Speakers and Panelists
Note: Updated as additional bios are received.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER – DIANE IMRIE
Diane is a graduate of McGill University (Bachelor of Science in Nutrition), a Registered Dietitian and holds a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Vermont. She has over 25 years of experience working in a variety of healthcare food service operations. For the past 18 years she has worked as Director of Nutrition Services at Fletcher Allen Health Care, responsible for clinical, retail, and patient Nutrition Services. Recent work at that organization includes the implementation of new retail services, room service for patients, and a food sustainability program that is nationally recognized. Diane received the first Fletcher Allen CEO leadership award, titled “Living the Leadership Philosophy” and the Pyramid Award from the Vermont Dietetic Association for improving the health of Vermonters. On behalf of Fletcher Allen she received three first place national awards from Health Care Without Harm; two for Sustainable Food Procurement and Public Policy and Advocacy. She is passionate about local food, both personally and professionally, and is the co-author of a cookbook highlighting seasonal cooking titled “Cooking Close to Home”.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER – ELNIAN GILBERT
As an Ann Arbor native who started working in the service industry while still in high school, you could say that Elnian has both service and Zingerman’s in her blood! Her past customer service experience ranged from retail to non-profit to higher education, ultimately finding a home at Zingerman’s in 2006 as seasonal holiday help at Zingerman’s Mail Order. It was at Zingerman’s that Elnian discovered an appreciation for working in a business that had three bottom lines – Food, Service, and Finance – which led her to, with characteristic determination, seek opportunities to continue working at Zingerman’s after her stint at the Mail Order business. When a position at ZingTrain opened up, she jumped at the chance, and has been an integral part of ZingTrain ever since! Elnian now shares Zingerman’s approach to business in ZingTrain’s public 2-day seminars and workshops as well as delivering customized training and facilitation for clients across the country (and Canada!) Her particular areas of focus are Customer Service and Training, with a growing interest in vision facilitation. Elnian’s clients include a wide array of industries, such as libraries, information technology, health care, financial services, specialty retail, co-operative groceries, manufacturing, wholesale, and all levels of education.
KEYNOTE SPEAKERS – JACK & ANNE LAZOR
Jack and Anne are the creators and founders of Butterworks Farm. They came to Westfield in 1976 fresh out of college with degrees in Agricultural History (Jack) and Anthropology (Anne). As long-time sustainable farmers and leaders in organic farming they continue to play an important role in the dynamics and operations at Butterworks and beyond. Jack is a writer and frequent inspirational keynote speaker at organic farming conferences everywhere. He enjoys food, friends and pursuing his passions- sustainability and soil science. Anne keeps Jack and the farm running as Jack’s home dialysis technician and a caring presence for the entire team. She enjoys gardening, keeping chickens and ducks, the study of homeopathic medicine and upholds the homesteading spirit she and Jack started with 40 years ago.
KEYNOTE SPEAKER – SHORLETTE AMMONS
Shorlette Ammons has worked to address food insecurity and systemic social and economic disparities within the state of North Carolina, where she was born and raised, and beyond. She currently serves as the Equity in Food Systems Coordinator with the Center for Environmental Farming Systems for North Carolina State University, where she co-leads the CEFS Committee for Racial Equity (CORE) Team. Her passions and expertise have developed by working in the Goldsboro community with the Wayne Food Initiative and in numerous community-based food systems projects, including community gardens and an urban farm. In 2014, Shorlette received a coveted Food Equity Fellowship from the Center for Social Inclusion (CSI). Her fellowship focused on women of color working on food equity in the South, building relationships and identifying opportunities to bring local work to scale and for local leaders to influence national policy and support community-led change. She currently resides in Durham, NC with her teenage daughter and their diva dog.
Tim Woods, PhD
Tim Woods is a well-seasoned Extension professor within the Department of Agricultural Economics through the University of Kentucky. His emphasis area is agribusiness management and marketing, with special emphases on horticulture, food business development, consumer and direct markets, and farm entrepreneurship. With state-wide support in Kentucky, Tim developed MarketReady, a producer training program designed to educate producers on best business practices associated with selling to grocery, restaurant, wholesale, and other institutional markets. Since its inception, the MarketReady program has been adapted for delivery in several states, including Virginia.
Tanya Denckla Cobb
Tanya Denckla Cobb is a writer, professional environmental mediator, and teacher of food system planning at the University of Virginia. She has worked at the grassroots, co-founding a community forestry nonprofit and mediating for community mediation centers. At the state level, she facilitated the birth of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute and the Virginia Food System Council, and served as Executive Director of the Virginia Urban Forest Council. She is the author of Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement Is Changing the Way We Eat and enjoys the restorative energy of gardening and cooking from her garden. Since 1997, she has worked at the UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation where her work involves facilitating and mediating a broad range of community and environmental issues. She is passionate about bringing people together to discover common ground and create solutions for mutual gain.
Trista Grigsby is the current Farm to School Specialist for the Virginia Department of Education. In her years of Farm to School work, Trista has facilitated sustainable agriculture education and curriculum development, school nutrition staff training, and Farm to School procurement. She also assisted with the implementation of school and community gardens, as well as salad bars in Rappahannock Public Schools. Her goals are to encourage, enhance, and support the development of local and sustainable food systems through hands-on educational opportunities in sustainable agriculture and nutrition.
A noted pioneer, and expert in farm-to-school salad bars, he is particularly known for establishing the “Farmers’ Market Salad Bar” (FMSB) program in 1997, while working as Director of Food and Nutrition Services in the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, in Santa Monica, California. While in California, Rodney served on the California State Board of Food and Agriculture, the University of California (UC) President’s Advisory Commission for Agriculture and Natural Resources, as well as the Network for a Healthy California’s Executive Committee. Rodney has accumulated 40 years of experience in the food service industry as well as numerous award for his work to bring healthy, high quality food to schoolchildren. When Rodney joined Fairfax County Public School in 2015, he brought a trove of successful food programs and a mandate to turn the district into the foremost food service program in the country. Since beginning as the nutrition director, he has made a commitment to roll out a salad bar program for all elementary schools in the county. When Rodney thought about food in Fairfax, two words came to mind: fresh and local. This “fresh and local” creed centers on buying directly from area farmers. For Rodney, it is important to have healthy students and a healthy bottom line, while being a catalyst for change in the community.
Health Care Without Harm is at the center of work that seeks to lead the healthcare sector in moving beyond doing “less harm”—reducing negative impacts from the design and operation of health care—to a future where the sector “heals” or restores ecological, economic and social capital within communities. As Mid-Atlantic Regional Coordinator for Health Care Without Harm and the Healthy Food in Health Care program, Kristen Markley works to harnesses the purchasing power, expertise, and voice of the regional healthcare sector to advance the development of a sustainable food system. The Healthy Food in Healthcare program encourages hospitals to leverage their purchasing power to purchase products from local sustainable farms, thereby strengthening the financial viability of local farms and the agricultural businesses that support them. Health Care Without Harm currently partners with over 1,000 hospitals across North America to source and serve foods that are produced, processed, and transported in ways that are protective of public and environmental health. The group’s advocacy work has resulted in the creation of sustainable food purchasing policies, environmental health curricula, and advocacy for healthy food policy at federal, state and local levels.
Aaron started volunteering with local hospitals when he was 14 years old and quickly fell in love with helping people in the fast-paced hospital environment. After graduating from James Madison University’s Health Service Administration program, Aaron found his home within Carilion Clinic in Roanoke, VA. He currently serves as the Carilion Clinic Community Outreach Manager. In this position, he manages the Community Health Needs Assessment activities for the area. When it was learned that a lack of access to nutrient dense foods was the top prioritized need in the New River Valley, Aaron and the leadership team of Carilion and Healthy Roanoke Valley committed to facilitate programs that would encourage healthy eating by providing patients, employees, and community members with better access to local fruits and vegetables. With the help of community collaboration and partnerships, Aaron has coordinated a Farmers Market SNAP/EBT double value program, fruit and vegetable prescription program, employee farm share (CSA), and mobile farmers market.