33.8 million – that’s the number of people in the U.S. who lived in food-insecure households in 2021, according to USDA’s Economic Research Service. Fortunately, USDA and leaders like Tambra Raye Stevenson are working to tackle nutrition insecurity – especially in underserved communities.
Based in Washington, D.C., Stevenson is the founder and CEO of Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture (WANDA). WANDA is a nonprofit that inspires and invests in Black women and girls to become food “sheroes” in their communities through education, advocacy, and innovation.
Stevenson has dedicated her career to building more inclusive food systems. She graduated from Oklahoma State University with a bachelor’s degree in human nutrition pre-medical sciences, and from Tufts University with a master’s in public health. From there, she began her career in public service at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and at the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.
While volunteering with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, Stevenson redirected her path to address local issues. She joined the D.C. Mayor’s Office to work on women’s policies and victim services. After that, she became an extension agent for the University of the District of Columbia, where she designed and led nutrition programs like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program - Education (SNAP-Ed) and the Expanded Food and Nutrition Education Program (EFNEP).
Combining these experiences, Stevenson was driven to found WANDA in 2016. Today, WANDA offers leadership development, fellowships, policy advocacy, WANDA Academy, a scholarship endowment at Oklahoma State, and more. Stevenson currently serves on USDA’s National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics (NAREEE) Advisory Board, which provides guidance to USDA’s Agriculture Secretary and science agencies.
Thanks to leaders like Stevenson and organizations like WANDA, we are creating stronger, more equitable food systems that will nourish our nation.