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Southern Foodways Alliance Announces Leadership Change

Kathryn McKee moderates a panel discussion with Carolyn Finney, Bita Honarvar, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil at the 2021 Southern Foodways Symposium
Kathryn McKee moderates a panel discussion with Carolyn Finney, Bita Honarvar, and Aimee Nezhukumatathil at the 2021 Southern Foodways Symposium (Jai Williams)

By Dispatch Staff

Last week Kathleen Purvis filed a report from the Southern Foodways Symposium, the annual gathering of the Southern Foodways Alliance in Oxford, Mississippi. In her piece she recounts some of the criticism that the organization and its founder and executive director, John T. Edge, have been navigating over the past two years and its commitments to make changes following an institutional review.

Today the SFA announced a leadership transition is officially coming. Effective January 1, 2022, John T. Edge will be stepping aside, and Mary Beth Lasseter and Melissa Booth Hall—currently the associate director and managing director, respectively—will lead the organization as interim co-directors.

Edge, who has led the SFA since its inception in 1999, will remain at the University of Mississippi, the organization said in a statement, and will move into a new role for the SFA called founding director and focus on “creativity initiatives” as well as fundraising efforts.

No word yet on whether a permanent replacement will be named in the director role or timing, but the organization did note that the transitions “result from five years of succession planning and financial planning.”

Departures

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