Who We Are

Meredith Smith, Executive Director of Whole Cities FoundationMeredith Smith

Executive Director

As a child, Meredith fell in love with the power people have to transform their lives and communities. Growing up in Pakistan, Indonesia, Bolivia and Yemen as the daughter of international aid workers, she experienced first-hand the diversity of ways that people join together creatively to solve social problems.

After receiving her Master’s in Public Health from University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Meredith designed, implemented and evaluated a variety of community health projects in diverse cultural settings. She worked in the United States, Mexico and Africa on projects including women’s health, HIV prevention, village health worker training and early childhood health. Before coming to Whole Cities Foundation, she served as Director for an international Buddhist nonprofit organization.

With two decades of nonprofit leadership experience, Meredith is passionate about expanding food access, justice and awareness. Having overcome a serious illness through changing her own diet, she brings a lot of love, humility, and excitement about gardening, cooking and the power of food as medicine.

Meredith says, “Good real food and healthy eating are a journey that starts where you are. Courage and kindness towards oneself can lead to the health, vitality and vibrancy that we wish for both ourselves and others. This is the journey that Whole Cities would like to invite our communities, neighbors and friends to take with us.”

Dr. Akua Woolbright, Senior Healthy Eating and Wellness EducatorDr. 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.

With a PhD in Nutritional Science and an MA in Sociology, Akua brings a wide lens on individual and societal health issues to the Whole Cities Foundation. Her hands-on experience as a public health nutritionist includes serving as Breastfeeding Program Coordinator for the Washington, DC Department of Health; as an HIV/AIDS nutritionist and researcher at Howard University Hospital; and as a cooking instructor for The Cancer Project.

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 will guide nutrition education at the national level, bringing her signature healthy eating program, Let's Talk Food, to residents of our four target cities. She will share new resources on this website.

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.”