The 2020 Piedmont Triad Regional Food Council Members
Ann Meletzke (Alamance County)
My perspective is one of health equity. Through my own work in the community, I have learned that I must dismantle or reconstruct many of my own processes in order to address inequity. I share this experience with other organizations in an attempt to provide concrete examples of how to partner with those most impacted by equity issues and collaborate with those best positioned to make change; using a Community-Based Participatory Research and Health in All Policies approach.
Carl Vierling (Guilford County)
I grew up helping out on farms in southern Indiana and Kentucky because so many of our friends and family members were farmers. There have been times that I have had to make choices between food and other things because I did not have much so I have an inkling of what our neighbors face every day. In the private sector, I implemented managed health care plans for the textile company I worked for in the southern part of North Carolina. Later I would manage hundreds of millions in health care costs nationally and internationally giving me an understanding of how you can measure the impact of health care interventions on health care costs. This experience also allowed me to work with health care professionals leading me to a better understanding of the issues they face. As a volunteer in Richmond County, I learned about the issue of food insecurity and how it impacts seniors and children. I would use those experiences later as a pastor in Greensboro to create food ministries that served seniors, the homeless, and those facing food insecurity. During that time I learned the stories of those dealing with food insecurity. All of those experiences and others are being used in my work today as the Executive Director of the Greater High Point Food Alliance.
Colleen Church (Davie County)
Over 15 years with N.C. Cooperative Extension supporting farms, farmers market and agribusinesses, while also educating the public about agriculture and local foods. BS and MS in Horticulture Science.
Cori Lindsay (Caswell County)
I have a deep agriculture economic development background. Previously starting a regional farmers market network and serving on the statewide market and growers association board in North Dakota. While in Caswell, I have continued to support agriculture business growth as a part of our economic development strategy. I am also working with various leaders at Piedmont Community College and with other community stakeholders to plan for, fund, and operationalize the Center for Educational and Agricultural Development to be located in Pelham NC. This project will house PCC’s agribusiness technology classes, continuing education classes related to agriculture, an incubator farm to help beginning farmers experience operating their own small farm, and a food hub to aggregate regional produce.
Emma Hendel (Forsyth County)
I am the owner of Fair Share Farm, LLC in Pfafftown, North Carolina. We grow and deliver salad products and seasonal produce to businesses in Winston Salem, Greensboro, and Charlotte as well as selling at Cobblestone Farmers Market and Davidson Farmers Market. The farm is USDA GAP Certified and we pride ourselves on growing the best produce we can while also being kind to the land. As the owner, I wear many hats growing the produce, making sales, and delivering the product. My husband and I manage a crew with three full-time, year-round employees and a couple of part-time and seasonal workers.
Gary R. Williams (Forsyth County)
My diverse background includes being a retired bureaucrat, active clergy, and a member of a minority ethnic group.
Grace Messinger (Triad Region)
In working with Piedmont Conservation Council, a Resource Conservation and Development council in the Piedmont region, we work to improve agricultural practices and to enhance the public's image of farming to encourage a supportive community that will protect agricultural, conserve natural resources while assisting to grow the economic value of farming within the community. We work with private, public and various levels of government to obtain funding support and to build partnerships to achieve sustainable agricultural. We are currently working with Alamance's, Authentically Alamance Farmers Market network.
Hannah V. Harrison (Forsyth County)
I grew up in Guilford County and returned to the Piedmont Triad after pursuing my education in Asheville, Louisville, and Austin. In graduate school, I studied rhetoric and writing, with research and teaching emphases in contemporary local food movements. My doctoral dissertation research was field-based and participatory, primarily in a community garden setting in Austin. In the summer of 2018, I returned to North Carolina and quickly began volunteering with several Triad-area food advocacy groups. Currently, I'm employed as a teacher-scholar at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, where I teach a skills-based first-year writing course called Rhetoric of Food, which focuses on public writing and deliberation about food systems controversies. In addition to teaching and research, I have professional expertise in grant writing, mentorship, program administration and assessment, project management, committee work, writing consultation, social media networking, and public speaking. I've also volunteered and worked on several no-till and organic farms.
Jason Kampwerth (Triad Region)
I have seen the food supply chain and economy from many different viewpoints throughout my career. Prosperity, struggle, elation, devastation, joy, and despair. I believe in getting a chance to view the situation from many points and putting yourself into those shoes of someone from those other viewpoints. Every issue has many facets and I believe in looking at them all before making a judgment call or decision. My unique outlook and willingness to see things from "the other side" gives me a wide variety of skills and background experience to draw upon.
Jason Williams (Durham)
W.A.R.4Life, We Are Ready for Life is a nonprofit focused on Suicide Prevention through Community Development. We have diverse programming that addresses health disparities, economic development, mental health/ substance abuse to name a few.
John C. Ayers, Jr. (Rockingham County)
I have grown up on a commercial apple farm that also produced peaches, tomatoes, pumpkins, beans, and, sweet corn, I have been directly involved in the use of chemicals, fertilizers, supervision of labor and dealing with all sorts of government regulations associated with commercial ag production. I was in charge of the wholesale of the produce that was produced on the farm. I have and still operate retail produce markets.
Jose Abreu (Guilford County)
I have over 15 years of grocery sector experience, 8 years owning and managing a mid-size supermarket in High Point. I understand food marketing and promotion as well as phycological effects of food packaging, advertising, and branding. I also have 5+ years of farming on multiple scales from square foot gardening to working on large 600 acres eco-tourism based farm. Now I manage a 1-acre urban farm producing annual vegetables while creating green space for the community. I have been part of multiple non-profits (Growing High Point, Greater High Point Food Alliance, Homegrown Heroes) oriented in improving food security and access.
Justin Williams-Blackwell (Guilford County)
Food Council Co-Chair
I work as the Community Impact Manager for Health and Basic Needs at United Way of Greater Greensboro. In my role, I facilitate the volunteer Impact Council and lead ongoing program monitoring and support for health and basic needs strategic partners.
Kana Miller (Forsyth County)
I have gained experience and familiarity with the food system from many different areas and aspects of my life. In college, I learned food and the environment from an academic perspective. After graduating, I’ve learned so much more from working in non-profits helping to spread outreach about farmland protection/conservation, teaching teens how to grow and cook their own food, helping food pantries with education and food distribution, working at farmers markets and on farms/gardens, and now sharing knowledge and resources about healthy eating on a budget, cooking, and nutrition. I’ve been behind the scenes, supporting others in their leadership roles, and have taken leadership, guiding others. I also know the importance of listening to others, especially when working with/in a community that I am not a part of. I believe that food brings people and community together, but it can also tear people apart. Food connects me to my family both near and far and helps me find common ground with other people.
Laura Oxner (Guilford/Forsyth County)
As Regional Director of Rock and Wrap It Up! NC, I am committed to feeding people not landfills. Our award winning EPA and USDA food recovery initiatives can be seen in our partnerships with Guilford County Schools, local colleges, hospitality venues, NHL, the Greensboro Coliseum Complex, the Wyndham Championship and more. The whole earth calculator provides data for partner agencies looking to be more sustainable.
Michael Banner (Forsyth County)
I am Michael Banner, also known as Magneto in my community, in regards for my works that have been instrumental in pushing Urban Agriculture to the forefront as we vie for upward mobility for the ones who feel it most, primarily for the Black and Brown community. I am currently working with Island CultureZ, an organization that states it's mission as: Nurturing Community Self-Reliance Through Working In Unison To Overcome Poverty & Oppression. I was included in the task force, responsible for creating the Piedmont Triad Regional Food Council. I offer a strong lived experience with respects to the struggle of growing up poor, as a young gifted black boy in a city that is hyper-racial along lines of food apartheid and chronic poverty where the generational wealth and privilege of access to resources and opportunity. In my most relevant accomplishments, I count: 1) successfully advocating for Winston-Salem's Urban Agricultural Ordinance, 2) pioneering the NC Cooperative Extension's Urban Farm School, and 3) serving as the inaugural chair of Winston-Salem's Urban Food Policy Council. My children ages 16, 10, 7, and 6 months are my greatest inspiration. They represent the change I wish to see in this world, as I trust we all share common bonds of affection and goodwill.
Nikki McCormick (Forsyth County)
I have worked at Second Harvest Food Bank for over 13 years in a senior management position. I believe that this experience, coupled with my recent experience over the past 4 years in collective impact work, uniquely positions me to contribute in a variety of ways to the local foods council.
Rachel Zimmer (Forsyth County)
Food Council Co-chair
I am a nurse practitioner, who is doctorally prepared and serve as the founder and director of the new WF Mobile clinic for uninsured individuals, call the Community Health Alliance. I am also an Assistant Professor within the Section of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist Health and serve as the co-director of the Wake Forest House Calls program. Through my role, I provide in-home medical care for older adults in the community and have an intimate knowledge of how food access affects the health of individuals, especially older adults.
Tom Henslee (Randolph County)
Co-owner of Back to Earth Farm located outside of Asheboro. We left the corporate world for farm life in 2013. We practice regenerative agriculture mainly using livestock to heal the land and produce nutrient-dense food. Our focus is on reconnecting people to their health, the land, and how food is produced. I also continue to practice law with a firm out of Dallas, Texas. We specialize in golf course legal matters. I am president of the board of the Farm and Ranch Freedom Alliance, a group that represents small farmers and consumers as they attempt to navigate burdensome government regulations. I am also on the board of RhinoLeap Productions, a professional theater group based in Asheboro.