Meet the Berkeley Grad Students Heading to DC for the Farm Bill Summit

April 25, 2023
By Berkeley Food Institute

We are excited to bring five graduate students to the nation’s capital to attend Pointing the Farm Bill Towards Racial Justice: A Summit and Briefing from April 30 to May 2, 2023. BFI planned this event in partnership with the Federation of Southern Cooperatives/Land Assistance Fund and American University’s Center for Environment, Community and Equity and Antiracist Research and Policy Center. This event will dive into the 2023 Farm Bill Reauthorization Process through a lens of racial justice, climate resilience, and rural and urban coalition building and builds off a similar event held in 2017 that examined the 2018 Farm Bill.

Following a competitive application process, the BFI staff selected five graduate students whose research and interests align with the aim of the Farm Bill Summit from a variety of academic disciplines. The selected students are listed below.


Nani Conklin

Kamanani Conklin is a secondyear Master of Public Health student focusing on Public Health Nutrition. Her recent projects include supporting the development of an integrated food system policy plan for the state of Hawai’i and designing and evaluating culturallyrelevant meal programs for acute care hospitals. Nani is interested in translating community priorities into policies and programs that shift the food environment, particularly in her home state of Hawai’i, where key leaders in public health and agriculture are increasingly leveraging the USDA to support Indigenous producers and sustainable, resilient food systems.

Kenzo Esquivel

Kenzo is a fourthyear PhD candidate in the Berkeley Agroecology Lab, where he researches the barriers to farm diversification practices and the impact these practices have on soil health and functionality. The Farm Bill conservation programs are a key way that our federal government supports farmers in adopting sustainable practices, and he’s excited to learn more about how the Farm Bill can invest more specifically in supporting BIPOC and new/beginning farmers who will be critical in a just transition to more regenerative forms of agriculture.

Ellen Kamps

Ellen attends the Goldman School of Public Policy, where she is earning her Master of Public Affairs with a focus on agriculture and resilient food systems. Before she came to UC Berkeley, she farmed for six years in northern Illinois, where she grew certified organic vegetables and became involved with the National Young Farmers Coalition during the authorization of the 2018 Farm Bill. She is excited to attend the Summit in DC to reimagine the 2023 Farm Bill through the lens of racial justice and agroecological principles.

Allegra Roth

Allegra is a secondyear graduate student working towards a Master of Public Policy at the Goldman School. She is the cochair of the Food & Agriculture Policy Group, a student group at UC Berkeley that explores how policy can achieve equity, justice, and economic and environmental sustainability within food and agriculture systems. Allegra has a background in climate and water policy, regional food systems, and regenerative land management. She is interested in helping communities reclaim governance over the ecological systems that sustain them, including food, land, and water systems.

Diego Villegas

Diego is a secondyear Master of Public Policy student at the Goldman School. He is a strong advocate and activist for fair labor, racial justice, and immigration rights. He has organized with Latinx in Public Policy, Students of Color in Public Policy, One Fair Wage, UAW 2865, and conducted research for the UC Labor Center and UC Merced Community Labor Center. He is currently a fellow at the Center for Empowerment of Refugees and Immigrants in Oakland. His main interests in the Farm Bill are the possible international collaborations around food policy, the equitable land stewardship towards Natives and Indigenous communities, and the resources linked to Hispanic Serving Institutions and Tribes in the bill.