Who We Are

Meredith Smith, Executive Director of Whole Cities FoundationNona Evans

Executive Director

Nona is dedicated to nourishing people with healthy food choices, whether they're kids in school or adults in the community. She is the Executive Director for Whole Cities Foundation and its sister organization, Whole Kids Foundation. She calls her life's work making wholesome food mainstream "penance" for the past working lives of her ancestors. “My grandfather on one side of the family owned an Italian restaurant, and my grandfather on the other side started a candy store. They put a lot of sugar and calories out in the world!” 

Nona started her career in a conventional grocery store, in marketing and PR, before she found her way to organic specialty market chain Whole Foods Market. There, she headed the company’s foray into educating its customers about what children across the country were eating for lunch, and how it affected how they were performing in school. Response to the program was so successful that it became larger than her job description. So, in 2012 she went to the company’s powers that be and they voted to translate her work into Whole Kids Foundation, to provide schools with grants to start gardens and salad bars. Nona has been its fearless and passionate leader ever since.

She holds a BA in Advertising from the University of Texas at Austin. 

Dr. Akua Woolbright, Senior Healthy Eating and Wellness Educator


Dr. Akua Woolbright

Nutrition Program Director

Dr. Akua Woolbright grew up on a small farm in rural Texas, nurtured by fresh fruits and vegetables from her grandmother’s garden. Her grandfather was a country Baptist pastor with a tireless commitment to service and supporting people’s positive life changes. She is inspired by his example as she works to help people transform their health—a path Akua sees as her spiritual calling.

In 2009, Akua joined Whole Foods Market to help create and implement the company’s signature healthy eating program, Health Starts Here—blending a scientific, evidence-based approach with back-to-basics simplicity. She saw amazing transformations occur as team members went through the company-sponsored intensive health immersions led by doctors using only food as medicine. In Detroit, she directed the Whole Foods Market Let’s Talk Food Center, curating a series of free classes ranging from combating cravings and decoding food labels to eating for disease prevention and cooking vegan soul food.

At Whole Cities Foundation, Akua guides nutrition education at the national level, bringing her signature healthy eating program, Let's Talk Food, to residents in our focus cities. 

Akua says, “To heal, you need a whole array of plant foods, a rainbow. ‘Whole foods, plant-strong’ is my daily healthy eating mantra. Recite it in your mind when you go to the grocery store or to a restaurant. There’s no magic bullet or elixir—the beauty and power of food is in its simplicity.”


Meredith Smith, Executive Director of Whole Cities FoundationDianna Purcell

Senior Grant Program Manager 

As Dianna completed her studies in schools across three continents, she came to see that food was central to the culture, economy, and health of every community. She developed a passion for healthy food access and a belief that systemic, sustainable change occurs when communities build on their own unique strengths.

Dianna completed her BA at New York University and her MBA at the University of Cape Town, where she focused on sustainable food systems, small enterprise growth, and inclusive business practices. She then worked with smallholder farmers, government, and food retailers in South Africa on inclusive procurement practices and designed growth strategies for a social enterprise with an innovative, efficient way of producing organic, non-GMO vegetables using 80% less water without soil or tools.

Dianna joined the Whole Cities team in January 2015. Her favorite part of her role is working collaboratively to continually improve Whole Cities’ support for the communities the foundation serves.


Nikki Newman, Team Member Engagement LeaderNikki Newman

Team Member Engagement Leader 

Nikki believes every person should have access to fresh, healthy food! Growing up in a small town in Arkansas, she learned early on about the extreme difference between food grown in her mom’s garden compared to highly processed packaged or fast foods.

After moving to Austin in 2001 to attend the University of Texas at Austin, she visited her first Whole Foods Market store and quickly fell in love with the fresh produce options, quality standards, and core values. She graduated with a BA in Journalism with a Photojournalism concentration and very soon after started as a cashier at the Lamar store in Austin, Texas.

Since joining Whole Foods Market in 2006, she has had the opportunity to celebrate her joy and love for food by holding a variety of positions ranging from a concierge Team Member all the way to a Senior Manager on the Global Social Media Team. Nikki joined Whole Cities Foundation in March 2019 and is on a mission to help every Whole Foods Market Team Member falls in love with Whole Cities Foundation!

Board of Directors 


Walter Robb

Chairman of the Board, Whole Cities Foundation

Glenda Flanagan

CFO, Whole Foods Market

Nona Evans

Executive Director, Whole Kids Foundation

Betsy Foster

Global Vice President of Business Development and Health Starts Here, Whole Foods Market

Scott Allshouse

Mid-Atlantic Regional President, Whole Foods Market

Omar Gaye

South Regional President, Whole Foods Market

Keith Manbeck

Chief Financial Officer & Chief Administrative Officer, Whole Foods Market