Deborah Frieze is founding partner of the Boston Impact Initiative, an impact investing fund focused on economic justice, which means investing in opportunity for all people—especially those most oppressed or abandoned by our current economic system—to lead a dignified and productive life. The fund takes an integrated capital approach, combining investing, lending and giving to build a resilient and inclusive local economy. Deborah is co-author (with Margaret Wheatley) of Walk Out Walk On, an award-winning book that profiles pioneering leaders who walked out of organizations failing to contribute to the common good—and walked on to build resilient communities. She is also founder of the Old Oak Dojo, an urban learning center in Boston, MA.
MEGAN A. CARNEY
Megan A. Carney is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and the Director of the Center for Regional Food Studies at the University of Arizona. Her research interests include transnational and gendered migration, migrant health, and food systems with regional expertise in North America with Latin@, Mexican, and Central American communities and in the Mediterranean, particularly southern Italy. Her first book The Unending Hunger: Tracing Women and Food Insecurity Across Borders (University of California, 2015) received the CHOICE award for Outstanding Academic Title. She served an advisory role for the national Real Food Challenge campaign pressuring universities and other institutions of higher education to adopt more ethical, humane, and environmentally-friendly food practices and held the post of Sustainable Food Coordinator in residential dining services at UC Santa Barbara.
Karalea Cox, a fifth generation rancher, has a deep understanding of rural and agricultural complexities pertaining to economic and community development and planning. Her passion for rural issues and rural advocacy creates a backdrop for communities to engage in meaningful dialogue and problem solving. She is a champion for community members and believes the success of every community effort lies in the knowledge and efforts of the individuals who are most affected by the issues. Her strengths as a consultant and facilitator enable stakeholders and community members to get to the heart of the challenges they face and create dynamic, meaningful solutions with deliberate action steps and measurable outcomes that work. Cox is the Executive Director for the Southern Gila County Economic Development Corporation. Her graduate work is in Higher Education Administration. Cox has served as a facilitator, capacity builder and planner for numerous organizations and rural communities.
Connor Descheemaker serves as the Community Planning Manager for Local First Arizona, a statewide nonprofit dedicated to local business advocacy and equitable economic development as a means of cultivating connection to place. Descheemaker founded and directs the organization’s For(u)m program, focusing Local First’s mission on the built environment, working with businesses and nonprofits across sectors for more equitable, sustainable, and place-conscious development, with a focus on infill and adaptive reuse. Mr. Descheemaker was born and raised in the Phoenix metro and graduated in 2015 from Arizona State University-Downtown, with a B.A. in Urban & Metropolitan Studies with a minor in Urban Planning. Connor’s professional affiliations include: City of Phoenix Development Advisory Board & Technical Subcommittee, Member; City of Phoenix Complete Streets Advisory Board, Member, & Design Guidelines Subcommittee, Chairperson; Arizona Partnership for Healthy Communities; Phoenix Community Alliance; Modified Arts, Gallery Manager; The Trunk Space, Vice President, Board of Directors.
Eight years ago, after 30+ years in the restaurant business RJ decided to get his hands dirty! For as long as he can remember, he has had a passion for farm to table cookery and it was time to embrace the other side of that equation. RJ spent 5 years, learning everything he could at one of the Valley’s premier organic farms. What he learned could fill volumes (and someday it may) but what RJ came away with in spades was a burning desire to do something to help small local growers, the organic movement and Arizona agriculture. RJ now owns two local focused businesses here in Arizona, a small batch from scratch wholesale food business in Phoenix and a retail store in Prescott. Plus he also runs the Local and Organics side of the business for Peddler’s Son Produce and Provisions here in Phoenix.
As Executive Director of Community Investment Corporation (CIC), Danny started a Social Impact Lending program which incentivizes community minded borrowers through preferred rates and terms. CIC’s first such program partnership with the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona supports budding food entrepreneurs with low interest microloans. Danny believes that investing in people’s entrepreneurial spirit is a powerful and underutilized way to address community needs. He has nearly 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector in various programmatic and executive management roles. As cofounder of Single Focus Web, a website development company he started with his wife, Danny also brings the perspective of an entrepreneur to his work. He is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University and holds masters degrees from the University of Arizona and Rutgers University. To this day, Danny ranks “Middle School English Teacher” as the best job he ever had.
Jonathan Netzky is a local food systems entrepreneur, focused on creating better access to the most meaningful protein options. His company Local Alternative Foods operates in Flagstaff where they develop, produce and distribute products that match the expressed needs of consumers and food-service for fresher, local, whole food plant-based ingredients.
Post engineering school at the University of Iowa, Jonathan had the opportunity to live, work, eat and develop business around the world. Learning product and systems design, LEAN Manufacturing and technical marketing his passions never faded for growing food and sustainable systems. In 2007 he moved to Flagstaff, Arizona and combined his unique abilities to solve a need for a locally sourced, delicious, plant based meat substitute for a local restaurant chain. The rest, as they say, is history in the making…
Kristen Osgood is the Regenerative Strategy Manager for Stern Produce where, in less than a year, she effectively launched a local buying program, Arizona Fresh Together. She is pursuing her mini-MBA in Sustainable Food Supply Chains through the Agribusiness Academy. She also has a Bachelor of Arts in Sustainability with a minor in Urban and Metropolitan Studies from Arizona State University. Throughout her 18 years of professional experience, she has lead and managed teams and projects, provided job training, facilitated communication with a wide variety of stakeholders, and given subject matter education to co-workers and customers.
John has 17 years of utility and cooperative experience including 9 years at Salt River Project (SRP). At the same time, he taught microeconomics, at Mesa Community College for 5 years. At CFC, he created and managed the Cooperative Financial Professional Certificate program, conducted macroeconomic analysis, and ad hoc financial and economic analysis. Since starting his own consulting firm, John has consulted with electric and agricultural cooperatives and has created and delivered programs for directors and staff. He holds a BS degree from Auburn University and a dual Master’s Degree from the University of Arizona (MBA) and Thunderbird, the American Graduate School for International Management (MIM). Prior to attending graduate school, he worked in the consumer electronics industry for 4 years.
Sajovec pursued a graduate degree in environmental anthropology that brought her to Southern Arizona almost 10 years ago. She founded Ajo Center for Sustainable Agriculture (Ajo CSA) shortly afterwards in order to support a grassroots, community-based effort of growing a more sustainable and just food system in Ajo and the surrounding region. Ajo CSA's activities include the Authentically Ajo Farmers Market (accepts WIC, SNAP and Double Up Bucks, and has incubated over 60 microbusinesses); Ajo Gardeners Network; Adopt-A-Sonoran-Desert-Crop (citizen participation crop conservation program); food-based entrepreneurship incubator; beginning farmer training; educational programs; and events such as Kids at the Farm, annual Ajo Food Festival and Baja Arizona Pomegranate Festival. Sajovec is a founding member of the Ajo Regional Food Partnership and a board member of the Arizona Small-Scale Farmers Alliance (AZ chapter of National Young Farmers Coalition).
Ashley Schimke, DTRN is an education program specialist at the Arizona Department of Education (ADE), Health and Nutrition Services. Ashley specializes in Farm to School and School Garden Program development, working to provide access to local food for use in school meals. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Dietetics and a minor in business.
After a decade working as a chef in restaurant kitchens around the country Erik Stanford decided do step away from the stove to start Pivot Produce. With a mission of developing wholesale revenue streams for small scale farmers, Pivot distributes exclusively Southern Arizona grown fruits and vegetables to Tucson's best restaurants.
SUN PRODUCE COOPERATIVE
Two years ago, a small group of farmers in Maricopa County found themselves working 80 hours per week, growing delicious and beautiful vegetables, yet barely able to make ends meet. Despite this hard work, each farmer’s individual efforts were not enough to sustain their farms and compete with giant, industrial, & conventional operations. Seeking support from others, they met and discussed how they could work together to improve the local food system. They needed to find a different way to do business, because it’s not sustainable the way it is. To be a part of the solution, Sun Produce Cooperative was formed in 2017 to keep small, local farmers on the ground, & transform the local food system in Arizona. Sun Produce Cooperative currently sells to Elementary School Districts in Maricopa County and are launching a CSA program in partnership with school PTAs.
Adrienne is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and has received numerous national and state recognitions as a nutrition leader. She is a social innovator fueled by a passion for advocacy and good food. Her career has been dedicated to Prevention work with over a decade of experience working with government, nonprofits, and healthcare groups. She excels in facilitating collaborative solutions to complex challenges to shape healthy communities.