Mark your calendars for Voices in Food Equity: Nourishing Tomorrow’s Leaders!

Join us as we delve into the pressing issue of food insecurity from childhood through college years across Western Massachusetts. Our diverse panel will lead conversations on hunger’s far-reaching effects, innovative community-driven solutions, and the vital need for legislative action.

This timely and important gathering is open to all at no cost, and delicious hors d’oeuvres will be served.

Register here >

Panel Moderator

Joesiah Gonzalez serves as a principled leader, dedicated to transformation in education, human services, and government. Mr. Gonzalez currently serves as the Chief Philanthropy & Communications Officer at Home City, a local non-profit dedicated to creating affordable housing. In addition to serving as an elected official in the City of Springfield as the Vice Chairman of the Springfield School Committee. 

Mr. Gonzalez was born and raised in the City of Springfield.  He carries a burning passion to see transformation in the city and region. Joesiah holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Fitchburg State University and is currently pursuing a Doctor of Educational Leadership from the University of Hartford. 

Featured Speakers

Catalina López-Ospina’s journey began in Medellín, Colombia, where she spent her formative years before moving to Boston in 2007. 

During her tenure of over 11 years with the City of Boston, Catalina demonstrated exceptional leadership, culminating in her role as the Director of the Mayor’s Office of Food Justice (Formerly Food Access), where she spearheaded initiatives to address food insecurity, including the implementation of Health Incentives Program in the City of Boston, Boston Double Up Program and the Boston Summer Eats Program in partnership with Project Bread.  Catalina’s leadership was instrumental in Boston’s response to the food emergency during the COVID-19 pandemic, coordinating efforts across 120 organizations to ensure equitable support for all communities. She provided strategic guidance for the Walsh Administration in the distribution of over $18 million of the Boston Resilience Funds and the initial allocation of ARPA funds, facilitating the city’s recovery from the pandemic’s impact on food insecurity. 

Transitioning to Project Bread as the inaugural Vice President of Engagement in 2022, Catalina continues to champion community-driven solutions, launching initiatives such as the Council of Experts to empower individuals with lived experiences of food insecurity to collaborate on program development and policy agendas. Catalina’s focus in 2024 includes ensuring that the Plan to End Hunger in Massachusetts, a bold collective impact initiative led by Project Bread in conjunction with the Massachusetts End Hunger Coalition, is informed and guided by people with lived experiences from inception to implementation. 


José Lopez-Figueroa‘s passion lies in creating opportunities for equitable access to higher education. Mr. Lopez-Figueroa serves as the Director at the Center for the Access Services (CAS) and Thrive Center at Springfield Technical Community College, which provides non- academic support to students by helping them overcome challenges and barriers that impact the student’s ability to stay in school. He is certified in the Assessment and Management of Suicidal Ideation and Case Management Standards and Best Practices through the National Association for Behavioral Intervention and Threat Assessment (NABITA). His passion lies in creating opportunities for equitable access to higher education. 

Currently, Lopez-Figueroa serves on the following committees: The National Association for the Education of Homeless Children and Youth (NAEHCY) Post-Secondary Committee, Western Massachusetts Network to End Homelessness Governance Committee, MA Hunger-Free Campus Coalition, Single Point of Contact (SPOC) Coalition, Springfield Public School Homeless Coordination Committee, Springfield-Hampden County Youth Homelessness Demonstration Program (YHDP) Executive Committee, and is the Lead for the Springfield-Hampden YHDP Education and Employment working group. 


Hailing from Buffalo, NY, Shannon M. Rudder joined the Western MA community in 2013 after 10 years dedicated to the advancement of fair housing work.  Rudder is a transformational, visionary leader with over 25 years of non-profit management. 

In Western MA region, Rudder has served as: Deputy Director of Teach Western Mass, a nonprofit organization working toward educational equity in partnership with area schools; Executive Director of MotherWoman ensuring support and advocacy for mothers along their maternal journeys; Executive Director of Providence Ministries, Inc., an organization supporting the needs of marginalized populations by addressing food insecurity, addiction recovery, housing, clothing, and workforce development. 

In 2023, Rudder was appointed as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Services. MLK Family Services provides impactful programs meeting the needs of food security, family stabilization, college readiness and accessibility, youth cultural, academic enrichment and mental health awareness. The clear thread woven through all these roles has been Rudder’s focus on equity and making sure everyone has access to the resources they need to live healthy, meaningful lives. 


Abby Getman Skillicorn’s professional work over the past decade has revolved around social justice and food access in Western Massachusetts and throughout the Commonwealth. Her current role as Special Projects Manager for Mass. Farm to School focuses on supporting recipients of the MA FRESH grant and the Northeast Food for Schools funding in partnership with the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Abby is in her third year as the Board President for River Valley Co-op, which has 16,000+ owners and two retail locations in Northampton and Easthampton, and has previously held positions with Springfield Public Schools, the Department of Transitional Assistance working on the Healthy Incentives Program (HIP), The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, CISA, and PVGrows.