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New executive director to lead Pittsburgh Food Policy Council

Joanna Deming to step in as executive director on January 23


Last updated 1/17/2023 at 12:13pm

After a national search, local community leader Joanna "Jo" Deming has been chosen to lead the Pittsburgh Food Policy Council (PFPC) into the next phase, succeeding founding ED Dawn Plummer.

The PFPC began a search for an executive director after the departure of Ms. Plummer in summer 2022. In the interim, Karlin Lamberto has been serving as acting executive director.

"We conducted a national search and received many impressive applications, but ultimately Jo had the leadership experience and the connection to the community we were looking for," said Board of Directors Co-Chair and head of the hiring committee Jennifer England. "Along with her demonstrated success as an organizational leader, her deep work in communities reflects the values embodied in the Food Action Plan and the PFPC organizational structure as a coalition of community groups and individuals."

Ms. Deming commented "I am impressed by the amazing coalition that was built and the Food Action Plan that was developed under Dawn's tenure and I am grateful for Karlin Lamberto's leadership and PFPC staff commitment through the transition. I am excited to build upon this work and work with our partners to create a food system that works for all residents in SWPA, especially communities of color impacted by food apartheid."

A Perry Hilltop resident, Ms. Deming joins the PFPC after six years as executive director for Fineview and Perry Hilltop citizens councils, where she worked with her neighbors to build a healthier community for all. While in this role, she oversaw the development of an Equity Policy, an inclusive Community Plan, a five-year Affordable Housing Plan, and the Allegheny Dwellings Choice Neighborhoods Plan, which leveraged more than $4 million in public investment resulting in new affordable homes, improved staircases, park renovations, and more.

Ms. Deming graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with her Master's in Macro Social Work and Hope College with her Bachelor's in Social Work. She worked as the Director of Outreach and Engagement for the Housing Alliance of PA – a statewide housing advocacy organization, where she managed a local housing coalition, supported regional housing providers, and coordinated an annual housing systems conference.

In 2012, she was Editor-in-Chief for a publication entitled, "A New Vision for Housing Market Recovery", which provided housing goals for the region and state. She also managed development for The Pittsburgh Project, a faith and community-based organization on the Northside, that improves the lives of seniors and youth.

Ms. Deming also has local roots having served on the city's Housing Opportunity Fund Advisory Board, as well as the boards of Northside Leadership Conference, Neighborhood Community Development Fund, Pittsburgh Community Reinvestment Group, and Central Northside Neighborhood Council (now Allegheny City Central Association).

She has also been a long-time volunteer at Ballfield Farm, where she has secured resources for a public mural and other physical improvements. While working with Fineview and Perry Hilltop citizens councils, they developed an informal food distribution system during the pandemic, where neighbors began helping neighbors with grocery and meal deliveries. They also began providing volunteers for area food pantries to assist with food distribution.

"We look forward to working with Jo to move the Food Action Plan forward, and to continue to build our coalition to impact food policy and address systemic inequity in local food systems," added Adia Effiong, Co-Chair of the Board of Directors and director of School Garden Programs Grow Pittsburgh.


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