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2021 SAFSF Forum

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NETWORKING – Closing Reflections

May 14, 2021 @ 11:00 am 12:00 pm UTC

Presented by Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF)

Close out your two weeks of participation at the 2021 SAFSF Forum by joining us for this informal closing networking session. Connect with your peers and share what’s on your mind and what you’re taking with you as you leave the Forum. What exciting connections have you made? What questions will you continue to grapple with? What actions or continued learning might these two weeks inspire?


Virginia Clarke – Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders; CA

Virginia Clarke is the executive director of Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems Funders (SAFSF), a network of grantmakers working to strengthen connections, build capacity, and foster collaboration of the philanthropic and investment communities in support of vibrant, healthy and just food and farm systems. She has led the network in its growth and impact since starting with SAFSF in 2003 as a part-time coordinator. Prior to SAFSF, she worked with a variety of international education programs including the University of California’s Education Abroad Program as the regional director assistant for Asia and Africa, and the Salzburg Seminar in Austria where she was a program director and led outreach efforts in Latin America. Other life/work opportunities involved a stint at the World Bank; leading a management reorganization for a private clothing manufacturer; assisting immigrants in their efforts to secure legal residency in the U.S.; and creating/running a restitution project for juvenile offenders in Western Massachusetts. Her fluency in Spanish stems from living and working in Spain, Bolivia and Mexico. Virginia has a Masters in International Administration from the School for International Training and a B.A. with honors in Spanish from the University of California, Santa Barbara. A TEDx Manhattan alumni (2014), Virginia lives in Santa Barbara, CA and has two daughters.

Christine James – The John Merck Fund; VT

Christine James came to The John Merck Fund in 2008, after 20+ years working for small, community-based human service and environmental nonprofit organizations in Maine and Massachusetts. She has a BA in art history from Bowdoin College and an MA in public policy from Tufts University’s Urban & Environmental Policy program. Just prior to coming to JMF, she was executive director of EarthWorks, a small urban greening organization based in the Roxbury neighborhood of Boston. Her work in Maine included four years as executive director of an educational organic farm and two years working on clean energy and climate change issues. Prior to becoming Executive Director, she was JMF’s Director of Programs from 2008 to 2017, when she oversaw the foundation’s environmental grants programs: Clean Energy, Health and the Environment, and Regional Food Systems.

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