Kolu Zigbi talks about her work.

I seek to invest time, talent and treasure so that people who are closest to the ground gain control of land, capital and resources. I’ve worked in philanthropy for over twenty years and am building my own consulting company. While my particular area of expertise is food systems, I am broadly interested in equitable development that engages the rural urban dynamic to promote health and well-being. My aspiration is to work more in Africa and her Diaspora.

I am becoming a vocal and active member of my Liberian clan.  Since 2013 my clan has fought government concessions.  44,444 hectares of our land – part of the last remaining Upper Guinea Rain forest – is subject to irresponsible logging by Sing Africa. We want logging to stop until monitoring and transparency protocols are instituted and promised benefits and fees to workers and the clan materialize.  With that, our clan can maintain a road network, grow a solar grid, improve health care and educational facilities, and providing Internet. I am also developing a solar project with a network of community colleges throughout Liberia’s rural countryside. Please direct contacts for collaboration and funding my way!

As a Program Director at the Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation for over 18 years, I provide direct technical assistance on organizational development, strategic planning and foundation fundraising.  I’ve organized gatherings that nurtured the discourse on food justice and elevated recognition of food chain workers as critical change agents. My track record of collaboration includes involving a dozen private foundations in two multi-million dollar initiatives: Diversifying Leadership for Sustainable Agriculture (2006 – 2009), which built advocacy capacity in grassroots organizations, and Everybody At the Table for Health (EAT4Health, 2012-2015) which united front-line community groups and national advocacy organizations. They provided multi-year funding to fourteen grassroots organizations. In 2017, I designed and directed a collaborative process involving five California-based funders in selecting grantees for a one-time, one million dollar initiative: Californian Consumers Advancing Organics and Agroecology (CACAO).  I’ve helped: link workers along the food supply chain, develop innovative distribution systems, popularize new ways of understanding food systems, and diversify leadership.  I’m on the steering committee of Community Food Funders (http://www.communityfoodfunders.org/), which I co-founded in 2010 to support development of an equitable and sustainable food shed for New York City.

As a consultant, I develop and deliver training on structural change (Baltimore and New York City government agencies), and assist with fundraising, planning and organizational development (Greater Chatham Initiative). Trained in popular education, for four years I co-taught a course on food justice through Farm School (http://www.farmschoolnyc.org/).  I deliver keynote addresses (American Heart Association, School Food Focus, and Lofa County Community College); have led 500 people in a game simulation of movement building; and design and moderate sessions for philanthropic groups. I call out racism and bias, and cultivate relationships of abundance.

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