Meet the panelists:
Tobias A. Fox is the Founder and Managing Director of Newark Science and Sustainability, Inc. Aside from being a writer and having ten years of independent publishing experience, Fox is a Professional Organizer, Urban Farmer, Photographer, and Coordinator of an annual Sustainable Living Empowerment Conference. He conducts various community events, presentations, and workshops on sustainable living practices and has assisted numerous urban farmers and gardeners with the cultivation of their agricultural space. Fox has earned many accolades for his work, including being selected by peers for outstanding contributions to the Newark community to be part of the 100 People of Newark. He was awarded the Newark NAACP Environmental Justice Honoree in 2014, and in 2016 he received a Community Service Award presented by the Northeast Earth Coalition.

Melanie McDermott, Senior Researcher at Sustainable Jersey. With degrees in interdisciplinary social science (PhD.) and forestry (MSc.), Melanie McDermott has over 20 years’ experience in the U.S., Asia, Southern Africa, and the Caribbean in academic and applied research and consulting. Major topics of this work include community forestry, coastal resilience, and the impact of climate change mitigation policy on social equity. Prior to coming to TCNJ, she served at Rutgers University in various capacities, including as research faculty, lecturer, and Associate Director of the Climate and Society Initiative. At the Sustainability Institute, she is leading a collaborative effort to develop a vision, goals, and indicators for sustainability for New Jersey at the state level that will be promulgated in an annually updated report. It will further serve as a basis for creating the Gold level for certification for Sustainable Jersey.

Gary Oppenheimer, a CNN Hero, a World Food Prize nominee, Points of Light winner, lecturer and speaker (including two TEDx talks), Huff Post “2011 Game Changer” and “Greatest Person of the Day”, James Beard Foundation Food Waste Advisory Board member, winner of the Russell Berrie Foundation’s “Making A Difference” award, Purpose Prize Fellow and more is the founder of a nationwide hunger/food waste nonprofit called AmpleHarvest.org. He’s created two programs to address these critical issues:
1. AmpleHarvest.org (USA only) to connect America’s 62 million gardeners to 9,000 food pantries in all 50 states enabling them to donate surplus harvests, and enabling the pantries to accept fresh food without needing refrigeration, and 2.Faith Fights Food Waste (global) enabling clergy of all faiths to learn about the issue of the waste of food, and then give sermons from their own faith perspective / traditions on how their congregants to reduce food waste.

Chantelle Walker joined REED as CEO in 2020 after twenty years in nonprofit and healthcare related organizations, including roles in finance and operations, business development, fundraising, and marketing. She is passionate about the mission of
REED Autism Services and about changing the conversation around what’s possible in employment for adults with autism. Through the work of Greens Do Good, REED is able to connect job training with urban agriculture to maximize community impact.

Vice Chairwoman, Commissioner Tracy S. Zur has served eight years as a Bergen County Commissioner. In her eight years as a Bergen County Commissioner, Tracy has dedicated her time to ensure the welfare of her constituents. Her major accomplishments include bringing Project SEARCH to Bergen County to provide internship opportunities to those with unique abilities, advocating for the implementation of a Teen Mental Health First Aid Training, championing the formation of the LGBTQ Advisory Committee and the annual LGBTQ Youth Leadership Summit, expanding access to detox beds at New Bridge Medical Center, and banning polystyrene in all County facilities and parks in an effort to expand environmental consciousness. She is also a member of the New Jersey Israel Commission, and Sustainable Jersey’s Organics Working Group. Most recently, she has committed her time to launching and administering the Bergen County Food Security Task Force in response to the rising levels of food insecurity brought on by the pandemic. Since its formation, the Task Force has tackled the shortage of supplies in food pantries by holding distributions of vegetables, nonperishables, toilet paper and diapers, in addition to engaging civic organizations and private corporations to bring attention to the ongoing food insecurity crisis.

Moderator: Mary Blanusa, Executive Director, The Northern NJ Community Foundation

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