On March 26, chefs, artists, entrepreneurs and innovators from government and at the White House gathered in Washington at Arena Stage to discuss ways to improve what Americans eat and how they move.

Changing the Menu is part of the Post’s signature live event series America Answers, which seeks innovative ideas from cities and leaders outside the beltway to learn how they are finding solutions to issues that affect us all.

Video Highlights:


8:30 a.m. | REGISTRATION
Arena Stage, Washington, D.C.

9:00 a.m. | WELCOME

Government policies that are shaping the accessibility and affordability of food in America

-Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Interviewed by Chris Cillizza, Political Reporter, The Fix, The Washington Post

The debate over how and what to feed America’s school children

Dorothy McAuliffe, First Lady of the Commonwealth of Virginia
Dana Bedden, Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools
Kristin Groos Richmond, Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Revolution Foods
Moderated by Chris Cillizza, Political Reporter, The Fix, The Washington Post

Efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline

-Denisa Livingston, Health Advocate, Diné Community Advocacy Alliance
-Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)
Moderated by Abby Phillip, General Assignment Reporter, The Washington Post

-Lance Breger, 
Founder and President, Infinity Wellness Partners

A look at the forces that shape our food choices

-Marion Nestle, Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies and Public Health, New York University
-Phil Lempert, The Supermarket Guru and Editor, The Lempert Report
-Ricardo Salvador, Director, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists
Moderated by Tamar Haspel, Columnist, The Washington Post

-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
Interviewed by Karen Tumulty, National Political Correspondent, The Washington Post

-Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack
Interviewed by Ruth Marcus, Columnist, The Washington Post

The chief executive of one of the world’s largest food companies talks about the balance between healthy and affordable

-Donnie Smith, President and Chief Executive, Tyson Foods, Inc.
Interviewed by Peter Whoriskey, Reporter, The Washington Post

Efforts to produce and provide healthy and affordable options that meet growing demands

Adam Danforth, Butcher and Author
Nicolette Hahn Niman, Author, Lawyer and Rancher
Barry Carpenter, President and Chief Executive, North American Meat Institute
Moderated by Tamar Haspel, Columnist, The Washington Post

Adam Danforth, Butcher and Author

Are we getting what we pay for – and does it matter?

-Kathleen Merrigan, Executive Director, Sustainability Collaborative, George Washington University
-Jaclyn Bowen, General Manager, Quality Assurance International; North American Agriculture Director, NSF
-Matthew Dillon, Director of Agricultural Policy and Programs, Clif Bar & Company
Moderated by Roberto Ferdman, Food and Economics Reporter, Wonkblog, The Washington Post

-Hugh Byrne, Senior Teacher, Insight Meditation Community of Washington

12:45 p.m. LUNCH

Trend-spotter Steve Case on the entrepreneurs that are transforming food in America

-Steve Case, Chairman and Chief Executive, Revolution; Co-founder, America Online
Interviewed by Eugene Robinson, Columnist and Associate Editor, The Washington Post

Companies and brands that have made healthy options the norm

Dan Kish, Senior Vice President, Food, Panera
Steve Burnham, President, Safeway Eastern Division
Brad Haley, Chief Marketing Officer, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.
Interviewed by Alison Snyder, Senior Editorial Producer, The Washington Post

A look at grassroots efforts to provide healthy food and train the next generation of food entrepreneurs

-Noam Kimelman, Founder, Fresh Corner Cafe and Detroit Food Academy
-Fiona Ruddy, Director of Food Access Programs, Eastern Market Corporation
-Phillip Jones, Project Designer, The City/Food Project; Owner, Jones Urban Foods
Moderated by Michael Fletcher, National Economics Correspondent, The Washington Post

An update on the First Lady’s initiatives to tackle childhood obesity

-Debra Eschmeyer, Executive Director, Let’s Move!
-Cristeta ‘Cris’ Comerford, White House Executive Chef
Moderated by Juliet Eilperin, White House Bureau Chief, The Washington Post

How eating isn’t just about food but also family, faith and community

-Seitu Jones, Visual artist
-Bryant Terry, Chef and Author, “Afro-Vegan
Moderated by Philip Kennicott, Art and Architecture Critic, The Washington Post

Bryant Terry, Chef and Author, “Afro-Vegan”

How entrepreneurship and philanthropy go hand-in-hand to address hunger

Lauren Bush Lauren, Founder and Chief Executive, FEED Projects
Interviewed by Elahe Izadi, General Assignment National Reporter, The Washington Post

The future of food policy and how to “change the menu”

-Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
-Eric Kessler, Principal and Senior Managing Director, Arabella Advisors
-Spike Mendelsohn, Chef, Restauranteur and Chairman of D.C.’s Food Policy Council
Moderated by Joe Yonan, Food and Dining Editor, The Washington Post

4:30 p.m. Program Ends


Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack

Secretary Tom Vilsack leads the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In five years at the USDA, Vilsack has worked to implement President Obama’s agenda, supporting America’s farmers, ranchers and growers and helping provide a safe, sufficient and nutritious food supply for the American people. As chair of the first-ever White House Rural Council, Vilsack and USDA aim to strengthen services for rural businesses and entrepreneurs by finding new ways to partner with other federal agencies and the private sector to spur investment in rural America. Prior to his appointment, Vilsack served two terms as the governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa.

Dana Bedden
Superintendent, Richmond Public Schools

On Dec. 22, 2013, the Richmond Board of Education selected Dana Tyrone Bedden to serve as the next superintendent of Richmond Public Schools. Prior to his selection, Bedden served as the superintendent of the Irving, Texas Independent School District where he oversaw a school district with 4500 employees serving 35,111 students representing 90 countries and speaking over 50 languages on 38 campuses. Prior to Irving ISD, Bedden served as superintendent for Richmond County in Augusta, Ga., where he also had two high schools recognized in the top 200 schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. He has also served as a regional superintendent in Philadelphia Public Schools, high school principal at School Without Walls Senior High School in Washington, D.C. and sub-school principal in Fairfax County Schools.

Jaclyn Bowen
General Manager, Quality Assurance International; Director, North American Agriculture, NSF International

Jaclyn Bowen serves as both general manager of Quality Assurance International (QAI) and director of the NSF International’s North American Agriculture Programs. As Director of NSF International’s Agriculture Programs, Bowen oversees the certification, auditing, consulting, training, farm services and laboratory testing services provided to agricultural businesses, farmers and growers in North America. Her most recent focus has been the development and launch of a new program, NSF Consumer Values Verified, which offers Gluten-Free, Non-GMO Project and TrueSource Honey verifications, among others.

Lance Breger
Founder and President, Infinity Wellness Partners

Lance Breger is a national wellness coach and founder of Infinity Wellness Partners, a comprehensive corporate wellness company that prepares professionals for a productive and healthy work-life through on-site and online training in the areas of health and wellness including fitness, nutrition, ergonomics, mind and body.

Steve Burnham
President, Safeway Eastern Division

Steve Burnham is president of the Safeway Eastern Division, based out of Lanham, Md. Previously, he served as senior vice president of produce, floral and bakery. He was also vice president of marketing for the Vons Division. Burnham joined Safeway in 1989 and worked his way through the company’s meat department at the store, district, division and national levels, eventually becoming vice president of seafood. In 2007, he was appointed vice president of Marketing Planning.

Lauren Bush Lauren
Founder and Chief Executive, FEED Projects

Lauren Bush Lauren is the founder and chief executive of FEED, a social business aimed to “create good products that help feed the world.” As a student, Bush Lauren traveled around the world with the UN World Food Programme. In 2005, she conceptualized the idea for FEED by designing the initial FEED 1 bag. FEED was founded in 2007. Every product sold has a donation attached to it and, to date, the social business has been able to provide over 87 million meals globally through the WFP and Feeding America.

Hugh Byrne
Senior Teacher, Insight Meditation Community of Washington

Hugh Byrne is a guiding teacher with the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, and has taught mindfulness meditation in the United States and internationally since 2000. His upcoming book, “The Here-and-Now Habit,” provides skills and practices for changing unhealthy habits through mindfulness. Byrne has worked in the field of human rights and social justice. He is co-founder of the Mindfulness Training Institute of Washington and the Meditation Teacher Training Institute

Barry Carpenter
President and Chief Executive, North American Meat Institute

Barry Carpenter was named president and chief executive of the North American Meat Institute on Jan. 1, 2015. Prior to the merger, he had served as chief executive of the North American Meat Association. He was named chief executive of NAMA’s predecessor organization, the National Meat Association, in 2007, following his retirement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 37 years at USDA, Carpenter headed the Agricultural Marketing Service’s Livestock and Seed Division. He created the United States’ beef export verification program and authorized video technology for beef yield and quality grading.

Steve Case

Chairman and Chief Executive, Revolution; Co-founder, America Online

Steve Case is the chairman and chief executive of Revolution, a Washington, D.C.- based investment firm he co-founded in 2005. Investments in the Revolution portfolio include the fast-casual restaurant Sweetgreen, Revolution Foods which is transforming school lunches, and Miraval — a healthy living company providing resort experiences. Case is also an investor in José Andrés’ Think Food Group.

Cristeta “Cris” Comerford
White House Executive Chef

Appointed by First Lady Laura Bush, Cristeta “Cris” Comerford became the first woman executive chef at the White House in 2005. Her many responsibilities include designing and executing menus for state dinners, social events, holiday functions, receptions and official luncheons. First Lady Michelle Obama inspired the White House culinary team to adopt the Harriet Tubman Elementary School in Washington as a part of her Let’s Move initiative. Comerford’s 26 years of culinary experience include fine dining restaurants in Washington, Chicago, Austria, Napa Valley and France.

Adam Danforth
Butcher and Author

Author Adam Danforth trained in the professional meat processing program at the State University of New York College of Agriculture and Technology at Cobleskill in New York, and has worked at Marlow and Daughters in New York City. In butchering workshops across the United States, including at the Stone Barns Center for Agriculture, Danforth shares his skills with individuals who are slaughtering and butchering for personal consumption.

Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.)

Rep. Rosa DeLauro represents Connecticut’s third district , which stretches from the Long Island Sound and New Haven to the Naugatuck Valley and Waterbury. DeLauro serves in the Democratic leadership as co-chair of the Steering and Policy Committee, and is the ranking member on the Labor, Health, Human Services and Education Appropriations Subcommittee, where she oversees investments in education, health and employment. She formerly served as the chairwoman of the Agriculture Appropriations Subcommittee, which is responsible for funding the USDA and FDA.

Matthew Dillon
Director of Agricultural Policy and Programs, Clif Bar & Company

Matthew Dillon is director of agricultural policy and programs at Clif Bar & Company. In his role, Dillon serves as the company’s liaison with state and federal officials on organic policy issues. He has held diverse roles in the organic agriculture field since 1982, including farmer, non-profit advocate and consultant to organic food companies. Prior to joining Clif Bar in 2012, he was founding director of Organic Seed Alliance where he launched the nation’s first organic plant breeding research education program.

Debra Eschmeyer
Executive Director, Let’s Move!

Debra Eschmeyer is the current senior policy advisor for nutrition policy at the White House and executive director of Let’s Move! Eschmeyer co-founded FoodCorps, a national AmeriCorps service program that supports the National School Lunch Program’s healthier guidelines. She is a recipient of the James Beard Foundation Leadership Award. Previously, she served as a W.K. Kellogg food and community fellow and worked at the National Farm to School Network. Tied to her policy work, Eschmeyer also started a fruit and vegetable farm in Ohio, with her husband.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand was sworn in to office in January 2009. She is the first New York senator to sit on the Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee in nearly 40 years. Before the Senate, Gillibrand served in the U.S. House of Representatives, representing New York’s 20th Congressional District. Prior to her service in Congress, she worked as an attorney in New York City for more than a decade and served as special counsel to Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Andrew Cuomo during the Clinton Administration.

Kristin Groos Richmond
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Revolution Foods

Kristin Groos Richmond’s career has spanned from corporate finance at Citibank to education. She was formerly the vice president of resources for Indispensable Schools and Educators and co-founded the Kenya Community Center for Learning in Nairobi. Richmond is an Aspen Institute New Leaders in Education fellow, an Ashoka fellow and an Education Pioneers fellow. She is also a member of the White House Council for Community Solutions and a Young Global Leader fellow of the World Economic Forum.

Nicolette Hahn Niman
Author, Lawyer, Rancher

Nicolette Hahn Niman is an attorney and livestock rancher. She authored the books “Defending Beef: The Case for Sustainable Meat Production” and “Righteous Porkchop:  Finding a Life and Good Food Beyond Factory Farms.” Previously, she was senior attorney for the environmental organization Waterkeeper. She lives in Northern California with her two sons, and her husband, Bill Niman, founder of the natural meat companies Niman Ranch and BN Ranch.

Brad Haley
Chief Marketing Officer, CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc.

Brad Haley was promoted to chief marketing officer for CKE Restaurants Holdings, Inc. in 2011. He joined CKE as executive vice president of marketing for Hardee’s in 2000 and added the responsibility of Carl’s Jr. marketing in January 2004. Haley leads all facets of marketing for CKE including Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s including brand positioning, advertising, product development and merchandising. While at Jack in the Box restaurants in the 1990s, Haley received an award from Brandweek magazine for his work to help orchestrate the chain’s turnaround, following an E. coli contaminated hamburger incident, with the launch of the “Jack’s Back” advertising campaign.

Phillip Jones
Project Designer, The City / Food Project; Owner, Jones Urban Foods

Phillip Jones is a member of the Detroit Food Policy Council and a volunteer chef instructor for the community organization Cooking Matters. Jones’ is the project designer for The City / Food Project, a place-based small food business and community incubator.

Seitu Kenneth Jones

Working on his own or with others, Seitu Kenneth Jones has created over 30 large-scale public artworks. He just completed artwork for three metro transit stations along the new Greenline LRT in St. Paul, Minn. Jones was awarded a Loeb Fellowship in the Harvard Graduate School of Design. He was millennium artist-in-residence for 651 Arts in Brooklyn, and was the City of Minneapolis¹ first Artist-in-Residence. A 2013 Joyce Award from Chicago¹s Joyce Foundation allowed Jones to develop CREATE: The Community Meal, a dinner for 2000 people at a table 1/2 mile long that focused on access to healthy food. He is also working with members of his neighborhood to create a 5-acre farm in a new city park in Frogtown, St. Paul. Jones teaches Urban Food Systems at the University of Minnesota and is on the faculty of Goddard College in Port Townsend, Wash.

Eric Kessler
Principal and Senior Managing Director, Arabella Advisors

Eric Kessler is founder of Arabella Advisors. The group aims to help foundations, philanthropists and mission-driven investors maximize their impact by building and managing effective grantmaking strategies, advocacy campaigns and investment portfolios. Kessler leads a food practice, working with many of America’s biggest donors focused on healthy, nutritious, sustainable and affordable food. He is a trustee of the James Beard Foundation, creator of the Chef Policy Boot Camps, co-founder of the Chef Action Network and investor in restaurants, producers and other businesses supporting a better food system.

Noam Kimelman
Founder, Fresh Corner Cafe and Detroit Food Academy

Noam Kimelman was awarded the Small Business Administration’s SCORE Outstanding Young Entrepreneur of the Year for founding and leading Fresh Corner Cafe and Detroit Food Academy, two Detroit-based social enterprises aimed to further equity, improve quality of life and create opportunity.

Dan Kish
Senior Vice President, Food, Panera Bread

Dan Kish came to Panera in 2005 as the director of product development. In 2007, Kish was promoted to vice president of food and now serves as senior vice president of food. In this role, he is responsible for development and innovation of the Panera Bread cafe menu including sandwiches, salads, soups and beverages. Previously, Kish served as an associate dean for Culinary Fundamentals at the Culinary Institute of America. Kish also served as a professor at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Phil Lempert
Supermarket Guru and Editor, The Lempert Report

For more than 20 years, Phil Lempert has served as food trends editor and correspondent for NBC News’ Today show, as well as appearing regularly on FOX Business, Dr. Oz, The View , The Oprah Winfrey Show, 20/20, CNN, CNBC and FOX , as well as on local television morning and news programs throughout the country. Lempert is the author of “Being the Shopper and Healthy, Wealthy & Wise,” “Phil Lempert’s Supermarket Shopping & Value Guide,” “Top Ten Trends for Baby Boomers” and “Crisis Management: A Workbook for Survival.”

Denisa Livingston
Health Advocate, Diné Community Advocacy Alliance

Denisa Livingston is a community health advocate, health and wellness consultant and a member of the Navajo Nation. Livingston and her group, Diné Community Advocacy Alliance, were recently recognized for several bills that were signed into law addressing the epidemics of diabetes and obesity, the dominate culture of unhealthy foods, and the lack of healthy food access on the Navajo Nation.

Dorothy McAuliffe
First Lady, Virginia

As first lady of Virginia, Dorothy McAuliffe currently serves as chair of the Commonwealth Council on Bridging the Nutritional Divide. The group focuses on eliminating childhood hunger, developing local agriculture markets and promoting community efforts that link locally grown food, education, health and nutrition.

Spike Mendelsohn
Chef, Restauranteur and Chairman of D.C.’s Food Policy Council

Spike Mendelsohn is the first chairman of D.C.’s Food Policy Council, an organization tasked with promoting food economy and entrepreneurship, improving food access and equity, and promoting agriculture and production. A chef, restauranteur and television personality, Mendelsohn owns multiple restaurants in the Washington area, including Bearnaise on Capitol Hill. He also serves as a chef ambassador for C.A.R.E. and is a graduate of the James Beard Foundation’s Bootcamp for Policy and Change.

Kathleen Merrigan
Executive Director, Sustainability Collaborative, George Washington University

Kathleen Merrigan leads university efforts in sustainability education, research and outreach. From 2009 to 2013, Merrigan was deputy secretary and chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Merrigan created and led the Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food Initiative to support local food systems, was an architect of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign and was the first woman to chair the Ministerial Conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.

Marion Nestle
Paulette Goddard Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University

Marion Nestle is a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. She chaired from 1988-2003. Nestle is also a professor of sociology at NYU and a visiting professor of nutritional sciences at Cornell. Her research examines scientific and societal influences on food choice, especially food marketing. She is the author of five prize-winning books, among them “Food Politics, What to Eat, and Eat, Drink, Vote: An Illustrated Guide to Food Politics.” Oxford Press is publishing her next book “Soda Politics” in September.

Fiona Ruddy
Director of Food Access Programs, Eastern Market Corporation

Fiona Ruddy is the director of Food Access Programs at Detroit’s Eastern Market Corporation. Ruddy’s work is about shifting domestic paradigms to view food as a fundamental human right and actively dispelling the narrative of Detroit as a food desert. In 2013, she was recognized for her work as one of Crain’s Detroit Business’ “20 in Their 20s.”

Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)

Congressman Tim Ryan represent Ohio’s 13th congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has served for over 12 years and is currently a member of the House Appropriations Committee and the House Budget Committee. Ryan is the author of “The Real Food Revolution: Healthy Eating, Green Groceries, and the Return of the American Family Farm.”

Ricardo Salvador
Director, Food and Environment Program, Union of Concerned Scientists

As the senior scientist and director of the Food & Environment Program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ricardo Salvador works with citizens, scientists, economists and politicians to transition the current food system into one that grows healthy foods while employing sustainable practices. Previously, Salvador served as program officer for Food, Health, and Wellbeing with the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. He also worked as an extensionist with Texas A&M University and was an associate professor of agronomy at Iowa State University.

Donnie Smith
President and Chief Executive, Tyson Foods

Donnie Smith joined Tyson Foods in 1980, working in poultry operations for 7 years in Tennessee before moving to the company’s headquarters in Springdale, Ark., where he started as a commodity buyer. He was named director of commodity purchasing in 1991 and during the next several years added complementary responsibilities to his management portfolio: logistics, purchasing and information systems in 2006; and engineering, food safety and quality assurance, and environmental health and safety in 2007. He moved into the company’s consumer products division in 2008 and was named senior group vice president of poultry and prepared foods in early 2009, the same year he was appointed as president and CEO.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Bryant Terry
Chef and Author, “Afro-Vegan: Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed”

Bryant Terry is the author of “The Inspired Vegan” and the “Vegan Soul Kitchen.” Along with Anna Lappe, Terry also co-authored “Grub.” He is the host of “Urban Organic,” a multi-episode Web series that he co-created. He has made appearances on the “Martha Stewart Show,” “Emeril Green,” “The Splendid Table” and NPR’s “Morning Edition.” His work has been featured in the New York Times, Gourmet, Food & Wine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Essence, Yoga Journal and Vegetarian Times, among others.

Additional speakers to be announced. Biographies are provided by speakers and edited only for length and clarity.