Olivia Watkins ’16 Wins a Prestigious James Beard Award

Olivia watkins looking to the left standing on a stage with other women

This June, Olivia Watkins ’16 (above, center) took home the James Beard Foundation’s Humanitarian of the Year award alongside Karen Washington (left), a farmer and activist from the Bronx. The two women are co-founders and co-executive directors of the Black Farmer Fund, which invests in Black farmers and food businesses in the northeastern U.S. to create sustainable and more equitable food systems. The illustrious accolade recognizes an individual or organization “in the food realm who has given selflessly and worked tirelessly to better the lives of others and society at large.”

“Being recognized as a humanitarian,” says Watkins, “which objectively is someone who dedicates their time to causes that they care about, was internal validation for me to keep going on this path because I am making an impact on things that I care about but also people outside of myself.” Winning the James Beard award is not the only accolade Watkins has received — in 2021, she was recognized on the Forbes 30 Under 30 Social Impact list for North America and The Grist 50.

Latest IssueWinter 2024

Award-winning music producer Ebonie Smith ’07, museum curators on objects of interest, a dance course brings students to the stage, and more!