At the end of July, we bid farewell to our dear friend and colleague, Natilee McGruder. Natilee joined Wallace in the summer of 2019 as our first Communications Officer. Given her many gifts, talents, and passions, Natilee was quickly pulled into a lot of important facets of Wallace work, in addition to her leading our internal and external communications.
In her time with Wallace, Natilee developed and vastly improved our internal and external communications systems, led the development of internal standards and processes, and trained staff. She also provided significant leadership during our 2020 NGFN Conference, which included active social media coverage and leading our video and photography teams. Additionally, Natilee facilitated the staff in the development of Wallace’s racial equity commitments and worked with the team to more effectively operationalize Wallace’s racial equity commitments into all facets of the Center’s work.
Prior to her departure, we sat down with Nailee for a farewell fireside chat.
As it related to the COVID19 pandemic: Given the extraordinary circumstances that we’re in right now, combined with the mobilization efforts to prevent farmers’ livelihoods from collapsing and people from going hungry, what do you think we have an opportunity to accomplish in the “COVID era” that we wouldn’t have otherwise?
Right now we are reaping what we have sown as a nation. COVID-19 has amplified the consequences of years of genocide, land and wage theft, slavery, targeted disinvestment, the war on drugs and a legacy of racially motivated domestic terrorism. We have the opportunity to be honest with ourselves about the outcomes of the norms and policies we have allowed to flourish throughout our food system.
We also have the opportunity to stand in solidarity with farmers and other workers in the food system, to elect and financially support community-minded BIPOC leadership at local and national levels, and to frame the architecture of the next farm bill around the fact that increasing infrastructure and support for locally grown, processed and prepared food is critical for us to thrive together across the country.
Looking ahead at the next decade, what are your hopes for the US food and ag sector? What are the key things you’d like to see change and how?
In the next 10 years I would like to see our extractive, globalized food system transformed into a network of equitable, community-based local food systems to include:
The Wallace team would like to once again thank Natilee for being a valuable member our team and we wish her the best of luck in her new role as Project Manager at HEAL Food Alliance. We look forward to collaborating with Natilee and HEAL in the years to come!