Board | Pesticide Action Network
Reclaiming the future of food and farming


PAN Board

PAN's Board of Directors brings the very best of non-profit, business and legal expertise to our organization. They represent the broad diversity of our membership and contribute significant amounts of time, talent and energy to ensure PAN succeeds in its mission. Pesticide Action Network North America’s Board of Directors include:

Malia Akutagawa

Malia AkutagawaAssociate Professor of Law and Hawaiian Studies
Malia Akutagawa is an Associate Professor of Law and Hawaiian Studies with both the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s Hawaiʻinuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge – Kamakakūokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies and the William S. Richardson School of Law. Malia is part of Hui ʻĀina Momona, a consortium of scholars throughout the university community charged with addressing compelling issues of indigenous Hawaiian knowledge and practices, including the legal regime and Native Hawaiian rights associated with mālama ʻāina, and with focus on cross-disciplinary solutions to natural and cultural resource management, sustainability, and food security.

Cheryl Danley

Independent consultant
Cheryl trained as an agricultural economist, has broad experience in community development, agricultural marketing, natural resource management, and policy. She has held positions at Michigan State's Center for Regional Food Systems and Partnerships for Food Industry Development, and she has been involved in teaching and research in a number of African countries. As a Food and Community Fellow with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, her areas of focus included community food assessments, local food councils, school food value chains, and equity for socially disadvantaged and underrepresented groups. Cheryl was a Program Manager with FoodCorps and the Program Officer for Regional Food Economies at the Wallace Center, Winrock International Institute for Agricultural Development. Although Cheryl was raised in Detroit, Boston, and New York City, she takes great pride in the Florida farmland her family has maintained for five generations.

Patti Naylor

Patti NaylorIowa farmer and community food systems advocate
Patti Naylor farms with her husband in west-central Iowa, growing organic corn, soybeans, oats, hay, and cider apples. Patti writes and speaks about the need to move away from an industrial agribusiness model of agriculture to a resilient and community-oriented Agroecological model of farming, grounded in food sovereignty principles. She has worked as a nutrition educator and a middle school teacher. Patti is a former board member of Women, Food, and Agriculture Network, and is currently on the boards of Iowa Organic Association and Family Farm Defenders. She has recently become involved internationally through the civil society mechanism of the UN's Committee on World Food Security, as a member of National Family Farm Coalition, US Food Sovereignty Alliance, and La Via Campesina North America.

Jodi Neuman

JodiInvestment Manager, Trillium Asset Management
In her role at Trillium, Jodi helps clients build portfolios to work toward financial, social and environmental goals. Jodi enables clients to use their voice as an investor to press for change using shareholder advocacy and public policy in a broad range of issue areas including sustainable agriculture and human rights in the supply chain. Jodi is s a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Charterholder, and earned an M.B.A. from the HEC School of Management in Paris specializing in Finance. While attending HEC, she consulted with a rural microfinance firm based in Puno, Peru whose client base worked primarily in agriculture. Jodi also holds a B.B.A. in Business Economics from the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. She is a member of Spark SF and Women Investing in a Sustainable Economy (WISE). Although she currently resides in San Francisco, Jodi is a native of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Virginia Nesmith - Board Treasurer

Lupe MartinezFarmworker advocate
Virginia has been an advocate for the rights of farm workers for much of her life, beginning in 1976 with the National Farm Worker Ministry. NFWM engages faith based groups and individuals in support of farm workers across the country who are organizing for a better life. Virginia later served as Executive Director of NFWM for fifteen years, retiring from that position in 2013. She also worked for the United Farm Workers, organizing the public action component of several contract campaigns, and fought with them and others for just immigration reform. She was one of the founders and steering committee members of the Equitable Food Initiative, in which PAN participates. She values the diverse participation of workers, growers and retailers in the EFI towards common goals of improving working conditions, pesticide management and food safety, and was part of another successful multi-stakeholder approach in previous work on economic conversion in her hometown of St. Louis, MO. Virginia graduated from Webster University with a focus on Peace and Conflict Studies and studied in the Master of Divinity Program at Eden Seminary. She admits to being a pretty poor grower of her own food but is hoping she does better in helping develop a large pollinator garden in the community.

Sapna E. Thottathil - Board Secretary

Sapna E. ThottathilAssociate Director of Sustainability, University of California
Sapna E. Thottathil, PhD has worked on environmental policy and sustainable food supply chains for multiple organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency, School Food Focus, and Health Care Without Harm, and has contributed to several articles on sustainable meat procurement, featured in Civil Eats and the American Journal of Public Health. She earned her BA from the University of Chicago, where she was awarded the Udall Scholarship for environmental leadership, before going on to receive an MSc from Oxford University and a PhD in Geography from the University of California at Berkeley, where she was the recipient of a Fulbright fellowship. She currently is a Council Member for Oakland Food Policy Council and serves as a Food Service Advisor to Plant Based Foods Association. She is also the author of India’s Organic Farming Revolution: What it Means for Our Global Food System and editor of Institutions a Conscious Food Consumers: Leveraging Purchasing Power to Drive Systems Change. Sapna lives in Oakland, California with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she enjoys raising chickens, identifying wildflowers and birds, and relearning how to play the piano.

Kyle Powys Whyte - Vice President

Kyle WhyteGeorge Willis Pack Professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability
Kyle Whyte is Professor of Environment and Sustainability and George Willis Pack Professor at the University of Michigan School for Environment and Sustainability, serving as a faculty member in the environmental justice specialization. Kyle’s research addresses moral and political issues concerning climate policy and Indigenous peoples, the ethics of cooperative relationships between Indigenous peoples and science organizations, and problems of Indigenous justice in public and academic discussions of food sovereignty, environmental justice, and the anthropocene. He is an enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation.

Nsedu Obot Witherspoon - Board President

Nsedu Obot WitherspoonExecutive Director, Children's Environmental Health Network
Nsedu is Executive Director of the Children’s Environmental Health Network in Washington, D,C., a national organization that works to protect the developing child from environmental health hazards and promote a healthier environment. Nse is trained in public health and medical sciences, and brings a broad background in teaching, publishing, presenting and policy advocacy, including testifying before Congress. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine’s Environmental Health Sciences Roundtable, advisor to the Columbia Center for Children’s Health and the Environment, and is appointed to the Maryland Children’s Environmental Health Protection Advisory Council. Nse has worked with the National Institutes of Health-D.C. Initiative to Reduce Infant Mortality at the George Washington University School of Public Health; the Transplant Recipients International Organization; and with the Washington Free Clinic. She is an active member of the American Public Health Association. Nse has a Masters in Public Health from George Washington University.