Community Food Systems Mentorship Program

Community Food Systems Mentorship Program

Applications are now closed.  

Mentorship can play a critical role in the ongoing growth and development of food systems leaders. By providing professional guidance and support, serving as a sounding board, or building connections in the food movement, the exchange of ideas and experience with a mentor can influence us on profound levels and stay with us for years.

The Community Food Systems Mentorship Program provides food systems leaders with the opportunity to closely engage with proven leaders and experts as thought partners and coaches. The goals of this program are to:

  • Build relationships of solidarity and support across the food movement,
  • Create a space for leaders with significant experience in community food systems to share their wisdom, knowledge, and expertise with others, and to
  • Strengthen the leadership capacity of food systems leaders

View the Informational Call recording, slides, and Mentorship FAQ.


We are honored to have such an incredible group of knowledgeable and experienced food systems leaders with a range of expertise as Community Food Systems Mentors. Explore the 2021 Mentor Cohort below!

A-dae Romero-Briones

A-dae Romero-Briones

First Nations Development Institute

Angel Mendez

Angel Mendez

Red Tomato

Niaz Dory

Niaz Dorry

Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance and National Family Farm Coalition

Rich Pirog

Rich Pirog

Michigan State University Center for Regional Food Systems

Malik Yakini

Malik Yakini

Detroit Black Community Food Security Network

Karen Washington

Karen Washington

Rise and Root Farm

Miles Gordon

Miles Gordon

Kitchen Table Consulting

Neelam Sharma

Neelam Sharma

Community Services Unlimited

Paula Daniels

Paula Daniels

Center for Good Food Purchasing

Without ag producers, we have no food system to improve; so that will be first and foremost in our shared work. Systems analysis is only the first part of changing the system. I look forward to sharing and learning with system changers from Indian Country and beyond.

Zach Ducheneaux

Intertribal Agriculture Council


Participating in this Mentorship Program was extremely valuable. My mentor was able to coach me on my effectiveness as a leader, strategic planning, engagement planning with high level decision makers, even negotiation. She is somebody with amazing amounts of knowledge and experience and I feel incredibly lucky that I was able to spend time with her through the Mentorship Program.
– Spring 2018 Mentee

What to Expect

The Mentorship Program includes 8 hours of one on one connection between you and a mentor over a 4-month period. It’s designed to give you the flexibility to structure the program in a way that best supports your needs, goals, and work environment.

  • Mentor-mentee matching is designed to be a co-selection process: in their application, prospective mentees identify who they would like to work with and why; in the application review, mentors identify who they believe they could best provide support to.
  • If you are paired with a mentor, you’ll be asked to send them background information on your work and reach out to begin scheduling calls.
  • Mentoring will take place through video calls, phone calls, and e-mail.
  • Each mentee will have approximately 8 hours of one on one time with their mentor over the course of 4 months.
  • All mentees are required to participate in an on-boarding/kick-off call with Wallace Center staff at the launch of the program.
  • Mentees are responsible for preparing for calls (list topics to discuss, prepare questions, set call goals, etc.) and following-up afterwards.
  • Mentees are expected to be available during business hours and give their full attention to calls.
  • Mentorship is not technical assistance! Mentors are not expected to connect you to funders, solve technical problems, or tell you what to do. Great mentors serve as thought partners and help draw out your own inner solutions.
  • This program allows the flexibility for each mentor/mentee pair to adapt the structure and schedule of their meetings as needed.

As a mentee, you’ll receive expert guidance and support in a range of leadership capacities and food systems topics. Examples of topics past mentees have discussed with mentors include:

  • Organizational Leadership: Mission, vision and strategic planning, organizational strategy and priorities, adapting to organizational and structural changes, navigating staff transitions, succession planning, leveraging partnerships for impact, board engagement, financial planning;
  • Personal leadership: Recognizing personal core competencies, navigating organizational politics, career planning, professional development planning, building a support network, balance between community work and self-care, systems thinking approach;
  • Racial equity: Applying a racial equity lens within organizations, aligning values with funding sources, race and power dynamics in food systems work, implementation strategies for realizing equity;
  • Technical areas: Community engagement, marketing and promotion, coalition building, urban farming, non-asset based distribution, food business and social enterprise operations, supply chain management.

What past mentees had to say:


I learned a great deal through this Mentorship Program and am so grateful for the support I received from my mentor. I am leaving this experience with actionable strategies for improving myself and my organization, as well as a lasting supportive relationship between myself and my mentor.


Having a trusted mentor who I felt totally comfortable being 100% myself with was incredibly helpful and supportive through an intense period of professional growth. There was never any sense of professional formality keeping us from being real with each other, which is a huge part of why the mentorship was such a beneficial experience. The time I took out of my day to connect with my mentor was always reenergizing and made me feel like, I can do this. It’s hard, and I may not feel very confident or like I have all the right tools and skills right now, but I am growing, and I can keep moving forward.

Spring 2021 Mentorship Timeline

  • Applications open December 9, 2020- January 19, 2021

  • Mentorship matches are made in January 2021

  • Mentorship begins February 15, 2021

  • Mentorship concludes June 15, 2021

Eligibility and Application Requirements

  • Applicants are highly encouraged to spend some time reflecting on why they are seeking mentorship and to include these reflections in their applications.
  • Applicants must complete an organizational capacity assessment as part of their application and upload this with their application.
  • This opportunity is available to staff of nonprofit 501 (c)3 organizations, fiscally sponsored projects under a 501 (c)3, and mission-driven food and farm businesses.
  • Applicants and their supporting organizations must both be verified members of the FSLN (sign up your organization here).
  • Mentorship will be prioritized for applicants who identify as Black, Indigenous, and/or people of color, and those who work with historically disinvested or excluded communities.
  • Selected applicants must commit to working with their mentor over a 4-month period and are required to submit a brief follow-up report on their experience.
  • If you or someone you know would like to apply but does not have internet access, please call Annalina Kazickas at 703-302-6532, or Andrew Carberry at 501-280-3028 to submit your application over the phone.

Questions? Email fslninfo@winrock.org with ‘Mentorship’ in the subject line.