We are pleased to welcome a new Policy Director, Educational Programs Director, and Administrative and Finance Director.
September 29, 2022
By Berkeley Food Institute
We have had a fruitful growing season here at the Berkeley Food Institute! As we transition into fall, we are thrilled to announce three members of the BFI staff who each brings a wealth of food systems knowledge and experience to our team. Welcome, Sakeenah Shabazz, Scott Chang-Fleeman, and Vicky Chang!
Sakeenah is continuing her work with BFI as Policy Director after graduating from UC Berkeley’s Goldman School with a Master of Public Policy. As a grad student, she worked closely with our team as Policy Assistant and played an instrumental role in producing a number of BFI publications, including a factsheet on the impact of Covid-19 on grocery workers and a report on California’s Great Plates Delivered program. Since starting last month, she has represented BFI at the National Conference of State Legislatures summit in Denver and helped organize a legislative visit to the Agriculture and Land-Based Training Association in Salinas.
Born in San Diego, Sakeenah enjoys the rich tapestry of food traditions of her hometown, but she’s made it her mission to ensure equitable food access to all. After earning her bachelor’s in philosophy from Georgetown University, she became deeply involved in anti-hunger research and advocacy as an Emerson National Hunger Fellow at the Congressional Hunger Center in Washington, DC. She has also completed internships with the California Legislative Analyst’s Office and the San Francisco Human Services Agency.
As BFI’s Policy Director, Sakeenah will look for opportunities to partner with stakeholders in California that support farmworkers, diversified farming systems, health and food access — with racial equity as a throughline to ensure that BFI’s policy programming is future-facing and reparative. “I’m excited about making sure that the research of our stellar affiliate faculty reaches policymakers, especially at the state and federal levels, who can help us build a stronger food system,” she says.
Scott Chang-Fleeman joined the BFI team in April and has already had a sizable impact on BFI’s strategy and operations. As Administrative and Finance Director, Scott directs BFI’s behind-the-scenes by managing the budget and finances, overseeing hiring processes, and contributing his inside knowledge of food production and policy to inform BFI’s strategic planning.
Originally from Los Angeles, Scott brings to BFI an invaluable background in farm management, agroecology, and food and ag policy. When he’s not in the office, he’s either working on his farm, vending at farmers markets, or running produce deliveries around the Bay Area as the proprietor of Shao Shan Farm based in Sonoma County. He specializes in growing certified organic Asian vegetables and — as a member of the farmer collaborative Second Generation Seeds — saving and distributing rare and climate adapted seed varieties. Prior to starting his farm, Scott completed a nine-month training program at the UC Santa Cruz Center for Agroecology in 2017. Before that, he managed operations and finances at the educational farm and food waste recovery program at the Claremont Colleges.
“I have been following the Berkeley Food Institute since I was an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz and met gardeners at the Gill Tract,” Scott says. “That was my first exposure to food systems work at UC Berkeley, and now I’m excited to work alongside the farmers and researchers associated with BFI.”
Vicky Chang joins BFI as our first-ever Educational Programs Director. Vicky is new to UC Berkeley, but she’s no stranger to higher education. She started her career as a professor of biochemistry at Colorado College, with her PhD from Cornell University. From there, she taught college courses and designed curricula for more than a decade, holding positions, conducting research, and mentoring students at Drew and Kutztown universities. Her commitment to experiential learning then took her to the US National Park Service, where she transitioned from academia to become Director of Citizen Science at Joshua Tree.
Vicky’s latest venture took her to the Sierra Nevada foothills, where she co-founded Hopping Rabbit Farm and managed educational programs and sales for seven years. At Hopping Rabbit, Vicky was able to apply her science background to developing an agroecological operation by keeping native wildlife habitats intact, building up soil health, eliminating the need for pesticides, and ultimately becoming more water efficient than the average farm.
As BFI’s Educational Programs Director, Vicky will play a direct role in food systems education at UC Berkeley — both through coursework via the Food Systems Minor and Graduate Certificate in Food Systems as well as events and other student programs. In all, Vicky looks forward to digging into her rich background of academia, experiential learning, and sustainable food production to engage with the food system’s new leaders here on campus.
Lastly, Nathalie A. Muñoz, who has been serving as Administrative Coordinator since September 2019, is taking on a new role at BFI as Community Engagement Program Manager. In this position, Nathalie will work on expanding BFI’s off-campus presence by connecting the research of faculty directors and affiliated faculty with the communities this research serves. In the process, Nathalie will develop BFI’s programs to incorporate a more robust network of food systems advocates, researchers, educators, and practitioners.
We at BFI are beyond excited to welcome these food systems all-stars to our team!