Chanta Williams

Interim Executive Director

When Whole Cities Foundation invested in the Chicago South Side neighborhood of Englewood to help build a sustainable local food system and grow community health, it bought its Community First Principles to life—and attracted the attention of Chanta, an Englewood native.

Previous to joining Whole Cities Foundation in 2020, Chanta earned her BA in Political Science from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She went on to serve as a frontline fundraiser and communication professional in social justice and opportunity youth-focused organizations for more than a decade. She was selected for the Association for Fundraising Professionals Chicago Chapter’s Fellows Program, the Young Nonprofit Professional Network of Chicago’s Leadership Institute, the African-American Leadership Institute.

Currently, Chanta serves as Whole Cities Foundation’s Interim Director. Chanta creates shared value partnerships, promotes the engagement of diverse stakeholders, and champions authentic storytelling. Chanta is proud to contribute to the Foundation’s unique community-led approach to philanthropy and feels lucky to have the opportunity to support food access work in communities she so deeply cares about.

Dr. Akua Woolbright

Nutrition Program Director

Dr. Akua Woolbright, Ph.D., is an authoritative expert on nutrition with a passion for helping individuals and communities achieve healthier lives.

Dr. Woolbright joined the Whole Foods Market corporate offices in Austin, Texas, in 2009, where she helped create and implement the organization’s national healthy eating program. She moved to Michigan in 2012 to help lead the company’s community engagement efforts prior to the store opening in Midtown Detroit. Whole Foods Market formalized the “Community First” principles and best practices born out of the Detroit advance team’s groundbreaking work by creating the Whole Cities Foundation. The Whole Cities Foundation mission is to increase access to fresh, healthy foods and quality nutrition education.

In 2014, Dr. Woolbright became the founding member and Nutrition Program Director of Whole Cities Foundation. In addition to teaching weekly classes in Newark, New Jersey, and the Englewood community in Chicago, she runs the foundation’s Let’s Talk Food Nutrition and Culinary Education Center in Midtown Detroit, where hundreds of students attend healthy eating lectures, cooking demonstrations, and support groups each week.

Prior to joining Whole Foods Market, Dr. Akua Woolbright lived in Washington, D.C., where she received her PhD in nutritional science from Howard University and worked as a public health nutritionist in the areas of breastfeeding promotion, cancer prevention and survival, HIV/AIDS treatment, weight loss, asthma, and international childhood malnutrition.

Dianna Purcell

Senior Grant Programs Manager

As Dianna completed her studies in schools across three continents, she came to see that food was central to the culture, economy, and health of every community. She developed a passion for healthy food access and a belief that systemic, sustainable change occurs when communities build on their own unique strengths.

Dianna completed her BA at New York University and her MBA at the University of Cape Town, where she focused on sustainable food systems, small enterprise growth, and inclusive business practices. She then worked with smallholder farmers, government, and food retailers in South Africa on inclusive procurement practices and designed growth strategies for a social enterprise with an innovative, efficient way of producing organic, non-GMO vegetables using 80% less water without soil or tools.

Dianna joined the Whole Cities team in January 2015. Her favorite part of her role is working collaboratively to continually improve Whole Cities’ support for the communities the foundation serves.

Brittany Reyes

Grant Programs Specialist

Food has played a significant role in Brittany’s life, particularly as it relates to culture and community. Born and raised in San Antonio, Texas, she experienced a deep connection between food and Mexican culture. She eventually moved but even in other cities, she always found community around food rooted in Mexican traditions. This gave her a deep sense of home—even when she wasn’t in Texas.

This understanding of the relationship between food and community serves Brittany well in her role at Whole Cities Foundation. As Grant Programs Specialist, she oversees grant applications, contracts, payments and reporting processes and offers tailored support for each community partner based on their unique needs, desires and identity. Brittany is consistently awed and inspired by the innovative ways that local nonprofits and leaders serve their communities and feels lucky to play a small part in their impactful work.

Brittany has a BA in psychology from St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas and a MSW with specialization in Political Social Work from the Graduate College of Social Work at the University of Houston. She is a licensed master social worker (LMSW) in Texas. Prior to joining Whole Cities Foundation in 2022, Brittany worked in the field of education for more than five years.

 

Nikki Newman

Digital Communications & Emerging Media Senior Programs Manager

Nikki believes every person should have access to fresh, healthy food! Growing up in a small town in Arkansas, she learned early on about the extreme difference between food grown in her mom’s garden compared to highly processed packaged or fast foods.

After moving to Austin in 2001 to attend the University of Texas at Austin, she visited her first Whole Foods Market store and quickly fell in love with the fresh produce options, quality standards, and core values. She graduated with a BA in Journalism with a Photojournalism concentration and very soon after started as a cashier at the Lamar store in Austin, Texas.

Since joining Whole Foods Market in 2006, she has had the opportunity to celebrate her joy and love for food by holding a variety of positions ranging from a concierge Team Member all the way to a Senior Manager on the Global Social Media Team. Nikki joined Whole Cities Foundation in March 2019 and is on a mission to help everyone learn more about Whole Cities Foundation!

Mary Tran

Communications & Operations Project Manager

After graduating from the University of Texas at Austin with a BS in Advertising, Mary supported retail purchasing at JCPenney before joining Whole Foods Market in 2006. She then spent 13 years with the natural and organic foods retailer holding a variety of marketing positions including roles in project management, brand partnerships and paid media.

Mary wanted to be a part of Whole Foods Market’s nonprofit foundations, whose work she had long admired. She got that chance in 2019 when she began supporting Whole Kids Foundation and soon after accepted a second position at its sister organization, Whole Cities Foundation. As Communications Project Manager for both organizations, Mary oversees day-to-day traffic and project management of communication initiatives, marketing programs and fundraising campaigns.

Mary is grateful to be a part of the Foundation’s “healthy food for all” mission by helping to share stories of community partners building thriving local food systems by expanding fresh, healthy food access.

David Ramos

Digital Marketing Specialist

David joined Whole Cities Foundation in 2022 after serving as the Parent Community Liaison at a public elementary school located southeast of Austin, Texas where he focused on parent education, community resources and communication. He helped the school become an important resource hub for the surrounding rural community by engaging with locals at in-person events and through a digital presence.

Now, as Whole Cities Foundation’s Digital Marketing Specialist, David communicates with an international audience as he manages digital communications and social media channels. He shares success stories from both the Foundation and its community partners, as well as promotes valuable opportunities.

David also has a decade of experience as the director of elementary and high school ballet folklorico dance teams, which were inspired by time honored traditions of Mexican heritage. During that time, he helped nine students secure scholarships to the University of Texas Permian Basin where they danced on the school’s premier ballet folklorico team.

Ashley Reinhardt

Development Specialist

Ashley believes nutritious food is not only a basic human need but can be a catalyst to live our best lives. Nourishing food served as a vehicle for healing in her own life, and she is excited to support Whole Cities Foundation’s efforts to increase access to healthy fresh foods and grow community health.

Ashley began her career with the Ronald McDonald House of Dallas first as an Operations Intern, then the Welcome Room Manager and later as the Volunteer Coordinator. She then moved to Houston where she accepted the role of Leadership Experience Manager at the Girl Scouts of San Jacinto Council. While supervising the organization’s Healthy Living programs, Ashley gained a deeper understanding of the importance of healthy food access and nutrition education.

 Now, as the Foundations Development Specialist for Whole Cities Foundation, Ashley oversees corporate fundraising and partnership relations. She enjoys building relationships with partners to further the work of the communities the Foundation serves.

Nona Evans
Executive Director Emeritus

Nona is dedicated to nourishing people with healthy food choices, whether they’re kids in school or adults in the community. She is the Executive Director for Whole Cities Foundation and its sister organization, Whole Kids Foundation. She calls her life’s work making wholesome food mainstream “penance” for the past working lives of her ancestors. “My grandfather on one side of the family owned an Italian restaurant, and my grandfather on the other side started a candy store. They put a lot of sugar and calories out in the world!”

Nona started her career in a conventional grocery store, in marketing and PR, before she found her way to organic specialty market chain Whole Foods Market. There, she headed the company’s foray into educating its customers about what children across the country were eating for lunch, and how it affected how they were performing in school. Response to the program was so successful that it became larger than her job description. So, in 2012 she went to the company’s powers that be and they voted to translate her work into Whole Kids Foundation, to provide schools with grants to start gardens and salad bars. Nona has been its fearless and passionate leader ever since.

She holds a BA in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin.

Board of Directors

Omar Gaye

Whole Foods Market Regional President

Scott Allshouse

Whole Foods Market Regional President

Juan Nunez

Whole Foods Market Regional President

Cristina Dos Santos

Whole Foods Market Store Team Leader

Glenda Flanagan

Whole Foods Market Executive Vice President & Senior Advisor

Keith Manbeck, Interim Chairman

Whole Foods Market CFO

Jim Sud

Whole Foods Market Executive Vice President & Senior Advisor

Ken Meyer

Renewable Resources Group

Catherine Kiely

Whole Foods Market Store Team Leader

 


Staff and Board Alum

Meredith Smith

Founding Executive Director

2014 – 2017

As Founding Executive Director of Whole Cities, Meredith began the work of turning the loose idea of Whole Cities Foundation into a mission, purpose and programs.  Meredith’s experience in public health and community organizing were skills that complemented Whole Foods’ conscious capitalist sensibilities.

The organization’s board defined the scope of Whole Cities work – focus cities – and Meredith set about meeting community leaders to understand how our new endeavor could complement their vision and contribute value to their efforts.

It was under Meredith’s leadership and in collaboration with Dianna Purcell that the Whole Cities Fresh, Health Food Access grant program was created.


 

Betsy Foster

Founding Board Member

2014 – 2020

Betsy’s more than two decades in senior leadership at Whole Foods Market with experience ranging from purchasing and marketing to real estate and strategic business development to health care systems powerfully supported the development of the purpose and vision for Whole Cities Foundation.

A tireless champion for community health and fitness and an active board member for several non-profits, Betsy supported Whole Cities with big picture thinking, practical common sense questions and always an appetite to do more.

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