Vital Village Networks Selects 10 Leaders for 2024 Community Food Systems Fellowship

By: Vital Village Networks
2024 Community Food Systems Fellows
2024 Community Food Systems Fellows
BOSTON - Jan. 31, 2024 - PRLog -- Vital Village Networks (VVN) at Boston Medical Center is continuing its work of growing a network of local leaders to build the capacity of communities to promote community-ownership of local food systems through the third cohort of the Community Food Systems Fellowship.

Through a grant supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF), VVN has selected ten emerging local leaders from across the country to participate in the 2024 Community Food Systems Fellowship program, which was launched in 2022. The program serves as a co-created container for diverse leaders to skill share, build capacity, build networks, and strengthen efforts to build equitable and resilient local food systems. The Fellowship specifically focuses on strengthening community engagement and leadership of caregivers, parents and families, uplifting strengths-based narratives, and fostering collaborative leadership to scale community identified solutions and cross sector partnerships.

The program ​​pairs peer learning and capacity building with participatory co-design principles. It was created through strategic partnership with local and national food systems advocates, experts and practitioners who served on a National Advisory Committee in 2021. Over 18-months, fellows will participate in a series of capacity building and peer learning sessions. This will include: community design labs focused on participatory engagement and human centered design approaches, monthly virtual learning sessions focused on key capacity building topics in food systems, individualized technical assistance, as well as a culminating project stakeholder convening and showcase during Vital Village's annual National Community Leadership Summit. Selected fellows receive a stipend and can also apply for project innovation grants. In addition, alumni from the 2022 and 2023 cohorts have been invited to return as peer mentors.

Fellows will also work collaboratively as a cohort to develop a shared vision and roadmap to advance community-powered food systems through a collective project.

This year's fellows were selected from a robust pool of applicants across the United States for their demonstrated experience and commitment advancing racial equity and social transformation within the food system, centering of local community leadership, and history of effective collaboration and partnership. A selection committee of fellowship program staff, alumni, and members of the project's National Advisory Committee, participated in a multi-part review process.

2024 Fellows include:

Isha Aran
Three Sisters Kitchen
Albuquerque, NM

Tara Rodriguez Besosa (they/them)
El Departamento de La Comida de Puerto Rico
Cauguas, PR

Carmen Alcantara Gonzalez (she/her)
Fresh Food Connect
Denver, CO

K. Melchor Hall (she/her)
Global Village Farms
Auburn, MA

Roberto Nutlouis (he/him)
Pinon, AZ

Nia Nyamweya (she/her)
Beauty Blooms Farms
Silver Spring, MD

Cecilia Polanco (they/them)
Pupusas for Education
Durham, NC

Amara Ullauri (they/them)
Ayni Herb Farm
Millerton, NY

Bilal Walker (he/him)
Eden's Farm
Newark, NJ

Rivianna Zeller (he/they)
Dream of Wild Health (
Hugo, MN

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About Vital Village Networks

Vital Village Networks ( is a national collective of diverse change-makers and organizations committed to pioneering sustainable approaches to transforming child, family, and community well-being. Since 2010, Vital Village has fostered partnerships between residents and organizations aimed at improving the capacity of communities to optimize child wellbeing, prevent early life adversities, and advance equity through coalition building, leadership development, participatory research, data-sharing, and advocacy. Through our grassroots local network in Boston, our national network of peer communities, Networks of Opportunity for Child Wellbeing (NOW), and CRADLE, our participatory research and evaluation lab, we cultivate stronger connections between residents and community-based organizations to co-design community systems-improvement efforts and address structural inequities.

For more information about Vital Village Networks, visit

Vital Village Networks

Source:Vital Village Networks
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Tags:Equity, Community, Food, Wellbeing, Systems
Location:Boston - Massachusetts - United States
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Page Updated Last on: Jan 31, 2024

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