Current OFPC Members
One third of the 21-member council term out each year. Members are welcome to re-apply at the end of their term, and other interested people are encouraged to apply each year. All members serve on a volunteer basis.
Department of Human Services, City of Oakland
Cat Chang leads an Oakland-based architecture and urban design firm, Andrews + Chang, focused on supporting and creating regenerative ecological, agricultural and cultural footprints within cities. As an Architecture and Community Design professor at University of San Francisco, she leads students in developing local and international community-based projects, many of which include food production and preparation. Her research seeks to understand how infrastructure in cities can incorporate sustainable measures for intermodal transportation, stormwater management, food production and increased bio-diversity while enriching neighborhoods. Recent projects include creekside parks, urban farms and propagation facilities, portions of the Bay Trail and green schoolyards. She provided residents of South Prescott in West Oakland with new landscape designs as a part of a groundbreaking EPA toxic lead treatment project. Cat also serves on advisory committees and speaks at public appearances for various Bay Area cities, media outlets and institutions.
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.
Anaïs Dodson is an Oakland resident and urban farmer. She is interested in food and agricultural issues, especially their correlation with identity and culture. Anaïs has an educational background in applied anthropology with a focus on food policy and linguistics. Her recent thesis discussed how US food policies undermine food sovereignty while jeopardizing food security both locally and abroad. The thesis further explored how language is used in the policymaking process to form and leverage ideologies. Anaïs also has experience in social research and did an ethnographic study about the growing presence of urban farming in Oakland. Her personal experience with food sharing between different ethnicities and social classes has grounded her appreciation for cuisine and how precious food is in societies.
Susan works to support a more vibrant local food economy in the East Bay, including direct educational and technical support for beginning farmers and ranchers. This includes hosting workshops and field days, as well as collaborating with partners throughout the region to identify and help address some of the challenges faced by local producers. Susan comes to OFPC from the Alameda County Conservation Partnership via UC Davis where she worked for the Agricultural Sustainability Institute, the Department of Land, Air and Water Resources, and the City of Davis to help develop a plan for Community Farms. She received her Master’s Degree in Community Development from UC Davis in 2011 and is happy to be working in beautiful Alameda County.
Emily is the community food access program director at Oakland Food Connection, where she manages OFC’s gardens as education and food production spaces, mentors and educates high school youth interns, supports a weekly neighborhood farm stand, and advocates for food justice and community empowerment in East Oakland. She is a budding farmer/urban gardener and possesses a Certificate in Ecological Horticulture from the Santa Cruz based Center for Agroecology & Sustainable Food Systems. Born and raised in Oakland, she is passionate about the health and food security of her city.
Kari is a senior analyst in the Environmental Working Group’s Oakland office. Kari tracks 2008 Farm Bill spending in California and promotes policies that expand local and sustainable agriculture and increase consumption of healthy food. She also educates and activates consumers on food issues and recently authored the Meateater’s Guide to Climate Change and Health. Prior to EWG, Kari worked as a sustainable food and fair trade policy consultant and began her career twenty years ago as a researcher and advocate for socially and environmentally sound development policy, focused in Latin America. Kari lives in East Oakland and has a Masters from UC Berkeley in Latin American studies and City and Regional Planning.
Kanchan is currently working with Spiral Gardens Community Food Security Project, a nonprofit nursery and community farm + produce stand in SW Berkeley. She makes it her business to reach out to community members who might benefit strongly from Spiral offerings, sharing information on how to get involved, organizing community farm workdays and free community classes, giving tours to anyone who wants to see the site, interfacing with individuals, local student and community groups interested in volunteering, planning and co-hosting events and fund raisers and so much more. Kanchan’s vision is to find us all connected with each other in service to Life and the Earth who nourishes us all.
Jenny, a native of San Francisco, has 30 years of wide ranging experience in the restaurant and food services industry. She operated J. Huston Catering and consulting for 17 years, while earning academic degrees from San Jose State University in Dietetics and Food Sciences, and Management and her Masters from New York University in Food Economics, Policy, and Food Systems, to support her work on issues of food equity, nutrition and social justice. In addition to teaching culinary arts at local community colleges and consulting, Jenny has worked with Project Open Hand in San Francisco, The Doe Fund, in New York City and Bay Area Community Services in Oakland. Jenny is the founder of Farm to Table Food Services in Oakland.
A native to Oakland, RJ’s involvement in sustainability began when he took Earth Science Sophomore year of high school. There he learned a lot more about the Earth and all of the complex organic systems that live around us daily. From there he entered the AP Environmental studies program his senior year where he was a major advocate for sustainable change at his school. Prior to graduation RJ voraciously read a number of books focused on food security in the United States. Inspired by what he read and further research, RJ formed his own organization OOG in 2010. When asked why he started his own organization as opposed to joining a board or committee that are already present and successful within Oakland, he offered his reasoning in that “There’s a lot of awesome organizations that do some “badass” work to encourage and teach the community about our food source but they didn’t fit me and I was more concerned with how I was going to get to people like the dope boys I see in the hood to jump on. They don’t want to pick up trash or work in a garden and get dirty. So I took it upon myself to try and find a creative way to get everyone involved in a way that was cool, I felt I had to make gardening and getting dirty cool, to begin a new trend, I wanted a brand around sustainability that people trusted and could always turn to”. OOG first broke ground at Verdese Carter Park in the community garden where RJ got his first plot of land and first grow season where he recalls growing a lot of tomatoes, chard, Chinese cabbage, and huge rutabaga. From there, he moved on to Reach Academy where he started a garden on top of concrete in 27 repurposed wood shipping containers. The project also started a nursery to have an outdoor tool shed and a classroom to teach all of the garden lessons.
Navina is a community organizer committed to transforming the food system into one that is ecologically and socially just. She has spent over ten years working toward food systems reform as an educator, organizer, and advocate, and has trained dozens of parents, teachers, and teenagers to organize their own communities for food justice. Her work has included implementing programs to increase low-income families’ access to affordable, fresh, healthy foods, working and teaching on traditional and organic farms in India and the US, teaching youth about ecology and ecological restoration, and most recently, organizing community residents to develop a plan for citywide food systems reform with the HOPE Collaborative (Health for Oakland’s People and Environment). Navina has an MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis, where she developed curriculum for the first undergraduate major in sustainable agriculture and food systems at a Land-Grant University. She is also a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher and permaculturalist, and loves to play outside. Navina is currently building a movement with young people across the US to shape a radically different food system through policy and practice.
Aaron is an activist, social entrepreneur, organizer, music addict, and lover of nature. He co-manages House Kombucha, a family-owned, local green business founded by Rana Lehmer-Chang. He also co-founded a local ecological justice nonprofit called Bay Localize, which works to build equitable, resilient communities in the SF Bay Area. Presently he serves on the Oakland Food Policy Council’s Urban Agriculture Working Group, Bay Localize’s Steering Committee, and Earth Island Institute’s Program Committee. He has earned an M.A. in Globalization and the Environment from Humboldt State University and a triple B.A. in Anthropology, Philosophy, and Environmental Studies from Iowa State University. He has worked for Van Jones’ Ella Baker Center for Human Rights/Green-Collar Jobs Campaign, Julia Butterfly Hill’s Circle of Life Foundation, David Brower’s Earth Island Institute, Grassroots Globalization Network, ReThink Paper, and with the Student Environmental Action Coalition.
Aaron’s commentaries have been featured on AlterNet, NPR, and Resilience.org, in the Earth Island Journal, Sacramento News & Review, Oakland Tribune, Permaculture Activist, Energy Bulletin, and the S.F. Bay Guardian. He currently lives with his partner Rana and their son Justice in Oakland’s East Lake neighborhood. He is an an avid gardener, climate fiction author, hiker, singer, amateur astronomer, and aspiring guitarist. His advocacy blog, “World Shift Vision,” can be found at aglehmer.wordpress.com.
Armando Y. Nieto
Armando is the executive director of the California Food and Justice Coalition. He has served as C.E.O. of Redefining Progress, Managing Director at the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, and Executive Director with Eagle Eye Institute in Somerville, Massachusetts, Earth Share of California and the Environmental Defense Center. Since 2005 he has served as organizing member of Summit 2007: Diverse Partners for Environmental Progress, and facilitator and report co-author for the related Western Regional Roundtable in Oakland and Southwest Regional Roundtable in Albuquerque, NM. He is president of the Tulare County Community Water Center and has served on the Advisory Boards of Just Communities, the PG&E ClimateSmart External Advisory Group, and the Central Coast Alliance United for a Sustainable Economy.
Allison has been working as the Director of Policy and Services at the Alameda County Community Food Bank since 2005. In this position, she implements the Food Bank’s public policy agenda, which includes working closely with elected officials and their staffs to promote policies that address the root causes of hunger and poverty. Allison also works with local and statewide coalitions — including the California Hunger Action Coalition – to empower community members to become advocates. At the Food Bank, she oversees a multilingual food stamp outreach program that serves as the blueprint for food banks nationwide. Allison is the author of Hunger: The Faces & The Facts 2010, one of the most comprehensive local reports on hunger in the Feeding America network of food banks.
David Ralston is a planner and project manager for the City of Oakland’s Community and Economic Development Agency principally involved in local development and infrastructure projects that combine resident engagement and green job opportunities with place-based design. David is also a fellow of the Institute of Sustainable Policy Studies at Merritt College, collaborating to develop neighborhood “greenway” projects that will form a framework for a more resilient and sustainable city.
Renee Roy Elias is Principal Consultant of City Food Strategies, an Oakland-based consulting firm that works with public agencies, non-profits, and urban planning firms to implement a variety of healthy food access programs and initiatives. To OFPC, Renee brings over 10 years of experience in neighborhood planning, urban grocery development, and food policy research. She has worked with numerous food justice organizations and public agencies spanning 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.
Amara Schrager is an Oakland resident, home gardener and lover of food. She is passionate about equal access to healthy foods, both in terms of affordability and location. This passion grew during her studies in Public Health and Social Welfare, looking at health disparities, and also in her current work as a family advocate in a local Early Head Start. Her wish is to live in city where all people have access to healthy food that is culturally defined by the people that eat it, not by outside voices. Her hope is to one day develop a program or organization that brings people together around food in a healing community of mutual support.
Diane is currently the Director of Nutrition Services for the Alameda County Health Department. She has more than 25 years of public health and advocacy experience acting as manager of numerous large-scale public health programs and special projects. She has worked in various county health department and nonprofit agencies and most recently was the Deputy Director of the California WIC Association. Ms. Woloshin is a Registered Dietitian and received her B.S. from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a Master of Science in Health Care Administration from California State University at Long Beach. She is passionate about health and nutrition and promoting healthy communities.
Heather is a Senior Planning and Policy Associate with Planning for Healthy Places at Public Health Law & Policy. She is co-author of How to Create and Implement Healthy General Plans, and has produced model planning policies to support healthy community infrastructure like community gardens and farmers’ markets. Prior to joining the Planning for Healthy Places team, she co-authored the Oakland Food System Assessment: Towards a Sustainable Food Plan through the Oakland Mayor’s Office of Sustainability. Ms. Wooten attended the University of Minnesota and earned a Masters of City Planning from the University of California, Berkeley.
Sabrina Wu is the Project Director of the HOPE (Health for Oakland’s People and Environment) Collaborative, a community collaborative working to transform the food and fitness environments in Oakland’s neighborhoods with the greatest health disparities. She has worked in public health, nutrition, and sustainable food systems for over 12 years. She holds a MS in Agricultural, Food, and Environmental Policy from Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, where she was a USDA Sustainable Science Fellow, and a BA from Barnard College of Columbia University. She is also a graduate of the Natural Gourmet Institute’s Professional Chef Training Program.