Mariana Chilton is an Associate Professor at Drexel University School of Public Health. She is the Director of the Center for Hunger-Free Communities and is Co-Principal investigator of Children's HealthWatch, a national research network that investigates the impact of public assistance programs on the health and wellbeing of young children and their caregivers. Dr. Chilton founded Witnesses to Hunger, a participatory action study to increase women’s participation in the national dialogue on hunger and poverty. She is Principal Investigator of the Building Wealth and Health Network, which is designed to incentivize entrepreneurship and self-sufficiency in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program.
Dr. Chilton received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, Master of Public Health in Epidemiology from the University of Oklahoma, and Bachelor of Arts degree from Harvard University. She has testified before the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on the importance of child nutrition programs and other anti-poverty policies. She has served as an advisor to Sesame Street and to the Institute of Medicine. Her awards include the “Nourish Award” from MANNA, the “Unsung Hero Award” for Improving the Lives of Women and Girls from Women’s Way and the Young Professional Award in Maternal and Child Health from the American Public Health Association. Her work has been featured in the Washington Post, the Philadelphia Inquirer, public radio and CBS National News.
Spencer Coates is President of Houchens Industries, Inc. and serves on its Board of Directors. He joined the Houchens family of companies in October 2003, after retiring from BKD, LLP, a national public accounting firm where he had spent 30 years serving in various capacities. His later years with BKD were spent providing services to clients in transitioning their businesses to employee ownership, assisting with creating many large and successful employee-owned companies.
Mr. Coates prior experience in employee ownership was important to Houchens since it is the largest 100% employee-owned company in the United States with over 18,000 employees. Houchens is a diversified conglomerate with holdings in the grocery and convenience store industry, manufacturing, wealth management, distribution, highway and building construction, information technology, optical retail and other. However, Houchens remains true to its roots with over half of its employees and revenue still derived from the grocery store business. The company was started by Mr. Ervin Houchens in 1917 in a one-room store in southern Kentucky and today has grocery stores and convenience stores under various banners throughout the eastern United States. Houchens is headquartered in Bowling Green, Kentucky and through its diversified holdings serves all fifty states and over 50 foreign countries.
Mr. Coates also serves on the Board of Governors of the ESOP Association, the Board of Trustees of the Employee Ownership Foundation and the Board of Directors of the National Grocers Association.
Robert Doar is the Morgridge Fellow in Poverty Studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) where he studies and evaluates how free enterprise and improved federal policies and programs can reduce poverty and provide opportunities for vulnerable Americans. Specifically Mr. Doar focuses on the employment, health, education, and community participation of low income Americans and their children.
Before joining AEI, Mr. Doar was commissioner of New York City’s Human Resources Administration where he administered 12 public assistance programs for the largest local social services agency in the United States. Programs included welfare, food assistance, public health insurance, home care for the elderly and disabled, energy assistance, child support enforcement services, adult protective services and domestic violence assistance, as well as help for people living with HIV/AIDS. Prior to joining the Bloomberg administration, Mr. Doar was New York State commissioner of social services where he helped to make New York a model for the implementation of welfare reform. Since joining AEI he has written for the Wall Street Journal, the National Review, and Real Clear Markets.
Mr. Doar has a bachelor degree in history from Princeton University.
Jeremy Everett is the founding Director of the Texas Hunger Initiative (THI) which is a capacity building project within Baylor University and a partner of the United States Department of Agriculture, Texas state agencies, and a number of other national and state based anti-hunger and poverty organizations that seeks to develop and implement strategies to alleviate hunger through research, policy analysis, education, and community organizing. THI organizes coalitions across the state to ensure access to healthy food for all Texans. Presently THI has coalitions representing 63% of the population of Texas with 12 regional offices and approximately 100 staff resourcing Texas communities which have resulted in millions of additional meals being served to Texas children since its beginning in 2009.
Prior to THI, Mr. Everett worked for international and community development organizations as a teacher, religious leader, community organizer, and organic farmer. Mr. Everett earned a bachelor’s degree from Samford University and a Master of Divinity from Baylor University. He is a Next Generation Fellow of the University of Texas LBJ School’s Strauss Center for International Security and Law.
Susan Finn, CEO of the global consultancy Finn/Parks & Associates (F/P & A), is a recognized leader and a respected communicator in the food, nutrition and health arena. She is a top level advisor to professional societies, educational institutions and industry. Over the past several years, she has focused on the common ground shared by the quest for global food security, the impact of innovation and technology, and the role of nutrition security in building strong societies. Former president of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and a past chair of its foundation, Dr. Finn remains deeply involved in championing dietetics professionals as nutrition authorities and in the shaping the Academy’s future direction.
President George W. Bush appointed Dr. Finn to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She has received the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Medallion Award and has presented the Academy’s prestigious Lena Frances Cooper Lecture. In 1998, Dr. Finn received the distinguished Marjorie Hulsizer Copher Award, the highest honor bestowed by the Academy. Dr. Finn is widely published in professional journals and consumer magazines. She is co-author of two books: The Real Life Nutrition Book/Making the Right Food Choices Without Changing Your Lifestyle and The American Dietetic Association’s Guide to Women’s Nutrition for Healthy Living.
Dr. Finn earned a Bachelor of Science degree in education from Bowling Green State University, a Master of Science degree in public health nutrition at Case Western Reserve University and a PhD in nutrition science from Ohio State University.
Deborah Frank is the inaugural incumbent of a newly established Pediatric Professorship in Child Health and Well Being at Boston University School of Medicine. She began working at Boston City Hospital (now Boston Medical Center) in 1981. In 1984 she founded the Failure to Thrive Program, now called the Grow Clinic for Children, where she continues to treat malnourished young patients. In the 1980s, Dr. Frank and her staff also organized one of the first hospital based food pantries.
In 1998 with colleagues across the country she founded Children’s HealthWatch (www.childrenshealthwatch.org) an ongoing multisite pediatric center to produce non-partisan, original, and policy-relevant research on health and development in the United States of infants, toddlers, and preschoolers in families facing economic hardships. Dr. Frank has published numerous peer reviewed scientific articles on many topics including food insecurity, and the “heat or eat” phenomenon. Dr. Frank has frequently given testimony to state and federal legislative committees on the growing problem of hunger and associated hardships in the U.S. and its effects on our youngest children during the sensitive period of brain development.
In 2010 Dr. Frank received the Physician Advocacy Merit Award from the Institute on Medicine as a Profession at Columbia University. In 2014 she has received the Robert F. Kennedy Children’s Action Corps’ Embracing the Legacy Award, the AMA Dr. Debasish Mridha Spirit of Medicine Award, and Congressional Hunger Center's Bill Emerson and Mickey Leland Hunger Leadership Award.
Dr. Frank is a graduate of Radcliffe College and Harvard Medical School.
Cherie Jamason joined the Food Bank of Northern Nevada 27 years ago. With her leadership and expertise, what began as a small grass-roots food assistance program, is now a nationally recognized anti-hunger organization and recent Feeding America Food Bank of the Year, providing services throughout northern Nevada and a portion of eastern California. Under her direction, hunger issues have been brought to the forefront, garnering both attention and action. Celebrating 23 years as a Summer Food sponsor, programs she has successfully implemented include the Nevada Child Nutrition Initiative providing summer food and after school meal programs for low income children throughout Nevada, a nationally recognized Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) outreach program, nutrition education for at-risk schools and school pantries. Food Bank advocacy succeeded in securing the Commodity Supplemental Food Program for Nevada in 2003. She has been instrumental in the creation of Nevada’s first State Food Security Plan and state policy changes creating greater access for hungry families, including Trusted Partners, an innovative SNAP demonstration project. Ms. Jamason has also been the driving force behind the Bridges to a Thriving Nevada Initiative, which takes on poverty and financial instability, two of hunger’s most damaging root causes.
Ms. Jamason has received numerous state and national awards for her contribution to alleviating hunger and was recognized as a Distinguished Nevadan by the University of Nevada.
Educated at the University of Massachusetts and raised in New England, Ms. Jamason’s career in the anti-hunger community began in 1987 upon her arrival in Nevada.
Billy Shore is the founder and CEO of Share Our Strength, a national nonprofit dedicated to ending childhood hunger in America through its No Kid Hungry campaign.
Mr. Shore is also the author of four books, including The Cathedral Within. He is chairman of Community Wealth Partners, an organization that helps change agents solve social problems at the magnitude they exist.
A native of Pittsburgh, PA, Mr. Shore earned his Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Pennsylvania and his law degree from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He has lectured at New York University’s Stern School of Business, the Wharton School for Business and Harvard Law School. He has also been an advisor for the Reynolds Foundation Fellowship program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government.
Russell Sykes is an independent consultant working with Abt Associates and Mathematica on a major Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) study. He has also been involved with projects ranging from stemming the growth in Social Security Disability enrollment to operating the Albany, NY office of America Works.
Previously, Mr. Sykes was a Senior Fellow at the Empire Center on New York State Policy, a project of the Manhattan Institute. While there, he published numerous op-eds and policy papers on the Earned Income Tax Credit, Medicaid and TANF Welfare Waivers.
From 2004 – 2011, Mr. Sykes was Deputy Commissioner of the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance where he was responsible statewide for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP [formerly the Food Stamp Program]), TANF, and multiple other cash and income transfer programs. Mr. Sykes also served on the Board of the American Public Human Services Association and was the elected Chair of the National Association of State TANF Administrators from 2006-2011.
Mr. Sykes was Vice President of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy from 1984-2004 focusing on an array of human service and tax policy issues. He also founded the Nutrition Consortium of New York State, now Hunger Solutions.
Mr. Sykes began his career in 1972, directing a Community Food and Nutrition Program in rural Pennsylvania. While there he founded the statewide Pennsylvania Food and Nutrition Coalition.
Mr. Sykes is a graduate of Gettysburg College with a Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing.
Note: Congressional leaders appointed ten people to the Commission, but one, Ricki Barlow (Reid appointee), later resigned for personal reasons and is not listed above.