Diane Picard, Executive Director, Massachusetts Avenue Project
Samina Raja, Professor and Associate Dean for Research and Inclusive Excellence, UB School of Architecture and Planning
The UB Food Lab team has a long-standing, award winning community action research partnership with the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), a local not-for-profit group that aims to build capacity of youth by engaging them in food systems transformation. The partnership began in 2002 with a graduate planning practicum taught by Dr. Samina Raja on behalf of MAP. Over the years, the UB Food Lab has documented the impact of MAP's work on the food policy landscape in the city, and worked with MAP to strengthen the food system.
Diane Picard has been with the Massachusetts Avenue Project since 1997 and currently serves as MAP’s Executive Director. In 2003, she founded Growing Green, a program that employs and trains youth in urban agriculture, food systems issues, microenterprise and leadership. With her very talented staff, she has led MAP’s efforts to increase access of fresh, affordable food in Buffalo’s schools and inner city neighborhoods. In 1992, she received a Masters of Social Work from Boston University, specializing in Program Planning and Community Organizing. Her undergraduate degree from Cornell University prepared her to teach agriculture and art at a rural secondary school in Botswana, where she served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1986 to 1988.
Samina Raja, professor of urban planning, associate dean for research and inclusive excellence, principal investigator of the Food Systems Planning and Healthy Communities Lab (the “Food Lab”), and co-director of UB's Community for Global Health Equity (CGHE), focuses on understanding the role of planning and policy in building sustainable food systems and healthy communities. In addition to being a leading scholar in her field and active leader in shaping food systems policies for healthier communities in Western New York, Raja is