Meet Our Board Members

Our Team

The team of board members of The Food Pantry at Columbia includes founding members, current board members, and advisory board members, all of whom work tirelessly to manage the The Food Pantry at Columbia's daily operations alongside committee members and volunteers. Click on each profile to learn more about each team member. 

  • Ramond Curtis is a combat veteran who moved back to New York in 2012 after spending three years in Mexico working as an English teacher. He was the University Senator for the students of the School of General Studies from '16 to '18, and the co-Chair of the Subcommittee for Students with Disabilities. During his time as senator he worked to improve conditions at Columbia for low-income students and students with disabilities. After he graduated in May 2018, he and his husband continue to work as advocates in their community to bring positive and impactful change to those who need it most. 


    Michael Higgins is a School of General Studies '22 graduate and a current School of Professional Studies student studying Non-Profit Management. He co-founded The Food Pantry at Columbia in 2016, and ran the organization from 2016 - 2022. Within the six years of his tenure, The Food Pantry at Columbia expanded to three locations across the University, received national recognition within reputable publications such as The Wall Street Journal, and has served approximately 10,000 disbursements to students of all 21 Schools within the University. Michael is currently the Mobile Pantry Manager for New York Common Pantry.

  • Mathew is currently a junior in the School of General Studies at Columbia University. He is currently working towards a degree in Middle East Studies, with a particular interest in poetic literary production from across the Arab World. Matthew is passionate about drug rehabilitation access for those in need as well as psychiatric care for those suffering from mental health disorders. He is excited to be a part of The Food Pantry at Columbia in order to help students who face food insecurity, so that they can focus on their university education instead of where their next meal will come from.

  • Manuela Orjuela-Grimm is a molecular epidemiologist and pediatric oncologist whose research focuses on gene-nutrient/ environment interactions during pregnancy and early childhood and the development of later genetic and epigenetic changes in childhood disease. She leads a multidisciplinary team examining folate pathway metabolism and risk for retinoblastoma in collaboration with investigators in Mexico, and Canada, including the Hospital Infantil de Mexico, the Hospital de Pediatria (IMSS), the Instituto Nacional de Salud Publica (INSP), the Jean Mayer USDA at Tufts, and the University of Toronto.

    Manuela has been affiliated with The Food Pantry at Columbia since February 2018 when she generously donated her time and resources to provide in-depth research and analysis on the data that The Food Pantry at Columbia collects. Manuela was formally appointed as a member of the inaugural Advisory Board in September 2019.

  • Lizzie is a proud first-generation/low-income undergraduate in their third year studying Classics and Art History at Columbia. As Vice Chair of Communications, Lizzie is dedicated to publicizing The Food Pantry at Columbia on a variety of media outlets and platforms with the ultimate goal of informing students in need about the resources The Food Pantry at Columbia provides and for making the Columbia community at large aware of the urgent need to provide access to affordable, nutritious food for all.

  • Lily Drabkin is a first-year Masters student in the Adult Learning and Leadership program at Teachers College. She intends to use this position at The Food Pantry at Columbia to promote food justice. She also volunteers with various NYC-based food and animal justice groups, seeking to provide communities with nutritious and accessible foods free from exploitation, cruelty, and environmental degradation.

  • Lara J. Nettelfield is a Senior Lecturer in the Discipline of Human Rights at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights and the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. She is also affiliated faculty of Columbia’s Harriman Institute. Currently, she is working on an oral history project, The New Humanitarians, about the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. Her research interests include human rights, forced migration, transitional justice, technology and society, and social movements.  She is the co-author of Srebrenica in the Aftermath of Genocide (Cambridge University Press, 2015) which received Honorable Mention for the International Studies Association’s Ethnicity, Migration and Nationalism (ENMISA) Distinguished Book Award (2015) and was shortlisted for the 2015 Rothschild Prize of the Association for the Study of Nationalities (ASN). She is the author of Courting Democracy in Bosnia and Herzegovina: The Hague Tribunal's Impact in a Postwar State (Cambridge University Press, 2010), winner of the 2011 Marshall Shulman prize of the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies (ASEEES). She teaches courses about forced migration, human rights in the United States, and research methods.

    Lara has been affiliated with The Food Pantry at Columbia since April when, after reading an article regarding The Food Pantry at Columbia, immediately took action and proposed initiative to further our mission. Such initiatives include surveying the University student population who do not necessary utilize The Food Pantry at Columbia's resources. Lara was formally appointed as a member of the inaugural Advisory Board in September 2019.

  • Jack is a senior in the School of General Studies majoring in Financial Economics. Before Columbia, he spent two years at Hunter College as a Daedalus Cohort, majoring in the Thomas Hunter Honors and Mathematics. He grew interest in fighting for food insecurity and serving for those in need while working at WholeFoods Market, which partnered with the Bowery Mission Organization. He hopes to continue his passion by helping his peers at Columbia as Vice Chair of Finance.

  • Claire is a junior in The School of General Studies majoring in Biology. As Vice-Chair of Pantry Operations, she aims to relieve hunger throughout the campus by informing students who are in need, actively listening to them, and providing them nutritious food. Through this position, she hopes to interact with her peers who are suffering from hunger and truly care about what they are in need of, and be on their side.

    Helping Hands

    Our Former Board Members

    The Food Pantry at Columbia has had significant growth since inception, and we would like to thank our past board members for their contributions in helping us along that journey. 

    Vice Chair of Communications
    • Patience Akariza (2021 - 2022)
    • Anna Sung (2019 - 2021)
    • Benny Chen (2018)
    • Paulina Fein (2017 - 2018)
    Vice Chair of Development
    • Samantha Valente (2018 - 2019)
    • David Lee (2018)
    • Chelsea Faison (2017 - 2018)
    Vice Chair of Events Coordination
    • Helena Clark (2021 - 2022)
    • Marc Cohen (2020 - 2021)
    • Matthew Linsky (2018 - 2020)
    Vice Chair of Finance
    • Leila Khamees (2021 - 2022)
    • Mario Garcia (2019 - 2021)
    • Jason Mares (2017 - 2018)
    Vice Chair of FLIP Collaboration
    • Miguel Yepes (2017 - 2019)
    Vice Chair of Operations
    • Sal Volpe (2019 - 2021) (Pantry Operations - Medical Center)
    • Louis Vowell (2020 - 2021) (Pantry Operations - Lerner)
    • Gehad Hassan (2020) (Pantry Operations - Barnard)
    • Damian Hernandez (2019 - 2020) (Pantry Operations - Lerner)
    • Madison Delaney (2018 - 2019)
    • Leon Tsai (2018)
    • Kai Segall (2017 - 2018)
    Vice Chair of Technology
    • Sharanya Sivakumar (2018 - 2020)
    Vice Chair of Volunteer Management
    • Jasmine Wang (2020 - 2022)
    • Adam He (2019 - 2020)