At our January 16, 2020 Annual Meeting, we will be holding elections for open seats on our board of directors. Note that this is a regular full council meeting. As such everyone is welcome and encouraged to attend; the vote itself will only take up a small time slot.
According to our bylaws, members who are present will participate in the vote. Anyone who wishes to join as a member prior to the vote may do so including on January 16; you may become a member on our web site right now or at the January 16 meeting, in which case, please come early and bring the $25 of membership dues – we accept check, exact change cash, and card.
Below are the profiles for candidates who have nominated themselves for election to the board, in alphabetical order, by last name. Please read through them all to give them equal consideration. There are 7 open slots and 7 candidates running.
The 2020 Milwaukee Food Council Board of Directors candidates thus far are: Karin Conway, Julie Dahms, Kim Khaira, Meg Kilkenny, Rita Saavedra, Kaya Schwarz, and Sophia Torrijos.
Please scroll all the way down to view all of the candidates’ profiles.
Karin Conway | Organic Growth Coach
I have been or am currently affiliated with these organizations:
• Outpost Coop owner/ employee in 2017
• Tippecanoe Presbyterian church – garden manager 2015
• Victory Garden Initiative – Organic Farming Volunteer and Food Leader Mentor since 2013. I am a seasoned volunteer in the annual Blitz where we install about 500 raised bed gardens yearly.
• School Garden Coordinator for Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful 2013-2019. We facilitated the implementation of raised bed gardens at local schools. I managed a demonstration garden at KGMB, plus trained the educators on how to build and manage their own gardens on-site at the schools. Permaculture plant guild maps streamlined systems for teachers. Volunteer since 2006.
• Events Committee and volunteer for Community Shares of Greater Milwaukee since 2012. Focused on fundraising through sponsor donations and raffles.
• Wisconsin Local Food Summit event registration volunteer 2014-2017.
• Steering Committee for the CIUAN (Institute for Urban Agriculture & Nutrition)
• Past Garden Coordinator/Volunteer for New Beginnings Are Possible. Taught at risk children the joys of gardening and facilitated growing a garden on-site, 2005-2007
• Vice President of Milwaukee Holistic Chamber of Commerce 2015 to 2017.
• Board member/Event Organizer for Milwaukee Holistic Health Expo 2011-2016. As organizer, I coordinated all details with the venue, billing, customer service, database management, volunteers, as well as event promotion and follow-up after the event. Raised money for local non-profits.
• Race Director for Badgerland Striders Lakefront Discovery Run 2007-2010. Responsible for coordinating budget, permits, course, venues, sponsors, volunteers, pre-planning, registration, race day management, follow-up, planning future improvements as a consultant to new Race Director.
• Race Director for Komen Milwaukee Race for the Cure 2003-2004. Served as liaison between the Komen fundraising committee and the Badgerland Striders running club to ensure cooperation and positive outcomes for all event stakeholders.
• Grupo Amistad (Mexico City) high school exchange student (cultural immersion, Spanish skills)
Some of my schooling and professional certifications include;
Dr Sears Wellness Institute– Health Coach Certification – 4/2017
Victory Garden Initiative – Permaculture Design Certification – 12/2013
Victory Garden Initiative – Food Leader Certification – 12/2013
Cardinal Stritch University- BS Business Management – 12/2003
Sandler Sales Training with D.I.S.C. – 2010-2012
Coach Training Alliance, Certified Coach – 2010-2011
Waukesha County Technical College – Associate Marketing – 12/2000
I have been an active attendee and member of the Milwaukee Food Council and hospitality committee since 2014. I have been serving on the BOD for the past 2 years. During my time on the BOD I have coordinated the Youth SOUP fundraising events as well as the Garden Seed Fundraisers.
I manage two raised bed community garden plots in the Green Corridor and have my own aeroponics garden indoors year-round. I have been an organic gardener since birth. I learned to respect nature and grow my own organic food thanks to my mother Jeanette. I have attended MFC while representing VGI as a food leader, Tippe church as the rooftop garden coordinator, as well as a health coach and concerned citizen.
While I do not have an abundance of personal funds to share, I have the ability and desire to be an active fundraiser for MFC. I have done many fundraising efforts in the past on behalf of non-profit organizations, including MFC. I bring with me the creativity to discover new ways to bring in more funds to make a difference in the local food movement.
As a health coach, I am passionate about helping people improve their health. I fully recognize the value of real whole food. I believe in my heart that every human being has the right to have access to good clean food. I was one of the lucky ones who had a mother that gardened. From the time I could crawl, I was helping grow and harvest food to feed our family. At every opportunity I share my love of gardening and whole food nutrition.
My previous business experience will help me build and promote MFC. As a marketing consultant I have the creative talents required to market and manage a profitable business. One of my super powers is bringing stakeholders to the table and helping them see how we all benefit from collaborative partnerships. For numerous years, I facilitated a business networking membership organization which helped business owners connect with new clients and build their business.
I have participated in and organized large events related to health. One of my favorite activities is acting as a food ambassador for local food products at farmers markets and grocers. I am happy to work on community engagement and fundraising activities.
I recognize the commitment level required and am happy to attend any necessary meetings. Since I work independently, I will not allow my work schedule to interfere with MFC meetings.
Julie Dahms | Herzfeld Foundation
I am a Milwaukee Food Council member and I am aware of the responsibilities and commitment that is required of Board Members, and I am happy to comply.
I do not have previous board experience, but am eager to get this experience with the MFC. I am familiar with boards and their operation because, as an employee of the Herzfeld Foundation, I attend four board meetings annually.
At the present time, I hold memberships to the Milwaukee Food Council, Wisconsin Bike Fed, and the Museum of Wisconsin Art. I am in the process of law license reinstatement, and once that is complete, I will become a member of local or state bar agencies.
I have attended a number of MFC meetings over the last several years, and I enjoy them very much! I feel surrounded by like-minded people. Some time ago, I provided research information to Bruce Wiggins and Barbara Richards concerning food waste and related issues. This was something I researched in the course of my employment at Herzfeld Foundation, and I was curious to find out whether the MFC does work in the area of food waste. I attended a committee meeting at that time. I am a member of the Outpost, and I have given a talk to the public in (around) January 2018 on the topic of Zero Waste.
I believe I am a good candidate for the MFC Board of Directors because I am vigilant in researching topics and finding ways to actively create change. I have a legal background (I practiced insurance defense law for 15 years) and am familiar with issues concerning laws and policies. I am aware of the organizations in Milwaukee that are involved in the world of food, as my research with the Herzfeld Foundation allowed me to meet with representatives of numerous organizations to learn more about them. I am excited to work with the MFC and its Board to create a future strategy and effect change, or at least education, in the areas that are important to MFC’s members.
With regard to skills I possess, I have some experience with grant writing, fundraising, community engagement, public relations / communications, administration, networking and nonprofits. I hope to share my skills with MFC.
Kim Khaira | Lynden Sculpture Garden
During my years after my Bachelor’s in Malaysia, I ran as committee member of the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign in a non-hierarchical group that was majority volunteer-led. During this time, my employment was with the Penang Women’s Development Corporation, a state government agency, as Policy and Advocacy Officer. As freelance work, I worked a report writer (rapporteur) for various organizations including the state government, and non-profit organizations and community based organizations; in one particular report, I wrote about vital points for/in a regional advocacy conference on the detrimental use of pesticides and GMOs. I have also done editorial work – reviewing, proofreading and copyediting of books on social, cultural and economic issues in the region. I later worked as the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign’s community worker for a grassroots refugee-led empowerment initiative, predominantly with Rohingya refugees, including coordinating a refugee board membership and refugee teachers for a community-led kindergarten. In my time in Milwaukee, I’ve worked as an Advocate, again with Rohingya/Southeast Asian refugees – being a Malaysian immigrant myself, I have found the work fulfilling, especially now working independently as a community worker and serving my community in creative ways; currently as artist-in-residence with the Lynden Sculpture Garden. In terms of my relationship to food and community, during my free time I would volunteer in Malaysia at a local farmer’s market, helping a local farmer sell their fresh goods, herbs and spice oils. Here in Milwaukee, I have my own garden established and I aim to continue planting local, edible and medicinal perennials. I identify as Indian-Indigenous and grew up in a culture that is constantly surrounded with food; Malaysia being a spice route during pre-colonial times, and growing up in a household where my mother was constantly tending to her garden. I grew up with coconut, mango, lemongrass, hibiscus and soursop trees, and today in my mother’s garden, I am inspired by passionfruit, jasmine, betel and banana trees. I believe that I am suited to be part of the Milwaukee Food Council because I’m willing to learn and aim -to the best of my ability- to including others; that while I am no means an expert in food, I understand the importance of connecting the dots as I have learnt in both my study in Political Science, and my practice and passion in community.
I’m best able to contribute in: community engagement, nonprofit experience, and/or program planning. And I’m interested in the Nominations, and/or Policy & Advocacy committee.
Meg Kilkenny | Extension Milwaukee County FoodWIse
It is with great enthusiasm that I submit this application to run for Milwaukee Food Council’s Board of Directors. I have been a member of MFC since 2015 and joined the Board in 2018, where I served on the Executive Committee as the Board’s Recording Secretary. It has been an eventful learning experience serving on the Board for the past two years, where I take pride in our food council’s continued efforts to bring together many food systems stakeholders to share, learn, and grow together. Beyond our networking efforts, the past two years have included our first ever youth event to engage young folks working on food projects throughout our City, and the continued momentum of our expertly-led Policy Committee.
I truly believe we have so many wonderful opportunities on the horizon, and I would be honored to continue to serve on the Board of Directors of this organization and be a part of our bright, collective future. I am fortunate to consider my time and dedication to the Board and MFC efforts as part of my day job with FoodWIse, a program of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension in Milwaukee County. Through my position as a Healthy Communities Coordinator, I work on policy, systems, and environment changes related to healthy eating and active living for individuals and families with limited incomes. A majority of my work is supporting farmers markets in accepting federal nutrition benefits such as SNAP/EBT, WIC, and Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program vouchers – especially through the efforts of the Milwaukee Farmers Market Coalition. I am also involved in other projects as it relates to policy change and healthy food access for our community. My previous Milwaukee-based work experience includes Fondy Food Center, as well as Guest House of Milwaukee, a men’s homeless shelter with a community garden where I helped grow over 600 pounds of produce to be donated to food pantries and used in shelter. I have experience in urban agriculture, community food systems, public health, and nonprofit administration and management. I also have intimate knowledge of the inner workings of Milwaukee Food Council as a nonprofit organization. My personal interests make it so that I am often pondering environmental issues, discussing gardening, cooking recipes, advocating for public transportation systems, and even running a monthly cooking club in my neighborhood of Riverwest – a space to empower millennials with the tool of knowledge and caring act of cooking and breaking bread together.
In serving on the Board for another 2-year term, I am committed and able to attend all general member meetings and Board of Director meetings in 2020 and 2021, with the exception of the November 2020 general member meeting.
Rita Saavedra | Anthem
Joining the Milwaukee Food Council Board (MFC) would be a great opportunity for my personal and professional growth. In my perspective, I would bring value to the MFC board due to my educational background and my professional experience. I have a bachelor’s degree in Communications and an associate in Accounting. Furthermore, I am also bilingual (Spanish) and utilize this gift in my personal and professional environment.
Currently, I am participating on a local board Bembé Drum & Dance as the board’s treasurer. I was selected due to my accounting background and network connections in the community. In 2019, I had the opportunity to connect the Bembé’s Director with an organization that provided a sponsorship for a community event. Joining this board has provided me an opportunity to give back to intercity children with free educational, art, and music courses in the community.
This year I also joined an herb apprenticeships program that provides education on natural medicine and the value of nutrition. In my adolescent years nutrition was not emphasized in my household or in my Hispanic community. That is why I strongly believe it is important for families in our communities to receive resources and education on how to incorporate foods into a healthy lifestyle. My goal is to share the knowledge I learn from this program with family, friends, and people in the community.
During my five years at Molina Healthcare I had the opportunity to organize and attend community events that focused on eating healthy. I organized the Dr. Cleo cooking classes at United Community Center. A professional chief educated families how to cook and prep healthy meals for their families. I also had the opportunity to design nutrition material and organize food pantries in the community.
Currently, I am a Financial Representative at Northwestern Mutual. I meet with clients and business owners to develop financial plans based off the client’s goals and objectives. However, my passion for improving the community has taken me in a different direction. This month I accepted a new position at Anthem as a Community Relations Representative where I will engage in the community 90% of my work day.
If I am selected as a board member, I will be committed to the positions requirements. I will also contribute my skills and knowledge to the organization’s mission.
Kaya Schwarz | Teens Grow Greens
Sophia Torrijos | Friedens Community Ministries
Please consider my application to take a more active leadership role in collectively solving the problems of healthy food access and choice. Though I’ve only recently joined MFC as a general member, I’m already excited about the work happening in this collaborative. I believe MFC is an entity that creates an intentional space for rich conversation and problem-solving amongst the diverse individuals and organizations that touch each part of the “food life cycle”. I would like to actively participate in the determining direction of this important work.
I believe I make a strong addition to the board because of my background in community organizing, my professional perspective overseeing four community food centers/gleaning hubs, and my track record of hard work and initiative. My skill set includes asset-based thinking, strategic approach to problems, bringing people together around the table, and a passion for seeing all families in Milwaukee nourishing themselves with culturally-appropriate, healthy foods. I believe my enthusiasm and dedication will help move forward the goals and objectives of the MFC board.
I’ve been involved in food scarcity work for five years in different capacities at Friedens Food Pantries (as volunteer, Volunteer Coordinator, board fundraising committee, and now ED) and hope to make this a life-long involvement. Additionally, I am able to attend Milwaukee Food Council General Meetings and Board Meetings. Please find a more detailed resume attached to my application.
– Grant Writing/Fundraising
– Community Engagement
– Event and Program Planning
– Volunteer Engagement