The most urgent challenges in our food system today concern both the need to preserve the health of the human population and that of the earth itself. We have created a food system designed for maximum output, responsible for extreme environmental degradation and one quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions. And despite this optimization for yield, nearly 2 billion people worldwide are malnourished.

Washington Post Live and The Rockefeller Foundation are bringing together prominent leaders to discuss how to build a more sustainable and healthy food system that prioritizes the science of nutrition and reduces food waste.



Mike Johanns, Former U.S. Secretary of Agriculture (2005-2007)

Mike Johanns has a unique background acquired through more than 30 years of service at virtually every level of government, in both the legislative and executive branches. Recognized worldwide as a leader in agriculture and development, he has successfully led large and complex organizations. His bipartisan approach has earned the respect of colleagues and constituents across the political spectrum. Elected to the U.S. Senate in 2008, Johanns served in the 111th-113th Congresses as a member of the following committees: Appropriations, Agriculture, Banking, Commerce, Environment & Public Works, Indian Affairs and Veterans’ Affairs (varied by Congress).As the 28th Secretary of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Johanns directed 18 agencies employing 90,000 staff worldwide and managed a $93 billion budget. He opened or expanded access to 40 international markets and accomplished agricultural breakthroughs as a member of the U.S. negotiating team for the Doha Development Round. He conducted 32 international trips to advance trade, aid, food safety and as a representative of the President of the United States. Domestically, Johanns promoted the growth of the renewable fuels industry and advanced cooperative conservation. He guided the country through challenges relating to bird flu, BSE, TB and drought. An unprecedented achievement was the development of a complete farm bill proposal based on 50 nationwide listening sessions, half of which he personally hosted. His proposal became the foundation for improvements and reforms adopted in the 2008 farm bill. Johanns currently serves on the Board of Directors for Deere & Co and Corteva Agriscience. He also serves on the Board of Managers for Burlington Capital and OSI Group. In 2016, he was appointed by the President and Senate-confirmed to serve a term on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board and was reappointed and reconfirmed in 2019. He also serves as Chairman of Agriculture for alliantgroup – Houston, TX.

Tom Vilsack, President and CEO, U.S. Dairy Export Council

As president and CEO, Vilsack provides strategic leadership and oversight of USDEC’s global promotional and research activities, regulatory affairs and trade policy initiatives. This includes working with industry leaders to develop a long-term vision for building sales and consumer trust in U.S. dairy. Vilsack joined USDEC in January 2017 after serving eight years as the nation’s 30th Secretary of Agriculture, where he worked to strengthen the American agricultural economy, build vibrant rural communities and create new markets for the innovation of rural America. Prior to his appointment, he served two terms as the governor of Iowa, in the Iowa State Senate and as the mayor of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. Secretary Vilsack has been a proud member of the Iowa Bar Association since 1975 after graduating from Hamilton College and Albany Law School. He is a proud husband to his wife of 46 years, and father of two sons. He is fortunate to have 2 daughters-in-law and 5 grandchildren.

Lauren Shweder Biel, Executive Director and Co-Founder of DC Greens

Lauren Shweder Biel is Executive Director and co-founder of DC Greens [], a nonprofit that works to advance food justice and health equity in the nation’s capital. Since launching DC Greens in 2009, she has received many local and national awards and honors for her work as a community-builder, non-profit leader and strategic thought partner in building a healthy and equitable food system. DC Greens’ Produce Prescription Program is considered a national leader in the effort to integrate healthy food access into the healthcare system, with particular attention to Medicaid populations. The program received the top global award from the Milan Pact on Urban Food Policy in 2019. Lauren has served on the DC Mayor’s Commission for Healthy Youth and Schools, has co-chaired the “Diabesity” Committee for DC Health, and is currently an advisor to the Aspen Institute’s Food & Society, Food is Medicine working group.

Paula Daniels, Co-Founder, Chair of the Board, Center for Good Food Purchasing

Paula Daniels is Co-founder and Chair of the Center for Good Food Purchasing, a social enterprise non-profit founded in July of 2015 as a national spin-off from the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which Paula founded in 2011. The Center for Good Food Purchasing uses the power of procurement to create a transparent and equitable food system that prioritizes the health and well-being of people, animals, and the environment, through the nationally-networked adoption and implementation of the Good Food Purchasing Program by large institutions. There are numerous institutions in cities across the US enrolled in this Program.

She is a lawyer and public policy leader in environmental food and water policy, with extensive experience in developing and leading local, state and national environmental initiatives that include government, civil society, and private sector partners. Her most notable work is in urban forestry, green infrastructure (for stormwater management) and food system policy (all award-winning initiatives); she has also had key roles in other aspects of public policy and municipal infrastructure.

Paula has extensive experience in government: she served as Senior Advisor on Food Policy to Mayor Villaraigosa of Los Angeles; as a Los Angeles Public Works Commissioner (a full-time executive position overseeing a large city department); a commissioner with the California Coastal Commission; appointed board member of the California Bay-Delta Authority (overseeing the California State Water Project); and as a commissioner with the California Water Commission.