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2021 SAFSF Forum

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WORKSHOP – Decolonizing Food Philanthropy: Moving Toward More Racially Just Funding

May 6, 2021 @ 11:00 am 1:00 pm PDT

Presented by GRACE Communications Foundation and Ceres Trust

In the midst of the 2020 Uprising in defense of Black lives, a group of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color) leaders in the movement for just and sustainable food and agriculture systems published an Open Letter calling on foundations and philanthropic leaders to examine their own funding trends. They urged grantmakers to acknowledge – and invest in – the expertise and action led by BIPOC in their own communities, and to consider participatory grantmaking processes that consulted BIPOC, grassroots leadership. A handful of foundation program officers joined their calls for racial justice in philanthropy. In this session, we’ll hear from three of the Open Letter’s co-authors, and program staff who are pushing their foundations toward racial justice will facilitate confidential, small-group breakouts, where we’ll explore some of the challenges and opportunities for program officers and philanthropic leaders to take steps toward more racially just and equitable grantmaking practices.

Limited capacity: 30 attendees. First come, first served – no waitlist. $40 additional fee.

Session goals:
  • To hear from BIPOC movement leaders more about their vision for a more equitable relationship between funders, regrantors and NGOs, and about the challenges they have encountered.
  • To foster open dialog regarding specific practices like research/scans and participatory grantmaking, and host confidential discussions on challenges faced by funders challenging white supremacy culture and structural racism in philanthropy.
  • To build relationships among funders committed to addressing systemic racism in philanthropy and the Black, Indigenous and People of Color movement leaders pushing for more just and equitable food systems.


Kat Gilje – Moderator, Ceres Trust; CA

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Kat Gilje is Executive Director of Ceres Trust. Ceres Trust, whose name honors the ancient goddess of agriculture, provides grants that support healthy and resilient farms, forests and communities; and the ecosystems upon which we all depend. Ceres Trust focuses on grassroots leadership and organizing, equity, and movement building toward systemic and transformational change. Grant areas include: education for farmers in organic, sustainable and resilient farming systems; efforts to promote food crop biodiversity and public access to seeds; graduate student & farmer-led research in organic agriculture; protection & proliferation of our vital pollinators; protection of people, farms & ecosystems from pesticide poisoning and from GMO contamination; protection of our forests from genetic engineering and use as biofuels; research by independent scientists; and documentary films & art (supported for public education purposes on key issues related to the Ceres Trust mission, and as tools of cultural change). An agronomist and community organizer trained by Voices for Racial Justice in Minnesota, Kat previously was co–director of Pesticide Action Network North America; co–founder/director of Centro Campesino; and senior associate at the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. She currently serves on the steering committee of the Bay Area Justice Funders Network and as chair of Genesis, a faith and values–based organizing group in Oakland, California.

Navina Khanna – Moderator, HEAL Food Alliance; CA

Navina has dedicated over 15 years to creating a more just and sustainable world through transforming food systems, and in 2014, her work was recognized with a James Beard Leadership Award. With a background in sustainable agriculture and food justice, she’s worked as an educator, community organizer, and policy advocate, organizing across sectors and communities. Based in Oakland, Navina serves on the Board of Richmond’s Urban Tilth, advises the Real Food Media Project, and organizes with #Asians4BlackLives. A first-generation South Asian American, Navina’s worldview is shaped by growing up – and growing food – in India and the US.

Stephanie Morningstar, Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust; ON

Stephanie is Mohawk, Oneida, and mixed European descent. She is an herbalist, soil and seed steward, scholar, student, and Earth Worker dedicated to decolonizing and liberating minds, hearts, and land- one plant, person, ecosystem, and non-human being at a time. Stephanie is the Executive Director and Resources, Relationships, and Reciprocity Co-Director of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, an organization dedicated to advancing land access for Indigenous, Black, Latinx, Asian, and other land stewards of color. Stephanie grows medicines and food with her community at Sky World Apothecary & Farm; and teaches about the wonders of plant medicine at Seed, Soil, + Spirit School. Stephanie’s theory of change is rooted in community-driven, self-determined solutions created by BIPOC communities for BIPOC communities. She carries with her over a decade of Indigenous community-driven systems change work in healthcare, legal, herbal, agricultural, land access, and academic research spaces where she cut her teeth on speaking Truth to Power. Her work advancing sovereignty in institutional spaces with and for Indigenous communities has resulted in mandating Indigenous Cultural Safety training to service providers; Indigenous Dispute Transformation frameworks; and meaningful and ethical Indigenous-driven research in climate change.

Edna Rodriguez, Rural Advancement Fund International (RAFI USA); NC

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Edna became RAFI-USA’s Executive Director in 2017, after serving as Development Director and Director of Operations, beginning in 2011. During her time at RAFI-USA, Edna has strategically grown the organization’s capacity by streamlining financial management, increasing and diversifying contributed income, and organizing workflow to allow staff members to effectively function within their own programs as well as in cross programmatic core teams. Additionally, she is a fervent advocate for equity and justice and was instrumental in launching the Farmers of Color Network. Originally from the Dominican Republic, Edna was raised in a global environment, growing up between The Hague, Netherlands, and Santo Domingo. Prior to joining RAFI-USA, Edna served as Senior Program Officer at the Atlanta Women’s Foundation, and Director of Educational and Career Services at the Latin American Association in Atlanta, GA. Edna holds a B.A. in Economics with a concentration in Latin American Studies from Haverford College.

Mark Winston Griffith, Brooklyn Movement Center; NY

Mark is the founding Executive Director of the Brooklyn Movement Center (BMC), a Black-led community organizing group based in Central Brooklyn. At BMC, Mark convened the first organizing meetings that led to the formation of the Central Brooklyn Food Coop (CBFC) and now serves on the CBFC Board of Directors.  Mark was the founding Executive Director of the Central Brooklyn Partnership and co-founder of the Central Brooklyn Federal Credit Union in the early nineties and later served as the Executive Director of the Drum Major Institute for Public Policy. Mark currently serves on the leadership team of the National Black Food and Justice Alliance and is a 2019-2020 Castanea food justice fellow. Mark is also a board member of the Cooperative Economics Alliance of New York City, Brooklyn Cooperative Federal Credit Union, Communities United for Police Reform, Black Freedom Project, Free Speech TV and The City news site.  Mark has served on the faculties of the CUNY Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism, and the CUNY Center for Labor and Community Studies, and is currently a visiting assistant lecturer in Community Economic Development at Pratt Institute.

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