sustainable Industry Development team in 2021. Leanne’s work includes supporting KS’ goal to strengthen food systems and increase agriculture production in Hawaiʻi. As owner/operator of Kohana Family Farms, Leanne also has working knowledge of agriculture and has spent her career advocating for farmers and supporting the use of regenerative ag practices. From 2008-2015 She was the Executive Director of the Hawaii FFA Foundation – overseeing agriculture education programs for youth and adults. Leanne’s community work as a founding member of the Hawaiʻi Island Ag Partnership and board member of the Hawaiʻi Farm to School Hui and Puna SWCD highlights the passion and dedication she has for our ʻāina and its people.
Spending over a decade in Steamboat Springs, Colorado working in food and beverage, Brock has transplanted to Saco, Maine. There he is employed by a local restaurant and volunteering at Biddeford Food Pantry. Brock attended Colorado Mountain College where he graduated with an A.A.S. in Culinary Arts, a B.A.S. in Leadership and Management, and C.A.I.C. Avalanche Safety Certifications. At Colorado Mountain College Brock joined the team at the Bear Park Permaculture Center where he became a part of constructing the designed features for the four-season geodesic dome. Through work and educational experiences, Brock has developed a passion for food preparation.
Amy Mattias is the Program Director of the Sun Valley Institute of Resilience. In her tenure with SVIR, her team launched the Impact Idaho Fund, published three annual Locally Grown Guides, hosted a plethora of educational and engagement events, and helped build relationships between numerous food producers and interested buyers. Amy was the lead author of their 2050 Food Vision. She serves as the board secretary for the Idaho Center for Sustainable Agriculture, is the chair of the Food & Ag Committee for FARE Idaho, and is on the executive committee and serves as the flora for the Upper Big Wood River Grange. Amy is an avid gardener, seed keeper, chicken tender, food preservationist and advocate for localized food and fiber systems.
Jocelyn Moguin was born and raised in Oklahoma and lived there until she married her husband in 2018. Soon after, Jocelyn moved to Italy with her husband and lived there for three years. From there, they moved to their current location in Washington State. Jocelyn recently graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Sustainability and a certification in Sustainable Food Systems. In 2022, Jocelyn began working with Catholic Charities Food For All program to focus on farm to early childhood education aimed at addressing food insecurity and building healthy futures. She was recently recognized as an Unsung Hero by Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Congressman Sanford Bishop for her efforts to combat the rising food insecurity issues our military families face. In her free time, you can find Jocelyn enjoying the outdoors, going for long walks, and spending time with her husband and her dogs. She is also an enrolled member of the Muscogee Nation.
Payton was born in Mesa, Arizona but was raised in Beaverton, Oregon for the majority of her life. She attended the University of Oregon, receiving an undergraduate degree in Environmental Science. Throughout her schooling, she mainly worked in retail but received an internship at a non-profit organization that raises money for local beach clean-ups. Her passion for sustainability came from her undergraduate degree program and had become fascinated with sustainable agriculture. She hopes to be able to design and implement better sustainable agriculture practices, whether small scales like gardens or large scale like farms, that do not deplete necessary resources and allow us to create a better bond with our environment. Instead of trying to control nature and bend it to our will, she wants to create more sustainable ways to cooperate with nature, produce little to no waste, and still maintain high crop outputs.
Kaley is an Illinois native currently living in Arizona. She graduated from Indiana Wesleyan University in 2014 with a degree in Biology and International Community Development. Since then, she has advocated for strong local food systems by supporting agriculture that increases access to fresh produce in low-resource communities. Kaley has 8 years of experience managing market farms, growing vegetables in Texas, Indiana, Illinois, and Arizona. She also has experience teaching sustainable tropical agriculture practices to students and community leaders in Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua, and Guatemala. She is currently a Program Coordinator at the University of Arizona Maricopa County Cooperative Extension in the SNAP-Ed program, working closely with school and community gardens and small growers. Her specific agricultural interests include innovative post-harvest techniques, local food procurement and season extension. Kaley also serves as the Director of Extension for Harvest Craft, a nonprofit that supports environmental stewardship and social justice by supporting agricultural development work in Haiti.
Chelsea Radford (She/Her/Hers) is a Food Sourcing Coordinator at Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin located in Madison, Wisconsin. Second Harvest Foodbank places a strong emphasis on sourcing equitable, nutritious, and culturally responsive foods for their community patrons. In this role, Chelsea is bringing the food into the food bank and is able to prioritize and further develop the sourcing of these value-aligned foods. Although currently located in Madison, Wisconsin, she grew up in upstate NY. With a lifelong passion for all things nature, she received her Bachelors of Science in Conservation Biology from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse, NY. After her undergraduate degree, she began her career in the food world working at Headwater Food Hub in Ontario, NY. At Headwater, Chelsea spent time as an Operations Manager for their Direct to Consumer Program, as well as a Produce Supply Chain Manager. As a Produce Supply Chain Manager, she purchased food from and cultivated relationships with over 30 NYS growers.
Elizabeth Reilly, a native of Pennsylvania who now calls Washington, DC home, built her career at the intersection of food systems policy and communications. At FoodMinds, Elizabeth helps organizations navigate the rapidly evolving food policy, science and media landscape by leading communications and advocacy campaigns, facilitating stakeholder engagement, spearheading thought leadership platforms and developing science-based storytelling. She has mapped the state of global food-based dietary guidelines, led an international communications campaign for a sustainable aquaculture alliance, served as a third-party expert for a global platform on public-private partnerships for nutrition, and more. Previously, Elizabeth worked for Ketchum Global Research & Analytics. There, she supported award-winning research and measurement programs and led the group’s Food Subject Matter Expertise team. Passionate about alleviating child hunger, Elizabeth founded Food for Thought, an organization that supports childhood malnutrition relief. She also served as a founding member of Concern Worldwide’s Action Council for anti-hunger advocacy.
Kelly serves as the Vice President of Environmental Affairs at the U.S. Dairy Export Council, where she manages engagements with multilateral organizations representing U.S. dairy’s commitment to the environment. Kelly started her career on Capitol Hill, but her interest in public policy and the impact laws created by policy makers have on society began at a young age. Kelly’s enthusiasm for these topics have manifested in multiple ways including working for a law firm, campaigning for Members of Congress, and working for a fortune 500 company. When she landed a job working for a biotechnology agriculture company, her passion for agriculture and the need to understand the intricacies of how our food systems operate grew exponentially. Kelly has a strong desire to support those who feed us with the resources required to produce food sustainably via the mechanisms of public policies and voluntary industry action.
Tim Sullivan is a proud new member of the Sustainable Food Systems masters program at Arizona State University. He recently completed his undergraduate studies in sustainability at San Diego State University. He was unsure what he wanted to do when he entered the program, but after 4 years of learning he has decided to merge his career in the legal field with his education in sustainability to preserve our planet and to create systems in which his children and theirs will continue to thrive. After he graduates from Arizona State, he will be going to law school, and then applying that towards a future in fighting against the large corporations and conglomerates that control the agricultural industry.
Copeland has great appreciation and passion for the soil and its relationship to sustainable food production. He received training as an Agronomist from the University of The West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica, majoring in Plant Production and Protection and Soil Science. Copeland has been engaged in Agricultural activities for over thirty (32) years. He has worked with various stakeholders in the agriculture sector in Jamaica, developing and managing farms, and other environmental related projects. He worked with farmers, environmental groups, community leaders and has taught Agricultural Science for 4 years. Copeland enjoys conversing and learning about plants and the environment. He has been a 4-H leader for many years. He is a volunteer for the Great Kids Farm/Baltimore City Public Schools, where they inform students about healthy eating habits, the importance of the natural sciences and sustainable agricultural practices.
Sarah grew up in rural Alabama farmlands, where she gained an appreciation for homegrown food. She met her wife in high school, and together they have traveled and lived in some amazing places with their 9-year-old son. Sarah graduated from Arizona State University with a degree in Sustainability and a Sustainable Food Systems certificate. Graduating at the beginning of COVID (2020) was a challenge, especially in a great big city full of life like Phoenix, but it certainly taught her patience. It also taught her the importance of a strong local food structure in major cities and how sustainability needs to be the cornerstone of that. Currently, Sarah lives in Tallahassee, Florida where she is the Sustainability and Marketing Manager for the dining services at Florida State University. On a daily basis, she gets to engage students on the importance of personal and corporate responsibility when it comes to sustainability, as well as advance the efforts of Seminole Dining's sustainable food goals and actions.