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From Reckoning to Equity: Inclusive Investing in the Food and Beverage Industry

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The food industry is facing a reckoning on racial injustice as chefs, culinary creatives, food writers, and entrepreneurs raise their voices to end systemic racism.  Catalyzed by the Movement for Black Lives, national outrage has forced companies to confront their own shortcomings and shifts have begun  in leadership roles at premiere food publications such as Bon Appetit and the Philadelphia Inquirer. Yet, for systemic  change to occur, investors must also restructure and reshape their thinking to advance and sustain the efforts for racial inclusion in the industry.  This session features leaders in the food and beverage industry who use their talent, capital, and influence to push for equity. This discussion will reimagine the role of investors in racial justice and share examples and ideas for inclusive sustainable growth in the culinary world.

In this session, participants will:

  • Understand issues affecting black businesses in the food and beverage industry
  • Learn what investors should consider when investing in businesses in order to promote racial justice and equity
  • Consider their role in fostering racial equity in the food and beverage industry as investors and consumers.

 

Confirmed Panelists

Alexander Smalls, James Beard Award winning chef, author, and raconteur was the visionary co-owner of renowned restaurants, The Cecil and Minton’s. Critically acclaimed and located in the heart of historic Harlem, Minton’s, the birthplace of BeBop in the 1930’s, harkened back to the Jazz Age evoking a sexy supper club with live music serving Low Country cuisine inspired by Smalls’ childhood. His award-winning restaurant, The Cecil, NYC’s first Afro-Asian-American restaurant, was named “Best New Restaurant in America” by Esquire in 2014. A 2019 recipient of a James Beard Award for his cookbook, Between Harlem and Heaven, Alexander was recently bestowed the Creative Spirit Award from the Black Alumni of Pratt by the inimitable Ms. Cicely Tyson. Over the past three decades, the chef and restaurateur has traveled the world studying the cooking techniques and foodways of the African diaspora. As the former chef-owner of renowned restaurants including Café Beulah, Sweet Ophelia’s, and Shoebox Café, Smalls has received great acclaim in the restaurant scene, including cooking at the James Beard House, being named one of Zagat’s “NYC Restaurant Power Players You Need to Know” and being honored with the Legacy Award in 2014 by The Amsterdam News, one of the oldest African American newspapers in the country.

Smalls has appeared on a wide range of food and culinary platforms, with guest appearances on national TV, magazine and news programs. He has served as a celebrity chef judge on “Top Chef,” appeared on “The Chew” with Carla Hall and “Extra Virgin” with Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos, and was recently featured in the Hallmark series “The Peete’s.” He has also appeared on The Food Network on such shows as “Recipe for Success” and “Throwdown!” with Bobby Flay, and NBC’s “The Today Show.”

Nina Oduro is social entrepreneur and co-founder at Dine Diaspora, an agency that connects people and brands to African food culture through experiential marketing, branding, and business development services.  She has worked with top black chefs and culinary creatives in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and Africa to connect them with opportunities to grow their brands and business.  Her work has helped amplify black creatives in the food industry through strategic marketing and experiences that position them to be recognized by employers, investors, and media.  Nina has worked in international development supporting learning and innovation through research at IREX International, the International Organization for Migration, Microsoft’s Education Ambassador Program, and the US State Department.

Nina’s work has been featured in Edible DC, Washingtonian, Washington City Paper, Black Enterprise Magazine, Cuisine Noir Magazine, and Fields Magazine. She received a Master’s in African-American studies with a concentration in African diaspora studies from Columbia University and a Bachelors in political and social thought from the University of Virginia.

Unconfirmed Panelists

Daryn Dodson,  a passionate advocate of social and economic justice, especially for disadvantaged and marginalized groups. His work with impact investors, private equity funds, Fortune 100 companies, universities and foundations has been viewed through the lens of addressing the world’s most pressing social and environmental problems. Daryn previously led the Special Equities Program as a consultant to the Board of the Calvert Funds, a $12 billion pioneer of the impact investing field. Through this vehicle, Calvert maintains a portfolio of more than 40 funds on five continents, representing over 350 underlying portfolio companies.  Prior to serving as a consultant to Calvert, Daryn served as Director of University and Corporate Partnership for The Idea Village, where he created a platform engaging leading private equity firms, business schools, and Fortune 500 companies to invest over 100,000 hours and $2 million into more than 1,000 New Orleans entrepreneurs post-Hurricane Katrina. Mr. Dodson currently serves on the Board of Directors for Ben and Jerry’s.  He earned his M.B.A. from Stanford, where he serves on the Dean’s Management Board, and his A.B. from Duke University.

Jasmine Crowe, founder and CEO, Goodr Co, a sustainable food surplus management company that leverages technology to combat hunger and reduce waste. Today Goodr redirects surplus food from convention centers, airports, and businesses to people who are food insecure. Under Jasmine’s direction, the company now has clients that include: Turner Broadcasting Systems, Hartsfield- Jackson International Airport, the Georgia World Congress Center and more.

She has been featured in Huffington Post, Fast Company on The HARRY Show, NPR, Upworthy, NBC, Black Enterprise, Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls and featured as a Hero of Hunger in a Brawny Paper Towels commercial.

Jasmine recently gave her first TED Talk “Hunger is not a Scarcity Issues, it’s a Logistics Issue.” She also wrote her first children’s book series titled “Giving is Good” which teaches youth the importance of giving back thru a variety of causes. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, traveling and spending time with friends and family.

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