About Us

Who We Are

The Castanea Fellowship is a multi-sector collaborative that creates opportunities for transformative leadership to thrive.

The Castanea Fellowship is a new, two-year fellowship for diverse leaders working for a racially just food system in any of the areas of: health, environment, agriculture, regional economies, or community development. Castanea Fellows will build power to shift structures and culture towards the creation of a more equitable, sustainable, and healthy food system for children, families, and all communities. We give Castanea Fellows the time, space, and resources they need to connect and innovate on long-term solutions that can foster vibrant communities.

Castanea Fellowship is nurtured by a stellar Steering Committee, supported by a powerhouse advisory council, informed by hundreds of conversations with food system change-makers, and inspired by a decade of successful alumni from the W.K. Kellogg Food and Community Fellows.


Our name comes from the Castanea, or chestnut tree family. We are inspired by the symbolism of Castanea, a species that is native to North America that is…


The chestnut tree was almost blighted, but made a comeback.


Castanea are rapid collaborators, quickly creating hybrid variations.


They provide an important source of food and shelter for people and animals.

Core Values

Racial Equity

To mindfully transform the food system we must first acknowledge historical practices of displacement, enslavement and the devaluing of labor, especially among indigenous peoples, black families, and rural communities. Castanea Fellows will be leaders from (and committed to) these communities. Our fellows’ work will already be rooted in racial equity and they will leverage our resources, networks, and their own experiences to develop innovative solutions.


Diverse approaches, perspectives, and lived experiences are instrumental to our fellowship's success. By convening diverse leaders, especially those typically underrepresented in leadership roles, our program will generate creative and bold ideas. Castanea Fellows and trainers will reflect our country’s regional diversity as well as lived experiences (ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation). We strive to have a multi-racial cohort with a majority of people of color.


Castanea Fellows will transform the food system on both local and national levels. They will shift policies, practices, culture, institution, and our narrative surrounding food. They will be able to demonstrate that a different and more equitable food system is possible and will inspire and generate innovations throughout the nations. We value tangible, transformational actions, and will support and help amplify the impact of Castanea Fellows.

2022 Impact Report

Past and Current Funder Partners

CS fund Warsh Mott Legacy
GRACE Communications Foundation
Sobrato Organization
The McKnight Foundation
The Nell Newman Foundation
Panta Rhea Fund
Thread Fund
Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation
Woodcock Foundation

Krysten Aguilar

Director [bio]

Chan "Shawn" Cain

Operations Manager

Mahfam Malek

Program Director [bio]

Steering Committee

Anna Lappé
Food Sovereignty Fund, Panta Rhea Foundation
Brett Ramey
Climate Resilience Planner
Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska
Haile Johnston
Co-Founder and Chief Development Officer, Common Market
Mark Muller
Executive Director
Regenerative Agriculture Foundation
Scott Cullen
Executive Director
GRACE Communications Foundation
Ricardo Salvador
Director and Senior Scientist
The Union of Concerned Scientists


Join the numerous foundations, nonprofit, and business leaders in this multi-sector collaborative committed to shaping an equitable future for food. Grants, gifts, and individual donations are welcome.
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