FED 2018 Speakers

We're honored to have the following speakers at FED: Food Expo & Discussion this year!


EMCEE: Nate Loucks

State Street Community Church, The Pax Center (La Porte)

Nate Loucks is a pastor, peacemaker, and social entrepreneur. In 2010, he was the church planter of State Street Community Church in downtown LaPorte. State Street is a church community cultivating a just and generous expression of the Christian faith through tangible expressions of love and grace. He is also the President and Chief Peace Officer of The Pax Center. The Pax Center is located in downtown LaPorte as well. The mission of the Pax Center is to engage the poverties of hunger and loneliness. In 2016, in a collaboration with the City of LaPorte and the Main Street Association, the Pax Center became the visionary partner of the Jackson Street Community Garden.

Keynote Panel: Social Equity in the Food System

Dominique Edwards

R.O.S.E. & Associates (Michigan City)

Dominique Edwards brings nearly a decade of experience to the field of sustainability. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Northwest Indiana Food Council and the Auxiliary Board for Plant Chicago; as well as co-facilitator for Insight Garden Program at Indiana State Prison. Dominique has provided expert testimony to state legislators in an effort to increase access to healthy food financing across the state of Indiana. Dominique holds  a Master of Art in Sustainable Urban Development from DePaul University and is currently a Doctor of Philosophy Candidate in Community Psychology at National Louis University.  Her research areas of focus are local and regional food systems, revitalization of post-industrial cities with urban agriculture, healthy food access, and brownfield redevelopment.  



Pastor Marty Henderson

Peace Baptist Church, Peace Garden & Farms (Gary)

The Reverend Marty L. Henderson was born in Chicago and grew up in Argo, Illinois. He earned a Bachelor of Arts in Theology from Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois, and a Master of Divinity in Christian Education from the Morehouse School of Religion, ITC, Atlanta.

For over ten years, Pastor Henderson has served as the second pastor of the Peace Baptist Church in Gary, IN and serves as President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Baptist State Convention of Indiana, Inc., Executive Director of Peace Garden and Farms Inc., a member of the Gary Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Indiana Food Council, the Gary Food Council; and has received certification in Commercial Urban Agriculture through Growing Power-Milwaukee, Master Gardener Training through Purdue University Extension, and Master Urban Farming Training through the University of Illinois Extension programs.


Ryan Strode

Arabella Advisors

Ryan Strode leads Arabella Advisors’ portfolio of sustainability-related projects. He provides guidance to family and institutional clients on developing philanthropic strategies in the areas of clean water protection, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and sustainable agriculture and local food. He currently manages a large grant-making portfolio dedicated to supporting an equitable global climate movement and building the capacity of grassroots environmental organizations in the United States and abroad. Ryan is also helping to design and launch a new global initiative dedicated to ending energy poverty. Most recently, Ryan has worked to build the firm’s food system practice area.  Ryan recently taught a course at Purdue University,“Nonprofits and Social Innovation,” and sits on the advisory board for the School of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences. He is also a board member of the Save the Dunes Council and holds an MA in social science from the University of Chicago and a BA in history from Purdue University.

Ryan will be moderating the keynote panel and also leading the Kickoff to Regional Food Systems Vision at later in the day.

History of Food Access


Dr. Rhonda Phillips

Purdue University (Lafayette)

Rhonda Phillips holds a Ph.D. in city and regional planning and a M.S. in economics from the Georgia Institute of Technology, as well as a M.S. in economic development and B.S. in geography from the University of Southern Mississippi. She is author or editor of 24 academic books, including the textbook Introduction to Community Development, and Growing Livelihoods: Local Food Systems and Community Development.


Dr. Ellen Szarleta

Indiana University NW (Gary)

Ellen Szarleta is the Director of the Indiana University Northwest Center for Urban and Regional Excellence and Professor in the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at IU Northwest.  As director of the center, she works to create and advance partnerships between the community and the university. Dr. Szarleta holds a Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison and a J.D. from the University of Iowa Law School.  

State of Food Access in NWI


David Wright

Planning and Marketing Manager / Gary Public Transportation Corporation

Mr. David Wright is a lifelong resident of Gary, currently residing in the Miller Beach community. He has a 1992 B.S. in Community and Regional Planning from Iowa State University in Ames IA. David has been involved in regional transportation planning since 1993, and currently heads the Planning and Marketing Department for the Gary Public Transportation Corporation, a regional transit agency that provides transit in Gary and nine other Lake County communities. In addition to transportation advocacy, David also serves on Boards of Directors for organizations such as the Stewart House (an urban farm and garden in Gary’s Midtown neighborhood) and the Dunes Learning Center (a regional hands-on environmental learning center).


Terri Saltzman

Purdue Extension Lake County

Terri Saltzman is a Community Wellness Coordinator for Purdue Extension Lake County.  Her projects have included pop-up farmers’ markets, community gardens, food insecurity initiatives, and healthy built environment planning.  Terri holds a Bachelor of Science in Biology from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania, and, a Master of Public Affairs degree from Indiana University Northwest.  She also holds a Community Development certificate from Ball State.


Freida Graves  

FAITH Farms (Gary) 

Freida Graves has  23 years of experience in the Nursing and Nutrition field and has served as Faith Farms administrator for over a year. Graves has been married for 38 years, has 2 children and her aspirations and dreams are to supply healthy food at affordable rates to our community and assist with rebuilding the city of Gary.

Future of Food Access


Naima Gardner

Indiana Healthy Food Access Coalition

Naima is a recent graduate of Indiana University’s Master of Public Health program. Naima also has a degree in culinary arts, worked as a chef before graduate school and now serves as the operational coordinator for the Indiana Healthy Food Access Coalition and Campaign Coordinator for Healthy Food Financing for the American Heart Association.  She has a passion for social justice and health equity and looks forward to a long career working for meaningful policy change that will improve health and expand access for our most vulnerable populations. Naima was born and raised in Bloomington, Indiana where she currently resides with her husband, Chris, and daughter, Syeeda. 


Andrew Raridon

Valparaiso University, Hoosier Young Farmers Coalition (Valparaiso)

Andrew is an Assistant Professor in the Sociology & Criminology department at Valparaiso University and received his PhD from Purdue University with his research examining inequality and activism in food systems. He is interested in how to best support young people as they launch their new careers and lifestyles as sustainable farmers, and how we can wed the ideals of food justice with the realities of the marketplace. In Andrew’s spare time, he enjoys digging in the garden with his wife and two little girls, and plotting how to start their own diversified farm one day.


Sherri Dugger

Indiana Farmers Union, Dugger Family Farm, Hoosier Locavore

Sherri Dugger, the Indiana Farmers Union’s media and outreach director, resides on a small farm in Morristown, Indiana, with her husband, Randy, and their dogs, Adelle and Sadie, a tribe of farm cats, six goats, two alpacas, dozens of chickens, and thousands of honeybees. At Dugger Family Farm (duggerfamilyfarm.com), the Duggers run an animal rescue, Dugger Animal Sanctuary, as well as an on-farm store, where they sell Indiana-made products. They also grow vegetables and microgreens and produce specialty jams through their label, Kick Out The Jams

A certified farmers market manager and food safety trainer, Sherri regularly presents at workshops and conferences and works extensively with farmers and farm organization leaders throughout the state. An advocate for local and regional food systems, environmental sustainability, humane animal agriculture, and diversified family farming, Dugger also frequently lobbies at the Indiana Statehouse and on Capitol Hill. She serves as Rural Affairs Consultant for The Humane Society of the United States and is a member of both the Indiana Agriculture Advisory Council and the National Agricultural Advisory Council for HSUS.  

Dugger is a founding member of the first-ever female farmer chapter of Indiana Farmers Union, and she created and maintains a local food website and information resource, Hoosier Locavore, which can be found at hoosierlocavore.com.

Marketing & Branding for Food Businesses


Shane Hansen

Rainfield Farm (New Carlisle)

Shane comes from a 20 year experiential marketing and product branding career working with Fortune 500 and start-up companies.  He now operates Rainfield Farm in New Carlisle, IN.  The farm produces over 45,000 lbs of vegetables annually on just one acre through farmers markets, farm to school partnerships, and grocery outlets.


Sarah Highlen

Grapevine Local Food Marketing (Chesterton)

Sarah launched Grapevine Local Food Marketing in 2016 after a 17-year career in marketing. Grapevine serves farms, bakeries, start-ups, non-profits and other players in the local food scene with everything from logos and labels to websites and Google marketing. When she's not working on marketing projects, you can usually find her growing, buying, cooking, photographing, or eating food!  Sarah is also a founding member of the NWI Food Council. 


Christopher Pupillo


Christopher brings to this year’s FED his more than 30 years of design, marketing and video production experience having worked with businesses large and small, local and international.  Over the past three decades Christopher has designed, developed and produced everything from branding, advertising, and social media campaigns for local start ups to a regionally broadcast commercials and a nationally broadcast, hour long documentary for PBS.  He can be reached at www.brightidea-cs.com.

Farms to Schools


Becca Tuholski

Purdue Extension

Becca Tuholski is a NW Indiana native with a passion for local foods. She recently completed her MPH through Benedictine University.  In the summer of 2017, Becca served as the Health and Human Sciences Intern Educator with Purdue Extension - La Porte County. Through her work, she developed, secured funds for, and implemented the Farm to Freezer to Table program to provide nutrition education to those in need. Currently, Becca works for Purdue Extension at the state level, developing website content for Purdue Extension's Farm to School Program. She also coaches girls' cross country and track for La Porte High School, assists with La Porte's local FFA chapter, and is looking forward to serving as the Garden Manager for Jackson Street Community Garden in La Porte this year as well as starting a small pork and produce business with her husband.


Langston Stalling

Thea Bowman Academy (Gary)

Langston Stalling is the youngest child of Kenneth and Pamela Stalling. He has two sisters and one brother.  Growing up, his family paved the way for him and set high standards. Langston is currently a senior at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy.  There he currently serves as the captain of the varsity basketball and baseball teams.  He also is President of the Student Council and a member of the National Honor Society.  In his free time, Langston likes to fish, and spend time with his family and friends. Langston plans to graduate valedictorian and attend West Point Military Academy where he will study chemistry and biology. After his undergraduate studies, he plans to go to medical school to become an anesthesiologist.


Lynda Bodie

Thea Bowman Academy (Gary)

Lynda Bodie was born in Gary and raised in Chicago.  She received her BA from Indiana University and spent many years in the apparel manufacturing business in the Caribbean and Central America before becoming a teacher.  Bodie has been an educator at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy for 14 years and a 4-H leader for 7 years. She is also a faculty advisor for the Junior MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences) program and manager of the vegetable garden for tri-town Safety Village in Merrillville.  She has established and overseen various agriculture and science related programs at Thea Bowman; which has given so many Gary students exposure to growing crops and raising animals as well as the opportunity to travel around the country for competitions and presentations.


Zharia Sade’ Dodson

Thea Bowman Academy (Gary) 

Zharia  is the daughter of Wayne Jr. and Priscilla Dodson. She loves math and science and enjoys reading books, cooking and being on Facetime. Zharia is a senior at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy, where she is very involved in various organizations and activities. Zharia’s school activities include Student Council (Secretary), S.A.V.E (Students Against Violence Everywhere (President), S.T.A.R.S (Students Teaching About Relationships and Success), ECIER (an entrepreneur group), Varsity Basketball (Captain), Volleyball (Captain), and AmeriCorps.  A few of her honors and awards are National Honor Society, Principal’s Award, and All Star Athletic Team Award. Zharia’s future plans include attending a 4 year university to obtain her bachelor’s degree in dual studies of bio-medical engineering and pre-med.  Post undergraduate school she will attend medical school with a specialty in trauma surgery.  


Aaron Whittaker

Thea Bowman Academy (Gary)

Aaron is seventeen years old and a senior at Thea Bowman Leadership Academy. His involvement in the field of agriculture started in 2015 when he attended the Purdue Agribusiness Science Academy (PASA). Since then, he has participated in many agriculture and food science related programs that have all taught him to look at the world from a variety of angles. 

Grants & Funding Workshop


Kelly Anoe

Legacy Foundation (Merrillville)

Kelly Anoe is the Vice President at Legacy Foundation, the Community Foundation for Lake County, Indiana.  In this role, Kelly oversees grant-making, community and non-profit partnerships, and special initiatives.  In addition to reviewing and editing grants applications, Kelly has written and been awarded federal, state, foundation, and corporate grants.  Kelly has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a master’s in Business Administration from Purdue University.


Katie Westlund


Katie is a Community Lender at Accion, a nonprofit microlender serving Northwest Indiana and Illinois. She graduated from Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business with bachelor’s degrees in Economic Consulting and International Business, and she worked as an intellectual property analyst at a consulting firm prior to joining the Accion team.  As a native and current resident of Northwest Indiana, she is dedicated to facilitating economic growth and job creation in the region by empowering entrepreneurs to find the capital, coaching, and connections they need.


Christi Southerland

Prosperity Ag, LLC

Christi is the Managing Partner at Prosperity Ag, LLC, a grant writing and consulting firm that has worked with clients throughout the United States. With a Bachelor’s of Science from Indiana University, Christi offers over seven years of experience in the energy and agriculture sector. With a passion for agriculture and rural communities, she enjoys helping clients find solutions and navigating them to success. Christi is from Hamilton County, Indiana where she enjoys spending time with her family and exploring her community.

Permaculture Workshop


Christine Maloney

Grounds for Growth

Christine Maloney, an Advanced Permaculture Designer and Educator, received her certifications through the Permaculture Institute of North America (PINA) in 2016 and 2017, but has applied permaculture principles and techniques in her life for nearly two decades.  She is the lead designer and educator for Grounds for Growth, holds permaculture classes and social events in northwest Indiana, and is developing a household composting program for the region.

Soil Health Workshop


Dan Perkins

Perkins' Good Earth Farm (DeMotte)

Dan is a Certified Crop Advisor, owner of Perkins' Good Earth Farm, and known as "Cover Crop Guy" from Demotte, Indiana.  The Perkins' family runs a market farm with the mission  to provide wholesome, fresh, and naturally grown vegetables to their neighbors and community.

Alternative Resources Workshop


Kathy Sipple

Kathy Sipple is a local social systems pioneer. Her areas of practice range from social media organizing to leading the local food swap and timebank. She brings a message of radical collaboration and will be sharing tools that can be used at the grassroots level to co-create food access solutions and build more resilient, sustainable communities.