Kamanani Conklin

Food Policy Specialist


Nani hails from the islands of O’ahu and Maui, where she grew up rooted in the concept of mālama ‘āina — caring for the lands, waters, and communities that nurture us. Nani aims to translate community priorities into evidence-based policies and programs that shift the food environment in support of public health and social equity.

Nani brings extensive experience with food and nutrition policy and food system planning. She researched the approach to food systems change in 25 state food system plans and helped to develop a toolkit for planners and policymakers. She is now managing the first-ever food system policy plan for Hawai’i as part of Transforming Hawai’i’s Food System Together, an initiative that centers Indigenous knowledge in pursuit of a more sustainable, equitable, and resilient food system for Hawaiʻi. She is also leading the development of a stakeholder-driven farm to food bank and gleaning sustainability plan for Hawai’i.

In addition to her work with New Venture Advisors, Nani is a Community Health Fellow with the American Public Health Association and Kaiser Permanente Institute for Health Policy, where she researches the health equity implications of policies related to issues like climate change, technology, and food security.

 Nani received her MPH at the University of California at Berkeley where she was a fellow with the UC Global Food Initiative and received the Dean’s Diversity Award. She received a dual BA in Sociology and Philosophy from Williams College. She currently lives with three generations of her family in Kula, Maui, where they cultivate native crops like kalo (taro) and ‘uala (sweet potato) and support restoration of their local watershed.

 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)