HEAL Food Alliance

2022 School of Political Leadership

About the School of Political Leadership

Now in its fourth year, HEAL's School of Political Leadership (SoPL) supports  teams of talented, passionate, food and farm justice leaders who are advocating for policies and solutions that will reimagine how our food and farm systems function. Over six months, SoPL will equip a cohort of 3 teams composed of 12 leaders from Illinois and California with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to lead campaigns and drive political change.

Our Cohort

The 2022 HEAL SoPL leaders are community activists, organizers, educators, farmers, students, land stewards, non profit leaders, and storytellers. The HEAL SoPL cohort was selected for their commitment to racial, economic, and environmental justice and their campaign ideas, which center the knowledge, wisdom, and leadership of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) who have been on the frontlines of the fight for food sovereignty, racial justice, climate justice, food security, worker justice, land justice, and environmental justice for decades. Through SoPL, these visionary leaders will gain the tools, skills and knowledge to grow grassroots political leadership in their communities while addressing urgent and systemic flaws in our current food and agricultural system.

Illinois Food Alliance

Chicago & Joliet, Illinois

Through SoPL, the Illinois Food Alliance team will develop a plan to organize a campaign across the local food warehouse industry that will bring food warehouse workers together to challenge the stranglehold that problematic staffing agencies and third party logistics companies have over workers. As former warehouse workers, the team regularly engages in community outreach to organize workers in the Chicago area. Most recently they’ve led COVID-19 vaccination and safety education, fought to ensure that water remains affordable and safe for all city residents in Will County and moved forward a grassroots effort to stop NorthPoint from developing 3,800 acres of industrial warehousing.
Violeta Thompson
Community Health Navigator, Warehouse Workers for Justice
Felix Ortiz
Community Health Navigator, Warehouse Workers for Justice
Brandin McDonald
Community Health Navigator, Warehouse Workers for Justice 
Nicholas Domberg
Worker Protection Organizer, Warehouse Workers for Justice 

Rooted in Richmond Food Justice

Richmond, California

The Rooted in Richmond Food Justice team is composed of West Contra Costa County, CA residents who come from the communities they serve and have experienced the devastating health outcomes of food apartheid. Through the “Food is Medicine” campaign, the team will aim to create a plan for a permanent funding stream to support very low income, residents of color in Contra Costa County, so that fresh vegetable boxes can be covered by the Contra Costa Health Plan as preventative medicine. The team also plans to build a base of Richmond residents and support them to make policy changes that can improve their quality of life.
Chinue Fields
Operations & Facilities Manager, Urban Tilth
Dominique Miller
Garden Coordinator, Urban Tilth
Marco Lemus
Community Organizer, Urban Tilth
Marcos "Chito" Floriano
North Richmond Farm Coordinator, Urban Tilth

Together Honoring Earth's Mycelia (T.H.E.M.)

Chicago, Illinois

The Together Honoring Earth's Mycelia team plans to strengthen their base building skills to better advocate for BIPOC farmers while co-leading the Urban Agriculture Working Group of Chicago’s Food Equity Council. Their work will center the voices of farmers and growers as the team works with the city of Chicago to create a pathway for the sustainability of urban agriculture. As growers and farmers themselves, the team brings a wealth of experience to their campaign. Most recently at AUA, they’ve worked to ensure access to municipal water for growers in Chicago and co-create an alternative re-granting fund for farm businesses.
Bea Fry
Development Steward, Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Jazmin Martinez
Co-Operations Steward, Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Ren Encinas
Advocacy Steward, Advocates for Urban Agriculture
Viviana Okakpu
Co-Operations Steward, Advocates for Urban Agriculture