Introducing BFI’s Next Executive Director
The Berkeley Food Institute proudly announces the appointment of Jeanne Merrill, leader in food systems advocacy and policy, as its next Executive Director.
The Berkeley Food Institute (BFI) proudly announces the appointment of Jeanne Merrill as its next Executive Director, starting on January 8. Merrill joins BFI with more than 25 years’ experience as a leader in food systems advocacy and policy. As BFI continues into its second decade, we are thrilled to welcome Merrill onto our team and confident in her ability to build on BFI’s momentum and deepen our mission to leverage UC resources in partnership with communities to shape a just farm and food system.
Throughout her career, Merrill has demonstrated an unwavering commitment to building an agricultural system that prioritizes health, equity, sustainability, and resilience. She started her career working with rural and farmworker communities in California to organize for better protections against the impacts of pesticides. Since then, Merrill has led training programs, built coalitions, and spearheaded innovative policies that have made our food system work better for all people and the environment.
In 2009, Merrill co-founded the California Climate and Agriculture Network (CalCAN) and served as the network’s Policy Director for nearly 14 years. At the time of CalCAN’s founding, agricultural solutions to the climate crisis were not part of the climate policy discussions in Sacramento or DC. CalCAN kick-started those discussions, eventually leading to the launch in California of the first-of-their-kind Climate Smart Agriculture programs in 2014, as well as a list of other policy changes and state investments (nearing $1 billion all together) to support a resilient and equitable agricultural system.
Joining the leadership team at BFI is a natural next step in Jeanne Merrill’s results-driven career. At BFI, we envision a food system built on urban and rural agroecology, good food access, fair and healthy jobs, and racial equity. Working in tandem with UC Berkeley’s community of food systems faculty and researchers, Merrill represents the combination of community-based advocacy and policy education necessary to achieve that vision.
“I’m excited to join BFI as the institute celebrates ten years of cross-disciplinary research, education, and community engagement to inform state and federal food systems policy initiatives,” says Merrill. “By centering racial equity in its food systems work, BFI demonstrates that tackling systemic injustice is how we can achieve transformational change across urban and rural communities.”
We Appreciate Your Support!
As BFI embarks on the next chapter under new leadership, we appreciate the generous help of our new and ongoing financial supporters. We want to send a special thank you to the Hellman Foundation, Stupski Foundation, the 11th Hour Project, CS Fund, the Epstein/Roth Foundation, and all of our individual donors for investing in BFI’s mission and programs. We also want to thank the USDA Transition to Organic Partnership Program, Organic Agriculture Research and Extension Initiative, and the CDFA Farm to School Initiative for supporting our research and student programs. Finally, a special thank you goes to the organizations within the UC system who support our staff: the Wellness Fund, the UC Global Food Initiative, UC Alianza MX, and many others. We appreciate your support of our work!
As part of your year-end giving, please consider supporting our efforts in research, policy, education, and community engagement to shape a just farm and food system.