Food First Announces New Executive Director

Food First | 06.05.2019

M. Jahi Chappell

CONTACT: Erik Hazard,, 510 – 654 – 4400 Ext. 221

(Oakland) The Food First Board of Directors and staff are excited to welcome Dr. M. Jahi Chappell as the new Executive Director of Food First. Jahi will begin his tenure on August 1st, and will lead Food First in its mission to end the root causes of hunger through research, education, and action in support of grassroots movements and frontline communities.

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Dr. Joyce King, the President of the Food First Board of Directors, stated “At this moment in history, when activists and academics involved in food justice movements all over the world are challenged to find resources to support our work in solidarity with front-line communities engaged in the struggle to end hunger, the Board of Directors at Food First is excited to welcome Dr. Jahi Chappell as our next Executive Director. Jahi brings an impressive blend of analysis and action to Food First.  His global expertise in agroecology, rigorous scholarship and on-the-ground engagement with farmers, social movements and alliances align well with Food First’s mission. Like Jahi, board members are also engaged with diverse communities across the US, Africa, the Global South, and food security research and policies. We eagerly embrace Jahi’s commitment to continuing Food First’s thinking and doing tradition of systemic analysis and strategic direct action for food sovereignty.”

Jahi is a political agroecologist, an activist, and a scholar of food justice and food sovereignty. He holds a PhD in ecology and evolutionary biology. He comes to us from Coventry University in the United Kingdom where he has served as Associate Professor of Agroecology and Agriculture Policy for the past three years. With 15 years of experience in leadership positions in the non-profit sector and academia, Jahi has worked with local communities, social movements, and universities around the world. Driven by a commitment to solidarity with grassroots groups and frontline communities, he has dedicated his life to challenging structural and institutional violence and oppression against black and indigenous communities, people of color, and women.

Food First’s retiring Executive Director, Eric Holt-Giménez, said “From informing the public to amplifying the voices of frontline communities, over the years Food First has moved steadily from being the nation’s primary food think tank, to becoming a movement-driven “think-and-do tank.” With Jahi Chappell as our next executive director, the Institute for Food and Development Policy joins the wave of new leadership mobilizing communities around the world for food, farm, and climate justice. The timing couldn’t be better!”

Jahi said about his new position, “In these challenging times, we need more than ever hope that does not deceive us, and critique that does not paralyze us. For over 40 years, Food First has been one of the foremost organizations providing rigorous evidence for hope, and critical action and analysis for change. I look forward to continuing Food First’s work in supporting the struggles of the food system’s many protagonists for a food sovereign, agroecological world, where food is produced, distributed, and eaten in the spirit of joy, dignity, and respect.”

The Food First Board and staff are eager to begin this new chapter for Food First with Jahi as the Executive Director, and look forward to continuing our mission of ending the injustices that cause hunger.

CONTACT: Erik Hazard,, 510 – 654 – 4400 Ext. 221