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Pre-Conference March 14, 2018

Conference March 15-16, 2018

2018/03/14 09:00:00


The Choices Conference provides knowledge, skills, resources, and networking for those who bring nutrition, health, and wellness information to Michigan citizens of all ages. In 2018, the pre-conference will be held on March 14 and the conference on March 15-16 in Dearborn, Michigan. The Agenda at a Glance is available below, or you can download the complete Conference Agenda.

8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
ServSafe Training

Registration begins at 7:30 a.m. and the training begins at 8:00 a.m. A working lunch will be provided and the certification exam begins at 4:00 p.m. You will have two hours to complete the exam. Most participants complete the exam well within the two hours. Certification examination results are not given at the training. You will receive instructions at the training on how to obtain your results. The ServSafe course book will be shipped before the training and you should study the course materials prior to the training. For this reason, you must register for the training at least one week in advance.

Registration has now closed. Please contact Jamie Rahrig, , with any questions.

10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Going Beyond the Tip of the Iceberg: Collaborative Approaches to System Change

Curtis Ogden, Senior Associate, Interaction Institute for Social Change, Boston, MA

This pre-conference session is for MFF SNAP-Ed Partners only.

The social issues and challenges that we set out to address are often connected to other contributing factors that perpetuate the problems we are attempting to solve. It is important to step back and see these issue or challenge in a wider and deeper “systems” context and think about how we might take a different approach and more intentionally collaborate with others working on related aspects of the issue. In this interactive session, participants will be introduced to and apply a series of frameworks and tools to look at the issues they care about from a systems perspective and to build collaborative commitment and approaches to creating greater impact.

You can register for this Pre-Conference session as part of your conference registration.

10:00 a.m.
Registration and Light Refreshments with Exhibitors
10:30 a.m.
Welcome and Opening Remarks
10:45 a.m.
Opening Keynote Address: Healthy Places Support Healthy People

Tim Schwantes, Project Officer, Active Living by Design, Charlotte, NC

11:45 a.m.
Move to Lunch Buffet in Foyer; seating in the Dearborn Ballroom
12:45 p.m.
Visit Exhibitors and Move to Workshops
1:00 p.m.
Workshops: Group A
2:15 p.m.
Break with Exhibitors and Move to Workshops
2:30 p.m.
Workshops: Group B
3:45 p.m.
Break with Exhibitors and Move to Workshops
4:00 p.m.
Workshops: Group C
5:15 p.m.
5:30 p.m.
Walk/run or GROOVE DANCEfloor Experience
Dinner on Your Own
6:30 a.m.
7:30 a.m.
Registration and Continental Breakfast with Exhibitors
8:25 a.m.
Opening Remarks
8:30 a.m.
Keynote Address: Waste Not, Want Not: Food Waste and Its Impact on Health, the Environment and the Economy

Andrew Harig, Senior Director of Sustainability, Tax and Trade, Food Marketing Institute, Arlington, VA

9:30 a.m.
Break with Exhibitors and Move to Workshops
9:45 a.m.
Workshops: Group D
11:00 a.m.
Break with Exhibitors and Move to Workshops
11:15 a.m.
Workshops: Group E
12:30 p.m.
Move to Lunch Buffet in Foyer; seating in the Dearborn Ballroom
1:30 p.m.
Closing Keynote: Working with People from other Cultures: A Challenge or an Opportunity?

Maria G. Fabregas Janeiro, PhD, Assistant Director for 4-H, Diversity and Expansion, University of California – Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Rio Vista, CA

2:45 p.m.
Closing Remarks and Adjourn


Maria Fabregas

Maria G. (Lupita) Fabregas, PhD

Keynote Speaker
Assistant Director for 4-H Diversity and Expansion
University of California – Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

Dr. Lupita Fabregas is originally from Mexico. She has been the Assistant Director for 4-H Diversity and Expansion in UC ANR since August 2015. Before working in California, she worked in Puebla, Mexico and at Oklahoma State University, as a liaison among Mexican and American education institutions and as Cooperative Extension Specialist in Multicultural and Community Development in Family and Consumer Sciences. She received her undergraduate degree in Monterrey Tech in Agriculture Engineering and Animal Sciences, her master’s in Education from UPAEP, and doctoral degree in Agricultural Education, at Oklahoma State University. Dr. Fabregas is responsible for the UC ANR 4-H Latino Initiative in the state of California. She has written more than 15 journal articles in topics related to program development, inclusion and intercultural competence. Dr. Fabregas is an active international and national speaker on topics related to diversity and inclusion. She is member of several organizations that support the mission of the land-grant universities by ensuring equity, inclusion, and full participation of Latino/Hispanic youth, families and communities in the benefits and leadership of Cooperative Extension.

Andrew Harig

Keynote Speaker
Senior Director of Sustainability, Tax and Trade
Food Marketing Institute

Andrew Harig is Senior Director of Sustainability, Tax and Trade for the Food Marketing Institute (FMI), the -organization that advocates on behalf of the nation’s food wholesalers and retailers through programs in public affairs, food safety, research, education, and industry relations. For the last 14 years, he has been responsible for representing FMI’s members before Congress and the Administration, with a primary focus on agriculture, taxes, trade, and pensions.

Mr. Harig is the staff director for FMI’s Sustainability Executive Committee (SEC), which is comprised of 25 industry sustainability professionals. In this capacity, he also serves as the retail lead for the Food Waste Reduction Alliance, a joint coalition of the Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers Association, and National Restaurant Association.

Prior to joining FMI, Mr. Harig was an associate trade advisor and speechwriter for the U.S. Senate Finance Committee under its Chairman, Max Baucus (D-MT). From 1999-2001, he was the senior research associate for the Global Economic Policy Project at the New America Foundation, a Washington, DC-based think tank. Harig started his public affairs career in Washington, DC as a research assistant at the Economic Strategy Institute, a non-partisan public policy research organization. He holds a bachelor’s degree from the College of William and Mary and earned his master’s at DePaul University in Chicago.

Andrew Harig
Curtis Ogden

Curtis Ogden

Pre-Conference Speaker
Senior Associate
Interaction Institute for Social Change

Curtis Ogden is a Senior Associate at the Interaction Institute for Social Change (IISC). He brings his experience in education, community development and organizing, leadership development, and program design to IISC. Much of his work entails consulting with cross-sector multi-stakeholder efforts to strengthen and transform food, education, economic and civic systems at local, state, regional, and national levels, including: Food Solutions New England, Vermont Farm to Plate Network, Hunts Point Resiliency, National Public Education Support Fund, Cancer Free Economy Network, and Inter-Institutional Network for Food, Agriculture, and Sustainability (INFAS). In supporting these change efforts, Mr. Ogden serves as a process designer, facilitator, and collaboration coach/consultant. He also writes regularly about networks and social change at In addition to his work at IISC, Mr. Ogden is on the Advisory Board of EmbraceRace, a member of the Research Alliance for Regenerative Economics (RARE), and part of the Emerging Networks Governance Initiative (ENGI).

Tim Schwantes, MPH, MSW

Keynote Speaker
Program Director
Active Living By Design

As program director for Active Living By Design, Tim Schwantes works on regional and national initiatives that support community collaboratives and partnerships to improve public health through changes in local policies, procedures, and the built environment. He provides technical assistance, facilitation and collaboration support, and monitoring efforts for partnerships, decision makers, and grassroots leaders across the country. In all of his endeavors, he strives to work with others to advance health equity, create and deepen authentic engagement, build and connect capacities, and show up with a spirit of curiosity and adventure in order to “see the possible.”

Mr. Schwantes was an AmeriCorps volunteer in Colorado, and served as a hospital financial counselor, helping lower-income patients navigate insurance and assistance systems. He earned master’s degrees in social work and public health, as well as a BA in public policy with a specialization in health policy, from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Tim Schwantes


The Dearborn Inn

20301 Oakwood Blvd | Dearborn, MI 48124
800-228-9290 | 313-271-2700


Registering for the conference does not automatically provide you with a lodging reservation. While the room block at the Dearborn Inn has been released, there may still be rooms available. If you are interested in reserving a hotel room, please contact Diane Drago at .

Additional Information

Parking is free for all conference participants.

Area Information

Dearborn Area Restaurants

MFF SNAP-Ed Scholarship Recipients

  • You must make your own lodging reservation by February 20th and provide the hotel with a credit card.  Room and taxes will be transferred to the conference master account for MFF SNAP-Ed registrants on the day of the conference. Incidentals are your responsibility.
  • Dinner is on your own. SNAP-Ed will reimburse dinner at a max rate of $24.25. Itemized receipts are required.
  • SNAP-Ed funding pays only for rooms at the standard rate of $135 plus tax. Any additional fees for room upgrades are the responsibility of the individual.