Introducing the Equity at the Table Fellows

The Come to the Table program at the Rural Advancement Foundation International-USA (RAFI) is pleased to announce the Equity at the Table Fellowship, supported by The Duke Endowment.

The Fellows Program is designed to support and strengthen faith and community leaders who are passionate about equity and food access and who are engaged in projects that support these goals. This program is designed to benefit both the fellows (through training and leadership opportunities) and the Come to the Table Network (as the fellows share their skills and insights with others around the state).

The current Fellows are LaShauna Austria, Rev. Dele, Kim Pevia and Fatimah Salleh.

LaShauna Austria is the Executive Director at Benevolence Farm, a women’s reentry organization located in Alamance County, NC, and bi-vocational Pastor at First Congregational United Church of Christ.

LaShauna has a fierce commitment to, and deep experience with, building strong, vibrant and sustainable communities as well as a demonstrated record of collaborating with rural communities, faith-based and non-secular organizations to address race, justice and equity issues. She has a professional and personal passion for, and involvement with, a variety of racial equity organizations, initiatives and food systems in the surrounding area.

After working for a local farmers market and engaging with local food councils and collaboratives, LaShauna became increasingly concerned about the absence of black people in these spaces, particularly the lack of black growers and farmers. In the spirit of activism, LaShauna started Kindred Seedlings, a small seedling business designed to be a voice for black people in Alamance County.

She has worked with RAFI as a facilitator for Come to the Table gatherings and as a technical assistance provider to churches interested in connecting food and gardening to theology.

Rev. Dele is an experienced inter-faith leader, ordained in the United Church of Christ with Baptist affiliations. She serves on the UN Decade of African Diaspora-Earthcare Coalition; UCC Council for Climate Justice, as regional liaison for Green the Church; and as a council member for the National Congress of Black American Indians.

Using her skills as a permaculturist and contemplative, Rev. Dele is training the next generation of mission leaders in faith, ecology and economic empowerment. These Soil & Souls leaders teach churches how to be models of sustainability by leading seminars that include food sovereignty work. Soil & Souls aims to train 300 mission leaders from 30 U.S. communities needing assistance in climate resilience. Rev. Dele holds a B.A. from the University of California-Riverside and M.Div. from Howard University School of Divinity.

Kim Pevia is a life coach, facilitator, author and activist working to disrupt systemic challenges that separate human beings. She founded K.A.P. Inner Prizes, which specializes in identifying and addressing issues that can keep us stuck by developing a personalized toolbox to help us hurdle over them. Kim is based in Robeson County where her roots run deep as a member of the Lumbee Tribe. She is working with RAFI to build relationships with faith and community leaders in Robeson County.

Fatimah Salleh is the founder of A Certain Work LLC., an organization dedicated to educating persons about social justice issues and dismantling oppressive systems. She has worked with RAFI as a facilitator for Come to the Table gatherings and for our Contract Farmer Leadership Training.

Rev. Dr. Fatimah Salleh was born and raised in New York City. She is the daughter of an African-American father and a Malaysian and Puerto-Rican mother. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in History at Utah State University. Subsequently, she earned her Master’s degree from Syracuse University and her PhD in Mass Communication from UNC-Chapel Hill. In 2016, she also earned her Master of Divinity from Duke University. She was ordained a reverend in 2017. Rev. Dr. Salleh is married to Eric Sorensen and they have four children.

RAFI is honored to partner with the Equity at the Table Fellows and to support and learn from their important work.

For more information about the Equity at the Table Fellowship, contact Michelle Osborne, Program Manager for Faith-Based and Community Partnerships at 919-704-6920 or [email protected].

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