Building on the 2019 Urban Land Institute NE OKC Food Security Symposium, the “Food Security in NE OKC: Continuing the Conversation” event will reunite local and national experts in food systems and community development to discuss the changing nature of food security in Northeast Oklahoma City. The discussion will address ongoing efforts to improve food security in the community, including the introduction of two new grocery markets and ongoing efforts to cultivate new models of food provision, job creation, and health in Oklahoma City.

The event will take place via Zoom and features Dr. Ashanté Reese, Councilwoman Nikki Nice, and Dr. LaVonna Blair Lewis.

UPDATED 2/16/2021: This event has been postponed due to inclement weather. Please check back soon for updates on its new date/time.

This event is made possible by the Bruce Goff Chair of Creative Architecture endowment. Please contact Dr. Bryce Lowery with questions about the event (

Meet the Panelists

Dr. Ashanté Reese is an assistant professor at the University of Texas at Austin in the African & African Diaspora Department. She earned a PhD in Anthropology from American University in 2015, and also holds a bachelors of arts in History with a minor in African American studies from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas. Broadly speaking, Dr. Reese works at the intersection of critical food studies and Black geographies, examining the ways Black people produce and navigate food-related spaces and places in the context of anti-blackness. Animated by the question, “who and what survives?”, much of Dr. Reese’s work has focused on the everyday strategies Black people employ while navigating inequity. Her first book, Black Food Geographies: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in Washington, D.C., takes up these themes through an ethnographic exploration of antiblackness and food access. Black Food Geographies won the 2020 Best Monograph Award from the Association for the Study of Food and Society. Her second book, Black Food Matters: Racial Justice in the Wake of Food Justice, is a collection co-edited with Hanna Garth that explores the geographic, social, and cultural dimensions of food in Black life across the U.S. Currently, Dr. Reese is working on a new project that explores the continuity of plantation geographies and abolitionist possibilities within rural and urban food systems vis-à-vis the Texas Department of Criminal Justice’s agribusiness sector.

Councilwoman Nikki Nice was elected Nov. 6, 2018, to serve as Ward 7’s representative on the Oklahoma City Council. She’s the 10th woman, and the second woman of color, to serve on the Council since the City’s incorporation in 1890. Councilwoman Nice serves on the MAPS 3 Citizens Advisory Board, the Zoological Trust and the Trails Advisory Committee. A fourth-generation Oklahoman, Councilwoman Nice was born, reared, educated and spiritually nurtured in Ward 7. Her early education was completed in the Millwood Public School District. She is a graduate of Northeast High School and received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcasting from historic Langston University. She has studied abroad in The Gambia and Dakar, Senegal, in West Africa. Councilwoman Nice is a well-known television and radio personality with nearly 15 years of on-air experience in the Oklahoma City market. Councilwoman Nice lives in Northeast Oklahoma City and is the proud daughter of Roberta. She is a pet lover, music lover and a lover of people, and she is committed to moving Ward 7 and Oklahoma City “Forward Together.”

LaVonna Blair Lewis, Ph.D., MPH, was born and raised in Oklahoma City and is currently a Teaching Professor and the Director of Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives at the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy. She joined the University of Southern California faculty in the Fall of 1996. Dr. Lewis’ areas of research consistently focus on cultural competency and the health status and health care needs of underrepresented groups. She is currently involved in addressing racial disparities cardiovascular disease and diabetes through the Community Health Councils, Inc., African American Building a Legacy of Health Project. The project, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a community-based project that explores individual, organizational, and community support for (and barriers to) healthy living. She is member of the Board of Directors for the Association of University Programs in Health Administration, and the Standards Council for the Commission on Accreditation in Health Management Education. She is also a member of several associations including the American College of Healthcare Executives and Community Campus Partnerships for Health.