CHEVY CHASE, MD (September 29, 2020) - National 4-H Council has announced the election of two new Trustees to its Board, Carla Hall and Dr. Robert Jones. Both Trustees and 4-H alums share a deep passion for diversity in agriculture and food equity, and will further support the organization's diversity, equity and inclusion efforts.
Celebrity Chef, Cookbook Author and Tennessee 4-H alumna Carla Hall, who can currently be seen hosting Food Network's Halloween Baking Championship, was introduced to television audiences as a competitor on Bravo's "Top Chef" and "Top Chef: All Stars." She co-hosted ABC's Emmy award-winning lifestyle series, The Chew for over seven years and currently serves as a Culinary Contributor on "Good Morning America." She has an ongoing partnership with Food Network and will host additional series and specials with them this year and beyond. In addition to her television appearances, Hall hosts a podcast on the Wondery Platform called "Say Yes with Carla Hall." Hall's latest cookbook, "Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration," was published in 2018, landing on annual "Best Cookbook" lists across the country and receiving an NAACP Image Awards nomination. Hall's passion for diversity in food culture, agriculture and equity in food access is rooted in her philosophy that food connects us all.
"As a chef, I have an opportunity to share my passion for food and mindful cooking with the world," says Carla Hall. "I'm excited to continue my work with 4-H in this new role and join their efforts to empower all young people as they navigate the effects of the ongoing pandemic, digital divide and widening opportunity gap," added Hall. "By providing youth and their communities across the country with access to hands-on learning experiences in food, nutrition and wellness, they'll all have an opportunity to develop healthy living skills for a lifetime, no matter their circumstances."
A Georgia native and 4-H alumnus, Dr. Robert Jones earned a bachelor's degree in agronomy from Fort Valley State College, a master's degree in crop physiology from the University of Georgia, and a doctorate in crop physiology from the University of Missouri, Columbia. He began his academic career as a faculty member at the University of Minnesota in 1978, where he spent 34 years before becoming the President of the University at Albany, one of SUNY system's leading research universities. Dr. Jones now serves as the first African-American Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
"It is no exaggeration to say that the first step in my career was joining my local 4-H club. Those meetings were the first organized events in my life outside of church or school and they set me on a course that changed the trajectory of my life," said Jones. "I found educational opportunities that opened up a world that I never knew existed. I believe that mission is even more vital and more critical today when limited access to childhood educational opportunities leads to unacceptable upper limits on a life and career. 4-H taught me to dream big. And it is my privilege to be able to pay that gift forward today," added Jones.
As Trustees, both Hall and Dr. Jones will support National 4-H Council's strategic priorities, which include growing investment and participation in Cooperative Extension's 4-H program from six million to 10 million youth by 2025 as well as a collaboration with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs). Given her focus on nutrition, Hall also plans to promote wellness, youth voice and hands-on skills development amongst young people.
"As passionate advocates for young people, agriculture and promoting diversity, equity and inclusion, both Dr. Jones and Ms. Hall will move us even closer to our goal of providing all children with the opportunities they deserve so they can reach their full potential," says Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO of National 4-H Council. "Our new Trustees' expertise will help us to drive National 4-H Council's new campaign, Opportunity4All, which aims to rally support for Cooperative Extension's 4-H program and eliminate the opportunity gap that affects 55 million kids across America," added Sirangelo.
Hall first won over audiences when she competed on Bravo's Top Chef and Top Chef: All Stars, where she shared her philosophy to always cook with love. She spent seven years co-hosting ABC's Emmy award winning, popular lifestyle series The Chew, and she currently appears as a Culinary Contributor on Good Morning America. In addition to her television appearances, Hall hosts a podcast on the Wondery Platform, Say Yes with Carla Hall. Her latest cookbook, Carla Hall's Soul Food: Everyday and Celebration, landed on annual 'Best Cookbook' lists across the country and received an NAACP Image Awards nomination.
Born in Nashville, TN, Hall graduated from Howard University's Business School and worked as an accountant for two years, before deciding to switch gears to work as a runway model. It was during that time, as she traveled through Europe, that she realized her deep-rooted passion for food could be her career path. Hall is very active with a number of charities and not-for-profit organizations that reflect her passion for causes close to her heart, in particular advocating for the physical and mental well being of children.
Dr. Jones became Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016, having previously served as President of the University at Albany, State University of New York (SUNY). A Georgia native who studied agronomy and crop physiology, Dr. Jones is an experienced and accomplished scientist and researcher, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Society of Agronomy and the Crop Science Society of America.
During his distinguished, 34-year career at the University of Minnesota, amongst other duties, Dr. Jones had administrative and budgetary responsibilities for the offices for public engagement, equity and diversity, and played a leadership role in establishing the nation's first urban research and outreach/engagement center (UROC), which was designed to help find a solution to complex challenges in economically depressed urban communities. The center was named in Dr. Jones' honor in 2015.
4-H, the nation's largest youth development organization, grows confident young people who are empowered for life today and prepared for career tomorrow. 4-H programs empower nearly six million young people across the U.S. through experiences that develop critical life skills. 4-H is the youth development program of our nation's Cooperative Extension System and USDA and serves every county and parish in the U.S. through a network of 110 public universities and more than 3000 local Extension offices. Globally, 4-H collaborates with independent programs to empower one million youth in 50 countries. The research-backed 4-H experience grows young people who are four times more likely to contribute to their communities; two times more likely to make healthier choices; two times more likely to be civically active; and two times more likely to participate in STEM programs.