Justice Begins with Seeds 2012 – Speakers

Justice Begins with Seeds International Conference 2012

San Francisco, California


Keynote Speaker: Winona LeDuke, Honor the Earth

Winona LaDuke is a Native American activist, environmentalist, economist, and writer. In 1996 and 2000, she ran for vice president as the nominee of the United States Green Party, on a ticket headed by Ralph Nader. In the 2004 election, however, she endorsed the Democratic candidate John Kerry.[1] In the 2008 presidential election, LaDuke endorsed the Democrat Barack Obama.[2] She is currently the executive director of both Honor the Earth and White Earth Land Recovery Project, which she founded.

Plenary Speaker: Anuradha Mittal, Oakland Institute

Anuradha Mittal, founder and executive director of the Oakland Institute, is an internationally renowned expert on trade, development, human rights and agriculture issues. Recipient of several awards, Anuradha Mittal was named as the Most Valuable Thinker in 2008 by the Nation magazine.
Mittal has authored and edited numerous books and reports including (Mis)Investment in Agriculture: The Role of the International Finance Corporation in the Global Land Grab; The Great Land Grab: Rush for World’s Farmland Threatens Food Security for the Poor; Voices from Africa: African Farmers and Environmentalists Speak out Against a New Green Revolution; 2008 Food Price Crisis: Rethinking Food Security Policies; Going Gray in the Golden State: The Reality of Poverty Among Seniors in Oakland, California; Turning the Tide: Challenging the Right on Campus; Sahel: A Prisoner of Starvation; America Needs Human Rights; and The Future in the Balance: Essays on Globalization and Resistance. Her articles and opinion pieces have been published in widely circulated newspapers including the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Bangkok Post, Houston Chronicle, and the Nation. Anuradha has addressed the Congress, the United Nations, given several hundred keynote addresses including invitational events from governments and universities, and has been interviewed on CNN, BBC World, CBC, ABC, Al-Jazeera, National Public Radio and Voice of America.

Mariama Sonko: Association of Young Farmers of Casamance, Senegal

Mrs. Mariama Sonko is from the indigenous Diola people living in the Casamance, southern Senegal, a rice growing area. She is an active farmer who is passionate about traditional knowledge, women’s farming and seed saving. She is a member and treasurer of the Association for Young Farmers of Casamance (AJAC), with some 6,000 members. She is also president of the National Association of Women Rice Farmers and president of her village women’s group. She is actively involved in the regional campaign ‘We Are the Solution, Celebrating Family Farming in Africa’, and recently participated in the citizen farmer dialogue with the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) in Ghana, where she was recognized as an outstanding contributor speaking on issues of food sovereignty.

Founded in 1984, AJAC-Lukaal has been led by and served peasant/indigenous farmers in the Casamance for over twenty years. It contributes to lasting peace by assisting local communities to carry out economic, social and cultural activities that improve the living conditions of those affected by years of civil conflict. AJAC promotes family-based, sustainable agriculture for a healthy and balanced environment, provides agricultural and technical assistance, and helps channel funding from international donors. It has a growing membership (70% of whom are made up of women), who have organized themselves into 33 rural women’s groups and 4 mixed gender groups. It is actively engaged in issues of food sovereignty, agro-ecology and climate change.

Phrang Roy: Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, India

Phrang Roy, born and raised in the Khasi matrilineal hill tribe of Meghalaya in India, is an internationally renowned expert on rural development, gender and indigenous peoples. He previously held positions as Assistant President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the highest ranking held by an indigenous person within the UN system, and as a Global Program Officer for the Christensen Fund. Mr. Roy is currently serving as Coordinator for The Indigenous Partnership for Agrobiodiversity and Food Sovereignty, collaboration between people’s organizations throughout the world and global organizations dedicated to food and agriculture. In his home state in India, Phrang continues to work actively chairing efforts to create greater political transparency and control of public governance, the Meghalaya Water Foundation and the North East Slow Food and Agrobiodiversity Society of India.

Lilián Amarilis Guamuch: AFEDES, Guatemala

Lilián Amarilis Guamuch is a single mother, community organizer and indigenous Mayan Kakchiquel leader of AFEDES: Women’s Association for the Development of Sacatepéquez. Formed in 1993, AFEDES is comprised of 31 indigenous women’s groups in the Sacatepéquez province promoting political participation, social empowerment and food justice for indigenous women. Born and raised in El Pachali village near Santiago Sacatepequez in Guatemala, Amarilis started at AFEDES as a Program Coordinator, and now leads the organization as its dynamic Executive Director. Amarilis led AFEDES’ transition from working purely on economic development to incorporating an integrated rights-based framework to develop a School for Political Education that builds indigenous women’s leadership, and integrates sustainableagriculture, traditional knowledge of weaving, economic solidarity and psycho-social care for women survivors of domestic and community violence. Amarilis has also participated in several civil society spaces created during the Guatemalan Peace Accords of 1996. Amarilis is an active member of the national women’s movement that successfully helped pass the historical Anti-Femicide Law in 2008, a monumental piece of legislation, which formally penalizes gender-based violence. She has also served as a member of the monitoringteam in the Consciousness Tribunal on Sex Violence during the civil war.

Armando Nieto: California Food & Justice Coalition

Armando Nieto is a seasoned executive and development professional, with experience in management and organizational development, membership development, annual giving, foundation prospecting and grantwriting, and special events. Successful capital campaigns include the Environmental Defense Center Cordero Adobe Campaign and Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. He has been Associate Producer of the Kenny Loggins Christmas Unity Telethon since 1999, and prior to joining the CFJC, Armando served as C.E.O. of Redefining Progress, Managing Director with the Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment, and Executive Director at Eagle Eye Institute in Somerville, Massachusetts, Earth Share of California and the Environmental Defense Center.

In 2005 Armando set up the Communications and Community Engagement Department at the Coalition for Clean Air and 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. Professional affiliations include Hispanics in Philanthropy, the National Alliance for Hispanic Health, North American Association for Environmental Education, and Golden State Environmental Education Consortium. 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.

Dana Harvey: Mandela Marketplace Cooperative

Mandela MarketPlace innovates food-based economic development in inner-city and rural areas. As Executive Director, Dana Harvey leads a concerted campaign resulting in the June 2009 opening of the for-profit, worker-owned Mandela Foods Cooperative grocery retail and nutrition education center as well as a dynamic youth leadership Healthy Neighborhood Store Alliance program, and a produce distribution center serving family farmers. Local entrepreneurship and nutrition education in tandem with access to healthy, fresh and affordable foods has injected over 200,000 lbs of fresh produce and over $1 Million into an urban center, and makes a difference in the health and wellbeing of hundreds of residents daily. Mandela’s healthy food enterprise network is on the forefront of local and national efforts to address food security, nutrition education and economic development in urban centers and that address the needs of family farmers.

Dr. Ann Lopez: AFEDES

Dr. Ann López is an emerita professor and has taught courses in biology, environmental science, ecology and botany in the biology department at San José City College for many years. She is an independent researcher whose research addresses the human side of the binational migration circuit from the subsistence and small producer farms of west central Mexico to employment in California’s corporate agribusiness. Dr. López has worked with over 33 farm worker families in the Salinas and Pajaro valleys. She has also studied 22 of their family farms in the west central Mexico countryside, and has received recognition and awards for her work. Her book entitled The Farmworkers’ Journey summarizes the results, arguments and conclusions of her research and was published by UC Press in June 2007.

Victor Menotti: IFG

Executive Director Victor Menotti was the IFG’s first employee upon its founding in 1994 and in 2009 became its Executive Director. Victor has written and spoken extensively about the impact of globalization on ecosystems, and he has helped build international networks among the traditional farming, forest, fishing, and indigenous communities whose survival depends on them. He is the author of the IFG report, “Free Trade, Free Logging: How the World Trade Organization Undermines Global Forest Conservation,” “The Other Oil War: The Halliburton Agenda on WTO Energy Services,” the chapter “WTO and Native Sovereignty” in Paradigm Wars: Indigenous Peoples’ Resistance to Economic Globalization, and, ”The WTO and Sustainable Fisheries” for the Institute for Fisheries Resources. Victor learned to speak Spanish, Portuguese, French, Italian, and some Slovak, after earning his degree in International Relations from UCLA.

Theodosia Ferguson: Vital Systems

Theodosia H. Ferguson is the founder of Vital Systems, an education and facilitation consultancy that supports people aligning their values, passion and money for community profit and a regenerative economy. Because everyone must eat to survive, our activities are focused on one of the most vulnerable global issues of our time — food and farming infrastructure. In this arena, Theo is also a founding member of Slow Money and facilitated the formation of Slow Money Northern California. She is active member of Slow Opportunities for Investing Locally Network (SOIL).

Vital Systems evolved from the non-profit Sustainable Ventures, which Theo founded and served as Executive Director. SV catalyzed values- based purchasing decisions through access to integrated information about environmental, social, governance, and financial sustainability.

In the private sector as a sole proprietor, Theo launched an export management consultancy representing renewable energy and resource management products and services to South and South East Asia and the People’s Republic of China. She has also incorporated and served as Executive Director of three other non-profit organizations working in energy, the arts and sciences and held positions in the public sector, including the City of Nuremberg, the California State Government, and the National Science Foundation.

Robin Carpenter: Journalist and Author

Robin Carpenter is the host of the Farm & Foodshed Report on KWMR Radio, Locavore Editor for the West Marin Citizen, contributor to Edible Communities publications and a staff writer for Edible Marin & Wine Country Magazine. She has also been the host for “Making a Difference in Marin” on CMCM Marin TV. She has won awards for her coverage of GMOs in her series “Not So Edible: The Science, Fiction and Facts of GMOs” and for her story on Latino workers in Northern California, “The Hands that Feed Us.”

Robin’s belief in the power of a well-told story manifests in her work as a story consultant and editor. She was the Executive Director for the San Francisco Writers Conferences and co-creator of the first Writing for Change Conference to assist activist writers in spreading their message. She is currently the Executive Director of the Marin Literacy Program, which provides the power and freedom of reading, writing and communicating to adults and families in the area.

Pamm Larry: Label GMO’s

Pamm Larry is a mother, a grandmother, a former midwife and farmer. She has lived in Chico, California for 34 years, has always been interested in real, healthy food. She has recently become a food advocate and is passionately committed to consumer’s rights and is the Original Instigator for the Calfornia Right To Know Ballot Initiative to label Genetically Engineered foods.

Jeff Conant: Global Justice Ecology Project

Jeff Conant is Communications Director with Global Justice Ecology Project. He is a writer, journalist, and popular educator, and was the coordinator and lead author of A Community Guide to Environmental Health, a popular education manual that has been translated into numerous languages. He is also author of A Poetics of Resistance: the Revolutionary Public Relations of the Zapatista Insurgency, as well as numerous articles, reports, and educational materials on climate justice, water privatization, ecological agriculture and food sovereignty, zero waste, and related issues.

Rebecca Spector: West Coast Director, Center for Food Safety

Rebecca Spector joined the Center for Food Safety in 2000 and has been instrumental in growing the organization and creating its West Coast Regional Office in San Francisco. As CFS’s West Coast Director, she champions California policy initiatives at the state level and coordinates public outreach campaigns to promote healthy, safe and sustainable food systems. Previously, she served as director of development at Green Seal, the first U.S. product eco-labeling organization, and at Mothers & Others she spearheaded its organic cotton marketing campaign. Rebecca is associate editor of Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture and Your Right to Know: Genetic Engineering and the Secret Changes in Your Food. She has authored numerous articles and reports including the California Food and Agriculture Report Card on Genetic Engineering. Rebecca founded and co-owned Purisima Greens organic farm in Half Moon Bay, California, and created its community supported agriculture (CSA) and farmers’ market programs that regularly served hundreds of families in the Bay Area. She received her M.S. in Environmental Policy from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.

Kelly D. Carlisle: Acta Non Verba

Kelly D. Carlisle, Founder and Executive Director of Acta Non Verba, is a veteran of the United States Navy and has been the recipient of many awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal. She is an avid gardener and is an Alameda County Master Gardener Trainee. Ms. Carlisle is the December 2011 Bon Appetit Good Food Fellow. She has worked with and mentored pre-teen and teenage youth since the age of 14. A native of East Oakland, California, she is committed to creating positive change in her childhood neighborhood. Previously, Kelly ran a successful catering business dedicated to utilizing local and sustainable produce. She is a mother, activist, and concerned citizen.

Aileen Suzara

Aileen Suzara is a Filipina/American educator, cook, EJ advocate, and emerging young farmer. She connects to the food movement through the inspiring stories, food traditions, and organizing histories while growing up in Hawaii and California. As a graduate of the UC Santa Cruz agroecology program and a current farm apprentice, Aileen is invested in building the leadership of APA and communities of color for healthy, just, and culturally relevant foods.

Christopher Cook: Author

Christopher Cook is the author of the critically acclaimed book, Diet for a Dead Planet: Big Business and the Coming Food Crisis, now available in paperback. He has written for the Los Angeles Times, Harper’s, The Economist, Mother Jones, The Christian Science Monitor, The Nation, The American Prospect, The Progressive, Columbia Journalism Review and many others. His writing has been republished in numerous anthologies. He has also worked as a reporter for The Oakland Tribune and United Press International and as city editor for The San Francisco Bay Guardian.

Adam Scow: Food & Water Watch

Adam Scow is the California Campaigns Director at Food & Water Watch where he is responsible for developing strategy for local and statewide campaigns to protect California’s essential resources. He has helped guide successful campaigns to defeat water privatization and is working to ensure public control over California’s state water project. He has served on the planning committee for the annual California Water Policy Conference sponsored by Public Officials for Water and Environment Reform. Adam sits on the board for San Francisco Tomorrow.

Hai Vo

Hai Vo, with his roots in present-day southern Vietnam, was raised in Southern California by way of birth sponsorship in Iowa, by way of refugee camps in the Southeast Asian Pacific islands. Hai helps organize youth food justice initiatives like Live Real, CANFIT, and Nutrition by Tradition. Hai is passionate about traditional food(ways), (e)advocacy, popular education around food sovereignty, and returning to Viet Nam in the very near future.

Navina Khanna:

Navina Khanna is a co-founder and the Field Director of Live Real, a national initiative dedicated to amplifying the power of young people shaping a radically different food system, and a Movement Strategy Center Associate, where she works to build a more aligned and strategic food justice movement. Her commitment to creating equitable, ecological food systems runs deep: Navina has spent over ten years working to transform local, regional, and national agri-food systems from field to vacant lot to table – as an educator, community organizer, and policy advocate. Her work has recently been featured in interviews on grist.org, ecocentricblog.org, and the Center for Transformative Change. Navina holds an MS in International Agricultural Development from UC Davis, where she developed curriculum for the first undergraduate major in sustainable agri-food systems at a Land-Grant University, and a BA from Hampshire College, where she focused on using music & dance for ecological justice. She is also a certified Vinyasa yoga teacher and permaculturalist. A first generation South Asian American living in Oakland, CA, Navina’s worldview is shaped by growing up – and growing food – in the U.S. and in India.

Patrick O’Connor: BASIL

Patrick O’Connor coordinates BASIL (Bay Area Seed Interchange Library) in the Berkeley Ecology Center.

Rowen White

Rowen White is a passionate seed saver and gardener. She is the co-founder of the Sierra Seed Cooperative, a community seed organization focusing on local organic seed production and education, located in Nevada City, California. Her most recent publication is ” Breeding Organic Vegetables”, available through Sierra Seed Cooperative.

Yeshica Weerasekera

Yeshica Weerasekera has worked for over 2 decades in support of grassroots-led social change with a diverse number of philanthropic and non-profit organizations in Europe, Africa and the U.S. Born and partly raised in Sri Lanka, Yeshica migrated with her family to the U.K., where she received a B.A. in International Development Studies from the University of East Anglia. After earning a Masters degree in Africa Area Studies from UCLA, Yeshica worked for 6 years in the West African region as the local Sahel Representative for Ashoka: Innovators for the Public, as well as with Oxfam America, and RADI-APEC, a community-based non-profit organization in Senegal. She has worked at several social change organizations based in California, including USA for Africa, the Tides Center, Changemakers, and most recently as a deputy director at the International Forum on Globalization, a North-South research and educational institution. Yeshica first came to IDEX several years ago to coordinate the Africa program, and helped to formulate the early stages of IDEX?s own partnership approach. She is delighted to be renewing her ties to the organization, and becoming part of IDEX’s dynamic efforts promoting sustainable solutions around the world.

Rebecca Newburn: Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library

Rebecca Newburn is the Co-Founder and Coordinator of Richmond Grows Seed Lending Library, a free seed lending library located in the Richmond Public Library. She studied seed saving at Seed School under Bill McDorman. When she’s not working on Richmond Grows, she is a middle school math and science teacher. Occasionally, she can be seen walking around town dressed as the iconic Rosie the Riveter because she loves her can do-spirit and she’s a hometown girl.

Dana Frasz:

In 2001, at age 17, Dana Frasz took an unforgettable four month trip to South East Asia. Returning to the United States, she was deeply disturbed by the paradox of excessive waste and consumption existing alongside widespread hunger within both local and global society. While at Sarah Lawrence College, she developed an award winning program to collect and redistribute otherwise wasted food from campus and the surrounding community. In 2006 Dana was honored by the International Youth Foundation as one of twenty exceptional social entrepreneurs from around the world for her waste reduction, hunger alleviation and food recovery work. Most recently, she spent three years as a Project Manager at Ashoka’s Changemakers, planning, managing and executing competitions aimed at expanding and supporting social innovation worldwide. In 2011, after an incredible 4 month journey through South America, Dana moved to Oakland, CA to launch her own organization – Food Shift. Food Shift is an Earth Island Institute sponsored project dedicated to building a more just and sustainable food system that curbs waste, empowers communities, respects the environment and nourishes all. Dana is a StartingBloc Fellow and a member of the California Food and Justice Coalition.


Other Speakers Include:

Mpatheleni Makaulule: VhaVenda Nation, South Africa
Gathuru Mburu: African Food Sovereignty Alliance, Kenya
Adelita San Vicente: Sin Maiz no hay Pais, Mexico
Tezozomoc: South Central Farm
Ronnie Cummins: Organic Consumer Association
Luis Magaña: Organizacion de Trabajadores Agricolas de California
David Murphy: Food Democracy Now
Sabrina Siegel: Northwest Food Sovereignty Coalition
Maria Catalan: Catalan Farms
Esperanza Pallana: EBUAA
Barb Finnin: City Slicker Farms
Doria Robinson: Urban Tilth
Caryl Levine: Lotus Foods co-founder
Antonio Roman-Alcala: SFUAA