HEAL Food Alliance Announces Second School of Political Leadership (SoPL) Cohort 

Press Release: For Immediate Release

Contact: Neshani Jani, neshani@healfoodalliance.org, (510) 974-3771

HEAL Food Alliance Announces Second School of Political Leadership (SoPL) Cohort 

Meet the 2019-2020 SoPL leaders working to transform our food and farm systems 

OAKLAND, CA – November 7th, 2019 – Today the HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance announced the second cohort of its School of Political Leadership (SoPL), a program for developing frontline leaders working towards more inclusive, democratic food and agriculture systems.

The nine-month long program will equip 11 leaders with the tools, knowledge, and skills they need to lead campaigns and drive political change. The cohort is organized into three teams from diverse communities in the U.S. and Navajo nation, working on new food economies, urban agriculture and equity, and food sovereignty.  

“Political leadership is key to systemic policy change on issues like food insecurity, land tenure, and wealth generation of under resourced and communities of color across the country,” said Qiana Mickie, a member of this year’s cohort and Executive Director of New York City based non-profit Just Food. “The time is now for grassroots policy campaigns that engage and are driven by the most impacted – in particular Black, Brown, and Indigenous leaders. SoPL is so critical to ensuring our collective voices and actions are felt from the ground up in politics.” 

HEAL’s SoPL leaders are community activists, organizers, educators, agroecologists, social entrepreneurs, land stewards, researchers, and advocates. The cohort includes rural and urban farmers, a community health worker, co-op founder, community garden manager, CEO, policy advisor, and non-profit directors.

“For too long the people who determine our food and farm policies have profited off of people and the planet. With the threat of climate change, we can’t afford to wait. From farmers to food chain workers, we must harness our people power to truly nourish our health, our economy, and the environment” said Marla Karina Larrave, Political Education Manager at HEAL. Through SoPL, the three teams will advocate for solutions to reimagine how our food and farm systems function in their own communities.

“The communities I serve deserve leaders who have the skills to help transform the political discourse and landscape to address the pressing challenges and barriers they face to advance themselves and their families,” said Stephanie Le-Charles Hall, Executive Director for Tolani Lake Enterprises, a Navajo-based nonprofit. “SoPL will help our grassroots leaders, including myself, who are working on food and water projects and programs to accelerate our existing work into political and governmental policies that directly benefit our communities.”

“As CEO of an urban agriculture business, the work that we do has a direct impact on low income and economically disadvantaged communities struggling with a lack of access to healthy food options and food insecurity” said Allison DeHonney, SoPL leader and CEO of Buffalo, NY-based Urban Fruits and Veggies. “We work diligently to make substantive changes in people’s lives with respect to the food that directly affects their health. Being knowledgeable in advocacy work – and working through SoPL to gain such knowledge – is important to continue to be effective in my community.”

Through interactive trainings, including power analysis, campaign strategy, communications and messaging, and field and base building, SoPL will prepare the teams to rise to the political, social, and economic challenges that are facing our food and farm systems today. Each in-person SoPL session will include hands-on field visits developed by local SoPL leaders, HEAL members and ally organizations.  

The first SoPL session will be held in Lindsay, CA in November 2019, where the teams will learn about each other’s work, examine their own political leadership through life mapping and storytelling, and ground themselves the history and culture of California’s Central Valley. SoPL alumni Ángel García and Californians for Pesticide Reform will host the session. 


About the HEAL Food Alliance 

The HEAL (Health, Environment, Agriculture, Labor) Food Alliance is a multi-sector, multi-racial coalition building collective power to transform our food and farm systems. We are led by our member-organizations, and strive to amplify the experience and expertise of frontline communities who are most burdened by the disparities of our current systems. Together, we are developing solutions to drive change. www.healfoodalliance.org