Board of Directors
Michael F. Jacobson, PhD
Museum Founder and Nutrition Activist
Michael F. Jacobson, who holds a PhD in microbiology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-founded and then led a Washington-based health- advocacy organization, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, for four decades.
CSPI led efforts to win passage of laws and regulations to ban artificial trans fat and several other food additives, obtain Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods and calorie counts on chair-restaurant menus, improve school foods and food safety, define the term “organic,” and reduce sodium levels. CSPI also educated millions of consumers by means of its Nutrition Action Healthletter, books such as Jacobson’s Six Arguments for a Greener Diet and Restaurant Confidential, and countless media appearances.
Jacobson has received the Food and Drug Administration’s Commissioner’s Special Citation and Harvey W. Wiley Medal, Food Marketing Institute’s Consumer Service Award, American Diabetes Association’s Medal for Health Promotion and Awareness, CDC-Foundation’s Hero award, and American Public Health Association’s Award for Advocacy in Public Health.
Jacobson has loved museums since his childhood in Chicago, so after he left CSPI, he has continued his educational efforts related to food by founding the National Food Museum. He and his wife, along with their wonderful pooch Oliver, live in Washington, DC.
Nonprofit Director and Former Investigative Reporter
Roberta Baskin’s career as an investigative reporter at ABC-TV and CBS-TV earned her more than 75 journalism awards, including prestigious duPont Columbia Awards, Peabody Awards, and multiple Emmys. As a result of her investigations, government and corporate operations were improved on dozens of health and safety products and practices. Roberta received a Nieman Fellowship for Journalism at Harvard University and served on the Foundation’s Executive Committee. She also was named an Ethics Fellow at the Poynter Institute.
Recently Roberta shifted her focus to the opposite mission, creating the AIM2Flourish platform, which features stories of exemplary corporate conduct written by business school students in more than 100 countries. These stories teach the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to the world’s next generation of business leaders. Real Leaders Magazine honored Roberta among its “100 Visionary Leaders” for her work.
At the heart of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals is climate change, which led to Roberta’s current role serving on the Global Warming Mitigation Project’s board of directors. She also serves on the boards of the FoolProof Foundation for Financial Literacy, The Peace Studio, and the Mansion on O Street Foundation.
She and her husband live in a former CIA safe house overlooking a lake in Virginia.
Dan Buettner is an explorer, National Geographic Fellow, and award-winning journalist. He discovered five places in the world – dubbed blue zones hotspots – where people live the longest, healthiest lives. His articles about these places in The New York Times Magazine and National Geographic are two of the most popular for both publications.
Buettner now works in partnership with municipal governments, large employers, and health insurance companies to implement Blue Zones Projects in communities, workplaces, and universities. Blue Zones Projects are well-being initiatives that apply lessons from the Blue Zones to entire communities by focusing on changes to the local environment, public policy, and social networks. The program has dramatically improved the health of more than five million Americans.
His books, including The Blue Zones: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest, The Blue Zones Solution: Eating and Living Like the World’s Healthiest People, and The Blue Zones Kitchen: 100 recipes for living to 100, were all New York Times Best Sellers.
Buettner has appeared on The Today Show, Oprah, NBC Nightly News, and Good Morning America.
Buettner also holds three Guinness World Records in distance cycling.
Businessman and Nonprofit Leader
In 1976, Gegax co-founded Tires Plus, a retail tire business, and served as CEO of the company. He grew the business to 150 stores and then facilitated its sale to Bridgestone/Firestone.
Gegax is a best-selling author with books published by HarperCollins and Random House; his management methods have been featured in national newspapers and magazines. In 2001, Gegax founded Gegax Advisors to provide consulting and coaching to business owners and high-level executives.
Gegax serves as Chairman of The Gramercy Fund, an investment portfolio of early-stage companies, as well as his philanthropic venture, Gegax Family Foundation. Gegax is also the producer of a documentary, Spark: A Systemic Racism Story, that explores the roots and remedies of systemic racism.
Tom has served on the boards of such health and environmental organizations as the Midwest chapters of the American Heart Association and American Cancer Society, Deepak Chopra Enterprises, EarthSave, Waterkeeper Alliance, Blue Zones, and board chair of the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Tom also has been an advisor to a number of high-level executives such as former Vice President Al Gore, whom he helped transition from politics to the business world following Gore’s loss in the 2000 presidential race.
He and his wife live in La Jolla, California
Suzanne Hess has had a life-long interest in nutrition and how what we eat affects our health. As a young wife and mother, she read books on nutrition and used what she learned when cooking for her family. She ensured that her children ate fresh, nutritious food and avoided junk food. She gradually became more interested in how government could promote healthier diets for the general public. As a reflection of her concerns, for the past six years she has served on the board of directors of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a leading nutrition-advocacy organization. Her (and CSPI’s) current goal is to have the federal government require front-of-package nutrition labels to help consumers make healthier choices, as they are doing in several other countries.
Suzanne has a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of California, Los Angeles. Working in public libraries for many years, she learned how to help, and at times cope with, homeless people, highly privileged teens, and employees with disruptive personality quirks. She especially enjoyed working with people in previously underserved communities. Suzanne eventually supervised over 50 employees.
Suzanne, who has two adult children, lives in San Diego, California, with her husband Lawrence. Her favorite pursuits in retirement are playing with her grandchildren and travel with her family.
Tambra Raye Stevenson, MPH, MA
Founder/CEO, WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture
Tambra Raye Stevenson, a distinguished nutrition advocate, author, and food policymaker, holds a B.S. in Human Nutrition from Oklahoma State University and an MPH in Health Communication from Tufts University School of Medicine. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate at the American University School of Communication.
As the founder of WANDA: Women Advancing Nutrition Dietetics and Agriculture, Tambra has established an influential platform that empowers women and girls in Africa and the diaspora to become transformative “food sheroes” and drive the creation of healthier local food systems that preserve the nutritional heritage of the diaspora. Tambra’s commitment to promoting African diasporic foods for health and cultural identity is further evidenced through her establishment of NATIVSOL Kitchen, which provides Pan-African nutrition education.
Stevenson serves on the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Agricultural Research, Extension, Education, and Economics Advisory Board; Washington, DC’s Food Policy Council; Tufts University’s Food and Nutrition Innovation Council; and the Milken Institute’s Food as Medicine Advisory Board.
In 2021 the Union of Concerned Scientists honored Tambra’s leadership and advocacy for nutrition and health equity by naming her a Science Defender. The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum named her a 2021 Women’s Environmental Leadership Fellow and prominently featured her in their “Food for the People” exhibit. Additionally, Tambra received the 2017 NAACP Dr. William Montague Cobb Award for her outstanding contributions to food justice and health advocacy. She also served as a guest editor for Eating Well magazine and delivered a TEDx talk on the empowering journey of Black women reclaiming food as medicine.
Beyond her professional achievements, Tambra finds joy and fulfillment in her role as a mother of two. While she calls Washington, DC her home away from home, her influence extends far beyond the capital, touching the lives of individuals and communities worldwide.