AUA enthusiastically welcomes two dedicated urban agriculture and local food system advocates to our Steering Committee: Elvia Ochoa-Rodriguez and Robert Nevel.  Excited to take our advocacy, outreach, networking and resource development work to the next level in 2014 with them!


Elvia Rodriguez OchoaElvia Rodriguez-Ochoa

Elvia Rodriguez Ochoa is a multi-disciplinary artist, educator and administrator, active for over twenty years. Steeped in community based practices, Elvia has helped foster the creative community in Chicago by collaborating with groups as diverse as Polvo Alternative (founding member), VillArte, AREA, SouthWest Youth Collaborative, and currently serves on the Board at ElevArte Community Studio.

Elvia recently joined Openlands as its Neighborhood Programs Director.   She previously worked with CLOCC – the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago’s Children – as Community Programs Coordinator for the SouthWest Chicago region with a focus on connecting the growing Latino population with Healthy and Active Lifestyle opportunities. Prior to that, she served as Director of Community Programs for Pros Arts Studio where she was responsible to for all aspects of their neighborhood based programs. In recognition of her work, Elvia was part of the first cadre of LISC – NCP Community Heroes in 2006.

She completed a B.A. in Fine Art from Trinity Christian College (1992) and earned an M.A in Inter Disciplinary Arts at Columbia College (2005).


photoRobert Nevel

Robert Nevel is an architect and urban farmer. A member of KAM Isaiah Israel Congregation since 2007, Robert was from 2009 – 2013 chair of KAMII’s Social Justice Committee and since June 2013 president of the congregation.

In 2009 Robert founded the award winning, nationally recognized KAMII Food Justice and Sustainability Program. The program is focused on transforming unproductive urban lawns into food producing micro-farms, growing and donating fresh produce, teaching urban agriculture and sustainability skills and advocating for healthy, local food systems and responsible energy, land and water use.