Jody Kass

Executive Director

Building on a life-long commitment to working for the public good, Jody was inspired to turn her attention to national nutrition policy after reading The China Study and meeting author/researcher, T. Colin Campbell, Ph.D. In the spring 2015, Jody joined the Board of Directors of the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies (CNS). CNS promotes optimal nutrition through science-based education, advocacy and research and offers a nationally recognized nutrition education program. In January 2016, Jody accepted a position as Associate Director of the nonprofit organization, PlantPure Communities, Inc., and in September 2016 was appointed by the Board as Executive Director of the organization. PlantPure Communities was formed partly as an outgrowth of the hit movie, PlantPure Nation, which documents the suppression of important taxpayer-funded scientific nutritional research that proves the benefits of a plant-based diet. PlantPure Communities is working to build stronger, healthier and more sustainable communities through a wide range of research, policy and program activities. Jody brings to both of these endeavors her considerable experience in advocacy, nonprofit management, lobbying and strategic planning from her 30-year career in community revitalization. Jody’s particular expertise is in the crafting of out-of-the-box solutions to thorny problems, and translating those solutions into legislative and regulatory action that achieve systemic change.

Prior to national nutrition/food policy issues, Jody worked in the brownfields and community development arena. In 2001, Jody co-founded the nonprofit organization, New Partners for Community Revitalization, (NPCR) which she directed until 2014. Under Jody’s leadership, NPCR’s work re-shaped the brownfields and community development framework in New York. This is reflected in the numerous laws, regulations, programs and budgets, and the myriad government agencies involved in toxic land reclamation. Most notably, Jody’s impact can be seen in the 125 communities participating in the NYS Brownfield Opportunity Areas (BOA) program, where NPCR’s pioneering work has resulted in a shift in the way people think about brownfields cleanup – from a site-by-site approach to an area-wide approach, in order to create value in decaying communities. Jody’s impact can also be seen at the NYC level where NPCR’s work resulted in the creation of the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation and a robust NYC financial and regulatory program for brownfields. Prior to NPCR, Jody was Vice President of the nonprofit NYC Housing Partnership, where she helped coordinate the construction of over 16,000 affordable housing units, representing over $1.5 billion in private investment in 50 NYC low-income communities.

While at the Partnership, Jody served on Gov. Pataki’s Superfund Working Group from 1998-99. She also created and coordinated the Pocantico Roundtable for Consensus on Brownfields and co-led the Brownfields Coalition, an association of over 100 diverse organizations who came together in support of the legislative proposal that emerged from the Pocantico Roundtable and was ultimately instrumental in securing passage of the 2003 NYS Brownfields Law.

Jody’s skill-set includes nonprofit management, lobbying, consensus building, navigating government bureaucracy, training, technical assistance, event conceptualization and coordination, fund raising, complex negotiations on technical and budgetary matters, public speaking, media campaigns, and strategic planning. She has received many awards, including the 2014 NYC Brownfield Partnership Distinguished Service Award; the 2013 Brownfields Leadership Award from NALGEP; the 2009 Leadership in Sustainable Not-for-Profit award from Sustainable Long Island; the 2008 Hero of the Harbor Award from the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance; and the 2004 Advocate Award from Environmental Advocates.

Paula Branson

Member of the Board of Directors

Paula Branson comes to PlantPure Communities as a passionate advocate for public education regarding the extraordinary health benefits of a whole plant based diet, organics, and environmental responsibility. Paula is a lawyer licensed in three states and practiced as Senior Counsel for two large hotel companies. She also served as Vice President/Legal Counsel for the banking services company that created the idea of putting banks into grocery stores and was an adjunct law professor.

In the height of Paula’s legal career, she became very ill. Although she consulted with many medical doctors and was prescribed handfuls of medications, her condition deteriorated to the point of rendering her disabled for many years. After many years of no success from mainstream medicine, Paula visited a holistic health center where she was put on a raw, organic plant based diet. Her condition drastically improved. Based upon this seemingly miraculous event, Paula immersed herself into studying the health problems caused by food and how those health challenges can be reversed by eliminating toxins in the diet. It is Paula’s goal to bring to public awareness the information that she discovered in her studies that can be so powerful in eliminating needless suffering caused by toxic food.

In addition to her Juris Doctorate, Paula has obtained numerous certifications in Plant Based Nutrition and is certified as a Science of Plant-Based Raw Food Instructor, Health Minister, Certified Holistic Health Coach, and Gourmet Raw Chef and Instructor. Paula is also the organizer of a 700+ member plant based meetup group in Atlanta, is a licensed facilitator of the Stanford Medical School Chronic Disease Self Management Program, has served on the Executive Committee of the Institute for Responsible Technology, and has been the guest speaker for various community groups and civic organizations on the topic of Food Politics and corruption in the American Food Supply. She has also organized many public education events regarding toxins in the American food supply and how to avoid them at venues including medical schools, fire departments, high schools, and educational festivals.

Jim Courage

Member of the Board of Directors

Jim has 39 years professional work experience in sales, service management and consulting in IBM and Cisco Systems, including K-12 education project leadership in IBM and Educational Vistas. He earned several sales and community awards, recognition events, and media citations in the NY Times, Crain’s NY Business and Educational Leadership magazine.

Jim graduated with a business management degree from St. Francis College and earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Bank Street College. He was on loan from IBM to the NYC Schools Chancellor for 3 years overseeing a $2.7M community programs project designed to improve student learning results in the poorest congressional district in NY State. He hired education experts to train over 2,100 teachers in performance based instructional methodology, engaged 59 community based organizations for a variety of student services, and implemented over $1M of IBM computers. Supporting 29,000 students across 35 schools, the South Bronx district rose from the lowest in NYC in both reading and math, to moving up 10 spots of the 32 NYC school districts in just 3 years.

Jim lives with his wife Laurie in Port Washington, New York. They have two adult children, Brian and Kristen. Laurie began eating whole foods, plant based the day after she read The China Study, and influenced Jim to do the same soon after.

Jim is grateful to have made the change, since both his Dad and grandfather died of heart attacks in their 40’s. Jim is determined to break the cycle, passionate about this healthy lifestyle and delighted to support Nelson Campbell and family in the PlantPure Communities mission.