Kareem Usher, Ph.D.
Dr. Kareem Usher, chair of the Lyson Center Leadership Team, is Assistant Professor of City and Regional Planning in the Austin E. Knowlton School at The Ohio State University. His research interests focus on urban food systems; he engages this topic at the intersection of food access, social justice, regional governance, and community economic development. Dr. Usher’s work involves utilizing mixed-methods and community-based participatory research methodologies to explore perceived as well as objective measures of access to healthy food for food-insecure families in low-access ("food gap") communities. The long view of Dr. Usher’s life’s work would embody the idea of Planning to Reduce Human Suffering. This theme fuses two branches: Spirituality in Planning and Food as the Foundation for Sustainable Settlements. As suffering is an inescapable fact of our material existence, the goal of planning and the work of planners is to reduce human suffering. He interprets this connection between material plans and the intangible feelings of suffering as a "spiritual" connection. From this perspective, making plans alone is not sufficient; plans must address the suffering of the people it hopes to serve and balance in the environment it purports to protect.
Ardyth M. H. Gillespie, Ph.D.
Ardyth M. H. Gillespie, Ph.D., retired after serving for 34 years on the faculty of the Community Nutrition Program in the Division of Nutritional Sciences at Cornell University. She currently holds the titles of visiting faculty member in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, collaborator faculty member in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition at Iowa State University, and co-founder and director of the Collaborative Research Institute, CoLead. She is currently consulting for visioning and strategic planning with groups interested in sustainable food systems for health and well-being. In her scholarly career, she has bridged academic research, extension, and practice through her work in family and community food decision-making and community collaboration and engagement.
Debra Tropp spent more than 26 years at the USDA Agricultural Marketing Service’s Transportation and Marketing Program, retiring in January 2019. During her career she served in a variety of roles, including agricultural economist, interim staff officer for the Federal-State Marketing Improvement Program (a competitive grant program that supports market research projects), team leader and chief of the Farmers Market and Direct Farm Marketing Research Branch, and finally as deputy director of AMS's Marketing Service Program, which focuses on local and regional food system research and development. Most recently, she served as the primary editor for the AMS-sponsored report, “The Economics of Local Food Systems: A Toolkit to Guide Community Discussions, Assessments and Choices” (March 2016) and as a member of the task force that produced the Federal Reserve and USDA book Harvesting Opportunity: The Power of Regional Food System Investments to Transform Communities (August 2017). She recently served as a member of the advisory council for the 2019 National Farm Viability Conference; she currently serves on the Montgomery County (Maryland) Agricultural Advisory Committee and on the Food Economy subcommittee of the county food policy council.
Gilbert Gillespie (Ph.D., Sociology) retired in 2009 from the Department of Development Sociology at Cornell University. As a researcher, staff in the Cornell Community, Food, and Agriculture Program, and social movement participant, he has worked to support more civic forms of local food system social “infrastructure,” including farmers markets, small-scale food processors, start-up farms, and organizations supporting agriculture and food-based community development. His recent research projects have included a study on fostering community capacity through developing indicators of agricultural viability. Undergraduate courses he taught include Agriculture, Food, and Society and Environment and Society.
Gilbert W. Gillespie, Jr., Ph.D.
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman is Senior Extension Associate with the Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) in Cornell University’s Department of Development Sociology. Her work involves developing educational programs and tools, facilitating development initiatives, and conducting research designed to help elected officials, community and economic developers, and other local leaders collaboratively identify, pursue, and achieve their community's goals. Recently, Heidi has been heavily involved in supporting regional economic development initiatives in Pennsylvania and New York through the Stronger Economies Together Program, and building regional and national networks of land-grant university professionals working in the area of community development, with the goals of strengthening collaboration and, in turn, programming in this area for the benefit of communities.
Kenneth L. Robinson, Ph.D.
Dr. Kenneth L. Robinson is an associate professor of sociology at Clemson University, his alma mater. He is also an agribusiness extension specialist with the Sandhill Research and Education Center in Columbia, South Carolina. His research and outreach interests include rural sociology, entrepreneurship, health disparities, and sustainable development. He teaches courses in community sociology, human ecology, social impact analysis, and African-American rural life. Prior to returning to Clemson in 2005, Dr. Robinson was a post-doctoral research associate at Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, where he received his Ph.D. in Development Sociology and was a colleague of Tom Lyson. While at Cornell, he was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to examine the emergence of small-scale, commercial agriculture in the former homeland areas of KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa. Dr. Robinson is also a graduate of the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin, and served as a Presidential Management Intern with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Dr. Amy Guptill is Associate Professor and chair of sociology at The College at Brockport, SUNY. She teaches and conducts research on agriculture and food systems and social change. She is the co-author of Food & Society: Principles and Paradoxes (2nd edition, Polity, 2016) and has published research on alternative production and marketing in wine, grain, apples, and dairy as well as analyses of food retailing, direct marketing, and agricultural structure in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. She is currently developing analyses using geographic information systems (GIS) to better understand how spatial inequality relates to emerging food system initiatives.
Amy Guptill, Ph.D.
Dr. Gail Myers is a cultural anthropologist, creator of the film project Rhythms of the Land, and co-founder of Farms to Grow, Inc., a community-based organization in Oakland, California. She is a member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition, having served in the U.S. Air Force. She is also a former chair of the Lyson Center's North American Food Systems Network (NAFSN). She researched, wrote, and directed Rhythms of the Land, a documentary on the stories of elders in the Black farmer community in the American South.
Gail P. Myers, Ph.D.
Dr. Christine Porter is the Wyoming Excellence Chair in Community and Public Health Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming. Christine has been an active member of the JAFSCD Shareholder Consortium, co-leading the "Not-Just-Another-Equity-Statement Committee," which has drafted a comprehensive equity and inclusion agenda for JAFSCD.
Christine Porter, Ph.D.
Cheryl Danley is a community food systems specialist in Detroit, Michigan. She served as a program manager at FoodCorps, working with service sites and state hosts for FoodCorps members involved in school nutrition, gardening, and food procurement initiatives. Previously, she was a Food and Community Fellow with the Center for Regional Food Systems at Michigan State University, and also provided technical assistance to the Kellogg Foundation's Food and Fitness initiative. At MSU she served as assistant director of the Partnerships for Food Industry Development—Fruits & Vegetables. Trained as an agricultural economist, Cheryl has broad international experience in community development, marketing, and policy. Her vision for the U.S. food system is one in which people of color participate as experts and resource people in formulating and implementing good food policy.
Craig Chase Ph.D.
Dr. Craig Chase leads the Marketing and Food Systems Initiative at the Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture and the Iowa Food Systems Working Group for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach. Both programs work together to increase educational resources and technical assistance related to production, processing, distribution, marketing and consumption of Iowa-grown food. He also coordinates the state-funded Local Food and Farm program designed to increase access to local food and profitability for farmers, based on the Iowa Local Food and Farm Plan developed for the state by the Leopold Center. Prior to his appointment in 2011, Chase was an extension farm management field specialist. He has more than 30 years of experience helping producers with financial analysis and decision-making and is an author of Fearless Farm Finances, published by the Midwest Organic and Sustainable Education Service.