Whelan headshot

Emerson Fellow

Elizabeth Whelan

10th Class, 2003-2004

Elizabeth studied Poetry Writing and Religion at the University of Virginia. The summer after her first year of college, she returned to Zambia (where her family had lived for five years) to volunteer at an orphanage while compiling a photo-essay. Upon her return, she created a website to raise funds and awareness for the orphanage. She also created a photo-essay focusing on the effects of Hurricane Mitch on a small community in rural Honduras. At UVA, she co-founded an organization to educate students about the prevalence and prevention of eating disorders.

Field placement: Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona

Tucson, Arizona

Elizabeth promoted family food security by exploring micro-enterprise opportunities with women of the Pima Community College Adult Education Family Literacy Program. She provided technical support and education as they developed a focused “plan of action” to begin a value-added and prepared foods business and developed the marketing strategy by using creative assessments of the market for locally made food. The success of this enterprise serves as an inspiration and template for other women in the larger Tucson Family Literacy Programs to begin small businesses.

Policy placement: U.S. Department of Agriculture

Washington, D.C.

Elizabeth coordinated the new USDA nationwide food stamp outreach coalition uniting national, state and local advocates with policy makers to focus on outreach as a way to improve participation in the Food Stamp Program. She was also involved in management of the national media campaign, outreach grant competition, and expansion and maintenance of a food stamp outreach website.