Nicholas Freudenberg is Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Distinguished Professor of Public Health at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. His research and scholarship focuses on diet-related chronic diseases, urban health, the evaluation of complex urban interventions, and the role of the food industry in health and disease. For 30 years he has assisted NYC organizations to plan, implement, and evaluate policies, programs, and advocacy campaigns to improve community health and reduce health inequities, and he was the co-founder, with Janet Poppendieck, of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College. He holds a PhD and a Masters degree in Health Policy and Management from the Columbia University School of Public Health.
Nevin Cohen is Research Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Associate Professor of Public Health at the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy. For the past 10 years his scholarly work has involved community-based research on urban food policy and food systems disparities, and he is an expert on the food policies and policymaking processes of New York City where for 7 years he also held staff positions in city government. He is the author of Beyond the Kale: Urban Agriculture and Social Justice Activism in NYC (The University of Georgia Press) and holds a Ph.D. in Urban Planning from Rutgers University and a Masters degree in City and Regional Planning from U.C. Berkeley.
Janet Poppendieck is Senior Faculty Fellow at CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute and Professor Emerita of Sociology at Hunter College. She was the co-founder, with Nick Freudenberg, of the NYC Food Policy Center at Hunter College. Her primary concerns, both as a scholar and as an activist, are poverty, hunger, and food assistance in the United States. She is the author of Breadlines Knee Deep in Wheat: Food Assistance in the Great Depression (Rutgers 1986, University of California Press, 2014), Sweet Charity? Emergency Food and the End of Entitlement (Viking 1998, Penguin 1999) and Free For All: Fixing School Food in America (University of California Press 2010). She holds a Ph.D. and a Masters degree from the Florence Heller Graduate School for Advanced Studies in Social Welfare at Brandeis University.
Craig is Deputy Director of the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute. He comes to us from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene’s Center for Health Equity where he developed and implemented strategies to make it easier for consumers to buy healthier products in food retail venues throughout New York City. He graduated with an MPH in Public Health Nutrition from the CUNY School of Public Health and has a diverse professional background that includes business management, secondary school education, regional agriculture, and technical training.
Charita Johnson James is the Director of Youth And Community Development and oversees the Institute’s youth and community development projects. She has a deep interest in community nutrition, nutrition education, food security, and improving access to healthy and affordable foods in low-income neighborhoods. In addition to her public health work, she is also the founder and director of a youth mentoring program, My Sista’s Keeper. She holds an MS in Nutritional Sciences from Rutgers University.
Rositsa T. Ilieva is the Director of Food Policy Monitor. For nearly a decade, Rositsa’s scholarly work has focused on examining the integration of just and sustainable food systems goals in the domains of urban policy, design, and planning from an international perspective. Rositsa is author of Urban Food Planning: Seeds of Transition in the Global North (Routledge, 2016) and holds a Ph.D. in Spatial Planning and Urban Development from the Polytechnic University of Milan, Italy and a graduate certificate in GIScience from Hunter College of the City University of New York. Her prior work has examined urban food policy in the United States, Europe and elsewhere.
Katherine Tomaino Fraser has joined our team as Director of Evaluation. She is a Registered Dietitian and specialist in nutrition research and evaluation with nearly a decade of experience across clinical, community-based, and large-scale public health interventions. Prior to joining The Institute, Katherine led evaluation efforts for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, supporting a portfolio of over 35 program partners in strengthening their evaluation efforts and capturing high-quality intervention data. She has worked on a range of urban health initiatives domestically and abroad, most recently consulting for the New York City Department of Health on its sodium reduction intervention, and on nutrition-focused projects in locations as diverse as Lima, Peru and the University of Alma Ata in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. Katherine has a passion for food security and urban farming initiatives, and even curates her own small Brooklyn farm featuring three laying hens. She has a B.S. in Nutrition from Rutgers University and a M.S.P.H from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Kathleen Delgado, a registered dietitian and nutritionist, coordinates the CUNY Food Security Advocates Project. Kathleen has been working with community food and nutrition programs for almost a decade. Her passion and curiosity for food and nutrition-related issues stem from her lived experience as a first-generation Ecuadorian immigrant in New York. Kathleen earned a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition and Food Science from Hunter College in 2011 and a master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from SUNY Oneonta while completing a dietetic internship in 2012. She is currently a doctoral student with the CUNY School of Public Health and Health Policy, and hopes to continue finding solutions to issues of food security and wellness for New Yorkers.
Kylie Repasy is a Research Assistant working on our research project for the Good Food Procurement Program (GFPP). Kylie started her career in education, teaching science in Jacksonville, Florida. While in Florida she became active with the Healthy Jacksonville Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition and worked closely with their Food Policy Council. Additional work with the American Heart Association’s push for the Healthy Food Financing Initiative in Jacksonville inspired Kylie to return to school to pursue a master’s degree in public health and health policy. Kylie graduated with her MPH from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health in Spring 2018.
Shari Rueckl is the Institute's Administrative Coordinator. After moving to Brooklyn from the Midwest many years ago, Shari's interest in food justice and working to ensure all have access to healthy food was sparked. With a degree, professional background, and business experience in Fashion Design and Manufacturing, Shari fueled her passion for all things food by joining and organizing a variety of community groups across the food system, including the Brooklyn Bridge CSA where she is a core group coordinator. Even though there are farms everywhere near her hometown, it wasn’t until moving to New York that she truly realized the value of good, fresh food and how important it is for everyone to have access to it.
Morgan Ames is a passionate public health advocate specializing in food policy. Prior to joining CUNY, Morgan was a Policy Advisor in the NYC Mayor's Office of Food Policy where she provided strategic planning and analysis on policies and intitiatives lead by the City of New York. She has also coordinated public health efforts in the hospital sector in Baltimore, and assisted with legislative and advocacy work in DC around child nutrition programs.
Morgan has a MPH with a concentration in health policy from The George Washington University and a BS in Public Health from the University of Maryland, College Park. Morgan is working with the Institute to investigate ways to advance institutional food procurement in Brooklyn through the use of regional sourcing, and what the implications for those changes could mean for wider programmatic and policy level changes that can support expanding, sustaining or improving institutional food programs, a project sponsored by the Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation.
Valerie Chong Nigg (she/they) joins the Institute as Program Assistant for Youth and Community Development. She is a longtime nonprofit professional with a background in domestic violence and sexual assault services, workforce development, and LGBTQ+ advocacy and education. Having witnessed the intersections of food insecurity and race, gender, and sexuality through direct service work, Val is excited to transition to macro-level policy and community organizing work through CUFPI.