Bobby Wilson

Bobby L. Wilson

Bobby L. Wilson is the CEO of Metro Atlanta Urban Farm. He co-founded this five-acre property to use as a teaching tool, economic empowerment zone, and food production site for the southwest Metropolitan Atlanta area.  With a strong belief in getting back to basics, he uses The Metro Atlanta Urban Farm to promote the benefits of urban agriculture in food and job-insecure areas.  For more than twenty years, Mr. Wilson served as Program Director for The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension/Atlanta Urban Gardening Program (AUGP); offering gardening instruction and support to some three hundred gardens located at public housing complexes, shelters, schools, churches and elder care facilities in metro Atlanta.
Mr. Wilson’s leadership in issues of research, food security, and volunteerism all have a practical expression in such activities as developing demonstration gardens, increasing production in community gardens to provide for donations to shelters and large community feeding programs, facilitating formal training of gardeners at the University of Georgia Food Science Department and the development of nutrition education sequels with school gardeners and the members of the AUGP Leadership Development Association. He is the past President of the American Community Gardening Association and sits on the Board of Food First.


Thomas J. Vilsack

Thomas J. Vilsack was confirmed as the 32nd United States Secretary of Agriculture on Feb. 23, 2021 by the U.S. Senate. He was nominated by President Joe Biden to return to a role where he served for eight years under President Barack Obama.
Under Secretary Vilsack’s leadership, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is building back better by restoring the American economy, strengthening rural and historically underserved communities, responding to threats of climate change, creating good-paying jobs for American workers and the next generation of agricultural leaders, and investing in our kids and our families.
Secretary Vilsack is spearheading a transformation of the food system by creating more, better, and fairer markets and ensuring that the food system of today and the future is more resilient and more competitive globally. It will also offer consumers affordable, nutritious food grown closer to home.
From excessive drought to more extreme fires, our producers, farmers and ranchers are on the frontlines confronting the challenges associated with climate change. USDA is engaging the agriculture and forestry sectors in voluntary, incentive-based climate solutions to improve the resiliency of producers and to build wealth that stays in rural communities. Additionally, USDA is advancing investments in science and research to offer producers a toolbox to adapt to and mitigate climate change.
Secretary Vilsack continues to take bold, historic action to reduce barriers to access for historically underserved communities. By working to ensure all aspects of civil rights and equity are integrated, USDA is rooting out generations of systemic racism and building systems and programs inclusive of all USDA employees and customers.
Secretary Vilsack is also focused on ensuring Americans have consistent access to safe, healthy, and affordable food. USDA is investing in bold solutions that enhance food safety, improve the various far-reaching and powerful nutrition programs in the Department, and reduce food and nutrition insecurity in America.

Dr. Shirley Davis

Dr. Shirley R. Davis

Dr. Shirley Davis brings a unique background as a seasoned HR and Diversity & Inclusion global thought leader, a senior executive, a certified leadership coach, and a former Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer for several major Fortune 100 companies. She has also worked in more than 30 countries around the world on five continents. She has consulted, coached, and presented to leaders at all levels of the organization, including in all business sectors, and across a number of industries.  
Most recently, for eight years, she was the Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion and Workplace Strategies at the world’s largest HR association, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). There she developed and implemented transformational programs and outcomes for both SHRM and the D & I field, and today, remains a sought-after global thought leader on the changing global workforce and leadership excellence by organizations around the world.  
Dr. Davis has also served in senior leadership roles at Exelon Corporation, Capital One, Circuit City Corporate Services, and Bank of America. She is a certified Senior HR Professional (through SHRM and the HR Certification Institute), and a certified International Speaking Professional (a designation only held by 17% of speakers worldwide).  
Additionally, she sits on the Board of Directors for the National Speaker’s Association, the Advisory Board for Diversity Woman Media, the Forum on Workplace Inclusion, and the Board of Central Florida Speakers Association.   
Dr. Davis has also been a featured expert and quoted on NBC’s The Today Show, the Wall Street Journal, NPR, USA Today, HR Magazine, Profiles in Diversity Journal,, Smart Meeting Magazine, Uptown Professional, Diversity Woman, and was featured on the cover of the winter 2018 issue of Inclusion Magazine. She is the best-selling author of, “Reinvent Yourself: Strategies for Achieving Success in Every Area of Your Life,” and “The Seat: How to Get Invited to the Table When You are Over- Performing but Undervalued.” She is also a featured and popular author for LinkedIn Learning. 


Stephen Ritz

Stephen Ritz is an internationally acclaimed, award-winning educator, author of best-selling book, The Power Of A Plant and Founder of Green Bronx Machine. Known as America's favorite teacher and 2015 Top Ten Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize, Stephen is responsible for creating the first edible classroom in the world. He and his students have grown more than 165,000 pounds of vegetables in the South Bronx, were celebrated at the Obama White House three times, have been featured on the cover of TIME for KIDS, and are the subject of a new, full-feature documentary, Generation Growth. Stephen serves as a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation at Babson College and as a Board Member for the NYC Nutrition Education Network. Stephen is now appearing in the new PBS educational series Let's Learn with Mister Ritz, was named the 2020 Change-Maker Award by NYC Food Policy Center for his response to COVID, named a 2021 Food Hero by TMZ Live, testified for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Ending Hunger in America, and was awarded the 2021 Artemis CEA Disruptor Award for his work, advocacy, and impact in public schools across NYC and America. Stephen was just named to the Food Transition Team for NYC Mayor, Eric Adams and named 2023 Global Food Hero.
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Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young

Dr. Chavonda Jacobs-Young serves as the Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics (REE), and as USDA’s Chief Scientist. The REE mission area is comprised of more than 8,500 employees with a $4 billion budget across its five component organizations including the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Economic Research Service (ERS), National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS), National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA), and Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS). Together these organizations advance agricultural research, innovation, data, and Extension across a full range of agricultural issues including climate-smart agriculture, nutrition security, equity, and strengthening food supply chains. As Chief Scientist, Dr. Jacobs-Young advises the Secretary of Agriculture and other senior officials on scientific matters and chairs the USDA Science Council, which convenes all parts of USDA’s scientific enterprise.
Prior to being appointed by President Biden to serve as the REE Under Secretary, Dr. Jacobs-Young was Administrator for ARS from 2014 to 2022. Prior to that role, she served as ARS Associate Administrator for National Programs, leading the research objectives of the entire Agency. She also led the Office of International Research Programs, which is responsible for ARS' liaison with its international partners. From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Jacobs-Young served as the inaugural OCS Director, where she was responsible for facilitating the coordination of scientific leadership across the Department to ensure that research supported by, and scientific advice provided to, the Department and external stakeholders were held to the highest standards of intellectual rigor and scientific integrity. She has also served as the Acting Director for NIFA and as a senior policy analyst for agriculture in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.
Dr. Jacobs-Young is a native of Georgia. She holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Wood and Paper Science and a B.S. degree in Pulp and Paper Science and Technology from North Carolina State University. She is a graduate of American University's Key Executive Leadership in Public Policy Implementation Program, and a proud fellow of both the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Public Administration.


Dr. Dionne Toombs

Dr. Dionne Toombs is the Acting Director of the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s extramural grant funding agency for agricultural research, education, and Extension programs across the nation. Previously, she was Director of the Office of the Chief Scientist, where she led a wide range of issues affecting science programs and science policy in agricultural research, education, and economics. 
Dr. Toombs also provided scientific leadership and coordination to the White House, Office of Science and Technology Policy, National Science and Technology Council working groups, across USDA and other federal agencies, and the agricultural community. 
With over a decade of USDA service, Dr. Toombs was the Division of Nutrition at NIFA where she led USDA nutrition science leaders who helped steer science policy and program development to ensure America’s food supply is safe, nutritious, and accessible to all citizens. She was the National Program Leader for NIFA’s Agriculture Food and Research Initiative, leading large competitive grant programs to fund research into nutrition, food science and technology, and food safety and as a Program Specialist for Food Science and Nutrition at the former USDA Cooperative State Research Education and Extension Service, which is now NIFA. 
Since she started at USDA as a student intern at USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, Dr. Toombs has been repeatedly featured as one of USDA’s most impactful woman scientists and recognized by the Secretary of Agriculture for outstanding leadership. Throughout her career, she has helped her colleagues, staff, and students maximize their potential by bolstering their talents and developing their leadership skills. Always willing to champion the next generation of scientists, she often emphasizes the importance of relationship building, citing collaboration as a key to her success. 

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Dr. Monica White

Dr. Monica M. White is the Distinguished Chair of Integrated Environmental Studies (2021-25), associate professor of Environmental Justice at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and past president of the Board of Directors for the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network. She is the first Black woman to earn tenure in both the College of Agricultural Life Sciences (established 1889) and the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies (established 1970), to which she is jointly appointed. As the founding director of the Office of Environmental Justice and Engagement (OEJ) at UW-Madison, Dr. White works toward bridging the gap between the university and the broader community by connecting faculty and students to community-based organizations that are working in areas of environmental/food/land justice toward their mutual benefit. She is also an Andrew Carnegie Fellow for 2022-2024 and holds a joint appointment in the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology and the Nelson Institute of Environmental Studies.  
Dr. White’s research investigates Black grassroots organizations that are engaged in the development of sustainable, community-based food systems as a strategy to respond to issues of hunger and food inaccessibility in both contemporary times and the twentieth century. In addition to her scholarship, and in collaboration with the National Black Food and Justice Alliance (NBFJA), Dr. White serves as the Director of the HBCU Project, to facilitate the development of centers for agroecology at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Dr. White serves as the Director of the HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Project, where her mission is to facilitate the development of centers for agroecology at HBCUs. 
The Carnegie Fellowship she holds represents the recognition that this research puts Dr. White in an exceptional group of established and emerging humanities scholars that are strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving natural and human environments. 
Dr. White’s first book, Freedom Farmers: Agricultural Resistance and the Black Freedom Movement (University of North Carolina Press, 2019) received the First Book Award from the Association of Association for the Study of Food in Society, the Eduardo Bonilla-Silva Outstanding Book Award from the Division of Race and Ethnic Minorities Section of the Society for the Study of Social Problems, and an Honored Book Award from the Gendered Perspectives section of the Association of American Geographers.
Freedom Farmers revises the historical narrative of African American resistance and breaks new ground by recovering the work, roles, and contributions of southern Black farmers and the organizations they formed in this history. It traces the origins of Black farmers’ organizations to the late 1800s, emphasizing their activities during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Whereas much of the existing scholarship views agriculture as a site of oppression and exploitation of Black people, Freedom Farmers reveals agriculture also as a site of resistance by concentrating on the work of Black farm operators and laborers who fought for the right to participate in the food system as producers and to earn a living wage in the face of racially, socially, and politically repressive conditions. Moreover, it provides an historical foundation that has added meaning and context for current conversations regarding the resurgence of agriculture in the context of food justice/sovereignty movements in urban spaces including Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, New York City, and New Orleans.
Dr. White’s work in the classroom and as a member of the food justice movement for over a decade embodies the theoretical framework of Collective Agency and Community Resilience and the use of community-based food systems and agriculture as a strategy of community health, wellness, and development. In addition to her service on the Board of Directors of the Detroit Black Community Food Security Network, she has served on the advisory board of the Southeast African American Farmers Organic Network and currently serves on the advisory board of New Communities, Inc., under community organizer and civil rights activist Ms. Shirley Sherrod. 
In addition to the Carnegie Fellowship, Dr. White has received a multi-year, multi-million-dollar USDA research grant to study food insecurity in Michigan. She has also received several teaching and service awards, including the Honored Instructor, UW-Madison Division of Housing, and the Michigan Sociological Association Marvin Olsen Award for Distinguished Service to the Cause of Sociology in Michigan the Outstanding Woman of Color, University of Wisconsin-Madison, the Vilas Early Career Investigator Award from the Office of the Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, $100,000 in support of her next book project.

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Artha K. Jonassaint

Artha K. Jonassaint is a lifelong Floridian with an affinity for agriculture and a long-term interest in creating people-centered policy in the United States. Jonassaint is an undergraduate student at Harvard College studying Government and Global Health and Health Policy with aspirations of attending law school upon graduation. Jonassaint served as the Florida FFA State President prior to matriculation at Harvard and was elected as the National FFA Southern Region Vice President during her second year of college, the first Black woman to hold either role. She ultimately hopes to pursue a career in which she contributes to more equitable food and health systems in the United States and empowers young people to reach their full potential.  


Timothy Campbell

Tim Campbell grew up in the urban inner-city of Little Rock, Arkansas. He graduated from Central High School in 2010 from the University of Arkansas Pine Bluff. Tim is also a proud Spring 14 Initiate of the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity Incorporated. Upon graduation, he was successfully accepted into the U.S. Peace Corps Program. He served as a Community Health Facilitator in the Gambia, West Africa, and subsequently served as the keynote speaker for the US embassy of Japan in 2021. 
Tim has a wide range of community experience; in 2020, he served on the Governor’s Task Force, reviewing policies to help mobilize the journey to change in Arkansas. Tim is also a 2022 fellow of The Movement Institute and a 2023 fellow of the New Leaders Council.
Tim was recognized in the Arkansas Business 2020 ‘250 Most Influential Leaders in Arkansas and received the 2022 Arkansas L.E.A.D. Award Recipient from the Martin Luther King Commission. He also received the Clinton School of Public Service’s higher honor, The Shannon Butler Award. Tim’s life story is highlighted in a PBS Documentary, “The Rose That Grew from Concrete.” April 4th in the city of Little Rock has been proclaimed Tim Campbell Day!


Jackie Joyner-Kersee

Jackie Joyner-Kersee, the "Greatest Female Athlete of the 20th Century" works by intentionally expanding the opportunities for learning and achievements in science technology across biology, agriculture, artificial intelligence, and geospatial information systems. Her work makes it possible for people of all ages to gain access to education, sports, culture, and lifelong learning.
Jackie's accomplishments, leadership, and the generous sharing of her talents benefit everyone she comes in connect with. Jackie has used her training and skills in the Olympics to inspire organizations, companies, and youth across leadership, determination, and social issues today. In 2020, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) awarded the Director's Community Leadership Award to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. This distinctive award was formally created in 1990 to honor individuals and organizations for combating terrorism, cyber-crime, illegal drugs, gangs, and other crimes leading to violence in America. The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation is one of 56 individuals or organizations around the United States who received the award. Significant contributions and leadership have marked her post-athletic career as a philanthropist and a tireless advocate for children's education, health issue, racial equality, social reform, and women's rights. In 1988, she established the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation as the vehicle through which she provides youth, adults, and families with the resources to improve their quality of life. A dynamic public speaker, Joyner-Kersee continues to be a sought-after motivational speaker and voice for the issues affecting 21st-century global society. Webster University, Missouri, presented her with the Champion For All award at its 2019 Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Conference. She was a featured speaker at the African Renaissance and Diaspora Network's (ARDN) Second Women of the Diaspora Summit: Economic Equity. ARDN has now asked her to serve as a Good Will Ambassador.
In 2000, the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation raised over $12 million to build The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, a 41,000 square-foot facility with a 1,200-seat gymnasium on a 37-acre site. The center fulfills the largely unmet need for youth recreation and sports venues in East St. Louis. In 2007, Joyner-Kersee and several well-known pro athletes founded Athletes for Hope. This charitable organization helps professional athletes get involved in philanthropic causes and inspires millions of non-athletes to volunteer in community support.
Jackie is a six-time Olympic medalist, including three Olympic gold medals. She dominated the Olympic heptathlon and long jump events throughout her career and four Olympic Games. The World Heptathlon Record set at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea, still stands today. Sports Illustrated named Jackie the most outstanding female athlete of the 20th century.

One of ESPN's 50 Greatest Athletes of the Century and Sports Illustrated Female Athlete of the Century, Jackie Joyner-Kersee dominated the sport of track and field for more than 20 years, setting world and American records that still exist today.
The second of four children, Joyner-Kersee, was born in East St. Louis, Ill. Though lacking in material possessions, her family never failed to provide her with abundant love and support. Joyner-Kersee was also blessed with exceptional talent and an unshakable belief in herself. That foundation led her to become a basketball and track star in high school and college. She received a basketball scholarship to UCLA. This same foundation helped her distinguish herself in track and field, most notably in the long jump and heptathlon. Joyner-Kersee rose to prominence as an All-State and All-America prep performer at Lincoln Senior High School in East St. Louis, Missouri. At UCLA, she received the All-University Athlete Award for the first of three times in 1982. A four-year starter on the women's basketball team, she ranks among UCLA's career leaders in scoring, rebounding and games played.
Joyner-Kersee was the most dominant American figure in the long jump and heptathlon during
her collegiate career. In fact, since placing second in the heptathlon at the Los Angeles Olympic Games in 1984, she has never lost a completed heptathlon.
In 1985 she was awarded the Broderick Cup as the nation's top collegiate female athlete and the
Olympia Award as one of the nation's top athletes in an Olympic sport. She was named firstteam All-Conference in basketball after the Bruins defeated a Cheryl Miller-led USC team twice in the same season. In 1987 she was named the U.S. Olympic Committee Sportswoman of the Year and the Associated Press Female Athlete. Her gold medal-winning performance in the 1988 Olympics resulted in a world record for the fourth time. In 1992, she again scored over 7,000 points to become the first woman in history to win back-to-back Olympic heptathlons and a bronze medal in the long jump.
In 1993, Joyner-Kersee received UCLA's Professional Achievement Award.
She has received many prestigious awards, including the St. Louis Ambassadors Sportswoman of the Year Award, the Sporting News Athlete of the Year Award (the first woman to receive either of these awards), the Sullivan Award, and the Jesse Owens Memorial Award, which she won two
years in a row. Yet with all the awards and accolades, Joyner-Kersee is most proud of her achievements off the track.
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