Past JBF Leadership Award Recipients

2023 Recipients

Jim Embry, Sustainable Communities Network, Slow Food USA, and Ujamaa Cooperative Farming Alliance
For his lifelong work as a community activist advocating for sustainable living practices and Black- and Indigeneous- rights.

Valerie Horn, CANE Kitchen, Cowan Community Center, and City of Whitesburg Farmers Market
For her efforts making healthy food accesible for low-income individuals and providing local farmers an outlet for their produce in Whiteburg, Kentucky.

Savonala “Savi” Horne, Land Loss Prevention Project
For her leadership in the food justice and land rights movement by providing legal expertise, community education, and advocacy skills to farmers and rural landowners.

Ira Wallace, Southern Exposure Seed Exchange
For her impactful work and leadership as a writer, gardner, and educator in Virginia focusing on organic land and farming.

Rowen White, Sierra Seeds
For preserving Indigenous lineages of seeds and cultural teachings centered around the stweardship of land and cultural memory.

Emerging Leadership: The Burgerville Workers Union
For their efforts in providing better and safer workplaces for individuals in the Pacific Northwest and inspiring union action across the country.


2022 Recipients

Mónica Ramírez, Founder and President, Justice for Migrant Women
For advocating and fighting for the civil and human rights of women, children, workers, and Latinx and immigrant communities.

Irene Li, Co-founder, Mei Mei Dumplings and Prepshift
For driving the restaurant industry forward through sustainable and ethical ingredient sourcing and employment practices.

Erika Allen, Co-founder and CEO of Operations, Urban Growers Collective
For her work building a more just and equitable food system, encouraging sustainable local food productions, and advocating for better management of biodegradable waste.

Mavis-Jay Sanders, Director of Culinary Development and Education, Drive Change
For her work educating formerly incarcerated young people and fighting for food justice in Black and low-income communities.

Emerging Leadership: Understory
For their work uplifting communities of color, building economic sustainability, and supporting environmentally and racially just food systems, amongst others in Oakland, CA.


2019 Recipients

The Pioneer Valley Workers’ Center
For building the collective power of workers and immigrants in Western Massachusetts and beyond.

Cornelius Blanding, Executive Director, Federation of Southern Cooperatives / Land Assistance Fund
For his tireless work to develop and strengthen cooperatives for low-income African American and other limited resource communities in the South.

Leah Penniman, Co-Executive Director & Program Manager, Soul Fire Farm
For her work facilitating powerful food sovereignty programs, including farmer training for black and brown people, a subsidized farm food distribution program for communities living under food apartheid, and domestic and international organizing toward equity in the food system.

Sean Sherman, Founder & CEO, The Sioux Chef
For his efforts around the revitalization and awareness of indigenous food systems in a modern culinary context.

Anim Steel, Co-Founder & Executive Director, Real Food Generation
For his work harnessing the power of youth and universities to create a food system that truly nourishes us all.


2018 Recipients

Dara Cooper, Co-Founder, National Black Food & Justice Alliance 
For dedicating her life to racial equity and justice in the food system and increasing capacity and visibility of Black-led narratives and work.

Ferd Hoefner, Senior Strategic Advisor, National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition 
For being actively engaged in federal farm and food advocacy for over 40 years and tirelessly making sure the voices of family farmers and the sustainable agriculture movement are heard on Capitol Hill.

Doug Rauch, President/Founder, Daily Table 
For his innovative work in fighting food insecurity through Daily Table and corporate leadership as the former president of Trader Joe’s Company.

Shirley Sherrod, Executive Director, Southwest Georgia Project 
For defending farmers and farmer equity as well as building farmer coops in the south.    

Ramon Torres, President, Familias Unidas por la Justicia 
For leadership and organizing efforts in the formation of an independent indigenous farm worker labor union that won an historic collective bargaining agreement for farmworkers dramatically improving the lives of thousands of farmworkers and their families in Washington State.


2017 Recipients

Dan Barber, Chef and Author
For his work in blending the dining and educational experience to reduce waste, improve food taste and sustainability, and promote a soil-to-table approach.

Olivier De Schutter, Co-chair, International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems and Former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food
For his research and work in redesigning a sustainable food system on the local, national, and global level.

Joan Dye Gussow, Professor, Author, Food Policy Expert and Environmentalist
For her pioneering advocacy of sustainable, healthy food production and for her work as an author, educator, and food policy expert.

Joann Lo and Jose Oliva, Co-Directors, Food Chain Workers Alliance
For their dedication to improving the lives and communities of food system workers and their families. 

The Honorable Chellie Pingree, Member of Congress, Maine’s First Congressional District
For her support of national policies that promote healthy food, local and regional food systems, and organic agriculture.


2016 Recipients

Greg Asbed and Lucas Benitez, Co-founders of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers
For their innovative work in forging a new human rights model in the food industry supply chain.

John Boyd, Jr., Founder and President of the National Black Farmers Association
For his leadership in the fight for African-American farmers’ civil rights.

Anna Lappé, Founder of the Small Planet Institute and Founder/Director of Real Food Media
For her work as an author, educator, and sustainable food advocate.

Jim McGovern, Congressman, Massachusetts
For his leadership as an advocate in the fight against hunger.

Raj Patel, Author, Activist and Academic
For his scholarship and advocacy work to change the inequalities in our world’s food system.


2015 Recipients

Don Bustos, Farmer and Co-Director, American Friends Service Committee 
For his work in support of farmers’ rights and education, and efforts to include farmers of color in the national food movement. 

Eliot Coleman, Farmer, Author, Agricultural Researcher, and Educator 
For the impact his more than 40 years of innovative farming techniques and extensive writings on the subject of organic agriculture have had on the field, and on our country’s food system. 

Saru Jayaraman, Co-Founder and Co-Director, Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC-United); Director, Food Labor Research Center at University of California, Berkeley 
For her research, policy work, and efforts to create just workplace environments for all restaurant employees. 

Sam Kass, Former Senior Policy Advisor on Nutrition and Chef, The White House; Senior Food Analyst, NBC News​ 
For his work toward nationwide food-policy initiatives that focus on sustainable and nutritious ingredients, and efforts to raise awareness of childhood obesity, hunger, and nutrition issues. 

Bryant Terry, Chef, Author, Food-Justice Activist 
For his efforts to raise awareness of food-justice issues and to empower youth to be active in creating a healthy, just, and sustainable food system.

2014 Recipients

Mark Bittman, Author/Journalist, The New York Times
For using his international platform as a respected journalist and author to educate consumers about healthier food choices and to advocate for a better food system.

Ben Burkett, State Coordinator for the State of Mississippi, Federation of Southern Cooperatives; President of The National Family Farm Coalition; and Member of Via Campensina
For the positive impact this life-long family farmer has made through his support of the American family farm and advocacy for the rights of every individual to wholesome food, clean water, air, and land.

Navina Khanna, Fellow, Movement Strategy Center
For her work as a food justice activist organizing across communities for equitable and ecological food systems on local, regional, and national levels.

Michael Pollan, Writer/Journalist; and Professor, University of California, Berkeley
For the influence his books, articles and public appearances have had on the national conversation about important issues, such as sustainable agriculture, nutrition, food safety, farm policy, public health, and animal welfare.

Karen Washington, Urban Farmer, Community Activist and Former President, New York City Community Garden Coalition
For the impact her leadership has had on the revitalization of neighborhoods in the Bronx through the establishment of urban gardens, as well as her national appearances to promote green jobs, healthy diets, and community gardens. 

2013 Recipients

Hal Hamilton, Founder and Co-Director, Sustainable Food Lab
For supporting food companies, nonprofits, and farmers to demonstrate and scale sustainability in the global food supply.

Cynthia Hayes, Executive Director, Southeastern African-American Farmers Organic Network (SAAFON)
For the impact her work has had on the network of African-American farmers dedicated to using sustainable growing practices.

Dr. Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor, Department of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health and Professor of Sociology at New York University
For her research and writing on how science and society influence dietary advice and practice and the impact it has had on our food system and in improving the way America eats.

Ricardo Salvador, Director, Food & Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
For his work in academia, philanthropy, and advocacy in support of a healthy, green, fair, and affordable food system.

Gus Schumacher, Executive Vice President of Policy, Wholesome Wave
For his lifelong efforts to improve access to fresh local food in underserved communities. 

2012 Recipients

Wendell Berry, Author, Bringing it to the Table
For the brilliant insight he has brought to America's agrarian movement for more than six decades.

Dr. Jason Clay, Senior Vice President Market Transformation, World Wildlife Fund (WWF)
For his efforts to study and address the global social, environmental, and economic impact of a variety of commodities, and his cross-sector work to improve the sustainability and supply chain management of these commodities.

Dr. Kathleen Merrigan, Deputy Secretary of Agriculture, U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)
For her efforts to strengthen the critical connection between farmers and consumers, create new opportunities for farmers and ranchers, support regional food infrastructure and bring agriculture into our daily conversations through efforts such as USDA’s Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food initiative.

Tensie Whelan, President, Rainforest Alliance, and Co-Chair, Sustainable Food Lab Advisory Board
For overseeing the transformation of the Rainforest Alliance into a respected international organization that works to transform land-use practices, business practices, and consumer behavior to conserve biodiversity and ensure sustainable livelihoods.

Malik Yakini, Executive Director, The Detroit Black Community Food Security Network (DBCFSN)
For his work to ensure social justice, food equity, and food security to the people of urban Detroit. 

2011 Recipients

Will Allen, Founder and President, Rainbow Farmer’s Cooperative and Founder and CEO of Growing Power
For his lifelong work as a farmer and community activist dedicated to supporting low-income and small family farmers who bring healthy, affordable food to urban areas.

Fedele Bauccio, CEO, Bon Appétit Management Company
For his commitment to quality food and socially responsible food sourcing.

Debra Eschmeyer, Co-Founder and Program Director, FoodCorps
For addressing the issues of childhood obesity and diet-related disease through school lunch programs with the National Farm to School Network and her leadership of FoodCorps’ innovative programming.

Sheri L. Flies, Assistant General Merchandise Manager, Corporate Foods, Costco Wholesale Corporation
For her work on the Juan Francisco Project, which assessed the sustainability of the existing supply chain for French beans in Guatemala and determined how it affects the lives of farmers and their families, and for playing a key role in Costco’s efforts to integrate sustainable practices in its buying decisions.

Jan Kees Vis, Global Director, Sustainable Sourcing Development, Unilever
For his work in creating the Sustainable Living Plan at Unilever with clear goals of reducing waste, water use, and GHG emissions by 50% and achieving 100% sustainable sourcing by 2020, and for his industry-wide leadership in the Palm Oil Roundtable.

Fred Kirschenmann, Distinguished Fellow, Leopold Center for Sustainable Agriculture, Iowa State University and President of the Board of Directors, Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture
For his lifelong work on sustainable food and farming systems.

First Lady Michelle Obama
For launching Let’s Move!, a comprehensive initiative dedicated to solving the challenge of childhood obesity within a generation.

Janet Poppendieck, Author and Professor of Sociology at Hunter College, City University of New York, and at the CUNY Graduate Center
For bringing issues of poverty, hunger, and food assistance to the forefront through her teaching and books, such as Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement and Free For All: Fixing School Food in America.

Alice Waters, Chef, Author, and the Proprietor of Chez Panisse
For her pioneering use of sustainable and local ingredients in food service and for the Chez Panisse Foundation’s work in creating the Edible Schoolyard program.

Craig Watson, Vice President of Sustainable Agriculture, Sysco Corporation
For his work to improve sustainable agriculture and integrated pest management (IPM) practices for Sysco’s food products; programs that have impacted over 921,000 acres of agriculture land.