News and Upcoming Events

Join CCC and Elizabeth Laprelle on Thursday, September 5th at 8 PM in the Squires Student Center for Appalachian ballads and old-time songs

Fall 2019 Meetings (new members welcome):

Community Change Collaborative (CCC) weekly meetings for Fall 2019 are being held on Mondays at 3 p.m. in the Graduate Life Center, Room D.

The CCC is an interdisciplinary graduate student group hosted by the VT Institute for Policy and Governance (IPG). We explore the frameworks of scholars and practitioners working in community development through a Forum speaker series, community-based research projects, and the graduate student-run Community Change journal.  Please contact Lara Nagle ( for more information.

Community Change journal: Call for submissions focused on environmental topics: Issues feature scholarly refereed articles, book reviews, essays, and other work, including multimedia and artwork. Interdisciplinary scholarship is strongly encouraged. In addition to manuscripts relating to new developments, we welcome submissions that re-examine or challenge the questions and assumptions underpinning current theoretical and practical approaches to community development and change. Community Change will also feature shorter scholarly works that address guest speakers’ lectures, interviews, and roundtable events. The journal is currently looking for graduate students interested in editorial or peer review positions. Please contact for more information.

Francesco Manca – April 10th

Francesco Manca, Deputy Director (ret.) for the Political and Civil Affairs office of UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) will visit Virginia Tech again on April 10 for a round table luncheon and discussion on “The Independency of the International Civil Servant: A Duty or an Option?” – $5 lunch (please RSVP to Regina Naff) or BYO



Mahir Zeynalov – March 23rd

On Thursday, March 23, 2017 – Community Voices welcomes Mahir Zeynalov, Turkish journalist and analyst based in Washington, D.C. Zeynalov first started his professional career with the Los Angeles Times. He later joined Today’s Zaman and worked there until the Turkish government shut down the newspaper in 2016. He is writing columns for Al Arabiya since 2013 and regularly contributing to the Huffington Post. He is the first journalist in Turkey asked by Erdogan to be imprisoned. He is also the first journalist to be deported from Turkey. He is a frequent commentator on developments related to Turkey in world’s major TV channels, including CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera and NBC. He rose to international prominence for documenting the massive crackdown on Turkish journalists and he is best known for reporting on post-coup purge in Turkey.

Democratic Deconsolidation in Turkey: Challenges and Prospects  

Thursday, March 23, 2017
Noon: Roundtable Luncheon
in Room C of the Graduate Life Center at Virginia Tech.  “The role of deteriorating media freedoms in Turkey’s drift from its democratic principles.”
7:00 p.m.  Evening Talk and Conversation in Room G of the Graduate Life Center at Virginia Tech. “Monumental shift  of Turkey from a flawed democracy to a full-fledged autocracy in a few years.”

Jeanette Abi-Nader & Kim Niewolny – February 22nd

Community Voices welcomes its next speakers, Jeanette Abi-Nader (Founding Member, Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative; Executive Director, City Schoolyard Garden) and Kim Niewolny (Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural Leadership and Community Education, Virginia Tech).

Event Details —

Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Roundtable Luncheon
GLC, Room B ($5 lunch or BYO; RSVP to Regina for lunch)

Evening Event – “Exploring Whole Measures in Community Food Systems
GLC, Room F

Both events aim to inspire a rich dialogue on community viability and resilience, food systems sovereignty, participatory governance, and organizing skills for positive social change. Please join us!

Speaker Bios —

jeanette-abi-naderJeanette Abi-Nader (Executive Director, City Schoolyard Garden)

Jeanette Abi-Nader worked for a dozen years with the national food justice non-profit, the Community Food Security Coalition (CFSC). CFSC co-founded the National Farm to School Network and was instrumental in the passing of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, a reauthorization of the Child Nutrition Act. As CFSC’s Evaluation and Training and Capacity Building Director, Jeanette utilized multiple learning strategies to support the work of hundreds of organizations and funders. She authored publications on strategic evaluation design including Whole Measures for Community Food Systems, Community Food Project Indicators of Success, and Growing Communities Curriculum.  Jeanette is the former Board Treasurer for the American Community Gardening Association, Vice President of the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group Board of Directors, and a founding member of the Growing Food and Justice for All initiative (GFJI). GFJI is a national network focused on dismantling racism in the food system. Jeanette is an experienced farmer, having launched the first community supported agriculture project in the state of Louisiana and as Director of Farms for Frontier Natural Products Co-op. She has a Masters of Science in Sustainable Systems/Agroecology and is a certified permaculture designer and instructor.

kim-niewolnyKim Niewolny (Associate Professor, Department of Agricultural, Leadership and Community Education, Virginia Tech)

Kim Niewolny is an associate professor in the Department of Agricultural, Leadership and Community Education in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Virginia Tech. Her scholarship centers on the role of power and equity in community education and development praxis with a specific focus on social justice and food systems. Her work is grounded in asset-based community development, critical pedagogy, action research, and narrative inquiry. Current funded initiatives emphasize the political praxis of community food work, Appalachian community food security, new farmer sustainability, and farmworker care/dignity. Most recently, Kim launched the “Stories of Community Food Work in Appalachia” project to create and share stories that illustrate the lived experiences of activists, educators, farmers, and practitioners who are connected to the broader issues of food system change in the Appalachian region. Kim teaches several graduate courses, including Community-based Participatory Research, Community Education and Development, and Food Security and Resilient Communities. With a focus on service-learning, she also provides teaching leadership in Virginia Tech’s undergraduate minor in Civic Agriculture and Food Systems (CAFS).

Ramón Zepeda – January 25th

ramon-zepedaCommunity Voices welcomes its next speaker of the season, Ramón Zepeda from (SAF Program Director). Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) works with farmworkers, students, and advocates in the Southeast and nationwide to create a more just agricultural system. Since 1992, SAF has engaged thousands of students, farmworker youth, and community members in the farmworker movement.

Ramón will be on campus on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 for 2 events:

Luncheon Roundtable (interactive, open dialogue)
12:00pm in the Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center Room F
The roundtable will include a light lunch that is available for $5, or attendees may bring their own. Please RSVP to Regina Naff by noon on Tuesday, January 24, to sign up for lunch ( and/or 540-231-6775).

Evening Lecture: “Theater in the Fields”
7:00pm in the Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center Room F
To be followed by question and answer time to engage Ramón Zepeda and to learn about his work with Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF).

Speaker Bio

Ramón Zepeda joined Student Action with Farmworkers (SAF) as the Youth Organizer at the end 2011. Ramon was born in a small farming town in the state of Jalisco, Mexico. At the age of 10 he moved to Los Angeles, CA to join his family and lived there until migrating to North Carolina in 2002. Ramon participated in SAF’s Levante youth program when he was a senior at Hoke County High School and helped to start an AIM Club for migrant students. In 2005, while studying Sociology at UNC-Pembroke, he participated in SAF’s Into the Fields Internship Program, working at the Western North Carolina Workers’ Center, where he was exposed to the struggles that workers face when they try to organize for better working conditions, dignity, and respect on the job. After graduating college in 2008, Ramon joined the labor movement as a union organizer and worked on campaigns such as the Justice at Smithfield Campaign, in solidarity with workers in a North Carolina pork processing plant, and a Wage Theft Campaign, in solidarity with day laborers in Washington DC. In addition, Ramon has served on SAF’s board of directors and has participated in alumni focus groups.

Anthony Flaccavento – October 24th


Come meet, hear and talk with Community Voices guest speaker Anthony Flaccavento, sustainable community pioneer, organic farmer, and food system innovator. This is a great opportunity to engage with Anthony, on Monday, October 24 at 7 p.m. at the Alexander Black House, 204 Draper Road, Blacksburg.

Anthony Flaccavento is an organic farmer, innovator and sustainable development pioneer from Abingdon, Virginia. He will be the featured Community Voices speaker on Monday, October 24, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. at the Alexander Black House, 205 Draper Rd., Blacksburg, VA.

In his presentation, Beyond the Margins: Six Transitions to Building a Healthy Economy from the Bottom Up,” he will share his research on the bottom-up economy, and describe six essential transitions he believes our nation must establish to build a healthier, more just and sustainable economy and food system for its citizens.

A community development practitioner, Flaccavento helped found the Abingdon Farmers Market and the Appalachian Harvest Food Hub. He has worked with community leaders in more than a dozen states, in addition to Canada and Australia, to build stronger, more sustainable economies.

Following the talk, he will be selling and signing copies of his recently-released book, Building a Healthy Economy From the Bottom Up (University of Kentucky Press, 2016).

Anthony Flaccavento will participate in an informal luncheon roundtable discussion on October 24 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Room C of the Virginia Tech Graduate Life Center, 155 Otey Street. The roundtable will include a light lunch that is available for $5, or attendees may bring their own. Please RSVP to Regina Naff by Friday, October 21 at noon to sign up for lunch ( and/or 540-231-6775).

For more information, interview requests, or if you need accommodations for the public presentation, please contact Andy Morikawa at the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance: or (540) 230-1492 mobile.

The Community Voices fall 2016 series is sponsored by School of Performing Arts; Department of Landscape Architecture; Virginia Tech Graduate School; School of Public and International Affairs; Department of Agricultural, Leadership, and Community Education; Office of Associate Vice President of Engagement; College of Architecture and Urban Studies; Department of Political Science; and the Institute of Policy and Governance.

Rick Cavey – September 21st

Rick Cavey, former US Navy Diver, who owns and operates an organic vegetable farm with his wife Jen, in Southwest Virginia will speak Wednesday, September 21 for the Community Voices program. He will speak on lessons learned in a career  leading agricultural initiatives, exploring the Blue Ridge with children, negotiating peaceful partnerships with foreign nations, playing conductor to cross-sectoral underwater archeology, and executing military missions.

In his talk, entitled “Adventures in Community Engagement – Building Consensus by Tapping Individual Motivation,” Rick will speak about learning from his rich experiences that leveraging individuals’ motivations is often the key to successful team engagement.

Rick Cavey’s motto, “Let folks own it like they made it”, sums up how he approaches community engagement and promotes social enterprises. Rick will share adventurous stories of leading engagements over a broad and diverse range of projects including regional agricultural renewal, raising the USS Monitor  from it’s watery grave off the coast of Cape Hatteras, alternative outdoor education in the Blue Ridge, and building foreign relations in both war and peace –  highlighting insightful and often humorous situations that display the human spirit in its most cooperative mode.

Rick got his start by enlisting in the Navy and graduating from Navy Diving School. Retiring as an Officer (Mustang) after 24 years of service, some of his proudest achievements include: leading Partnership for Peace exercises with former Soviet Bloc nations; the recovery of the cannons, turret and heroic human remains from the Civil Warship, USS Monitor; Katrina recovery and rescue operations; and returning with all his men from his tour in Iraq. Following his service, he joined a leading consulting firm, Booz Allen Hamilton and continued serving the Navy as a business consultant guiding formation and submission of congressional budgets.


Rick Cavey will be the featured Community Voices speaker on Wednesday, September 21, 2016.  The community is invited to the event sponsored by the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance; [other sponsors].  Cavey’s talk will be Adventures in Community Engagement – Building Consensus by Tapping Individual Motivation


Cavey will also be featured Wednesday, September 21 at an informal luncheon roundtable discussion from noon to 1:00 p.m. at [venue], [venue address], [proximate location].  The roundtable includes a light lunch that is available for $5. Please, RSVP to Regina Naff by [date] by noon to sign up for lunch ( and/or 540-231-6775).


For information and requests for interviews, contact Andy Morikawa at the Virginia Tech Institute for Policy and Governance:; 540-230-1492 mobile