Bay Area Social Finance Leader Named 2009 Food & Society Fellow

January 16, 2009

Minneapolis – The Food & Society Fellows program named Bay Area social finance leader Elizabeth Ü and eight others from around the country with backgrounds in farming, public health, filmmaking and policy research to promote strategies for achieving a more sustainable, healthy and equitable food system.

Elizabeth’s work connecting investors, donors, foundations and social enterprises brings a unique vision to the Food and Society Fellowship Program. She is currently the Manager of Strategic Development at RSF Social Finance, a national nonprofit financial services organization. Elizabeth looks to promote investment opportunities in healthy food systems by identifying economic tools for socially-restorative enterprises – and helping support the development of new tools where necessary.

“Investors and foundations are more motivated than ever to support sustainable food systems, and yet many are confused about the range of options available to them; a similar confusion exists amongst social entrepreneurs seeking financing for their food-based ventures,” said Ü. “As a Fellow, I look forward to helping people navigate the constantly-evolving landscape of investing and financing opportunities in the world of sustainable food and agriculture.”

The Food and Society Policy Fellows program was jointly launched in 2001 by the Jefferson Institute and the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), with support from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Classes have ranged in size from 8 to 12 Fellows, with a total of 63 selected Fellows over the last seven years. The Fellowship buy a portion of the Fellows time for two years, allowing them to spend time on media outreach and participate in policy and communications trainings.

“As part of this new class, Elizabeth will work alongside some of the nation’s top and emerging leaders on food, agriculture, public health and social justice,” said Mark Muller, director of the Fellows program. “The way food is grown, processed and distributed has a tremendous influence on health, the economy and our culture. The Fellows are building on the momentum for a fresher, healthier, more sustainable and more equitable food system.”
The program is designed to facilitate the Fellows’ use of mass media channels to inform and shape the public agenda for food. Together, they will work to affect local, regional and national policy through strategic communication efforts. In addition to Elizabeth, the 2009-2010 Food & Society Fellows are:

  • Fred Bahnson, Director of Anathoth Community Garden in Cedar Grove, North Carolina, will work to expand the involvement of faith-based communities in food and agriculture.
  • Nicole Betancourt, a New York-based, Emmy-award winning filmmaker, will mobilize urban parents to create a sustainable food system through childhood nutrition and education.
  • Alethia Carr, Director of the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Child Care Expulsion and Prevention (CCEP) projects, will address “food desert” problems in cities like Detroit.
  • Debra Eschmeyer, a fifth generation farmer from Knoxville, Ohio, will continue work through the National Farm-to-School Network to increase access to healthy food for diverse populations.
  • Andy Fisher, the Oregon-based director of the Community Food Security Coalition, will focus on bridging food security with federal programs.
  • Shalini Kantayya, a Brooklyn-based film director, will look at water access, nutrition and agricultural issues effecting present and future generations.
  • Erin MacDougall, of Washington’s King County Public Health Department, will publicize the impact of food policy on children’s health.
  • Sean Sellers, a founding member of the Alliance for Fair Food in Texas, will promote socially responsible purchasing practices among major food retail corporations.

For more on the 2009 Food & Society Fellows, go to:

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation was established in 1930. The organization supports children, families and communities as they strengthen and create conditions that propel vulnerable children to achieve success as individuals and as contributors to the larger community and society. Grants are concentrated in the United States, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the southern African countries of Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The Woodcock Foundation supports community development especially when there is an opportunity to improve the educational, economic and environmental circumstances of communities in need. Particular attention is given to programs that encourage and reward leadership, foster entrepreneurship and enhance the quality of life.

RSF Social Finance is a nonprofit financial services organization at the center of a growing movement to support a network of place-based, local economies that value human beings and the environment. Inspired by the work of Rudolf Steiner, RSF provides capital for innovative social enterprises working in the areas of Food & Agriculture, Education & the Arts, and Ecological Stewardship. In partnership with our donors and investors, RSF has made over $145 million in loans and over $65 million in grants since 1984. Learn more about what we can do together at

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy works locally and globally at the intersection of policy and practice to ensure fair and sustainable food, farm and trade systems.

1 Comment

  1. […] The Food & Society (FAS) Fellowship Program is designed to build capacity & leadership amongst a group of experts who collaborate and communicate using mass media channels to bring sustainable food system issues to wider audiences. Intentionally chosen from a range of disciplines, past fellows have been chefs, farmers, nutritionists, activists, public health professionals, fishers, policy experts and academics. A member of the seventh class of FAS fellows, I am the very first representative from the field of finance. (Read the press release) […]

    Pingback by RSF Social Finance » Capital Markets, Farmers Markets — March 5, 2009 @ 3:49 pm

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