Janan Dean - Chair, Research
A city girl through and through, Janan never imagined she would marry a dairy farmer and move to the country to start a family and an agricultural business. A former social worker, Janan is passionate about addressing inequities in the food system, facilitating meaningful connections between urban and rural communities, and taking steps towards reconciliation. She is now working with her husband and brother-in-law to incorporate more sustainable, regenerative, and holistic practices on the farm and in 2023, they will be opening the Proof Line Farm Creamery & Farm Store five minutes north of London. She is proud to be a part of the MLFPC, a unique and diverse group of people from across the local food system.
Jose Medina - Vice Chair, Food Processing
Jose is the Sr. Director of Quality for Dessert Holding, with facilities in Atlanta, Houston, Vancouver, and London. Dessert Holding is North America’s premium dessert company, recognized for providing customers with chef-inspired innovative desserts made with real ingredients, a flexible and low-cost supply chain, and best-in-class service. Jose has worked in the food industry for over 25 years in different departments (QA, Maintenance, Production, Continuous Improvement). Prior to coming to Canada, Jose worked for Adams in the confectionary division. He has a food science degree, a Master’s in Science in Manufacturing from the University of Liverpool in England, and an MBA from Universidad de las Americas in Puebla Mexico. Jose has a passion for family, sports, food, and working for and with society to help the community.
Thomas Sumpter - Treasurer, Economic Development
Thomas is a Commercial & Agricultural Account Manager with Libro Credit Union. He began working at Libro Credit Union after graduating from Kings University College in 2018 with a degree in Business Management and Organization Studies, specialization in Global Commerce, and a Minor in Psychology. Thomas is a driven individual who is passionate about growing prosperity in Southwestern Ontario. Growing up in a rural town outside of London, Thomas developed an early understanding that building relationships is a key component to interacting with the local community. In his professional career, building relationships is the cornerstone of creating mutually beneficial business solutions. He sees his role on the MLFPC as an opportunity to build relationships, achieve sustainability, and encourage communication around food policies related to rural and urban agriculture.
Julissa Litterick - Communications Coordinator
Julissa Litterick is passionate about food security, disability justice, and project management. That's why she was thrilled to join MLFPC in September 2021 as the non-voting Young Leader through the Canada Life Young Leaders Program. Since then, Julissa has joined many of our committees and is now our Communications Coordinator. She loves engaging with our volunteers and community partners. Outside of MLFPC, Julissa is working towards professional registration in horticultural therapy. Julissa has a Bachelors of Arts & Sciences in Neuroscience, Psychology, and Nutrition & Nutraceutical Sciences from the University of Guelph. She is currently enrolled in the Horticulture Technician program at Fanshawe College. In her free time, Julissa loves reading, community gardening, and caring for her 15+ houseplants.
Diane McComb - Agriculture Association
Mother of her son and two daughters plus one grandchild has opened her eyes to endless possibilities. The journey of life had Diane growing up on a farm near Lucan, Ontario where her family finished beef cattle, grew crops, and cared for laying hens. The beef cattle were later dropped in favour of laying hens. Diane was educated at Fanshawe College and worked for 12 years as a law clerk in both Ottawa and London. After her children were born, she returned to help on the family farm. In 2010, Diane and her brother purchased the farm from their parents. The farm continues with a new generation. Home and School, School Council, Ontario Federation of Agriculture and Farm & Food Care Ontario were groups she was active in as a member and chair. Diane was the elected Director of Egg Farmers of Ontario board for eight years as the representative for Middlesex. While on the board, she chaired Public Affairs, and was also a member of Finance and Production Management Committees.
Andrew Fleet - Education
Andrew Fleet is an avid local food enthusiast. He is the co-founder and Executive Director of Growing Chefs! Ontario, a London based charity with a mission to change the way people learn about and develop healthy relationships with food. Andrew has designed, implemented and overseen food education programs that have served over 60,000 children and families across London and surrounding areas since 2008. Andrew is an advocate for the advancement in Food Literacy as an area of focus for the Provincial Ministries of Education, Health and Agriculture. Most recently, through his work with the Ontario Edible Education Network Andrew consulted with the Ontario Ministry of Education on its new Grades 1–9 Science curriculum, specifically around Learning Outcomes related to Food Literacy and Food Systems. Growing Chefs! has also created training resources for teachers that are being distributed across the Province as part of this new curriculum. Andrew also sits on both the National and Ontario Coalitions for Healthy School Food. Prior to establishing Growing Chefs! Ontario, Andrew worked in the food service industry for over 15 years as a manager, cook, server and bartender at several national award-winning restaurants in London and Vancouver.
Susan Smith - Education
Susan has a long-standing expertise in nutrition. She graduated from UWO, Brescia University College in 1995 and has been a clinical dietitian at the London Health Science Center for almost 25 years. She has a keen interest in sustainable food systems that create a harmonious urban-rural relationship with a focus on community health and a minimal carbon footprint.
Maya Clarke - Food Access
Maya is a retired culinary professional who has been active in the local food movement since moving to London in 1992. Her professional background includes a variety of experience within culinary, food action, urban agriculture, community, and development settings. Originally from Vancouver, Maya worked for years with a Canadian NGO on international co-operation projects involving soy foods utilization in Sri Lanka, Guatemala, and throughout the Caribbean. With degrees in Anthropology and Globalization Studies from Western, and a certificate in Food Security from Toronto Metropolitan University, Maya brings an interdisciplinary perspective to local food issues. Being passionate about lifelong learning and volunteerism Maya is excited to be part of the MLFPC.
Katherine Hogendorn - Food Distribution
Katherine is a community development coordinator for the Ontario Student Nutrition Program. She earned her Master’s degree in Human Health and Nutrition Science at the University of Guelph where she investigated health and lifestyle behaviours in the emerging adult population. Katherine now is a mom of 2 young children and her passions have been brought back to the kitchen demonstrating first- hand the importance of quality foods. Katherine has worked in clinical and academic nutrition settings always with the goal to educate and empower people to feel confident with their food choices.
Prab Kaur - Food Entrepreneur
Prab is a Registered Dietitian (MSc., RD) who specializes in plant-based diets and has a passion for food policy and population health. Prab currently owns and operates her own private practice, NutriKaur, where she helps clients from all walks of life understand the power of plant foods and apply realistic strategies to reach their goals in a sustainable and enjoyable way. Prab has particular interest in minimizing food waste, optimizing consumption, and helping consumers minimize their food costs. Prab is excited to help bring forth positive food system change as a member of the council.
Matt Rice - Food Service
Matt is a professional chef that has spent the majority of his career working in London. He graduated from Fanshawe College's Culinary Management program and after spending time at various restaurants in the city and a little bit of travel, he found himself teaching into the culinary program at Fanshawe College. Matt found himself caught between his two major passions- the restaurant and catering world and delivering wonderfully prepared, sustainable local ingredients to the community and education based around food literacy. After 15 years of splitting his time between restaurants and education, he found a home that allows him to drive forward in both. He has been working at Growing Chefs! as the lead education chef for the past year and is extremely proud to be on the frontlines of bringing food literacy and education to youth and the greater community as well as being given an opportunity to take part in a varied scale of events to continue to help grow the charity. Matt hopes to continue to strengthen the local food system through networking, accessibility and education.
Sarah Finch - Rural Community Member
Sarah Finch is the Communications and Community Projects Manager with Investing in Children, a London-based charity whose goal is to help all children, youth, and families to learn, grow, and thrive. Investing in Children places a high priority on nutrition and offers several nutrition programs. Sarah is responsible for Investing in Children's social media content, designing and maintaining their website, designing and creating all organizational promotional printed, and digital materials. Sarah is also the project manager of several programs including Kids 1st Day, Blue Books for Books, Book Camp London, and Kids Power Conference. Sarah believes it is important for everyone to have access to nutritious foods. Prior to Investing in Children, Sarah spent almost 17 years working for Ontario Farmer Publications, most recently as an editor. As well as the weekly Ontario Farmer newspaper, Sarah was involved in the creation of their specific industry publications for dairy, beef, hog, and crop farmers.
Keisha Joseph - Urban Community Member
Keisha discovered her passion for community nutrition and policy while completing her degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Brescia University. Keisha has always looked to use her knowledge to help those less fortunate and build community. This brought her to her current role as a Food Program Facilitator at Indwell where she works to increase the food security of those experiencing homelessness, mental illnesses, and disabilities. Her work includes creating programs, community connections, and providing meals for tenants living at Indwell’s new Embassy Commons supportive housing project and elsewhere in London. Keisha is excited to be a part of a group of like-minded people who believe in advocacy and policy as a way to tackle food insecurity. She believes that policy is the best way for our communities to be proactive and tackle issues at the root while preventing future problems. Keisha looks forward to using her passions, knowledge, and skills to assist the MLFPC in achieving its mission.
Megan Papadakos - Urban Community Member
I am honoured to be involved in the non-profit, social services sector of London offering my skills for the betterment of our communities and future growth and development as a city. I am a mother of two young children and appreciate the important of nutrition and connection to our earth for our physical health, mental well-being and environmental sustainability. Personally, I am an avid home gardener, who has also had the opportunity to teach gardening skills, food sustainability, and eco-therapy benefits through my professional endeavours with various non-profits in the city.
Jocelynn Aubertin - Youth
Jocelynn is a young public relations professional who has a passion for giving back to her community. When she learned about the MLFPC and its commitment to strengthening the local food system, she knew she wanted to become involved. She is particularly concerned about food insecurity and food waste. Jocelynn has experience engaging youth in local issues and campaigns in her role as the Youth Representative for a local riding association, and she is excited to bring that experience to this position. Jocelynn is a graduate of King’s University College, where she studied History and Political Science.
Sean Columbus - Middlesex County, Staff
Sean Columbus is the Economic Development Officer with Middlesex County. With over 10 years experience working in both the Public and Private sector, Sean has gained a vast skillset and knowledge specializing in Economic Development, Tourism, Recreation, and Advertising/Marketing fields. This broad skillset has been valuable when assisting companies from small start-up’s to large scale corporations of any sector. Sean grew up in a waterfront and ski resort community (City of Barrie and Horseshoe Valley) as well as living in one of the most prominent tourism regions in Canada (Niagara Region) throughout his time in University. Most recently Sean was living in York Region just north of the City of Toronto and assisted with the development of the York Region Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector Strategy among other various projects in the Region. Sean’s educational background includes a Bachelor of Tourism Studies (Honours), OACA Primer on Planning Certificate, Fundamentals of Community Economic Development from the University of Waterloo, and current member of EDAC. Sean is always looking for new ways to advance Economic Development & Tourism within his role to create a more vibrant and sustainable economy. Having a progressive and open mindset with building strong partnerships along the way is key to make this happen. A few of Sean’s personal interests are spending time with family, travelling and trying new adventurous activities. Recreational activities such as Snowboarding, Mountain Biking, Kayaking/Paddle Boarding, and Swimming are some of his favourites. Having a musical background has also been a part of his life from an early age and Sean continues to play guitar and keyboard, with a current interest in video/music production.
Michelle Smibert - Middlesex County, Councillor
Michelle has been active in local government administration for over 30 years and has worked for the City of London, City of Stratford, Middlesex Centre, Thames Centre and Tillsonburg. She is a past president of AMCTO (Association of Municipal Managers, Clerks and Treasurers of Ontario) and is currently involved in delivering presentations for the Association. She received her Masters of Public Administration at Western University and was involved in the annual Local Government Alumni Conference planning committee. Michelle is now the Deputy Mayor of Thames Centre and sits on County Council for Middlesex County and is on the executive board for OSUM (Ontario Small Urban Municipalities). Michelle enjoys curling and golfing.
Hadleigh McAlister - City of London, Councillor
Laura Rimirez - Urban Agriculture
Vanessa Kinsley - City of London, Staff
Vacant - Rural Agriculture
Ellen Lakusiak - Coordinator
Ellen Lakusiak is a Registered Dietitian (RD), currently working at the Middlesex London Health Unit (MLHU) where her portfolio is Food Systems. Ellen has worked as a Public Health Dietitian at the Lambton Health Unit and most recently at Ottawa Public Health. She has also worked for Mead Johnson Canada, Health Canada, and the National Institute of Nutrition. Most of her career in dietetics has been in the area of prenatal and early year’s nutrition. She published her first book entitled, Eating Well When You’re Pregnant in 1997. Her role as Coordinator is to act as a consistent point of contact for MLFPC members and action groups to facilitate collaboration and dialogue. Her hope is to contribute to a more sustainable and healthier local food system by connecting best evidence with key food system stakeholders and to improve the understanding of Middlesex London residents of where their food comes from.
Jane Roy - Coordinator
Jane has been working for the London Food Bank for over 30 years. She currently works as Co-Executive Director. Jane has been involved in many food, hunger, poverty, and social action committees including the Mayor’s Anti-Poverty Action Group and as Chairperson of the Ontario Association of Food Banks. She has presented briefs on hunger and poverty to all levels of government and speaks to many local groups about involving citizens in community action. Jane is a long time London resident, is married with three children and is also well known for her work in overseas development.
Jessica Cordes - Past Chair
Jessica is a community-centered professional who is passionate about local food systems and resilient cities. With a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, a Masters in Environment and Sustainability, and five years of internationally focused work, Jessica brings an interdisciplinary lens to the food system. To strengthen the local food system, Jessica is excited to support programs and initiatives that engage diverse populations, improve community-wide access to affordable and nutritious foods, enhance food literacy, and enable better networks amongst the local food system. Jessica believes that a sustainable food system works with the environment, builds the economy, and grows equity and community. She has grown her own little community around her home garden by sharing the harvest and sparking conversations, and she is excited to help build a more resilient community around local food in London and Middlesex.
Amy Bumbacco - Volunteer, Webmaster
Amy is a Communications and Marketing Specialist with the Upper Thames River Conservation Authroity. She has a demonstrated history in the social service and environmental sectors having provided executive leadership to J. Steckle Heritage Homestead, managed the Thunder Bay and Area Food Strategy, built the experiential education curriculum at Ignatius Farm, and provided field management at Fertile Ground CSA Farm. Following her master's degree in Environmental Studies, Amy completed a post-graduate diploma in Social Media Marketing and was most recently the Communications and PR Coordinator with Mission Services of London. She finds great excitement in internet marketing, believing in the power of effective communication to inspire, educate, and build community. Amy is most interested in contributing to the MLFPC to utilize her digital marketing skillset and knowledge of sustainable food systems to help foster a healthy and resilient community.
Jean Carson - Volunteer, Governance
Prior to retiring in 2018, Jean's employment had provided her experience within her roles in manufacturing and marketing with Maple Leaf Foods (Thamesford) and Cadillac Fairview Corporation (Masonville Place). She enjoyed being their “face” in Oxford, Middlesex, and London with respect to community involvement. She had the opportunity to work with the London Community Foundation developing philanthropy goals which target food security. She encourages everyone to check out the Maple Leaf Community Fund on the London Community Foundation website! The Middlesex London Food Policy shares the responsibility of selecting successful applicants to this fund with Oxford Community Foundation. Currently, her retired status allows her more time to enjoy her family (including five adorable grandchildren), extended stays at her cottage in Northern Ontario, trips to British Columbia to visit family, and the availability to continue supporting Middlesex London Food Policy Council as a volunteer on the Governance and Grants Committees.
Sydney Duberville - Volunteer, Graphic Design
Growing up, Sydney frequented her grandparents’ modest farm where they grew vegetables and raised livestock. Her proximity to agriculture piqued what is now an ever-growing curiosity towards the food industry, which has been often translated into visits to farmer’s markets across Canada. Sydney joined MLFPC to learn more about the London food system as well as issues regarding food and agriculture. She hopes to contribute her skills in graphic design and marketing to promote safe and healthy food choices and to raise public awareness of global issues regarding food. As a believer in food as a fundamental aspect of culture, Sydney also enjoys trying cuisines from various countries whenever she gets the opportunity.
Puja Pachchigar - Volunteer, Data
Puja is passionate about analyzing the food system and its interactions with human life from the lenses of philosophy, nutrition, and computer science. She believes that access to nutritious food and clean water is a fundamental human right, and can only be achieved by spreading awareness and encouraging community-backed food systems. With a Masters in Computer Science and industry experience of eight years as a Database Administrator, she comes equipped with the knowledge of organizing data and virtual logistics. She wants to apply it to the food system and the various operations related to it. Currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, she critically analyzes the food system and other related issues from multiple angles. Puja is excited about solving the pressing problem of food waste by spreading awareness about how to avoid it and by establishing a self-reliant food network that can provide access to nutritious food for locals.
Paul Seale - Volunteer, Governance
Paul has been an archivist, an academic, a restaurateur, and a communications professional, but is probably best-known in London for his years of grassroots community development. Having worked in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors, he is convinced that the people who drive these pursuits are more similar than different and sees our common dreams as opportunities for collaboration. With years of work in the restaurant industry and managing a social enterprise grocer, Paul brings experience in issues that affect food service and retail and has a special interest in local, sustainable, equitable, and environmentally responsible behaviors throughout the food system, including supply, retailing, preparation, food access, and food recovery. A community-builder by vocation — he now works in membership engagement at Pillar Nonprofit Network — Paul seeks to bring better democratic systems and citizen engagement to our food system. “I feel it’s urgent to repair our food system to ensure access to good food for all”, Paul says, “and the MLFPC is the perfect place to contribute to the work”.
Siobhan Watters - Vounteer, Researcher
Siobhan Watters is a Doctoral Candidate in Communication (Simon Fraser University) with a passion for food literacy. As an academic, she researches and writes about food history, food technology, and supply chains. Siobhan is excited to work with the MLFPC as a Researcher because it allows her to apply her skills and knowledge of food in a practical, community setting. She hopes to foster greater food literacy through her work with the Council and build lasting relationships in the London community.