We are thrilled to honor the leadership of three local Good Food Heroes at our 2015 Good Food Gala, who, through their leadership, highlight the power of transformative food systems change underway in Los Angeles. Early bird tickets to the Good Food Gala are available until May 11 here.
MARQUEECE HARRIS-DAWSON | President and CEO of Community Coalition,
LA City Council Member-Elect
CEO and President of Community Coalition and Los Angeles City Councilmember-Elect Marqueece Harris-Dawson was born and raised in South Los Angeles. In 1995, he joined Community Coalition under then founder and current Congresswoman Karen Bass. His first campaign publicized the horrendous conditions of inner city high schools and the inequities in the distribution of public funding. It resulted in an unprecedented $153 million for school repair and modernization in South LA schools. He galvanized South LA families to address public safety in the most humane and effective way possible, working with law enforcement agencies, city leaders, local residents and businesses to reduce crime and violence by transforming neighborhood parks, and decreasing nuisance business activity that foster crime. He has served as the President and CEO of Community Coalition since 2004.
Councilmember-Elect Harris-Dawson’s commitment to transforming the food environment in South Los Angeles through community-driven planning and support for smaller retailers in their efforts to improve their businesses and healthy food access is exemplary of good food leadership. Under his leadership, Community Coalition partnered with Century Market, a corner store in the King Estates neighborhood of South Los Angeles, and Community Services Unlimited, Inc. (CSU Inc.) an urban food growing social enterprise, to increase healthy food options near Expo Park Library. In 2013, store owner Mr. Steve Jongsoo Park, owner of Century Market and active member of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council’s Healthy Neighborhood Market Network, began hosting Fresh Fridays, a CSU-operated pop-up fresh produce stand, every Friday afternoon. With neighborhood outreach support from CSU and Community Coalition, Mr. Park recently added CSU produce and other healthy snack options to his in-store inventory, making Century Market a healthy food retailer every day of the week.
STEVE ZIMMER | LA Unified School District Board Member
LAUSD Board Member Steve Zimmer was elected to the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) Board of Education in 2009 after seventeen years as a teacher and counselor at Marshall High School in Los Angeles. Board Member Zimmer authored the school board resolution in support of the Dream Act, federal legislation that would provide a path to citizenship for undocumented students who do well in school and attend college. He also led the way on a resolution to make the District a hunger-free community by exploring new strategies to increase children’s participation in school meal programs and easily connect them with other agencies that provide food resources for hungry families.
In partnership with the LA Food Policy Council, Board Member Zimmer has played a crucial role in the district’s implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program, shifting LA schools’ purchasing dollars toward food producers who demonstrate a commitment to the program’s five value categories of Local Economies, Environmental Sustainability, Valued Workforce, Animal Welfare, and Nutritional Health. The Los Angeles Times reported that participation of LAUSD in the Good Food Purchasing Program has already led to about $10 million in produce sales redirected into the local economy and the creation of 125 well-paying food chain jobs. Board Member Zimmer’s support of GFPP continues to improve healthy food access and create a just, sustainable food system in Los Angeles.
ROBERT GOTTLIEB | Urban & Environmental Policy Institute, Occidental College
Robert Gottlieb is the author and co-author of twelve books and numerous other publications, including Food Justice (MIT Press, 2013), Reinventing Los Angeles: Nature and Community in the Global City (MIT Press, 2007), and Forcing the Spring: The Transformation of the American Environmental Movement (Island Press, 1993). Bob is the editor of two MIT Press series, “Urban and Industrial Environments” and “Food, Health, and Environment” which include more than 60 publications, and has been recognized for his contributions to the fields of environmental studies, environmental history, food studies, and urban policy, including the Carey McWilliams Lifetime Achievement Award from the California Studies Association.
As the founder and Executive Director of the Urban & Environmental Policy Institute at Occidental College since 1997, Bob has inspired and helped develop several groundbreaking programs, research studies and events in the environmental, transportation, ports, and food systems areas. A long time environmental and social justice activist, Bob has been engaged in researching and participating in social movements for more than 50 years. Under Bob’s leadership at UEPI, the national farm to school movement was born and now reaches students in over 40,000 schools in all 50 states in the U.S. He was also a co-founder of the national Community Food Security Coalition. Professor Gottlieb served as chair of the Los Angeles Food Policy Task Force and was instrumental in the development of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.