Esperanza Pallana

Executive Director

Esperanza is a culture change leader working with people, data, strategy, capital and storytelling. Her passions are community centered economic development, equitable and sustainable food systems and racial justice. She has worked with nonprofits for over 20 years with an emphasis in leadership, systemic change, and policy advocacy. She has led several successful campaigns that resulted in institutional change and innovative policy as well as capital/grantmaking programs advancing economic and racial equity. For the past ten years, she has worked to support social justice entrepreneurs and movement leaders in removing policy barriers, consolidating resources and accessing grant and lending capital for their nonprofits and small businesses.

In her most recent roles as Director of Strategic Initiatives within a community development financial institution, and as former Executive Director of a municipal food policy council, she managed cross-functional teams for strategic program development and implementation, led place-based initiatives to raise the organization’s profile and visibility; and served as a key influencer on a state and national platform while building strategic relationships with agencies and private sector organizations. Additionally, she has led fundraising operations and program development, cultivated political leadership in food policy, and fostered partnerships among a broad network of individuals, organizations, and businesses in both the public and private sectors.

Additionally, Esperanza is a Fellow with the Castanea Fellowship. Castanea is a cohort-based leadership training for mid- career food system professionals focused on leadership and change theory to reform the impacts of racism and bias within the food system.