Judith H. Whittlesey
Susan Davis International
Mayra E. Alvarez
The Children’s Partnership
The Opportunity Agenda
International Dairy Foods Association
Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer Business
The Idea Monkeys
Kofi D. Essel, MD, MPH, FAAP
Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C.
Nestlé Corporate Affairs
Motion Picture Association
The Aspen Institute
Elizabeth (Beth) Johnson, MS, RD
Food Directions LLC
Matthew E. Melmed
ZERO TO THREE
Ronald F. Pollack
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach
School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University
Kellie Adesina serves as Director of Government Affairs at Bayer. In her role, she is responsible for engaging Members of Congress and Administration officials on crop science. Prior to joining Bayer, she was Chief Counsel on the House Agriculture Committee for Chairman Collin C. Peterson where she successfully drafted several provisions included in the 2018 farm bill. Before joining the Committee, Kellie was Senior Counselor in the Office of the General Counsel at the U.S. Department of Agriculture; Legislative Director to Congresswoman Marcia L. Fudge; and Legislative Counsel to Congresswoman Judy Chu. Kellie holds a Juris Doctor degree from The Ohio State University Moritz School of Law and a Bachelor of Arts from Bethune-Cookman University. In her spare time, she serves as a mentor and volunteers through her sorority, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.
Mayra Alvarez is President of The Children’s Partnership, a child advocacy organization working to ensure all children have the resources and opportunities they need to grow up healthy and lead productive lives. Previously, Ms. Alvarez served in the US Department of Health and Human Services, including as Director of the State Exchange Group at the Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; Associate Director at the HHS Office of Minority Health; and Director of Public Health Policy in the Office of Health reform. She also worked as Legislative Assistant for Senator Dick Durbin and then-Congresswoman Hilda Solis and as a Winston Health Policy Fellow for then-Senator Barack Obama. Ms. Alvarez was recently nominated by Attorney General Xavier Becerra to the Mental Health Services Oversight and Accountability Commission. She is from outside San Diego, CA and is the proud daughter of Mexican Immigrants.
Sherry Brennan currently serves as the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Whip Media’s soon-to-launch content marketplace, expected to transform the way the content industry licenses movies and TV shows globally. She is a strategic advisor to several industry startups and has co-founded a social platform for women over 40 (The Woolfer). Prior to joining Whip, she spent nearly 15 years with Fox Networks where she focused on the distribution of Fox’s content in new and emerging platforms, content protection, strategic research, and optimizing Fox’s content strategy for the digital age, including working with Hulu from its launch until her departure in 2019. Earlier in her career, Sherry spent seven years at Cablevision focused on then-emerging VOD and digital TV, including content licensing, marketing, user experience design, and user interface design. She began her career at Falcon Cable TV, working for the chief operating officer in a variety of roles from analytics to public affairs. She has a Master’s Degree in Economics and has received many industry awards for her leadership and expertise.
Ellen Buchman is an enthusiastic organizer and communicator regarding the imperative and value of enabling opportunity for all. She serves as President of The Opportunity Agenda (TOA), a social justice communication lab, where her practice and training enables her to lead a staff focused every day on narrative change that will lead hearts and minds toward justice. Immediately prior to Ellen’s work at TOA, she served as Executive Vice President for Field and Communications at The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, where she was employed for 15 years and during that time piloted the organization’s field and organizing program, and developed and oversaw the vision for the integrated field, communications, and policy work at the center of the organization.
Ellen is an internationally-known trainer, leader, and practitioner of organization and coalition building, campaign initiating and implementing, and training in the intersection of organizing, advocating, and communicating for social justice. Her career has focused on building effective and inclusive teams and partnerships for progress toward racial and gender equity. Her expertise and vision is in building campaign and organizational structures to build power, and she is trained in outreach, leadership development, organizing and social work for change.
Ellen divides her time between New York City and Washington, DC, where her home, wife and enthusiastic and exuberant puppy reside.
Dave Carlin was assistant secretary for congressional relations at the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) from 1995–1998. He managed the Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations, and served as the primary liaison between USDA and both Congress and the White House Office of Legislative Affairs.
After USDA, Dave returned to the law firm Akin, Gump, Strauss, Hauer & Feld, where he focuses his practice on public law and policy, particularly in the financial services sector (representing banks, private equity firms, hedge funds, etc.).
Dave is a graduate of Kansas State University and Harvard Law School. He is chair of the board of directors for Video/Action, a DC-based nonprofit, and a member of the Board of the Capitol Hill Day School.
Nancy Dalton is the Head of Community Partnerships for Underserved Populations in Amazon’s Worldwide Consumer business. She and her team design and implement retail products and services to meet the needs of underserved customer segments. Her team drove the launch of Amazon’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) acceptance program, which enables SNAP recipients the opportunity to purchase groceries online using their EBT card. Most recently, she launched Amazon’s food access program with the goal of giving residents living in healthy food priority areas more options to find affordable, quality and diverse groceries. The program engages community-based organizations to amplify their Anti-hunger efforts and raise awareness about the vast array of services that Amazon offers in these communities.
Preceding the start of her Amazon career in 2016, she spent over 20 years in financial services holding executive roles at Fleet Credit Card Services, Bank of America and Barclays Bank. Nancy is recognized as a strategic thought leader with a proven track record of leading enterprise-level transformation initiatives in the areas of operations, regulatory relations, corporate training, quality assurance, customer experience and diversity. She has functioned as an executive coach at the National Diversity Women’s Business Leadership conference and has built a legacy of coaching leaders across the globe in the areas of career development, global business management and leading change. Nancy holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Dynamics and is a Senior Certified Professional through the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM). She is also certified as a Prince 2 Project Management practitioner.
Jeff Davidoff is a serial marketing change agent. He is the founder of The Idea Monkeys, a transformational marketing agency focused on social impact and based in Los Angeles, CA. Davidoff has more than 25 years of experience on both the client-side and agency-sides of the business. Davidoff was previously the chief marketing officer at Donuts, the “not-com” domain registry. Before Donuts he was the chief marketing officer for The ONE Campaign, a grassroots advocacy and campaigning organization founded by Bono, with over 7 million members worldwide. Davidoff joined The ONE Campaign from Orbitz Worldwide where he was CMO for both Orbitz.com and Cheaptickets.com. Earlier he served as VP of Brand Marketing & Communications at Whirlpool Corporation.
Kofi D. Essel, MD, MPH, FAAP, is a board-certified Community Pediatrician at Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C., Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Director of The George Washington University School of Medicine & Health Sciences’ Community/Urban Health Scholarly Concentration, and Clinical Public Health Lecturer. Dr. Essel has dedicated his career to advocacy and research around healthcare training, health disparities, and community engagement, with a special interest and national recognition in the areas of addressing obesity and food insecurity in families. Dr. Essel earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Emory University with a focus on Human Biology and Anthropology and earned his Medical Degree and Master’s in Public Health in Epidemiology from George Washington University. He completed his pediatric residency and General Academic Pediatric fellowship training at Children’s National Hospital.
Molly Fogarty is Head of Government Relations & Public Affairs for Nestlé based in Washington, DC. Molly has 17 years of public policy experience in Washington. She started her career working for Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) from her home state of Nebraska. Molly also served as a political appointee in the Bush Administration, working at the U.S. Department of Agriculture under Secretary Ann Veneman. Before joining Nestlé in 2004, Molly worked for the Senate Agriculture Committee, where she was responsible for writing child nutrition policy, covering programs such as the National School Lunch Program and the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children. Molly received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas.
Since creating the Motion Picture Association’s (MPA) Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion program in 2012, John Gibson has cultivated key partnerships with 40 leading national civil rights and multicultural creative organizations, including the American Black Film Festival and Georgia Latino Film Festival, of whose advisory boards he serves on; the Washington Bureau of the National Urban League, serving on its Urban Solutions Council; Hispanic Heritage Foundation; National Association of Latino Independent Producers, Women In Film, Center for Asian American Media; and many other groups working tirelessly to promote gender equality and diversity in film and television. Through his active engagement, speaking with multicultural media outlets and addressing participants at national conferences throughout the country, John has helped bring increased awareness of the multicultural projects being pursued by both the MPA and its member studios – Walt Disney Studios, Netflix Studios, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Universal City Studios, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Dan Glickman, former U.S. secretary of agriculture and chair of APCO Worldwide’s International Advisory Council, is the former executive director of the Aspen Institute Congressional Program, a nongovernmental, nonpartisan educational program for members of the United States Congress. Secretary Glickman also serves as a senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, D.C., formed by former Senate majority leaders Howard Baker, Tom Daschle, Bob Dole and George Mitchell, to develop and promote bipartisan solutions to the country’s problems and to promote civility in government.
He is also on the board of directors of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange; Communities in Schools; Food Research and Action Center, a domestic anti-hunger organization; National 4-H Council; and the Center for U.S. Global Engagement, where he is chair of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition. Additionally, he co-chairs the Chicago Council on Global Affairs’ global agricultural development initiative, as well as an initiative of eight foundations administered by the Meridian Institute that looks at long-term implications of food and agricultural policy.
Prior to joining the Aspen Institute, Secretary Glickman was chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, Inc. (MPAA) and director of the Institute of Politics at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Elizabeth (Beth) Johnson, MS, RD founded Food Directions, LLC in 2010 to help clients maneuver through the complexities of food policy and regulation. Prior to starting Food Directions LLC, Johnson served as Executive Vice President for Public Affairs for the National Restaurant Association. In 2002 she joined the Department of Agriculture. During her tenure, Johnson was senior advisor to the Secretary, Deputy Chief of Staff and Acting Under Secretary for Food Safety. Her previous experiences include Fleishman-Hillard Public Relations, the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry; and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Johnson sits on various boards and participates in numerous activities to promote sound, scientifically based food and agriculture policy. She lives in Maryland with her husband Bill and daughters Hanah and Sara. Johnson is active in her church and community.
Matthew Melmed is Executive Director of ZERO TO THREE, a nonprofit organization that promotes the health and development of infants and toddlers by translating research and knowledge about the kinds of early experiences that help children thrive into a range of practical tools and resources for use by the adults who influence the lives of young children.
Mr. Melmed currently serves as the first elected Chair of the Children’s Leadership Council, a coalition of 55 leading national policy and advocacy organizations working to improve the health, education, and well-being of America’s children and youth.
Mr. Melmed served for 13 years as Executive Director of the Connecticut Association for Human Services and prior to that was a Managing Attorney for Connecticut Legal Services.
Ronald F. Pollack is the Founding Executive Director of Families USA, the national organization for health care consumers. In this capacity, Mr. Pollack led campaign efforts to secure historic health care reform legislation designed to provide high-quality, affordable health coverage and care for everyone. Mr. Pollack was appointed by President Clinton as the sole consumer representative on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, a panel that prepared the Patients’ Bill of Rights.
Prior to his current position at Families USA, Mr. Pollack was the Dean of the Antioch School of Law. Mr. Pollack also worked in the Mississippi civil rights movement in the mid-1960s.
Mr. Pollack was the Founding Executive Director of FRAC. Two of his notable accomplishments at FRAC include: (1) arguing and winning two cases on the same day in the U.S. Supreme Court to secure food stamp aid for low-income Americans; and (2) the successful litigation that resulted in the start of the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children for malnourished mothers and infants.
Eric Rodriguez is Vice President at UnidosUS and oversees the Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation (ORAL) which is charged with directing the organization’s legislative affairs, public policy research, policy analysis, and field advocacy work. He is responsible for UnidoUS’s federal and state legislative priorities and agenda. Headquartered in Washington, DC, UnidosUS is the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States. Through its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations, the organization reaches millions of Hispanics each year in 41 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia.
Mr. Rodriguez is experienced in overseeing UnidosUS’s public policy and advocacy activities. From 2007–2008, he served as deputy vice president of the public policy department and previously directed the organization’s Policy Analysis Center, a position he held for five years. His background also includes work on such issues as tax policy, Social Security reform, welfare reform, workforce development, retirement security, health, housing, and financial market regulations. He has authored, coauthored, and supervised the preparation of several dozen policy and research reports, journal articles, and editorials. He has also frequently testified at congressional hearings and has represented UnidosUS at research conferences, policy conferences, and symposia. His work has been widely cited in the press, in policy, and in academic literature.
Diane Whitmore Schanzenbach is the Director of the Institute for Policy Research and the Margaret Walker Alexander Professor in the School of Education and Social Policy at Northwestern University. She is an economist who studies anti-poverty policies, especially the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and other policies that aim to reduce food insecurity. Her research is regularly cited in top media outlets, and she has testified before both the Senate and House of Representatives on her research.
Judith H. Whittlesey is Executive Vice President of Susan Davis International (SDI), a communications, government relations, and public affairs firm located in Washington, DC, with more than 68 agency partners worldwide. At SDI, she provides expertise in strategic planning, media relations, institutional positioning, public education and major event design to the firm’s corporate, government agency and nonprofit clients.
Ms. Whittlesey served on the staff of Vice President Walter Mondale, and subsequently on the campaign and transition staffs of several democratic, presidential and vice presidential candidates. She is an enrolled tribal member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has been inducted into the National Capital Public Relations Society of America Hall of Fame, served on numerous nonprofit boards, and selected to Leadership Greater Washington.
Luis Guardia serves as president of the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), the leading national nonprofit organization working to eradicate poverty-related hunger and undernutrition in the United States.
Prior to FRAC, Guardia served in top leadership roles in global philanthropy and international development organizations including Global Impact, The ONE Campaign, and the International Center for Research on Women. Guardia began his nonprofit career in arts and media organizations such as NPR, CPB, the Guggenheim Collection, and the Phillips Collection. Guardia also serves on the Boards of ActionAid, Population Action International (PAI), and Kalanidhi Dance.
He received his M.S. in Systems Engineering from George Washington University, his MBA from the Anderson School at UCLA, and his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia.