Plenary Speakers

2019 Speakers to be announced.

2018 Speaker Information

Sunday, February 25, Lunch Plenary — Race, Hunger, and Poverty

photo-charles-blowCharles M. Blow is an Op-Ed columnist at The New York Times where his column appears on Thursdays and Mondays. Mr. Blow’s columns tackle hot-button issues, such as social justices, racial equality, presidential politics, police violence, gun control, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. He is a CNN commentator, and the author of The New York Times bestselling memoir, Fire Shut Up in My Bones.

photo-fatima-goss-gravesFatima Goss Graves (moderator) is President and CEO of the National Women’s Law Center, and is widely recognized for her effectiveness in the public policy arena at both the state and federal levels. She regularly testifies before Congress and federal agencies, and appears often in print and on air as a legal expert on issues core to women’s lives.

Monday, February 26, Breakfast Plenary — Key Updates from USDA

photo-brandon-lippsBrandon Lipps is Acting Deputy Under Secretary of Food, Nutrition and Consumer Services at USDA.  Prior to joining USDA, he served as the Chief of Staff for the Office of the Chancellor at the Texas Tech University System, which included more than 20,000 employees. He also served as counsel and senior professional staff to the U.S. House Committee on Agriculture and was the rural district director for a Texas State Senator. Lipps holds a bachelor’s degree in agricultural economics from Texas Tech and a law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law.

Monday, February 26, Lunch Plenary Panel Discussion — Legislative Threats to Anti-Poverty Programs

This plenary session will focus on legislative threats to SNAP and other nutrition programs. It will emphasize strategies for strengthening the federal safety net, alleviating poverty, and addressing issues of economic exclusion — especially in the current political climate. Featured speakers and panelists will include:

photo-rep-jim-mcgovernRep. Jim McGovern (D-MA) was elected to the House of Representatives in 1996, and through his work in Washington, D.C., and at home in Massachusetts, he has been a voice for the most vulnerable and a strong advocate for working families. He is the founder and co-chair of the House Hunger Caucus, and Ranking Member on the House Subcommittee on Nutrition, where he advocates for funding programs that help working families, children, and the elderly put food on the table when times are tough.

photo-jared-bernsteinJared Bernstein is a Senior Fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. From 2009 to 2011, he was the Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, Executive Director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team. He has published in The New York Times and The Washington Post, is an on-air commentator for CNBC and MSNBC, and hosts On The Economy at

photo-denise-forteDenise Forte is a Senior Fellow at The Century Foundation, focused on issues related to K–12 and higher education, including efforts to increase the diversity, quality, and accountability of schools. She was formerly the Staff Director of the House Education and the Workforce Committee (Minority), where she shepherded major child nutrition reauthorization legislation. She has been recognized for her leadership on education and family policy and has consistently delivered bipartisan achievements on significant reauthorizations including the Elementary and Secondary Elementary Act, juvenile justice, child nutrition, and national service.

photo-eric-rodriguezEric Rodriguez is Vice President, Office of Research, Advocacy, and Legislation, UnidosUS. In this role, he has oversight of UnidosUS’s public policy department, including departments covering legislative affairs, public policy research, policy analysis, and field advocacy work. His expertise includes policy issues affecting Latino families, workers, and children; and expertise on economic and labor issues, including poverty, federal budget, tax, pension, banking, homeownership, welfare reform, and employment/unemployment.

“I’ve been attending the National Anti-Hunger Policy Conference for over 10 years now and each year the content has been relevant to the policy work I am currently doing and informs the work I will begin. I leave inspired and with a pocket full of new tools, new allies and renewed inspiration for the hard work that waits for me back at home.”
Jessica Bartholow, Legislative Advocate, Western Center on Law and Poverty (CA)