2019 Women’s Conference Speakers

Karen Washington


Since 1985 Karen Washington has been a community activist, striving to make the New York City a better place to live. As a community gardener and board member of the New York Botanical Gardens, she worked with Bronx neighborhoods to turn empty lots into community gardens.

As an advocate, and former president of the New York City Community Garden Coalition, she stood up and spoke out for garden protection and preservation. As a member of the La Familia Verde Garden Coalition, she helped launched a City Farms Market, bringing fresh vegetables to the community.

Karen is a Why Hunger board member, a Just Food board member and Just Food Trainer, leading workshops on growing food and food justice across the country.  In 2010, Co- Founded Black Urban Growers (BUGS) an organization supporting growers in both urban and rural settings.

In 2012, Ebony magazine voted her one of their 100 most influential African Americans in the country and in 2014 was the recipient of the James Beard Leadership Award.

Since retiring from Physical Therapy in 2014, Karen is Co-owner/Farmer at Rise & Root Farm.

Patty Edelburg

Patty Edelburg is a dairy farmer in central Wisconsin. Along with her husband and 18 year old twins, Edelburg owns and operates Front-Page Holsteins. A registered Holstein dairy where they milk 120 cows and run 350 acres of corn and alfalfa, mainly for forage. The Edelburgs purchased their farm on June 1st, 2008. Beyond milking good quality cows, they also strive for excellent genetics that will do well in the show ring and club sales.

Beyond farming, Patty has been an advocate for agriculture for a long time. Most recently, she has been elected to serve as the National Farmers Union Vice President. Prior to that she served for a short time as the State Executive Director for the Farm Service Agency in Wisconsin, spent 12 years on the Wisconsin Farmers Union state board and has served or currently serves on numerous state and local boards and committees, mostly stemming around agriculture. Her family is most important to her though, so she can be seen helping at many school activities, sporting events, FFA or 4-H functions with her husband and children.

Poppy Davis

Poppy Davis is a business and policy adviser to agricultural and food and beverage enterprises, and to nonprofits and local governments. She provides farmers and ranchers with training and technical assistance on issues such as business formation, land tenure, credit, taxation, liability, regulatory compliance, and value-added inventory.  She works directly with nonprofits, associations, and local governments to help them develop financial and managerial capacity and programs to improve the environment for farming, ranching and healthy food access.

She worked eight years at the USDA, most recently as the National Program Leader for Small Farms and Beginning Farmers and Ranchers. Previously she was a California CPA with an emphasis in agricultural enterprises and non-profits. She holds a Juris Doctor with a Certificate in Food and Agriculture from Drake University Law School, a Masters in Journalism from Georgetown, and a BS in Agricultural Economics from the University of California at Davis.

Lisa Kivirist

Lisa Kivirist and her family run Inn Serendipity Farm and B&B in Wisconsin, completely powered by the wind and sun.  Lisa is a Senior Fellow, Endowed Chair in Agricultural Systems for the Minnesota Institute for Sustainable Agriculture at the University of Minnesota and is the author of the award-winning book, Soil Sisters: A Toolkit for Women Farmers and co-author of Homemade for Sale, Farmstead Chef, ECOpreneuring and Rural Renaissance with her husband, John Ivanko. She leads the annual event, Soil Sisters:  A Celebration of Wisconsin Farms and Rural Life, a project of the Wisconsin Farmers Union and now the largest women farmer run event of its kind in the country. A national advocate for cottage food entrepreneurs, Lisa Kivirist served as a plaintiff in the successful lawsuit against the state that declared the ban on the sale of home baked goods unconstitutional.  She now runs Inn Serendipity Fresh Bakes from her farmstead, offering holiday cookies, Baltic rye bread and lots of treats with the farm’s bumper pumpkin crop.

Esther Lin

Esther is a part of the Department of Agriculture’s Farm Service Agency Outreach Office.  In this position, she supports the Farm Service Agency’s strategic outreach and engagement of beginning, military veteran, and Asian American and Pacific Islander farmers and ranchers.  Her work includes developing tools and resources that help field employees engage new audiences, and building partnerships across Federal, State, and community partners to ensure equal access to USDA programs.  Esther is a graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.

Chelsea Matzen

Chelsea Matzen is responsible for managing all aspects of the Local Food Safety Collaborative (LFSC), a $4.5 million cooperative agreement between NFU and FDA. The goal of LFSC is to provide education, outreach, and training to producers and processors serving their local markets. These growers while possibly exempt from regulations are not exempt from market demands. Her work includes representing the project at a variety of meetings; reviewing project deliverables; directing trainings and workshops offered by the project; selecting, working with, and monitoring subrecipients; evaluating project activities for impact and benefit to the target audience; overseeing the financial administration of the project, and keeping up-to-date on changes to FSMA as new information is available.

She is a Produce Safety Alliance Trainer assisting with trainings on the Produce Safety Rule as well as workshops introducing food safety and the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA).

Prior to employment with NFU, Matzen was an Associate Consultant with a small Federal consulting firm, Corner Alliance. In her previous role, she supported two grants at the Department of Commerce related to public safety broadband.