2023 Awardee

Kelly Carlisle

Founder and Executive Director, Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project

Kelly Carlisle (she/her) is the Founder and Executive Director of Acta Non Verba: Youth Urban Farm Project (ANV), which elevates youth and their families in Oakland and beyond by challenging oppressive dynamics and environments through urban farming and access to the natural environment. Led mainly by local women of color, ANV uses safe and creative outdoor spaces to strengthen low-income young people’s understanding of nutrition, food production, nature, and community. By cultivating access to healthy foods and healthy living, ANV is creating a model for a more equitable, confident, sustainable, and joy-filled world. 

Kelly is committed to creating positive change in her native city of Oakland and is a fierce advocate for Black mothers. She has a saying that “if it is good for Black Mommies, it is good for everyone.” Kelly is a veteran of the United States Navy and has received many awards, including the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, L.A. Potts Success Stories Award from Tuskegee University, CalVet Trailblazer Award, and more. She is an avid gardener and an active member of the Farmer Veteran Coalition. Kelly’s work to envision a racially just, culturally rooted, and healthy food system was honored at the White House in 2014 by President Barack Obama and she was selected as a Castanea Fellow in 2020. 

“I live to inspire the imagination and passion of youth, to make sure that kids have the knowledge that there is more, that life has abundance, and that each individual has the ability to change the lives of their family, community and of course, themselves,” says Kelly. 

After leading ANV for 12 years, Kelly acknowledges that she also needs to invest in herself. She says that her sabbatical will give her “a moment to rest, to explore, and to build better habits for my own mental and physical health.”