All projects are community-based. We seek direction from our broad community partners. We solicit feedback through our project advisory/ steering committees and through the monthly newsletter. All members are invited to meet formally once a year and provide feedback into the work of Just Food. Overall direction comes from the Board, with staff input.
Just Food engages in food policy conversations at many levels. Just Food is a member of Food Secure Canada and Sustain Ontario. We also provide strategic and logistical support to the Ottawa Food Policy Council.
Board of Directors
Want to talk with the Board? Board@justfood.ca
Laura Neidhart, Chair
Laura Neidhart is a communications and public policy professional working on systemic social change. Currently, she works for the progressive communications and public affairs firm, Emdash, previously working with national civil society organizations including Canada Without Poverty. Prior to moving to Ottawa, she worked on a number of economic and social justice projects, including housing and domestic violence projects in the United States and on prison reform campaigns in the United Kingdom. Before transitioning to the charitable sector, she attended culinary school and worked in the hospitality industry. Laura keeps ties with this part of her life through her love of local food, cooking, and gardening and previously served on the board of a social enterprise which supports immigrant and refugee women to transition into catering and restaurant careers.
Ramsey Wright, Treasurer
Ramsey is a federal public servant with experience in energy, environmental and agricultural policy and programs. He served on the board of directors of the Ecology Action Centre in Halifax in the past, and worked with the organization to promote sustainable production of and access to local food. He has a graduate degree in environmental studies and is skilled in writing, analysis, planning and program design. He shares his home garden with his wife and kids and loves experimenting with heirloom vegetable varieties from local seed banks. Ramsey is seeking his second 3-year term on the Just Food board.
Scott Warrick, C.C.C.
In 2009, Chef Warrick received Algonquin College’s highest annual honour for part-time faculty members… the Dianne Bloor Part-Time Faculty Award.
Outside of the College, Chef Warrick works as a Food Service Consultant and has in the past provided food stylist services to McCain International Foods, Loblaw’s & the LCBO. Chef Warrick was for many years Executive Chef and food consultant to Ottawa Bluesfest, Culinary Advisor for the Ottawa Wine & Food Show and was part of the City of Ottawa’s Street Food / Food Truck Selection Panel as well as sitting as a founding member of the Ottawa Food Policy Council.
Prior to working at the College, Chef Warrick worked as a Chef for the House of Commons in Ottawa, Canada. At the House of Commons Chef Warrick played an active role in all areas of food production and distribution.
Along with teaching culinary students in the full-time Culinary Arts program Chef Warrick also teaches both high school dual credit students and student apprentices participating in the Ontario Apprenticeship Program.
Chef Warrick is a member of the Canadian Culinary Federation of Chefs and Cooks (C.C.F.C.C.), a former longtime member of the local CCFCC Executive, a Red Seal Chef and holds his CCC designation (Canadian Culinary Certification). Scott is seeking his second 3-year term on the Just Food board.
Sheila Rao, Secretary
Sheila Rao is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Anthropology and Sociology at Concordia University. Her research and professional work with civil society centres on food justice issues both here in Canada and in East Africa. Her current research and teaching focuses on collaborative, applied research that supports seed sovereignty, agroecological approaches to nutrient-rich food production and supporting women’s leadership in these efforts. Sheila has extensive experience in managing a range of projects, initiatives and policy advocacy with international research centres, international non-governmental organizations and municipal and federal agencies. Before shifting to international work and moving to Ottawa, she coordinated community initiatives around urban food security and environmental management in Southern Ontario with the City of Toronto, and Green Venture based in Hamilton. As an experiential gardener, Sheila has a keen interest in supporting sustainable, locally-based food initiatives; and in finding creative ways of bringing people with diverse backgrounds and experiences together for a meal and a conversation. Sheila is seeking her second 3-year term on the Just Food board and election to the Secretary role.
Sarah J. King
Sarah has a longstanding commitment to sustainable food systems, food access, and community agriculture. She is an anthropologist and environmental philosopher who recently joined the public service. Before this, Sarah was a professor of Environmental and Sustainability Studies, and Integrative, Religious and Intercultural Studies. She got great joy from being a member of the award-winning Sustainable Agriculture Project (a student-founded campus community farm) at Grand Valley State University, and working collaboratively towards food justice. Sarah has written widely on topics including the impact of Covid-19 on food systems, global climate change, environmental leadership, and place in Indigenous-settler relations.
Over the years Sarah has worked closely with a variety of local food, environmental and community organizations including serving on boards, leading strategic planning and carrying out collaborative research. Sarah loves to travel, and has lived in many places across the continent. She made Ottawa home during pandemic, and is enjoying local food, great bike trails, and getting involved in the queer community.
On her rural property in Kanata North, she has been an avid home vegetable and cut flower gardener for over 20 years. She is passionate about continuing to learn, having recently completed the Master Naturalist program with Lakehead University. Her career, academic education and personal interests have left her with a strong appreciation for the value of local, sustainable food systems.
Patrick is a local entrepreneur who specializes in the regulated finance space, and has a background in environmental science. He is passionate about regenerative agriculture practices. Patrick is concerned about resilience and systemic risks and believes that community organizations are the only way to effect true, sustainable change.
His favorite Buckminster Fuller quote is “You never change something by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”
Karina is perfectly bilingual (French and English). She grew up in small town, Embrun, Ontario, and comes from a farming family. Although Karina never lived on a farm, her mother grew up on the family farm in Embrun, which her brother inherited. Karina was brought up in a family that was very focused on health and well-being and that sourced its produce directly from a local organic farm nearby, whenever possible. Karina has always been health conscious, but it is only in recent years that she been focusing more on “going back to basics” and making more conscious choices in selecting local produce, not only for her own well-being but also to encourage local businesses and connect with her community.
Karina Labelle is an associate in Gowling WLG’s Ottawa office, practising in the Advocacy Group. Her practice focuses on commercial and civil litigation, with an emphasis on construction matters and commercial disputes.
Prior to joining Gowling WLG, Karina worked at two Ottawa law firms where she worked on a variety of litigation matters, in insurance law and family law, and conducted workplace harassment investigations for large corporations and associations.
Karina graduated from the University of Ottawa’s French common law program. During her studies, she volunteered for Pro Bono Students Canada, and acted as a teacher’s assistant for the Alternative Dispute Resolution course. Prior to attending law school, she completed an undergraduate degree in social sciences, with a minor in biology, at the University of Ottawa.
Alex is a lawyer living and working in Ottawa. Prior to law, Alex worked as a research scientist in the field of biochemistry and proteomics in BC. Alex has lived in Northern BC, Vancouver Island, and Alberta, but now calls Ottawa home.
In his spare time, Alex enjoys cooking with local food from Ottawa’s farmer’s market and CSA farms, alongside whatever he can coax out of his back garden. He also enjoys hiking, camping, and spending time in the outdoors.
Alex’s goal is to help people understand and access local food options, while also appreciating how local food fits into the broader provincial and national picture.
Moe Garahan, Executive Director
Moe has been working on food and farming issues in Ottawa since 1995. Focused on community development and community economic development approaches, she has facilitated the establishment of many ongoing community and regional food initiatives in Ottawa, (including Just Food) while supporting provincial and national food initiatives. Since 2004, she has been the Executive Director of Just Food, working with teams to integrate food access and food localism within the mixed urban and rural settings of the Ottawa region.
Phil Mount, Associate Director
Born and raised on a dairy farm in Ottawa, Phil pursued an interdisciplinary education that included law, sociology, silviculture, graphic design, farming, political economy, and web marketing. After doctoral studies which focused on the challenges involved with the transition to sustainable regional food systems, Phil served for years as Associate Researcher at the Centre for Sustainable Food Systems, and Associate Editor at Canadian Food Studies, while researching the intersections of food production, health and education. Phil now also toils in the fields of Just Food, as Associate Director, and on the board of Sustain Ontario, as well as on Flat Earth Farm, with his wife Denise.
Christine Burton, Financials Coordinator
Christine was born and raised in Ottawa, is a graduate from the University of Ottawa’s Human Rights and Conflict Studies program, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Counselling, Psychotherapy, and Spirituality from Saint Paul University. Christine has additional training from the Canadian Institute of Conflict Resolution’s Third Party Neutral mediation program, and has worked in a variety of settings in the administration field with other non-profits and in the public service. She has worked 6 years at Just Food, including as Community Gardening Network Coordinator. Christine is passionate about exploring the intersection of intrapersonal relations, social change, and sustainability. She enjoys growing, processing, and eating local food and facing the challenge of growing year-round in the Ottawa region.