Just Food Board Members
Luis Garden Acosta
Luis Garden Acosta is a leading voice for human rights and environmental justice. He is founder and president of El Puente, a community human rights institution that promotes leadership for peace and justice through the engagement of youth and adults in the arts, education, scientific research, wellness and environmental action. Under his leadership, New Yorkers have built parks and open spaces as well as mapped one hundred Brownfield sites focused on human rights. For his lifetime commitment to integrating community building and political work, Garden Acosta received the Heinz Award for the Human Condition in 1998.
John is a County Extension Agent at Cornell University’s Cooperative Extension. As Horticultural Specialist for Cornell's NYC Programs since 1976, John has specialized in soils, vegetable crops, and fruit production. His efforts to promote urban agriculture have resulted in several successful projects and market farms including: Rikers Island Farm Project, Wheatfield Project and the Gericke Farm Project. As part of his a contribution to extension, he has piloted a program to develop urban space to produce food crops locally for 25 cities nationwide, thus increasing access to fresh food for many. John has authored several articles on food, ranging in topic from food production to topsoil preservation. John is a founding member of Just Food, a partner in the City Farms Project, and is the recipient of several awards for his work.
Sarita Daftary began her career in food justice work as an Americorps VISTA with Just Food in 2003, through which she was placed with United Community Centers, working on the East New York Farms! Project (ENYF). Sarita stayed on as staff with ENYF after her VISTA service was complete, and became the Project Director in March 2006, a position she held until November 2013. During her time at ENYF, Sarita helped to grow the project significantly, while maintaining a focus on developing community leadership, and led ENYF to become a nationally recognized model for youth and community engagement in urban agriculture and community markets. Sarita graduated from Georgetown University with a degree in sociology and government. She is a graduate of the Leadership New York Fellowship organized by Coro New York and the Leadership Caucus of the Community Resource Exchange.
Matt McFarlane is Principal in the New York office of Robins Kaplan LLP. A trial lawyer by training, he specializes in intellectual property rights protection, counseling and dispute resolution. He is a recognized authority on the emerging face of intellectual property issues, and serves on the Board of Directors for the New York Intellectual Property Law Association. In addition, Matt has significant pro bono experience, including working through Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts to help artists navigate a variety of legal situations, and working with the Legal Aid Society to obtain favorable settlements for clients in cases involving federal and state labor law violations. Matt lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jennifer, their son, and the dog, each a food enthusiast of different but mostly compatible stripes. He is active in the community, serving as a Director of New York’s own Target Margin Theater, and as a Trustee and Chair of the Investment Committee for The Grass Foundation.
Joan is the Mary Rose Professor Emerita of Nutrition and Education at Teacher’s College, Columbia University (NYC), where she formerly headed the Nutrition Education Department. She has a B.A. from Pomona College and earned her M.Ed. and Ed.D. from Teacher’s College. She is author, coauthor or editor of a number of articles and several books – most recently This Organic Life. From 1980 to 1983, Dr. Gussow served on the Diet, Nutrition and Cancer Panel of the National Academy of Sciences followed by two terms on the NAS Food and Nutrition Board. She has also served on the FDA's Food Advisory Panel and most recently on the National Organic Standards Board. She is a founding member of Just Food.
David is a partner at Purrington Moody Weil, where he represents investment managers and investors in connection with the structuring of investment funds. A highly experienced corporate legal generalist, David was formerly General Counsel for Ziff Brothers Investments for five years and was previously associated with Cleary, Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York. David graduated magna cum laude from Cornell Law School, where he served as Note Editor on the Cornell Law Review. A longtime member of a CSA farm, David has been assisting Just Food on a variety of legal issues since he was first introduced to us by Lawyers Alliance.
Bret Sanford-Chung is Chief Operating Officer at Siena Wealth Advisory Group and a professor at the School of Visual Arts in the Masters in Branding program. She previously served as Managing Director, Brand Innovation at The Joey Company, an integrated marketing agency in Brooklyn. An award-winning copywriter, Bret started her career as Creative Director at legendary agencies like Kenyon & Eckhardt, Grey, and Lowe and Partners. As SVP, Director of Marketing for Smith Barney Citigroup, she relaunched the dormant Smith Barney brand as a vital, progressive financial firm. Prior to joining The Joey Company, she worked at JWT as General Manager for the first-ever multi-agency HSBC team in North America. Bret was a founding member of the Chatham Food Co-op in Columbia County and hosts a very lively CSA community as the host house for Golden Earthworm Farm on Long Island. She holds a BFA from the School of Visual Arts and an MA from New York University, and she is a certified yoga teacher. She shares her life with her husband, two children, the dog, the cat, and her surfboard.
Karen Washington, Chair
Karen Washington is Just Food's Board Chair. She has lived in New York City all her life. Since 1985 Karen has been a community activist, striving to make New York City a better place to live. Karen has worked with Bronx neighborhoods to run empty lots into community gardens, launched a City Farms Market with La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, and has stood up and spoken out for garden protection and preservation throughout the city. Karen is also a board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, a board member and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, and a Co- Founder of Black Urban Growers (BUGS). Karen was the recipient of the 2014 James Beard Leadership Award.