Rural Child Hunger Summit 2023

Welcome to the Rural Child Hunger Summit 2023

To watch recordings of each section and view the slide decks and speaker information please click on the Day One and Day Two tabs. 


Despite ongoing challenges, rural communities are finding innovative solutions and forming partnerships to work together and overcome obstacles in order to continue serving all families. Listen to top experts, including youth voices, as they discuss the newest research, policies, and practices aimed at addressing child hunger in rural communities. Learn about best practices, network with like-minded professionals, and collaborate on innovative strategies to end hunger for children across the country.

Save the Children and No Kid Hungry look forward to having you join us for this important event. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more details on registration and the agenda.  

Welcome Remarks

Welcome to Day One of the 2023 Rural Child Hunger Summit. Our summit was kick-off by some inspiring words from Share Our Strength's CEO Anne Filipic. 

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Anne Filipic

CEO Share Our Strength

Over the past twenty years, Anne Filipic has led consequential civic, philanthropic, and political efforts that have helped transform the nation. Most recently, she served as Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Office of Management and Administration and the Office of Administration. In this role, Anne was responsible for building and maintaining the most diverse staff in White House history.

Prior to joining the White House, Anne was the Chief Program Officer at the Obama Foundation, where she developed global programs focused on civic engagement and leadership development. She also oversaw the integration of two major initiatives, My Brother’s Keeper and The Girls Opportunity Alliance, into the Obama Foundation.

Previously, Anne led Enroll America, a national healthcare coalition designed to support Americans in enrolling in and retaining healthcare coverage made available through the Affordable Care Act. Enroll America’s work supported a net increase of over 20 million Americans gaining healthcare coverage in under four years. In recognition of Enroll America’s impact, Anne was named one of the “Top 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare” by Modern Healthcare magazine.

Anne has also served as Deputy Director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. She started her career in electoral campaigns and advocacy, including holding leadership roles on President Obama’s 2008 campaign and serving as Field Director for the Obama Iowa caucus campaign.

Originally from Ohio, Anne is a graduate of Washington University in St. Louis. She lives in Washington, DC with her husband, Carlos, and their three young children.

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Plenary session - Sowing Seeds for Wellness

Sowing Seeds for Wellness: How Childhood Food Insecurity Shapes Physical, Mental, & Emotional Health

Delve into the intricate relationship between early-life food and nutrition security and lifelong well-being. This session, led by experts in nutrition, child development, and public health, provides participants with an understanding of how inadequate access to nourishment can reverberate across physical, mental, and emotional dimensions. Through this collaborative learning experience, participants will gain valuable insights into the lasting effects of food insecurity during critical developmental stages and its potential implications for overall health. By unpacking the intricate connections between nutrition, growth, cognitive development, and emotional resilience, attendees will learn to advocate for comprehensive solutions that foster holistic well-being from an early age and pave the way for healthier generations to come.

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Dr. Caree Cotwright

USDA Director of Nutrition Security & Health Equity United States Department of Agriculture (USDA)

Dr. Caree Jackson Cotwright serves as the Director of Nutrition Security and Heath Equity for the Food and Nutrition Service at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). In this role, Dr. Cotwright leads a whole-of-Department approach to advancing food and nutrition security. She also serves as one of two Departmental representatives on accelerating action on the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health goals to end hunger, improve nutrition and physical activity, and reduce diet-related diseases and disparities and implementing the corresponding National Strategy. Her work includes building public awareness of USDA’s actions to advance food and nutrition security, as well as collaborating and building partnerships with key stakeholders to maximize our reach and impact. Dr. Cotwright is on leave as an Associate Professor of Nutritional Sciences in the University of Georgia’s College of Family and Consumer Sciences’ Department of Nutritional Sciences. Her research centers on promoting healthy eating among infants through age five-years-old with a particular focus on accelerating health equity among historically underserved populations via community-based participatory research and focusing on developing, implementing, evaluating, and sustaining best practices and policies in the early child education setting. She has developed a variety of innovative interventions, which use theater, media, and other arts-based approaches. She is the author of numerous peer-reviewed publications and secured over $1M in grants focused on obesity prevention and health equity from Healthy Eating Research, a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the USDA. From 2010-2013, she worked as an ORISE Research Fellow at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity, where she was highly engaged in the early care education elements of the First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative dedicated to helping kids and families lead healthier lives. Dr. Cotwright holds a PhD in Foods and Nutrition and Community Nutrition and MS in Foods and Nutrition both from the University of Georgia and a bachelor’s degree in Biology from Howard University and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She lives in Athens, GA with her loving husband and adorable three daughters.

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Tamara Melton

Co-Founder Diversify Dietetics

Tamara Melton MS, RDN is a registered dietitian and educator with over 15 years’ of experience in academia and healthcare technology. She is the co-founder and executive director of Diversify Dietetics. This 501(c)3 nonprofit provides programming to support BIPOC students and young professionals as they navigate the dietetics educational and career pathways. Prior to Diversify Dietetics, Tamara spent 10 years at Georgia State University, working as an advisor and admissions counselor, professor, and administrator. She lives in Atlanta Georgia with her husband and two young daughters.

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Traci Poole

Assistant Regional Director SAMHSA's Food and Mood Project

Traci Pole (she/her) serves as the Assistant Regional Director for the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in the Denver Office. In this role she supports CO, MT, ND, SD, UT, WY and 32 Federally Recognized Tribes with mental health promotion and substance use prevention efforts across the age continuum. In partnership with the Regional USDA Team, Traci co-leads a regional initiative called Food and Mood that is examining the intersection between food/nutrition security and behavioral health. Prior to joining SAMHSA in 2019, Traci spent 15 years working for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leading efforts in public health prevention, healthcare preparedness, reproductive health, and positive youth development. Traci earned a BA in Psychology from Wells College and MBA and Masters in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver and is passionate about health promotion, youth advocacy, and the connection between food and mental health.

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Ivey Horton

Site Coordinator, Phillis Wheatley Community School Communities in Schools Gulf South

Ivey Horton is a Provisionally Licensed Professional Counselor working for Communities in Schools, Gulf South in New Orleans, LA. Ivey received her Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is a Trust-Based Relational Intervention (TBRI) practitioner. Ivey has a passion for empowering children and working in tandem with caretakers to empower and educate from a trauma-informed lens.

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Serving Up Solutions

Serving Up Solutions: Innovative Approaches to Delivering Non-Congregate Summer Meals in Rural Areas

This session is an exploration of strategies aimed at expanding the reach of summer meal programs via non-congregate meal service in rural communities. Bringing together expert voices from diverse sectors, including food banks, school systems, and libraries, this session provides a multifaceted perspective on effective strategies to extend meal access to underserved children during the summer months. Attendees will gain invaluable insights as speakers from each sector share their innovative approaches, drawing from real-life experiences and outcomes from the previous summer. Participants will learn about the collaborative efforts, creative solutions, and community engagement tactics that led to increased participation and enhanced impact. This session underscores the importance of partnerships, adaptability, and community-driven approaches in ensuring that non-congregate summer meals reach and nourish rural children everywhere.

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Cindy Long

USDA FNS Administrator USDA FNS

Cindy Long was appointed Administrator for the Food and Nutrition Service on September 13, 2021 Long most recently served as Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) Acting Administrator, and has had extensive experience with FNS, including serving as Deputy Administrator for Child Nutrition Programs. In this role, she led FNS’ implementation of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act, the most significant restructuring of these programs in decades and a legislative centerpiece of the Obama-Biden Administration’s nutrition initiatives.

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Paige Pokorney

Senior Program Manager Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Paige leads the Center for Best Practice's summer and afterschool work. She develops resources, provides technical assistance, and supports No Kid Hungry campaigns in efforts to improve and increase utilization of summer and afterschool meal programs. Prior to joining Share Our Strength, Paige was a Program & Policy Analyst at D.C. Hunger Solutions where she worked to improve access to child nutrition programs in the District of Columbia. Paige has a Master’s of Public Health from George Washington University, and in her free time enjoys whipping up new creations in the kitchen.

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Walter Campbell

Nutrition Director Charleston School District

Walter Campbell is the Executive Director of Nutrition Services for Charleston County Schools. His team serves over 50,000 students, in 80 facilities, covering 1,300 square miles. His team manages the second largest school district in South Carolina. Before joining Charleston County School District, he spent 23 years in the food and beverage industry, and three years in budgeting with the Federal Government. Walter earned a Business Degree from the College of Charleston and a Master’s in Business from the Citadel. Walter has done work with No Kid Hungry, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the Council of the Great City Schools, and CACFP (Child and Adult Care Food Programs). He has spoken at local, state, and national conferences. His team’s mantra is “students are the heart of our work.”

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Bri Fleming

Child Nutrition Program Manager Central Texas Food Bank

Brianna (or Bri) is a new and fun-loving Austinite! She moved to Austin from Dallas, and she moved to Texas in 2019. Eager to explore a big city with entertainment, shopping, and good eats, she moved to Texas the day after she graduated from Indiana State University. During her time at ISU, she gained invaluable knowledge and experience that helped her mold her into the person she is today.

Brianna is employed at Central Texas Food Bank as the Child Nutrition Program Manager. She is a fierce advocate for helping underserved and diverse communities receive necessities, including nutrition, healthcare, and housing resources. She has worked in the Child Nutrition realm for five years and has ample experience with CACFP, SFSP, College Hunger, School Pantry, and Weekend Backpack programs!

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Nancy Giddens

Librarian California State Library

I became a Librarian “unintentionally.” I was working on a Masters Degree in Education at the University of Hawaii, Manoa. The Education school required masters’ candidates to take courses in another discipline to expand exposure to various fields of education. This led me to the School of Library Science just across the street. Once I entered that classroom, I was hooked. Combining this degree with my Education degree, I became a Media Specialist. Although I had training in educational media, I quickly realized that Library service was my real love.

Upon completion of my degrees, I served as Head Librarian in a theological graduate school in the San Francisco Bay Area, after which my husband, son and I moved to Tanzania, East Africa to work in a small college. I taught and served as the college Librarian. We ended up spending 34 years in Africa where I enjoyed working in a school library and helping several start up schools establish their school libraries.

When we left Africa in 2014, I knew I was not finished with my work in libraries. The Calaveras County Library system is in a small rural county that has little industry and few entertainment options. I knew we had a lot to offer our children and families. We have focused a lot of our time and energy in building these services.

When I learned about California’s Lunch at the Library program in 2018, I knew this program was for us. Food insecurity is real and is exacerbated through the summer breaks when many children who receive school lunch must rely solely on their families for adequate nutritional food. In 2020, after two years of work, we finally succeeded in finding a food provider for our summer lunch program.

The Lunch at the Library program, coupled with our successful Summer Reading packets with books and activities, are now an integral part of our Library service in Calaveras County. Thanks to the cooperation and assistance we get from a neighboring county’s school lunch program, we anticipate continuing to serve our county’s children and families by offering non-congregate meal service during the children’s summer break.

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Nourishing Diversity

Nourishing Diversity: Perspectives on Black, Indigenous, & Hispanic Community Food Initiatives

In this session, participants will gain a better understanding of the unique strengths, cultural perspectives, and systemic challenges that shape food security efforts in Black, Indigenous, and Hispanic populations. Attendees will engage in thought-provoking discussions, guided by experts and community leaders, delving into the intersection of culture, equity, and access. By examining success stories and confronting obstacles head-on, participants will emerge with a deeper appreciation for the importance of culturally sensitive approaches to food security. This session aims to inspire actionable strategies that empower communities to address food security challenges in ways that honor their heritage, amplify their strengths, and contribute to a more inclusive and nourished future for all.

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Nayshma Jones

Program Manager Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Nayshma Jones serves as the Program Manager for No Kid Hungry Florida, supporting state-wide efforts to increase student access to school meals with a regional focus in South Florida. An area that houses the largest school districts in the state – Miami-Dade and Broward County Public Schools.  

Due to her family’s military background, Nayshma lived in Homestead, Pensacola, and Broward County. Jones then received her degree from the University of Central Florida in Orlando and started her teaching career in Miramar. Nayshma’s life path across the state has led her to have an extensive understanding of the unique mosaic that Florida is. After expanding her teaching career to Houston after Hurricane Harvey, a large disparity between student success and the issues they faced in their community was on display. This propelled her career into non-profit programming. 

Since then, she has managed small- and large-scale programs centered on deep community engagement, advocacy, and coalition building. It certainly takes a village to address these large and complex social concerns and her egalitarian approach to collective impact has allowed for this truth to come to fruition. Jones has worked in areas of climate and environmental justice, health equity, and education. The major theme is intersectionality – when addressing one social determinant of health, many more are impacted. This is also applicable to the approaches and partnerships needed to address food security and economic mobility – which are the main priorities of No Kid Hungry. Nayshma looks forward to applying her knowledge and experience to advancing the mission of Share Our Strength and the No Kid Hungry Florida Campaign.

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Deborah Moore

Board Member Delta Fresh Foods Initiative

An experienced professional in community and economic development, I served 27 years in the state of Mississippi before transitioning to the nonprofit sector. Currently, I am an Adjunct Instructor in Management for Delta State University and serve on the board of Delta Fresh Food Initiative. I am a former member of several non-profit boards, including the Mississippi Center for Nonprofits, Cleveland Youth Council, and Friends of the Environment. I hold a B.B.A. and M.B.A. degree from Delta State University, a certification as an Economic Development Finance Professional from the National Development Council, and a PhD in Human Capital Development from the University of Southern Mississippi. In my free time, I enjoy traveling, watching movies, reading and researching, and spending time with my family.

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Shelly Fyant

Food Sovereignty Committee Chair Arlee Community Development Center

Shelly Fyant, Bitterroot Salish, resides on the Flathead Indian Reservation in western Montana. She graduated from the University of Montana with a B.S. in Business Administration. She served on the Confederated Salish Kootenai Tribal Council for 8 years. During her tenure, CSKT adopted a resolution addressing food insecurity & as the Chairwoman she established a Food Sovereignty Committee in 2020.

She resumed her Food Sovereignty work focusing on increasing access to locally grown, healthy foods in the Jocko Valley, developing food-based programming i.e. cooking classes, community dinners and with the Arlee Community Development Corporation, hosted a one acre Garden for Life. She serves on the Buffalo Nations Food Systems Initiative Advisor Council based at Montana State University.

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Gabe Sanchez

Vice President of Research BSP Research

Gabriel R. Sanchez, Ph.D., is a professor of Political Science and the Founding Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Endowed Chair in Health Policy at the University of New Mexico. Dr. Sanchez is a David M. Rubenstein Fellow in Governance Studies at The Brookings Institution. Dr. Sanchez is also the director of the UNM Center for Social Policy, and is also the vice president of research at BSP Research, a leading survey firm focused on the Latino electorate. In this role at BSP Research, Dr. Sanchez has led several projects in partnership with No Kid Hungry and Protecting Immigrant Families focused on better understanding how to help immigrant families leverage safety net resources in light of changes to the public charge rule.

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Data Insights that Center Rural Community Voices

Data Insights that Center Rural Community Voices

From interventions at a local level to federal policies, community voices must be included to inform the design and implementation of decisions. Learn how insights from data collection and program evaluation are crucial to draw out communities’ unique assets and challenges. You will hear from a rural stakeholder study across states, survey on the now-permanent summer non-congregate meals, and home delivery pilot in Appalachian Kentucky. These projects affirm how strategic feedback loops can be used to rightsize solutions for each context, while building trust with families and program implementers.

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Karen Wong

Senior Manager, Research and Evaluation Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Karen oversees research to inform and evaluate Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry campaign. She has more than a decade of experience leveraging research and policy analysis of national, state, and local significance to address economic and health inequities. Previously, Karen worked at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyzing impacts of proposed SNAP legislation and regulations. She conducted research and analysis of Medicaid and S-CHIP, affordable housing, and school meal policies for Catholic Charities USA and the Congressional Hunger Center. Karen has a Master's from the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and a Bachelor’s from Pomona College (Claremont Colleges consortium).

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Jillian Papa

Advisor, Program Monitoring and Evaluation Save the Children

Jillian Papa is a Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning (MERL) Advisor for Save the Children. She oversees the evaluation of a portfolio of programs, pilots, and initiatives in rural communities across the US. Jillian has spent the last decade of her career evaluating nonprofit and government children’s health programs with a focus on nutrition security. She received her Master’s degree in Epidemiology from Emory University Rollins School of Public Health.

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Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks

Principal Research Scientist Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition

Dr. Carmen Byker Shanks is a Principal Research Scientist at the Gretchen Swanson Center for Nutrition. She specializes in public health nutrition research and partners with food and health system collaborators to implement and assess contextually specific strategies in four applied areas: consumer food environment, healthcare, school food environment, and food assistance programs. Currently, she serves as Associate Project Director for Reporting and Evaluation for the Gus Schumacher Nutrition Incentive Program (GusNIP) Nutrition Incentive Program Training, Technical Assistance, Evaluation, and Information (NTAE) Center. In that role, she provides leadership for the national evaluation of almost 200 produce prescription and nutrition incentive projects. Dr. Byker Shanks was a tenure track faculty at Montana State University from 2011 until 2021, where she partnered on many research projects with rural and tribal places and people of Montana. Carmen holds a PhD in Nutrition from Virginia Tech (Go Hokies!) and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She lives with her family in Bozeman, Montana.

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Tony Panzera

Associate Director of Research Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Anthony Panzera leads research and evaluation studies in support of policy initiatives and strategy and provides support on study designs, instruments, metrics, and data advocacy at Share Our Strength. Previously, Tony worked in the Office of Policy Support at Food and Nutrition Service (USDA). Tony is a subject matter expert of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), with more than 15 years of studying WIC-related health, recruitment, retention, and participation. Tony received his degrees from Cornell University (B.S. in Biology & Society), Brown University (Master of Public Health), and the University of South Florida (Ph.D. in Public Health). A New York native, Tony and his husband split their time between Maryland and Washington, D.C.

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Building Resilience through Disaster Relief and Recovery

Building Resilience through Disaster Relief and Recovery

When unpredictable climate events hit, rural areas experience impacts to their infrastructure and community to different degrees of catastrophe than in urban areas. Learn from various perspectives, from research literature, to a large scale relief organization, and a community partner, on how localized disaster response and recovery solutions can be designed effectively. They will demonstrate how rural community partnerships, assets, and knowledge can be mobilized to restore access to food while building resiliency.

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Nick Wiersma

Senior Vice President, Community Engagement Convoy of Hope

Nick has been a part of Convoy of Hope since 2008. Until 2022, he served on the Disaster Services team where he responded and led disasters worldwide. Currently, he oversees the Community Engagement program area where his focus is to strengthen and engage the local church.

Prior to Convoy, Nick worked for Marriott International in Chicagoland for ten years until his attention turned to working with college students and the local church. Nick’s simple passions include Chicago-style pizza, college sports, the beach, reading about heroes of the Christian faith, and spending time with his family. He and his wife, Natalie, have two adult children.

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Pam Chatman

Founder/Creator Boss Lady Economic Planning Development Workforce Transportation

Dr. Pam Chatman is predestined to be great! She’s serving all mankind just like Civil Right Activist Fannie Lou Hamer, who she shares the same birthday. She has received the Harriet Tubman Award for her courageous leadership in the Delta to use her voice to find and create sustainable opportunities for families in the Delta by the Mississippi Magnolia Bar Association. She has received the Martin Luther King Jr Community Service award from the men of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity for her community outreach. Pam was placed in congressional records of history by Congressman Bennie G Thompson, and recognized for her leadership role in Mississippi by President Joe Biden and VP Kamala Harris. She was recently given the Humanitarian of the Year award in Scottsdale, Arizona by the Women Doing It Big organization. She recently has been nominated as one of the 2023 Women Who Change the World Award. She is Mississippi’s first black woman news director. Dr. Chatman is recognized as one of Mississippi’s most Influential Women in Business. She is known around the globe as the Boss Lady! Dr. Chatman’s organization, Boss Lady Economic Planning Development Workforce Transportation, is a true Grassroot Organization in which they waste no time in executing issues that need their “service” on the ground to make a difference. They have assisted nearly 4000+ families in the Mississippi Delta with jobs through workforce transportation by breaking the barriers to helping families with sustainable job opportunity by working with FedEx Express, which is a 2 hour drive, to help with sustainability opportunities. Pam also helps families with other resources like housing, home improvements, feeding over 3500 plus in less than a year's time, medication assistance, and rent/utilities assistance in the Mississippi Delta. Pam currently has partnered and works with national organizations such as: Kellogg Foundation, Walton Foundation, Save the Children, and one global organization, CARES, and several state agencies.

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Jonathan Sury

Senior Staff Associate Columbia University National Center for Disaster Preparedness

Jonathan Sury a Senior Staff Associate at the National Center for Disaster Preparedness, Columbia Climate School, Columbia University. He holds a master’s degree in public health from the Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University where he currently pursuing a doctorate in public health in Leadership in Global Health and Humanitarian Systems. Jonathan has over fifteen years of experience in qualitative and quantitative research with significant emphasis on field research and study design, implementation, management, and data architecture and analysis. Presently, he contributes to a broad multi-method disaster research portfolio including rural preparedness, mental health and psychosocial support, community coalition building, and child-focused community resilience. He also has significant experience evaluating the unanticipated consequences of pandemic flu, determining racially and ethnically appropriate emergency messaging, and analyzing the long-term disaster resiliency and recovery issues Hurricane Katrina, Superstorm Sandy, and the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

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Closing Remarks

Thank you for attending the first day of the 2023 Rural Child Hunger Summit. 

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Valeria Hawkins

Senior Program Manager Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Valeria serves as a thought leader within the Center for Best Practices, focusing on rural communities and communities of persistent poverty. Valeria has most recently worked within Save the Children’s Rural Education Division and prior to that, Valeria spent over a decade at the Alliance for Healthier Generation serving rural schools across MS and AR. Valeria has a B.A. in Communications from Mississippi Valley State University and a master’s degree in Public Administration from Arkansas State University. Valeria has also received her certification as a Certified Health Coach from Institute for Integrative Nutrition. Valeria is an alumnus of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Culture of Health Leader (first cohort) Valeria loves spending time entertaining her family, watching Ted Talks, trying new recipes and collecting cookbooks, especially those written by black authors. Last, but not the least of her accomplishments, she finished the 2015 New York City marathon!

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Welcome Remarks

Welcome to Day Two of the 2023 Rural Child Hunger Summit. Day Two was kick-off by Linda Hampton, Managing Director of Nonprofit Partnerships at Save the Children.

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Linda Hampton

Managing Director, Nonprofit Partnerships Save the Children

Linda Hampton, Managing Director, Nonprofit Partnerships, for Save the Children U.S. Programs, builds relationships with regional and national organizations to expand services and resources available in rural communities to ensure all children have a healthy, strong foundation to thrive as learners and in life. These partnerships complement and enhance Save the Children’s existing programs and strategies that increase kindergarten readiness, grade-level literacy and math proficiency for children. Previously, Linda was the Executive Director of the Kentucky Governor’s Office of Early Childhood and has dedicated her career to serving our most vulnerable children. Throughout her career, Linda has served in capacities that support young children and their families: Senior Manager, Program Development, Head Start Case Manager Supervisor, Family Advocate Coordinator, Resource Teacher, Head Start and Early Head Start Director, Tiered Quality Rating and Improvement System Manager. She has over 20 years of experience in executive and program management, early childhood, federal and state grant oversight, strategic planning and program monitoring. These roles have given Linda a breadth of understanding for the cradle to career continuum, as well as depth. She knows “it takes a village” to shape the successful lives of children, just as it did her own.

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Plenary Session - Youth Advocacy

This generation of youth are bold and passionate about creating real change for children and families. They are sharing their personal stories to uplift the voices of those who have experienced food insecurity. They are also dialed into what the Farm Bill and SNAP means to rural communities. Come be inspired by youth that are advocating on behalf of children! You'll also learn about the current state of policies and programs affecting food security, so that you, too, can raise up youth leaders in your communities.

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Jennie Gordon

First Lady State of Wyoming

Jennie (Muir) Gordon currently serves as First Lady of Wyoming. Prior to that, she managed day-to-day operations at Merlin Ranch, the Gordon family’s cow-calf and heifer development operation located in Johnson County.

Jennie grew up in Omaha, Nebraska until her family moved to Buffalo, Wyoming. Jennie’s father, Senior Master Sergeant Robert Muir, served in the Navy, Army and the Air Force. Jennie’s mother, Gertrude Muir, was from Austria and after surviving World War II in Vienna, she moved to the United States. She learned English and raised the family’s ten children, often with Sergeant Muir serving away from home. Four of Jennie’s siblings have served, or continue to serve, in the armed services.

The First Lady received her Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences from the University of Wyoming. She worked for 15 years as a laboratory medical technologist at Sheridan Memorial Hospital. She later served as a field service representative for Abbott Laboratories where she traveled throughout the western United States repairing and servicing laboratory equipment at hospitals, clinics and private practices.

When Governor Matthew H. Mead appointed her husband to serve as Wyoming Treasurer in 2012, Jennie took over management of the Merlin Ranch full time. The ranch has garnered national recognition for its environmental stewardship and conservation achievements, as well as efforts to promote the sale of Wyoming beef worldwide. Jennie previously served on the board of the Wyoming Stock Growers Land Trust and is a graduate of the Wyoming Leadership Education and Development (L.E.A.D.) class.

Governor Gordon and his wife Jennie have four grown children, Anne, Aaron, Bea with husband Austen and their son Crawford, and Spencer with wife Sarah and their son Everett and twin daughters Eloise and Violet.

In October 2019 Jennie launched the Wyoming Hunger Initiative, whose mission is to end hunger in Wyoming. The initiative works to prevent food insecurity by increasing awareness and support for the work of local anti-hunger organizations statewide. For additional information, visit

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Hannah Tsan

Student Advocate

I'm a student ambassador who represents Washington State. I was raised by working class Chinese-Vietnamese immigrant/refugee parents in Bellingham, WA, which is predominantly rural. As a wounded healer with lived experiences and intergenerational trauma, I'm passionate about breaking cycles of poverty, malnutrition, and child adversity. I'm currently a first-generation college student at the University of Washington in Seattle, and I am pursuing a career in childhood trauma prevention, anti-poverty, and anti-violence.

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Louden Bremer

Student Advocate

Louden Bremer is a sixteen-year-old junior and Student Body Vice President at Lingle - Ft. Laramie High School and has proven to be an effective leader in his school and community.   He has found success in all his extracurricular activities from State Championship Livestock Evaluation Honors (FFA) and All-State and All-Conference selections in three different sports. He also raises and sells commercial cattle and show pigs for local and national exhibition.  Last fall, Louden became aware that some students in his school were unable to afford lunch, and with the help of the student council, he was a major catalyst for eliminating this problem.  Through a variety of local fundraisers and receiving a $5000 matching grant from Wyoming’s first lady, they raised almost $12,000!

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Roy Chrobocinsky

Managing Director of Federal Domestic Policy Save the Children

Roy Chrobocinski is the Managing Director of Federal Domestic Policy for Save the Children, overseeing work on child nutrition and early childhood education. Prior to this role, he spent several years lobbying on manufacturing and research and development policy and five years as a legislative assistant on Capitol Hill, handling a wide variety of issues including education and science and technology policy. Roy’s first years in the workforce were as a middle school teacher in the Baltimore suburbs. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Fairfield University and has his Masters in Secondary Education from Notre Dame of Maryland University.

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From Cafeteria to Conversation

From Cafeteria to Conversation: Integrating Student Perspectives into School Meal Programs

Explore the impact of involving students in shaping their own school meal experience. No Kid Hungry staff highlight innovative strategies for bridging the gap between meal offerings and student preferences. Participants delve into effective techniques for gathering authentic feedback from students, understanding their culinary and cultural preferences, and creating a dialogue that empowers students to influence menu choices. Learn how to transform the cafeteria from a mere dining space into a dynamic platform for meaningful conversation, that paves the way for improved meal satisfaction, healthier eating habits, and a more vibrant school nutrition environment overall.

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Chelsea MacCormack

Program Manager Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Chelsea supports the Center for Best Practices team through technical assistance focused on rural communities, Center for Best Practices communication strategies, and website management. Prior to this, she led volunteer programming in the Washington DC area for Casey Trees and complete two years of AmeriCorps focused on school gardens and Cooking Matters programming. She has a bachelor of science in Agriculture and Applied Economics from Virginia Tech, is a Certified Interpretative Guide, and an Environmental Leadership Program Senior Fellow. In her spare time, she volunteers with various organizations, plays with her dogs and cats, and kayaks the rivers around Roanoke, VA.

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Riya Rahman

Senior Manager, Youth Engagement Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Riya leads the youth engagement and empowerment work within the organization, working to increase equity and inclusion of youth voices within our No Kid Hungry strategy. With almost a decade of experience in the anti-hunger space at the national, state, and local levels, she has worked organizations and school districts across the country to advance child nutrition programs. Riya has a Master’s from Tufts University and a Bachelor’s from Baylor University.

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Sam King

Senior Manager, Program Innovation Share Our Strength's No Kid Hungry Campaign

Samantha King is part of the Center of Best Practices’ Program Innovation team, where she develops and manages a portfolio of projects that are creating solutions to food insecurity by centering the needs and wishes of communities. The School Meals Design Guide is one such project that adapts the principles of human-centered design to the school food context. Created in partnership with IDEO and food and nutrition teams from across the country, the guide provides practical, ready-to-use tools to better understand the wishes of students, caregivers, and other community stakeholders. Prior to Share Our Strength, Samantha was a director with the social impact strategy consultancy, FSG, where she developed domestic and international strategies for improved health and wellbeing for clients ranging from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to Humana.

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The Value Chains Linking Together Rural Food Access

The Value Chains Linking Together Rural Food Access

Organizations that have developed diverse partnerships to increase their impact and reach specific demographics with food security programs. Presenting will be an affordable housing authority and a health system engaging the community to design a mobile grocery store for residents in rural communities and an agricultural/environmental nonprofit who partners with local farmers and healthcare providers to implement a rural produce prescription program.

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Tom Redfern

Sustainable Agriculture Director Rural Action

Redfern has been with Rural Action (RA) since 2004 and serves as Senior Director of Sustainable Agriculture and Forestry. RA uses the tenets of Asset Based Community Development to address the effects of extractive industries and endemic poverty in Appalachian Ohio.

Tom leads 12 staff and 10 National Service Members in programming that builds economic and healthy living opportunities for under-resourced farmers. forest land owners and consumers in Ohio’s 32 Appalachian counties. This includes educational and technical assistance, beginning farmer support, food hub development, regional food access initiatives including; farm to School, farm to Food Banks and produce prescriptions. Tom is a founding member of the Appalachian Accessible Food Network, a partnership between Rural Action, Community Food Initiatives, and the Appalachian Center for Economic Networks, which implements market based food access initiatives.

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Shane Benton

Food Access Program Manager Rural Action

Shane Benton is Rural Action’s Food Access Program Manager.

This food access work focuses on market-based projects in order to increase demand for & ensure the equitable distribution of local food into rural communities. He works to supply local produce through Produce Rx, Country Fresh Stops, & partnerships with local food banks & pantries. This work is done collaboratively through the Appalachian Accessible Food Network, which is a partnership with Rural Action, Community Food Initiatives & ACEnet. Prior to assuming this role, Shane served as an AmeriCorps with Rural Action’s Sustainable Agriculture program where he helped facilitate the acquisition & distribution of over 70,000 pounds of local food to over 40 food pantries in 9 southeast Ohio counties during the spring & summer of 2023. Additionally, as the Farm to Institution AmeriCorps, Shane managed a team of volunteers providing locally grown produce to local schools.

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Cathy Hunt

Healthy People, Healthy Carolinas Grant Facilitator UNC Health Southeastern

Nancy Catherine (Cathy) Hunt works as a grant facilitator for UNC Health Southeastern located in Robeson County, NC. A career educator, with thirty-one years’ experience working for the public school system, Cathy transitioned into working with healthcare to address the needs of community health and wellness. Her current focus involves implementing policy and systems change designed to address social determinants to health. She coordinates an active health collaborative embodying local agencies such as health care, human service, education, clergy, business, and the community at large with a mission to improve population health in Robeson County. In her spare time, she manages the family farm and funds her mother’s project to feed all stray cats within ten miles of her home.

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Colton Oxendine

Director of Resident Services & ROSS Coordinator Lumberton Housing Authority

Colton Oxendine is a member of the Lumbee tribe and a native of Robeson County, North Carolina. Colton graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice and minor in Sociology. He has served as the Director of Resident Services for the Lumberton Housing Authority for the last 3 years while simultaneously pursuing a Master’s degree in Public Administration with a concentration in Emergency Management. Colton demonstrates his dedication to his neighbors by serving on 5 community boards and regularly volunteering for organizations that seek to improve community and child wellbeing among Robeson County residents. Alongside his co-presenter, Cathy Hunt, Colton leads the North Carolina Innovation Lab project.

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Beyond Community Impact: Cradle to Career Outcomes

Beyond Community Impact: Cradle to Career Outcomes

The Community Impact approach has been used in Cocke County, TN, to engage, listen, learn and act together with communities to accelerate progress toward cradle-to-career outcomes for children and families. This approach is focused on population-level strategies to achieve results on the early childhood continuum, prenatally through the elementary years. Save the Children will share how they broaden impact on children’s education outcomes through early learning and elementary age programs. C-5 will highlight the successes of this holistic approach through community needs assessments, engagement of cross-sector stakeholders, and the establishment of common goals and commitments.

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Chelsea Gifford

Advisor, Community Engagement Save the Children

Chelsea Gifford is an alumna of Tennessee Technological University earning a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Child and Family Studies. She went on to receive a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction with a concentration in Library Science and worked as an Assistant Director and Children’s Librarian for five years in a public library setting. Currently, Chelsea provides programmatic support around community work to improve kindergarten readiness, third grade reading, and fifth grade math proficiency in rural counties as an Advisor for Community Engagement with Save the Children US.

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Michelle Smith

Advisor, Community Approaches (TN) Save the Children

Michelle Smith serves as the Community Approaches Advisor for Tennessee. She earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Tennessee Technological University in Cookeville, TN. With over a decade of experience in community organizational development, Michelle strongly believes in the power of communities working together. When she is not working with her team to support rural communities, Michelle can be found spending time with her friends, family, and her puppy dog, Jilly Bean, in Cookeville, TN.

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Crystal Chambers

Food Security Lead Associate (TN) Save the Children

Crystal Chambers is the Food Security Lead Associate for the state of TN. For fourteen years, she has worked in several programs on the local level before accepting the role she is currently doing across the state. Her favorite part of her work is meeting families in the communities where they are and building friendships that will last a lifetime. Crystal lives in East TN with her family and three dogs, and she enjoys spending time with them in the beautiful moutains she calls home.

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Nicole Howard

Food Security Coordinator Cocke County Cradle to Career Coalition (C5)

Nicole Howard is the food security coordinator for the Cocke County Cradle to Career Coalition (C5) located in Newport, TN. Nicole works across many sectors to improve food insecurity in the community of Cocke County. Nicole works closely with various food pantries, food banks, and the school system to make sure no families or children are struggling with hunger.

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Jennifer Ellison

Collective Impact Lead Cocke County Cradle to Career Coalition (C-5)

Jennifer Ellison is the Collective Impact Lead/Director for the Cocke County Cradle to Career Coalition (C-5) located in Newport; TN. C-5 works across many sectors in the community to improve educational outcomes for Cocke County's children. Since beginning this role in 2021, Jennifer facilitates collaboration among community partners looking to shift results in kindergarten readiness, third grade literacy, college/career readiness, and food security.

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Luisyana Gamboa

Advisor, Food Security Save the Children

Luisyana Gamboa is an Advisor for Food Security with Save the Children Us. She is a Certified Nutritionist for the state of Kentucky and her educational background includes a MS in Hospitality and Dietetics Administration from the University of Kentucky and a BS in Human Nutrition, earned in Mexico.

Prior to joining Save the Children US, Luisyana focused on providing insight into the practices and motivators of individuals who experience food insecurity and presenting results at local and national forums. Luisyana has a strong passion for creating a supportive environment including assessing resources and community development to address food insecurity.

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Cultivating Education and Rural Communities

Cultivating Education and Rural Communities: Exploring the Intersection of HBCUs and Food Insecurity

This session will highlight the often-overlooked problem of food insecurity within HBCUs and the communities they serve. While HBCUs have historically been pillars of education and social progress, they also bear the responsibility of ensuring the well-being of their students and contributing to local community development. Food insecurity is a pressing issue affecting both students and the surrounding communities. Join us as we delve into the multifaceted relationship between HBCUs and food insecurity, exploring its root causes, impact on students' lives, and potential solutions for HBCUs in rural communities.

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Pamela Taylor

Chief Communications & Brand Officer Share Our Strength

Pamela Taylor is the SVP/Chief Communications and Marketing Officer for Share Our Strength, leading all of the organization's internal and external communications functions, including the marquee inititiatives – No Kid Hungry and Cooking Matters. Pamela is an executive-level strategist with over 20 years' experience developing and leading fully-integrated national marketing and communications initiatives. She has held leadership roles at Edelman, Ogilvy, and Porter Novelli. She has deep expertise in behavior-change and public health campaigns for government and private sector clients, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at the NIH, US Department of Agriculture, Merck, and BlueCross BlueShield. Pamela was formerly a Senior Director of Strategy at the Partnership for a Healthier America, the non-profit supporting former First Lady, Mrs. Obama's Let's Move! campaign. She has also served as a consultant for many organizations to lead clients through diversity, inclusion and equity strategies, and organizational transformation. Pamela earned a bachelor's degree in Political Science from Hampton University and is currently pursuing her Masters of Public Health at The George Washington University Milken Institute of Public Health. Pamela serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for Paul Public Charter School and is the Marketing, Public Relations and Development committee chairperson. She lives in Washington, DC, and is an avid sports fan.

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LaKisha Thomas

Lead Single Stop Coordinator Hinds Community College

LaKisha Thomas is the District Single Stop Coordinator at Hinds Community College, she serves as the director/administrator of the Single Stop program for Hinds CC entire district. The program assists students in need by connecting them to vital resources so they can focus on their studies. Those resources can include childcare, financial coaching and assistance and transportation, among other areas. She directly serves the students located on the Raymond and Vicksburg Campuses. She serves as the Lead Coordinator on her team of two other coordinators who serve Jackson-ATC, Rankin, Nursing – Allied Health and Utica Campuses and an administrative assistant. Lakisha is a two-time graduate of Hinds Community College receiving an associate degree and also a Practical Nursing Degree. She graduated with a bachelor’s in sociology from Mississippi College and holds a master’s degree in social work from Jackson State University. Before arriving at Hinds CC, Lakisha worked at the Mississippi Department of Health, where she was a Social Work case manager for high-risk pregnancies and infants. Lakisha has also worked as a Licensed Practical Nurse for the past 13 years with experience working Geriatrics, Rheumatology, Family Medicine, Pediatrics and Endocrinology and other specialty areas. She currently practices a Licensed Masters Level Social Worker and Licensed Practical Nurse. Lakisha is a member of The Master’s Plan Ministries church where she serves as Assistant Children Church Director, Co- Lead Intercessor, and Minister. She is also active with Women of Faith Ministry, along with serving with Hands and Feet Ministry, who serves hot meals and clothing to the communities throughout Vicksburg. Lakisha values family, faith, and the demonstration of Christ’s love and grace shared among to all people. She loves to listen to music, reading books, and traveling. She is the oldest of four siblings and loves to spend time with them. Lakisha loves to laugh because it is true medicine for the soul.

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Zella Palmer

Director of the Ray Charles Center for African American Material Culture (and food equity) Dillard University

Zella Palmer, is an author, professor, filmmaker, curator, scholar and the Chair and Director of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program in African-American Material Culture in New Orleans, Louisiana. Palmer is committed to documenting and preserving the legacy African American, Creole, Indigenous and LatinX culinary history. As the Chair of the Dillard University Ray Charles Program, Palmer filmed and produced the Story of New Orleans Creole Cooking: The Black Hand in the Pot documentary. In 2020, under Palmer’s leadership, Dillard University launched a Food Studies Minor, 1 of 2 accredited academic Food Studies programs at a (HBCU) Historically Black College & University.

Palmer’s latest publications, Recipes and Remembrances of Fair Dillard: 1869-2019 (University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press) and Ed Mitchell’s Barbeque (Harper Collins, June 2023) shares some of her rich research. Palmer was a guest or keynote speaker for NYU, Nicholls State University, Maryville University, University of Gastronomic Sciences (Turin, Italy) Essence Festival and for the 2022 American Community Gardening Association Conference. Palmer’s research and articles appeared in the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities 64 Parishes, Essence and For the Culture magazines. Palmer received the 2018 ‘Cultural Bearer Award’ from the Mardi Gras Indian Hall of Fame, 2020 New Orleans Magazine ‘People To Watch’ and 2022 Dine Diaspora Black Women in Food ‘Trailblazer’ Honoree. Palmer hosts Culture & Flavor podcast on Heritage Radio Network. Every Thanksgiving, Palmer hosts a ‘Vitality Culinary Retreat’ to Morocco, Africa, a time to heal, rejuvenate and learn about Morrocan food and culture.

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Lamont Morehead

Miles College Student No Kid Hungry Youth Ambassador

Lamont Morehead is a resident of Nashville, TN and is currently a senior at Miles College, where he is pursuing a degree in business administration and accounting. Throughout his academic career, he has been recognized for his achievements as a Kemper Scholar, No Kid Hunger Youth Ambassador, Site Assistant/Servant Leader Intern at Child Defense Fund Freedom School, and more. Hunger is a cause that is particularly important to him, as he has experienced it firsthand. He has made it his mission to help others who are in similar situations and to follow the teachings of Matthew 25:35.

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Closing Remarks

Thank you for attending the 2023 Rural Child Hunger Summit. 

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Esther Liew

Advisor, Food Security Projects Save the Children

Esther Liew is the Advisor for Food Security Projects at Save the Children, where she helped to launch the Rural Child Hunger Research and Innovation Lab. Prior to joining Save the Children, Esther managed health partnerships at the Houston Food Bank, implementing food security interventions within healthcare settings, with a focus on health equity. It was in the field of workforce development that her interest in food security emerged. Esther has an AM in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and BS in Biology from Baylor University. She is passionate about working alongside people to create equitable and thriving communities.

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