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Inspire Speakers Series Presents: Will Allen, Stephen Ritz, and Jennifer Flanagan

March 12, 2015 @ 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

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Online registration closes at 2:00 p.m. on March 11. General admission is available when doors open at 5:00 p.m.

Food=Community. By investing in healthy, fresh and local food, we can, Create Jobs, Improve Public Health, Connect Communities, Teach Useful Skills & Reduce Food Waste. Food connects all of us and is central to some of our region’s most pressing issues. Join us to learn how an urban farmer, a social entrepreneur, and a teacher are using food as a key to creating more livable places for all.

Will AllenWill Allen
has made it his life’s work to change the vast American food distribution system, with its propensity to cater cheap, highly-processed food to low-income urban populations, but his 20-year-old urban farm humbly squeezes bushels of vegetables and hundreds of fish and livestock onto a three-acre plot.  A pro-basketball player turned farmer, Allen founded Growing Power in 1993 to teach Milwaukee city-dwellers about healthy food production while in turn providing what was then a neighborhood food desert with fresh produce. Today, Allen’s vision to teach and farm creatively has spread to numerous farms in and around Milwaukee, inspiring partners from diverse backgrounds to provide local communities with affordable food through closed-loop farming practices.  No less a teacher than a farmer, Allen instructs his partners in the Good Food Movement how to build wholesome communities by growing wholesome food.

More about Will Allen:

  • Works with 3,000 volunteers annually through the Growing Power Community Food Center
  • Has offered tours, workshops, and hands-on experiences to over 15,000 visitors
  • Was a 2008 Genius Grant and MacArthur Fellow, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
  • One of Time Magazine’s World’s 100 Most Influential People in 2010
  • Member of the Clinton Global Initiative
  • Holds honorary doctorates from Marquette University and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design
  • The son of a sharecropper, Allen became the first African-American scholarship athlete at the University of Miami.  Allen played professional basketball for one year in the ABA and several years in Belgium before moving into corporate sales and marketing.
  • Will’s work has been featured on PBS, The Colbert Report, The Huffington Post, and more.
  • Learn more about Will Allen here.


Jen FlanaganJennifer Flanagan co-founded Pittsburgh Community Kitchen, a nonprofit food service company with a fully- integrated culinary-based workforce development program for adults with barriers to employment. Flanagan oversees the agency’s training programming and is responsible for fundraising, program evaluation, and community partnerships. Since launch, she has secured $1.2 million in start-up and gap funding and together with her co-director, they have secured over $2 million in food service contracts. They focus services on congregate and institutional food services, in particular those serving at risk or low-income individuals, and on ensuring that children and families have access to nutritious, freshly prepared food, regardless of their economic situation.

Prior to launching the Kitchen enterprise, Flanagan worked at Allegheny County Department of Human Services on workforce development initiatives for individuals coming out of the Allegheny County Jail. Previous experience also includes securing and managing federal grants and multi-state demonstration projects for the health care and educational sectors, as well as 10 years spent in corporate marketing and communications.


SJRitzHeadshot_web-150x100Stephen Ritz is the perfect person to emcee this lecture. As a former Inspire Speakers Series presenter, TED Talker, and Huffington Post Blogger, Ritz’s enthusiasm and passion for the power of healthy, locally grown foods is sure to ignite the audience. Ritz is a South Bronx educator / administrator who believes that students shouldn’t have to leave their community to live, learn, and earn in a better one. Ritz has led his students to grow healthy food in their own community while creating jobs and increasing school attendance. So far, his students and community members have grown more than 30,000 pounds of vegetables in the Bronx. Stephen’s TEDx Manhattan Talk was ranked in the Top 25 Food/Education TED Talks of all time and is used globally for teacher training and workforce development. As this Inspire Speakers Series lecture’s emcee, Ritz will lead us through the event, apply some context to the lecture topics, and facilitate the Q&A session.

More about Stephen Ritz:

  • Some of Stephen’s accolades include:
    • Named a 2014 Top Fifty Finalist for the Global Teacher Prize
    • 2014 Greenius Award
    • 2014 Green Difference Award
    • General Motors National Green Educator Award
  • Stephen’s work has appeared in:
    • Forbes
    • Wall Street Journal
    • The Guardian
    • Fast Track
    • NPR
    • Caring Magazine
    • CNN
    • ABC
    • And much more
  • Learn more about Stephen here and here.

GBCI CMP This event is approved for 2.0 GBCI CEUs.

Partnering with USGBC and AIA, GBA makes it easy for our members to report continuing education credits.  Please provide your GBCI and/or AIA number so we can auto-report your credits (for applicable events).  Non-members can still earn continuing education credits but will need to self-report their GBCI CEUs.

Is this event out of your price range? We want this incredibly inspiring evening with Will Allen to be accessible to everyone in our community.  If you find the $20 rate to be prohibitive, please email Jenna Cramer to discuss your options.

We’d like to thank our Inspire Speakers Series Co-Presenting Partners:

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Thanks also to our Inspire Speakers Series Media Partners:










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Elsie H. Hillman Auditorium at the Kaufmann Center
1825 Centre Ave.
Pittsburgh, PA 15219 United States
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