October 26-27, 2017 • Hilton Garden Conference • Columbia, MO

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Keynote Speakers:

Ricardo Salvador is an agronomist who has worked over 30 years in academia, philanthropy and advocacy to shape a more sustainable and socially equitable food system. Born and raised in southern Mexico, he completed his higher education at New Mexico State University and holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in crop production and physiology from Iowa State University.

As director and senior scientist of the Food and Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo leads a team of 12 scientists, economists and policy analysts to make the case that modern, sustainable practices can be highly productive while also protecting the environment, producing healthy food, and creating economic opportunity for all.

Before joining UCS in 2012, Ricardo served as a program officer for food, health, and well-being with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. Prior to that, for 18 years he was on the faculty of agronomy at Iowa State University. While at ISU, Ricardo taught the first course in sustainable agriculture at a land-grant university, and his graduate students conducted some of the original academic research on community-supported agriculture and the ecological footprint of row crop agriculture. He also worked with students to establish ISU’s student-operated organic farm, and with other faculty to develop the nation’s first sustainable agriculture graduate program in 2000, becoming that program’s first chair.

Ricardo’s writing on food policy has been featured in the Washington Post, The New York Times, The Des Moines Register and The Guardian. Some of his distinctions include various awards from Iowa State University: Early Career Achievement (1995), Master Teacher in Distance Education (1997), Visionary Award (2000), International Service Award (2001); and more recently: NBC-Latino’s Innovator: Champion of Food and Agriculture (2013) and the James Beard Foundation’s Leadership Award (2013.)

Margo Wootan was recently named one of the Most Innovative Women in Food and Drink by Fortune Magazine and recognized by Harvard School of Public Health for her leadership in public policy.  She is the director of nutrition policy at the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), named as the top Ranked Nonprofit for National Childhood Nutrition/Health.  Dr. Wootan received her B.S. in nutrition from Cornell University and her doctorate in nutrition from Harvard University’s School of Public Health.  Wootan has coordinated and led efforts to require calorie labeling at fast-food and other chain restaurants, require trans fat labeling on packaged foods, improve school foods, reduce junk-food marketing aimed at children, and expand nutrition and physical activity programs at CDC.  She co-founded and has led both the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity (NANA) and the Food Marketing Workgroup.  Wootan is a powerful voice shaping the national nutrition debate.  She is quoted regularly in the nation’s major media and appeared in the movies Super Size Me and Fed Up.

Alison Fitzgerald Kodjak is the health policy correspondent on NPR’s Science Desk.

Her work focuses on the business and politics of health care and how those forces flow through to the general public. Her stories about the Affordable Care Act, drug prices, limits on insurance and changes in Medicare and Medicaid appear on all of NPR’s shows and in the Shots blog.

She joined NPR in September 2015 after a nearly two-decade career in print journalism, where she won several awards—including three George Polk Awards—as an economics, finance, and investigative reporter.

She spent two years at the Center for Public Integrity, leading projects in financial, telecom, and political reporting. Her first project at the Center, “After the Meltdown,” was honored with the 2014 George Polk Award for business reporting and the Society of Professional Journalists Sigma Delta Chi award.

Her work as both reporter and editor on the foreclosure crisis in Florida, on Warren Buffet’s predatory mobile home businesses, and on the telecom industry were honored by several journalism organizations. She was part of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists team that won the 2015 Polk Award for revealing offshore banking practices.

Prior to joining the Center, Alison spent more than a decade at Bloomberg News, where she wrote about the convergence of politics, government, and economics. She interviewed chairmen of the Federal Reserve and traveled the world with two U.S. Treasury secretaries.

And as part of Bloomberg News’ investigative team she wrote about the bankruptcy of General Motors Corp. and the 2010 Gulf Oil Spill. She was part of a team at Bloomberg that successfully sued the Federal Reserve to release records of the 2008 bank bailouts, an effort that was honored with the 2009 George Polk Award. Her work on the international food price crisis in 2008 won her the Overseas Press Club’s Malcolm Forbes Award.

Fitzgerald Kodjak and co-author Stanley Reed are authors of In Too Deep: BP and the Drilling Race that Took It Down, published in 2011 by John Wiley & Sons.

She’s a graduate of Georgetown University and Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and she raises children and chickens in suburban Maryland.


Thursday, October 26

  • Garikapaty Venkata, Office of Epidemiology Chief, Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Ellen Teller, Food Research and Action Center (FRAC)
  • Patrick Westhoff, Food and Agriculture Policy Research Institute (FAPRI), University of Missouri

Friday, October 27

  • Melinda Hemmelgarn, MS, RD, Food Sleuth
  • Mary Hendrickson, PhD, Rural Sociology, University of Missouri
  • Tom Ruggieri, Fair Share Farm
  • Emily Meissen-Sebilius, MSW, Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles and Nutrition,
  • Lori Jones, Joplin Family YMCA and Joplin Area Food Action Network, “Collaborative Efforts to Implement ‘Eat Smart in Parks’ in Joplin and Surrounding Communities.”
  • Lauren Schulte, MPH, CHES, Director of Well-being and Communications for the St. Louis Area Business Health Coalition, “Making the Healthy Choice the Easy Choice: Food Policy and Environmental Supports in Missouri Workplaces”
  • Shelly Summar, MSEd, RD, LD, Program Manager, Weighing In, Center for Children’s Healthy Lifestyles & Nutrition, Children’s Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Kansas City, MO
  • Chris Chinn, Department of Agriculture
  • Randall Williams, MD, FACOG, Department of Health and Senior Services
  • Steve Corsi, PhD, Department of Social Services