Food is our focus and policy is our tool, but we are nothing if not a gathering of the community first.

Who We Are

OFPC is a council first, created and dedicated to the community to problem solve, act and celebrate. We analyze and report on the Oakland food system from production through consumption and waste management. Perhaps most importantly, we bring together underserved community members, food sector professionals, elected officials and city staff to develop food policy. Our work has always been rooted in community through workshops, listening sessions, and community surveys to ensure our priorities are aligned with what the community needs and wants. From the start we have allied with agencies such as HOPE Collaborative, People’s Grocery, and People United for a Better Life In Oakland (PUEBLO).


Haven Bourque founded Oakland-based HavenBMedia to bring communications expertise to food system transformation. Her media advocacy group develops communications strategies and programs, trains spokespersons, and teaches social media engagement for diverse organizations ranging from prestigious non-profits to small businesses, national corporations and community activists working to reform food systems around health and wellness, social justice and environmental conservation. Her clients have been featured in national, regional and local media including in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, POLITICO, Modern Farmer, Al-Jazeera America, Edible Communities, Daily Candy, Newsweek, TIME, NPR, KQED and Fast Company. She is proud of her work with Impact Hub Oakland, Anna Lappe’s Real Food Media Contest, Roots of Change, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mindful Meats and Straus Family Creamery. She is a contributor to food-issues media platform, a Good Food Awards Judge, and was a creator of the nation’s first TEDx conference focused on farmworkers. She also co-founded Bay Area Women Leaders of Food & Agriculture. She lives in Oakland with her husband and three extraordinary Maine Coon cats. Follow her on Twitter: @HavenBourque.

Michele Beleu

Born and raised in the Alisal neighborhood of Salinas, California, Michele had an early introduction to food access issues, industrial agriculture and their impacts on communities. She has a strong interest in improving food workers’ rights, finding ways to encourage fair labor policies, and building a more equitable food system. Michele has lived in the Bay Area for 15 years, including over 10 years in Oakland. She has served as a volunteer harvester on an organic farm, used human-centered design principles to explore food and public health challenges as a student, and helped organize a Filipino pop-up restaurant with classmates Aileen Suzara, Lila Rubenstein and Joyce Liu as a prototype to counter food related diseases through community, storytelling, and healthy, traditional Filipino dishes. She has a Master of Public Health from UC Berkeley, and works in healthcare as a Senior Professional Development Consultant in Physician Education & Development for Kaiser Permanente.

Lisa Chen

Lisa develops long-range plans and policies at the San Francisco Planning Department. She is a co-author of the Makers & Movers Economic Cluster Strategy, which identifies policy recommendations to support the city’s food manufacturers and distributors. Previously she was a land use planner at ChangeLab Solutions, working with communities around the country to advocate for policies to support healthy, sustainable food systems and active transportation. She has also worked as an educator and project manager at organizations focused on youth development, urban agriculture, participatory urban planning, and health impact assessment.

Julie Cummins

Julie Cummins is the director of education at CUESA (Center for Urban Education about Sustainable Agriculture), where she manages a growing department, writes grants, coordinates educational events, and develops programs, including a youth gardening and entrepreneurship program called Schoolyard to Market and food policy advocacy efforts. Prior to that she spent 10 years leading education programs for adults and youth in ecology, recycling and composting, gardening, and urban planning. Julie believes that access to good, healthy food should be a human right. One of her personal goals is to learn to genuinely love every fruit and vegetable in the farmers market, and she only has a few left to go.

Danielle DeRuiter- Williams

Danielle is Senior Community Development Specialist with City Planning in San Francisco, tasked with developing and executing effective community engagement strategies and coalition building with residents, organizations, small business and city government entities. She is also CEO and Co-Founder of The Justice Collective a consulting cooperative committed to advancing racial and economic justice by leveraging collective expertise of professionals of color on strategic projects. She is also currently earning her MBA from Mills College with an emphasis in Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. She holds graduate degrees from UCLA in Afro-American Studies and Urban and Regional Planning where she specialized in economic development through community food production and best practices in inclusion of underrepresented populations to food policy councils.

Renee Roy Elias

Renee Roy Elias is a Senior Associate at the Build Healthy Places Network based in San Francisco, where supports collaboration between the community development, public health and health care sectors nationwide. To OFPC, Renee brings over a decade of experience as a community planner committed to food justice, health equity, and neighborhood revitalization. She has worked extensively with community organizations to develop grocery stores, urban gardens, and neighborhood plans in Pittsburgh, PA, Washington D.C., and the San Francisco Bay Area. Renee received her PhD in City and Regional Planning from the University of California, Berkeley. She also holds a Bachelor of Architecture and Master of Urban Design from Carnegie Mellon University, and a Master of Science in Urban Geography from the University of Oxford, England.

Jacqueline Gleason

Jacqueline is an Oakland resident, avid gardener, and Executive Producer and Host of a local food justice centered podcast called Real Food Real Talk. She recently earned a Master of Public Policy, with an emphasis on food policy, at Mills College in Oakland, California. During her graduate studies, she worked with Food Chain Workers Alliance to complete her Master Policy Report, Creating an Equitable and Sustainable Food System Through Local Policy Change, an analysis of the success of the Good Food Purchasing Program in Los Angeles. This report will help to inform future Good Food Purchasing Program campaigns across the U.S. Her previous work includes expanding access to healthy, affordable food for low-income school children across Colorado through community outreach and nutrition education efforts with Oakland based Revolution Foods. She believes strongly that local policy is critical to creating meaningful change in our food system. Oakland’s food system should provide all residents with access to healthy, affordable, and culturally appropriate food that is produced as locally as possible by workers treated with dignity and paid a living wage, using sustainable techniques. She looks forward to helping that become a reality. In her spare time you can find her exploring the magical outdoors with her partner and their adventurous pup, Mala.

Hank Herrera

Hank Herrera is President & CEO of the Center for Popular Research, Education & Policy (C-PREP). C-PREP serves vulnerable communities with participatory action research, training, technical assistance and policy. His work specifically focuses on food justice and building community resilience. He recently formed New Hope Farms, a network of small cooperative farms linked to a network of small corner stores selling only healthy food. He is also co-founder and Director of the Sacred Community Land Trust, devoted to conserving farmland for farming by low-income farmers and ranchers.

Sharyl McGrew

Sharyl began working with the OFPC researching municipal food policies in the US and Canada to help guide the development of a citywide food policy for Oakland. She has over 15 years of experience as a program manager and educator, including training elementary and middle school teachers to garden with their students, developing a 2-acre community garden with Hmong residents in the Central Valley, and teaching college English and Communications to inmates at San Quentin prison. She currently works as a freelance grant writer, researcher, and policy analyst in higher education and food systems. She is a California native with a Masters Degree in Community and Regional Development from UC Davis.

Alyssia Plata

Alyssia Plata is a Marketing Specialist for Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA), working to promote CalFresh and Market Match use at local farmers’ markets, while also fostering relationships with community groups throughout the Bay Area. She has previously interned on a small organic farm in her hometown of Palmdale, CA, as well as with the Santa Monica Farmers Markets, where she began to understand the importance of community building to improve public health through local agriculture. She earned her BA in Public Relations from CSU, Bakersfield, graduating with honors in 2012. Alyssia began her relationship with OFPC as a Food Access intern, conducting research and composing a report on innovative policy-related and programmatic food access strategies that have been implemented by city governments and other organizations. Now a council member, she is excited to work with OFPC to rally the community to influence policies that will empower Oakland residents to liberate themselves from the health disparities created by our food system.

Neil Thapar

Neil is a staff attorney at the Oakland-based nonprofit Sustainable Economies Law Center, where he focuses on legal research, education, advice, and advocacy to build the legal infrastructure for a local and resilient food economy. He also maintains a small private practice advising small food businesses and farms. Prior to joining SELC, Neil apprenticed on a teaching farm at UC Santa Cruz where he also researched and authored several case studies on social justice in agriculture. Neil is an active community gardener and amateur seed saver. As an OFPC member, Neil offers his skills and experience in service to the Council’s mission to establish an equitable and resilient local food system in Oakland.

Sapna Thottathil

Sapna E. Thottathil, PhD is the author of India’s Organic Farming Revolution: What it Means for our Global Food System. Currently, she is a Senior Associate of Supply Chain Programming at School Food FOCUS, a national collaborative that leverages the procurement power of large school districts to make school meals nationwide more healthful, regionally sourced, and sustainably produced. Sapna earned her BA from the University of Chicago, where she was awarded the Udall Scholarship for environmental leadership, before going on to receive an MSc from Oxford University and a PhD from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship. In her spare time, Sapna enjoys cooking, gardening, hiking, and identifying wildflowers and birds.

Reyna Yagi

Reyna is the new Program Associate & Executive Assistant at Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project. She grew up in the Easy Bay, but wandered upstream toward rural mountain communities in California and Colorado, working directly with the public, community groups and businesses on water quality and conservation issues. Much of her training and experience is in sustainable landscaping with an emphasis on water management and a certification as a Landscape Irrigation Auditor. After becoming involved with the urban farming scene in Colorado, she transitioned her focus to edible landscapes and obtained her Masters in Food Security in the UK. There she visited and interviewed 40 urban farm sites across England for her research project on urban ag and water use. Having recently returned to the Bay Area, Reyna hopes to meld her past experiences to promote urban ag and good food policy in Oakland.

Ang Hadwin

Ang Hadwin works with HOPE, Health for Oakland’s People and Environment Collaborative, as the Food Systems Project Associate to address racial and health inequities in our food environment. HOPE’s primary focus is building community leadership to transform corner stores in East and West Oakland into healthy food resources for the neighborhood. Ang has a background in food policy, planning, and community-based economic development through their work at ChangeLab Solutions and studying Urban Planning at MIT. Ang previously spent many years as an outdoor educator and garden teacher. They are excited to be part of advancing a food policy agenda that is rooted in community, and increases equity and opportunity for everyone to participate and benefit from a healthy, thriving food system.

Adrionna Fike

Adrionna Fike is a co-owner of Mandela Foods Cooperative, a worker-owned grocery store in West Oakland. Fike serves on Mandela’s Board of Directors and plays a dynamic role in Mandela's business operations and marketing. Adrionna is an advisor to Project Equity, an Oakland-based organization fostering economic resilience in low income communities, by demonstrating and replicating strategies that increase worker ownership. Most recently, Adrionna became an inaugural Leadership Fellow at the National Institute for Community Enlightenment, studying cooperative education and enlightened entrepreneurship.

Kirin Basra

Kirin Basra is a Project Manager at Premier Nutrition, where she focuses on developing the “Active Nutrition” consumer packaged goods product category.  Prior to joining Premier Nutrition, she worked as a Senior Food Scientist at Mattson, an independent firm for the food and beverage industry, where she collaborated with food entrepreneurs in the development and commercialization of new products. She has also held research and development roles at Del Monte Foods, Campbell’s Soup and Nestle Waters. Kirin has a strong interest in identifying opportunities to help educate the community on choosing healthier food options, encouraging greater food transparency and working towards ensuring the availability of affordable, nutritious and sustainable food for everyone.  She is a Bay Area native, born and raised in Vallejo and resides in Oakland. She is currently an Ally with City Slicker Farms and is involved in youth mentorship programs with Community Educational Partnerships.

AnJu Hyppolite

AnJu Hyppolite is an actor, author, and advocate who works at the intersection of theatre arts, literacy advocacy, and social justice. In addition to sitting on the Oakland Food Policy Council, AnJu sits on the Vanguard Leadership Council for the Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD), and mentors and tutors incarcerated, young men. When she is not working in these realms, she works for a private investment consulting firm in San Francisco.  AnJu graduated cum laude from Boston University, Management Studies, and has a Masters in Finance.

Beth Spitler

Some of Beth’s earliest memories are of her father, a farmer-turned-journalist from California’s Central Valley, lamenting the state of American agriculture. Inspired by those early conversations and her passion for social justice, she has worked for the last decade as an organic farmer, garden and cooking teacher, and outreach coordinator for a non-profit farm certification program. Recently, Beth’s attention has turned toward public policy’s role in our food system problems and its potential to help create a food system that serves everyone, from food-insecure urban residents to rural farmworkers, and the land itself. Beth began a masters in Public Policy in the Fall of 2016 and is trying to find time for the things she loves: preparing, talking about and eating food in community, and being outside on a bike, in the water, or digging in the dirt.

Thomya Goode

Thomya Goode is a senior industrial engineer who thrives on managing continuous improvement projects within operations, supply chain, product development, and new product introduction for the medical device industry. Although she is new to the food policy world, providing quality food and access to under-resourced communities has always been an area of interest for her. Thomya is looking forward to bringing her organizational talents to the food sector, helping to find efficient ways to manage processes and align varied opinions and priorities to one common goal. 

Janice Albert

Janice grew up in Santa Monica, California and New York City. Her earliest involvement in food politics was supporting the 1960s California farmworkers’ strikes as a teenager.  While studying Geography and Anthropology at the City University of New York, she developed a strong interest in Caribbean, African and Latin American societies. Janice studied International Agricultural development at the University of California, Davis and Human Ecology the Harvard School of Public Health. Eventually she received a PhD in food policy and applied nutrition from Tufts University. In the 1980s, Janice worked to show the impacts of the Food Stamp and Women, Infants and Children nutrition programs and adult education courses in low income neighborhoods of Boston and New York City.  She became a nutritionist for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations in 1990. For 24 years, she has worked on a wide range of food and nutrition issues at a global level. In 2015, Janice moved to Oakland, California. Through the OFPC she hopes to contribute to improving Oakland residents' access to healthy, affordable food; obtaining good working conditions for people who provide our food, and a developing a food system that is environmentally sustainable and fair.

Shanti Elise Prasad

Shanti Elise Prasad is the Senior Policy Advocate at Alameda County Community Food Bank where she works on development and implementation of the Food Bank’s federal and state policy agenda and leads grassroots initiatives to help create a lasting and meaningful culture of civic engagement in the movement to end hunger and poverty. She organizes, lobbies with, and helps shape the policy agendas of state and regional advocacy coalitions including California Hunger Action Coalition (CHAC), Health and Human Services Network, Californians for SSI, and Rise Together. Shanti has worked in food systems policy advocacy and community organizing in New York City and the Bay Area since 2008 in the areas of urban agriculture and food access with Food Systems Network NYC, Slow Food USA, Brooklyn Food Coalition, and San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar. She also has a decade of experience as an actor on both coasts.. Shanti grew up in Fresno and San Francisco and is of Indian, Chicanx, and Filipinx descent. Her commitment to food justice and equity is rooted in her maternal family’s history as farmworkers in the San Joaquin Valley and Orange County, memories of her grandparents’ lush backyard garden, and the delicious Mexican American and Indian food that she was fortunate to grow up on. She holds an MA in Food Systems Policy from New York University Steinhardt and a BA in Psychology from UC Berkeley

Brittni Chicuata

Brittni Chicuata is the regional Government Relations Director for the American Heart Association | American Stroke Association. She collaborates with local government and community stakeholders to make systems-level policy changes that ensure everyone has the opportunity to live healthy lives. In addition to improved individual and community health, Brittni works to demonstrate the feasibility and impact of health policy interventions at the local level as an example for state and federal intervention. Brittni is an SF native and adventurous traveler who uses her global perspective to shape and guide the way she translates the experiences that connect us, the social and health needs of the most vulnerable communities, and the role of government to talk critically and act with intention to improve health outcomes, particularly for the communities of color that over-index on the health crises that affect us all.

Fred Leavitt

Fred Leavitt received his Ph. D. degree in psychopharmacology from the University of Michigan and did post-graduate doctoral work at UC Berkeley. He served on the faculty at California State University, East Bay, California for 43 years and also has taught for one or more semesters at Williams College; Northern Arizona University; the University of British Columbia; the University of Hawaii; the United States International University (in both Kenya and the United Kingdom); the University of Utrecht (Netherlands); Bogazici University (in Turkey); Massey University (in New Zealand); and National University of Singapore (Singapore). Leavitt gives occasional talks to medical doctors for their continuing medical education requirements. In 1964 he married Diane Bright. The Leavitts live in Oakland, California, and have two married daughters and two grandchildren.

Alison Acerra

Alison Acerra, MS, RD, completed her graduate studies at New York University and currently serves as Guckenheimer’s National Director of Nutrition Strategy, where she brings nearly 15 years of professional experience to her role.  She specializes in weight management, behavior economics and corporate health and performance. She has co-authored a diabetes cookbook, served as a workgroup contributor for the Department of Defense Treatment Guidelines on Weight Management and has appeared in various publications such as the Huffington Post and Food and Drink Magazine.  She speaks regularly on a variety of nutrition and food topics to various groups including employers, healthcare providers and professional organizations.  

Alison is excited to serve as a liaison to the Oakland Food Policy Council in support of their work in providing access to real, delicious, sustainable and healthy food to all Oakland residents. In her personal time, she takes full advantage of the beauty and bounty of the Bay Area by staying active as a runner, hiker, cyclist, aspiring yogi and food enthusiast.  

*council liaison

Sarah Ting

Sarah, a native of Oakland, currently leads a community food storytelling project, TableShare. She previously worked in public policy research at the Urban Institute focusing on national health, education and employment, and anti-poverty program evaluations for the Department of Labor and Department of Health and Human Services. After UI, she worked in India for a year conducting food systems fieldwork and community-based participatory research with a grassroots women’s empowerment organization, Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA). She recently returned to her hometown to work on a district-wide farm to school initiative and garden education for Oakland Unified School District’s Farm-to-School program through FoodCorps. In 2014, she was honored for her service with an invitation to meet First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House to help plant the spring kitchen garden.

*council liason

Rob Bennaton

Bennaton has over 18 years of experience in horticulture/community development, habitat restoration and youth programming. Prior to UCCE, he was a Community Coordinator at the NYC Housing Authority’s Garden & Greening Program where he increased program participation to over 3000 members supporting 743 gardens citywide, leveraged >$4.5 million in-kind resources, and spearheaded the installation of NYCHA’s first rainwater harvesting system. Previously, Bennaton worked as a Forester for NY’s Department of Parks and Recreation on frontline ecological restoration of the Bronx River and local deciduous forests. Working with various non-profits, he has also taught youth/adult staff/volunteers stream bank/forest restoration, led AmeriCorps teams in organic vegetable production for donation to the homeless/AIDS patients and managed a farmer’s market. He also spent 16 years supervising programming and staff on weekends at an interactive organic children’s farm called the Howell Family Garden at the NY Botanical Garden.

*council liaison

Jennifer LeBarre

Jennifer is the Director of Nutrition Services for the Oakland Unified School District (OUSD). Jennifer joined the OUSD in July 1998 after working in university dining for a private company. Jennifer supervises the day to day operations of the district’s school meal program including K-12 breakfast, lunch, and snack, CDC breakfast, lunch, and snack, and a la carte program ensuring compliance with Federal, State, and local meal program regulations including the Nutrition aspects of the Wellness Policy.

*council liaison

Natalie Ferguson

Natalie Ferguson works in healthcare investment banking at Citi. She evaluates mergers and acquisitions; equity financings and partnership structures for biotechnology companies that focus on human health and agricultural solutions. Through her work, she has a better understanding of the economic motivations that have impacted our American food system. She's a sucker for farmers markets, frequenting Grand Lake Farmers Market and West Oakland Farm Park. She loves to attend lectures and read books about the food movement-Marion Nestle is one of her favorites.

*council liaison

Haven Bourque

Haven Bourque founded Oakland-based HavenBMedia to bring communications expertise to food system transformation. Her media advocacy group develops communications strategies and programs, trains pokespersons, and teaches social media engagement for diverse organizations ranging from prestigious non-profits to small businesses, national corporations and community activists working to reform food systems around health and wellness, social justice and environmental conservation. Her clients have been featured in national, regional and local media including in the New York Times, Washington Post, Boston Globe, San Francisco Chronicle, Oakland Tribune, San Jose Mercury News, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, POLITICO, Modern Farmer, Al-Jazeera America, Edible Communities, Daily Candy, Newsweek, TIME, NPR, KQED and Fast Company. She is proud of her work with Impact Hub Oakland, Anna Lappe’s Real Food Media Contest, Roots of Change, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Mindful Meats and Straus Family Creamery. She is a contributor to food-issues media platform, a Good Food Awards Judge, and was a creator of the nation’s first TEDx conference focused on farmworkers. She also co-founded Bay Area Women Leaders of Food & Agriculture. She lives in Oakland with her husband and three extraordinary Maine Coon cats. Follow her on Twitter: @HavenBourque.

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