Emerson Fellows Bring Community Experience to National Hunger Policy

Emerson, Policy, Updates

The Hunger Center is pleased to announce the policy placements for the 30th Class of Bill Emerson National Hunger Fellows. From February to July, 2024, fellows will be placed with 12 different host organizations, mostly located in Washington, D.C. Their projects will focus on a range of topics related to hunger and poverty and their root causes, including tracking outcomes from the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health, rollout of the new summer EBT program across the U.S., amplifying the voices of people with lived experience of poverty and hunger, connecting and informing partners in advocacy, and supporting access to basic needs for college students and youth.

“The 30th Class of Emerson Fellows have returned from their field placements with a wealth of firsthand experience and knowledge about what’s working and what isn’t in nutrition and poverty policy at the state and local level,” said Tony Jackson, Director of the Emerson Fellowship. “As they begin the second half of their fellowships, we encourage them to find ways to bridge the divide between community-based and national policy solutions to hunger and poverty. Their passion and unique perspectives will be key ingredients in developing sound, equitable policies to end hunger and poverty across the U.S.”

Organizations apply to host a fellow through a competitive process, and fellows are matched to their policy placements taking into account the fellows’ interests, experiences, and career goals, as well as the host organizations’ needs and other factors. Since 1994, Emerson Fellows have worked with over 100 policy-focused host organizations. The 30th Class of Emerson Fellows returned to Washington, D.C., last week, after working with community-based organizations across the country since September 2023.


2024 Policy Placements

Bread for the World Institute
DC Office of Planning
Feeding American
Food Research & Action Center
The Hope Center
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
APHSA Logo  

Alfred Gary III will support APHSA’s “Coordinating SNAP & Nutrition Supports” program, improving access for SNAP participants by aligning with other nutrition supports and centering individuals with lived expertise with SNAP. Alfred will also monitor state-by-state plans for implementation of Summer EBT.


Alfred Gary III
Bread for the World Logo  

Denise Ramos-Vega will develop a schema for tracking for outcomes from the 2022 White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health for the Bread for the World Institute. This will provide Bread and its advocacy partners evidence and data to ensure that progress is being made on the goals set by the conference.


Denise Ramos-Vega
Brookings Logo  

Nicholas French will contribute to Brookings’ “Valuing Black Assets Initiative,” which focuses on Black business development, equity in entrepreneurship, valuing homes in Black communities, a study of Black-majority cities in Michigan, and equitable and innovative business models.


Nicholas French
CLASP Logo  

Tylah Harrison and Tatiana Villegas are both placed with CLASP.

Tylah will support CLASP’s Community Partnership Group and Community-Driven Policy and Practice Work, which centers the voices of people with lived expertise of hunger and poverty policies in advocacy.

Tatiana will work with CLASP’s Youth Team to support their New Deal for Youth and Youth Mobile Response Technical Assistance and Working Group.


Tylah Harrison

Tatiana Villegas

D.C. Office of Planning Logo  

Zhara Edwards will be placed with the Government of the District of Columbia’s Office of Planning, Food Policy Division, where she will analyze the landscape of food insecurity on college campuses in the District, including researching federal food and education policies, best practices from other jurisdictions, and interviews with students and school administrators.


Zhara Edwards
Feeding America  

Adin Burwell and Kathryn Tzivanis will be placed with Feeding America.

Adin will document and assess the rollout of the summer EBT program and rural non-congregate option in summer meals across the U.S. and develop recommendations for streamlining the programs.

Kathryn will collect data on state-level implementation of SNAP for an advocacy database. She will also investigate barriers to accessing Medicaid, a program which many SNAP participants also use, to contextualize challenges to access the two programs share.


Adin Burwell

Kathryn Tzivanis

Food Research & Action Center Logo  

Maria Islam and Stefano Mancini will be placed with Food Research & Action Center (FRAC).

Maria will support FRAC’s advocacy around federal child nutrition programs, including research on state policies guaranteeing healthy school meals and implementation of the summer EBT program.

Stefano will focus on SNAP, monitoring federal Congressional oversight and action, legislative proposals, and USDA rule-making on the program, as well as analyzing data on participation and trends.


Maria Islam

Stefano Mancini

The Hope Center Logo  

Chas Nystrom will contribute to the Hope Center’s advocacy to reform federal policy to improve student basic needs security through research of relevant resources and research and creating educational materials for coalition partners and state and federal policymakers.


Chas Nystrom
NSAC Logo  

Kenneth Palmer will design and implement a system for tracking engagement and impact of advocacy efforts for the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition.


Kenneth Palmer
RESULTS logo  

John Hoang will help develop domestic anti-poverty policy campaigns for RESULTS through research, feedback from and engagement with community partners, and educational briefings and webinars.


John Hoang
USDA Logo  

Avyan Mejdeen’s work with USDA will focus on developing best practices for implementation of child nutrition programs in Residential Child Care Institutions, and improving ease-of-use and organization for the agency’s website.


Avyan Mejdeen
HHS Logo  

Jeanie Kim will work with HHS Administration for Children and Families’s Office of External Affairs to document and track the agency’s efforts and alignment with the national strategy developed at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health in 2022.


Jeanie Kim


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