Meet the Board of Directors
Erica Hall, chair of the Board
Erica Hall, M.S. CED, MBA, ARM, has an extensive background as a community organizer, advocate, trainer, Board member, and Senior Legal Professional who has worked in urban agriculture, food policy, community engagement, neighborhood revitalization, historic preservation and community economic development. Erica is active in the US Green Building Council (USGBC), American Planning Association, and other environmental, neighborhood revitalization groups working in youth development, Black Farmers, food insecurity, workforce training, historic preservation, and urban agriculture in DC, VA, MD, NYC, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and now Florida. Erica is currently on the National Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the Institute of Real Estate Management and the Diversity and Inclusion Committee of the American Society of Aging. Erica previously chaired a DC non-profit, Healthy Solutions, that worked with Community Supporting Agriculture (CSAs), Community Gardens, Brownfield Remediation, food insecurity, and urban agriculture. She served on the Board of Directors of Groundwork Anacostia River DC, a local non-profit that utilizes environmental restoration goals as a vehicle for community development, and is a Senior Fellow of the Environmental Leadership Program, a dynamic network of 900 of the country’s top emerging environmental and social change leaders. Erica was also selected as Co-chair of the Host Committee for Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to Green Building. Since 2011, Erica has been a Grant Reviewer for the USDA National Institute of Food & Agriculture's Community Food Projects Competitive Grant Program including the Local Food Promotion Program and the Farmers Market Promotion Program. As a member of the Ad Hoc Committee of the Enoch Davis/St. Pete Youth Farm, Erica helped to define the mission statement for the project, helped guide project direction, while producing some broad actions needed to implement the project. Through this program, youth are empowered to lead urban agriculture projects under community guidance and resources has proven to be a successful strategy in youth, workforce, and neighborhood development.
Rachel Shapiro, Vice-chair of the board
Rachel Shapiro is an experienced wellness professional and chef with a focus on the power of nutritious food to improve quality of life. Her research into the food system and the quality of the food we eat lead her to an interest in food policy and grassroots food activism. Out of a desire to be part of the solution for the challenges facing our food system, Rachel brings her nonprofit management experience coupled with her passion for systems and collaboration in service of the Council and the State.
Tom Pellizzetti, Treasurer
Tom Pellizzetti is a connector, innovator and self-proclaimed meat mercenary. He has a background in consumer products and foodservice marketing with large food processors. Tom returned to Florida in 2009 to represent small, authentic food brands into mainstream channels. In 2010, Tom co-founded a Florida grass-fed beef producer and a few years later, co-owned a very small USDA inspected processor in NW Florida. This led Tom into the small farm, local foods movement that is alive and underway here in Florida. Tom joined the Florida Food Policy Council to help promote and develop local food systems into the mainstream. Tom has a BS in Animal Science from UF and an MBA in marketing from Thunderbird School of Business.
Christopher Johns, secretary
Christopher Johns is a native Floridian, born and raised in Hastings, Florida. The son of a 4th generation farmer, Chris was raised helping his family on their commercial farm. After receiving his bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, he returned to his family’s farm to help manage production of their potato crop. After returning to the farm, he participated in the Florida Natural Resources Leadership Institute, where he graduated a fellow of Class IX. Chris earned a J.D. with a certificate in environmental and land-use law from the University of Florida Levin College of Law. While in law school, Chris interned at Harvard Law School’s Food Law and Policy Clinic. Today, Chris lives in West Palm Beach and works for, Lewis, Longman & Walker, as an environmental attorney. He represents a spectrum of clients from local governments, to Indian tribes, to private landowners, including agricultural producers, on complex issues involving environmental permitting and natural resource protection and development. He remains interested in food policy and using his skills, experience, and insights to foster meaningful improvements to food systems throughout Florida.
anthony olivieri, Chair of the development committee
Anthony Olivieri, the founder of FHEED LLC (Food for Health, the Environment, Economy & Democracy), has a Masters in Urban & Regional Planning from FAU (2011) with a focus on community food systems, and a certificate in Geographic Information Systems (GIS). His specialties are geographic assessments of food and health disparities, program design for healthy food access initiatives, and public speaking about health equity. In addition to his consultancy, Anthony was a full-time instructor with the School of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University, where he developed and taught the region’s first urban planning course on community food systems (2014-2016). A Fort Lauderdale resident since 1998, Anthony is originally from Cambridge, Massachusetts and has a B.A. in psycholinguistics from the University of Southern California (1994).
DELL DECHANT, chair of the policy committee
Dell deChant is the Associate Chair of the Department of Religious Studies at the University of South Florida. He is a Master Instructor and has served at USF since 1986. The author of three books, over 30 articles in professional publications, and chapters in twelve books, his specialization is religion and contemporary cultures. His current research focuses on religious, literary, and ecological expressions of Agrarianism as they manifest in American popular culture. He is Chair of the Environmental Committee of the City of New Port Richey, a founding member of Food Policy Council of Pasco Country, a member of the Florida Food Policy Council, and a member of the Board of Directors of Ecology Florida.
martha lang, North Florida Liaison
Dr. Martha Louise Lang, PhD, is a holistic philosopher who focuses on ethics, environmental philosophy, social justice, philosophy of science, and well-being. She earned her PhD at Florida State University in 2017. Martha applies philosophy to various projects and consulting endeavors, including co-founding the Seminole Organic Food Garden at FSU. Martha is a former Leon County Soil and Water Conservation Supervisor and has served on the board of ReThink Energy Florida, as well as the Grievance Board of the FL Bar Association. Currently, Martha works as a Grants Specialist at FDACS, where she helps to manage the Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. She is also an Adjunct Instructor of Philosophy at FSU in Tallahassee. Further, Martha is working on an initiative called Philosophy & Zen, which features educational and holistic consulting services to promote well-being for individuals and groups. Martha also practices and teaches meditation and loves to hike, kayak, garden, do yoga, cook healthy vegan foods, and fight for justice-oriented public policy reforms.
Rick hawkins, SoutheAst Florida Liaison
Rick Hawkins is currently living on a small farm in Martin County, FL with a small nursery, cattle, chickens, fruits and vegetables, and has solar energy generation on site. He is Director of Materials Management, for The Breakers Palm Beach Inc in Palm Beach, FL, Leader of The Breakers “Green Team,” Co-founder and Board Member of Localecopia, and a collaborator for resiliency projects and advocate for education regarding climate change and promoting sustainability.
jesse haskins, Southwest Florida Liaison
Jesse Haskins started J. Haskins Law, P.A. to focus on local food communities. Jesse builds partnerships between farmers and communities. Prior to dedicating his practice to local agriculture, Jesse Jesse served as assistant attorney general for the State of Florida, assistant general counsel for the Florida Department of Financial Services, and as attorney for a large insurance defense firm. Jesse graduated from the Duke University School of Law in 2009. Jesse is an avid foodie. His favorite ingredient is tahini.
Meet the Team
sarah brunnig, head of curriculum development
Sarah Brunnig is a long time dietitian and college Instructor of nutrition having taught at a variety of types of schools, most lately at Stetson University in the Health Sciences Department and at Keiser University in the Dietetics & Nutrition program. Her Bachelors degree was in Economics from Wake Forest University, then a MS in Foods and Nutrition from the University of Georgia. She recently finished a second Master's degree, this time in Public Health Nutrition from the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and is currently about 2/3 of the way through a Doctoral Degree in Nutrition from the University of North Florida. Her interests lie in Community Nutrition and particularly in Sustainability and Food Systems and the intersection of agriculture and consumers. To this end she obtained a Certificate from Tufts University in Sustainable Food Systems, and she spent three weeks in 2019 at Wageningen University in the Netherlands for a short course in Sustainable Healthy Diets. She was the only representative from the Western Hemisphere. All the other participants were mid-level professionals from Europe, Africa and Asia.
Cortney szafran, Research Assistant
Cortney Beth Szafran grew up in a suburb of Orlando, where her parents instilled a love of food. As she grew, she realized not everyone had an intimate, personal relationship with food. And then she began to realize the gross inequalities of food in our society and that many current farming practices destroy mother nature. These realizations manifested into a passion to create regenerative local food systems that promote access to affordable healthy food. She believes that local food systems are life giving: they cultivate community, careers, environmental regeneration, and of course food. Cortney is law student, focusing on food law & policy. She will use her legal knowledge to help nourish a more just and fair world. She’s excited to work with the community to better everyday life together.
RACHEL RAM, NEW YORK CORRESPONDENT
Rachel Ram is a health educator, policy advocate, adventurer, and overall foodie. Rachel earned her Bachelor of Science in Health Education, Community Health and Preventive Medicine from the University of Florida in 2017. A lifetime resident of south Florida, she now resides in Brooklyn NY working for the American Lung Association. She began her work with the Florida Food Policy Council in 2016 and continues to raise awareness on food policy issues. Besides engaging in food policy, Rachel enjoys traveling, hiking, yoga, cooking and reading.
CANDACE SPENCER, WASHINGTON D.C. CORRESPONDENT
Candace Spencer is a Double Gator and earned both her B.A. in Environmental Science and J.D. from the University of Florida, as well as a Certificate in Environmental and Land Use Law. She previously worked at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, where she developed a new program area in the Conservation Clinic focused on environmental justice and community economic development and engaged in local urban agricultural policy. Candace is passionate about equitable food systems and land ownership, particularly Black owned agricultural land and addressing food apartheid. She currently works as a Policy Specialist with the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, D.C.