Meet the Team

Linden Thayer

Director of Research & Innovation

Linden co-founded FIG as a way to continue her passion for community-based, food-as- social-justice work. She holds a PhD in Nutrition Intervention and Policy from UNC-Chapel Hill, and she relishes the opportunity to work across disciplines, social agendas, and geographies to build programs, policies, research, and connections that promote the health and wellbeing of communities. As a former “Lunch Lady,” she has a particular passion for supporting schools’, students’, and families’ efforts to grow school food systems that support community wellbeing from farm to school to child. She hopes that FIG’s work empowers many others to take up food system causes in their own communities.

When she’s not talking food (which is rare), you can find Linden out on a run, in the garden, traveling, or dancing in the kitchen with her husband and daughters. Contact Linden at linden@foodinsightgroup.com


Chief Dog, Director of Walking Operations

Wally enjoys digging around in the garden, eating good food, and spending plenty of time being active outdoors. He especially loves long hikes in the woods and camping trips in the mountains. Wally is a founding member of the FIG team and takes his role very seriously.

Beth Hopping

Director of Design & Implementation

​Beth is passionate about the intersections of food, environment, culture, and social justice. She holds a PhD in Nutrition Intervention and Policy from UNC- Chapel Hill and has worked across North Carolina and around the world to help communities identify food system challenges and address them by leveraging community strengths. Beth uses quantitative and qualitative research methods in her work with farmers, grocery retailers, schools, nonprofits, foundations, and community development financial institutions. She strongly believes in the power of food to connect people and hopes that FIG will facilitate many positive connections.

Beth loves spending time outside hiking, biking, and exploring with her partner and their dog. She also enjoys learning new ways to grow, cook, and preserve food. Contact Beth at beth@foodinsightgroup.com

Gina Beer


Gina Beer graduated from UNC Asheville in 2014 and has since worked at the nexus of public health and linguistics. At FIG, Gina combines her interest in the power of language with her desire to affect positive change in the way our communities access and consume food.

Emily Kujawa

Affiliated Consultant

Emily is Executive Director of Kujawa Consulting, a woman-owned firm specializing in strategic planning, facilitation, evaluation, and research support for organizations and agencies working to improve health, support sustainable food systems, and transform community conflict. She integrates systems-based approaches in her work with clients to achieve meaningful, long-term impact through cross-sector collaboration, continuous performance improvement, and meaningful community engagement. Emily has Master of Public Health degrees from the George Washington University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Bachelor of Science degree in Human Biology from Michigan State University. She is a Registered Dietitian and an avid cyclist and weaver. Her driving passion is to support healthy, empowered, and peaceful societies in the U.S. and abroad. She lives in Asheville, North Carolina. www.kujawaconsulting.com

Mentors & Collaborators