Anahid Brakke

Executive Director


Anahid Brakke joined the San Diego Hunger Coalition as its Executive Director in January 2015. During her short tenure she has tripled the organization’s budget, doubled its staff and recruited ten new board members and two new advisory board members. Additionally, the Hunger Coalition has launched its School Meals Program, Hunger Free San Diego initiative and has assumed facilitation of the Hunger Advocacy Network and Summer Meals Task Force.

Named by San Diego community leaders as an “emerging leader to watch in 2015,” Anahid brings more than a decade of experience in San Diego’s philanthropic sector and is a leading voice in the community on hunger and poverty.  Her areas of focus have included hunger and the food system, senior issues, preventive healthcare and access to care, social equity, workforce development and family asset building. 

Prior to joining the Hunger Coalition, Anahid served as Director of Self-Sufficiency Programs for the Leichtag Foundation; Senior Program Officer for the Jewish Community Foundation; Director of Health and Human Services at The San Diego Foundation; and Program Officer at the Gary and Mary West Foundation. 

Anahid has held several past community leadership positions including serving as a founding member and executive committee member of the San Diego Food System Alliance, the founding chair of San Diego Grantmakers Food Funders Collaborative, the chair of San Diego Grantmakers Homelessness Working Group, an executive committee member for the Alliance for Regional Solutions, and as a member of United Way of San Diego’s Income Vision Council. She currently serves on the San Diego County Childhood Obesity Initiative’s Leadership Council. 

Her diverse background also includes financial analytics and data management, marketing and communications, and hospital and medical education program administration. Anahid received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Wellesley College.

Learn more about Anahid’s leadership of the San Diego Hunger Coalition and efforts to end hunger in San Diego in the San Diego Union Tribune’s 2016 profile on her – Helping San Diegans get healthy food.


Heidi Gjertsen, Ph.D.

Research Director


Heidi Gjertsen, Ph.D., leads research that helps San Diego Hunger Coalition generate the foundational knowledge and data needed to build a San Diego County where no one has to go to bed hungry. Heidi investigates topics such as utilization of CalFresh and youth meal programs, in order to identify systemic barriers to food access and the most promising solutions to hunger. The results of this research are the backbone of Hunger Free San Diego, a regional collaborative planning effort to end hunger in our region.

Heidi brings a passion for improving lives through science and over a decade of international research experience to the San Diego Hunger Coalition. In her work with fishing and farming communities, she evaluated performance and impacts of conservation strategies and developed incentives and strategies for conservation and economic development. Heidi has trained and led international research teams throughout Southeast Asia and the South Pacific. As a contractor for the U.S. Department of Commerce, she assessed the cost effectiveness of domestic and international programs. Her work has been published in numerous peer-reviewed journals and reports. Heidi has also served on graduate student thesis committees and taught undergraduate and graduate courses at UC San Diego.

Heidi received her Ph.D. in Agricultural Economics from Cornell University and her Bachelor’s degree in Environment and Resource Studies from the University of Waterloo.

Amanda Schultz Brochu, MPH

Senior Director of CalFresh and Advocacy


Amanda Schultz Brochu, MPH, leads the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s efforts to improve access to and utilization of the CalFresh program by San Diego County residents.  With a background in public health and capacity building, Amanda develops innovative partnerships to connect with San Diego’s most hard to reach food insecure populations.  In her work as CalFresh Outreach Director, Amanda convenes the CalFresh Task Force as well as a variety of working groups that focus on strategies to both increase outreach and improve county systems.  Amanda also represents the Hunger Coalition and its partners at the state level as a part of the Alliance to Transform CalFresh, serving as a conduit between community organizations and state level decision makers shaping CalFresh program policy.

Before joining the Hunger Coalition, Amanda was a Population Health Fellow at the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute and later worked in international food security and community development in Central America.

Amanda received a master’s degree in public health from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a bachelor’s degree in psychology and Spanish from Lakeforest College.


Kelly Wilkinson 

Operations Coordinator 


Kelly Wilkinson leads the San Diego Hunger Coalition’s operational and administrative functions. A key part of her role is evaluating and supporting the organization’s programs to ensure they are effectively contributing to creating a hunger free San Diego. Kelly has a background is in employment services and workforce development for at-risk populations. She brings her passion for developing and implementing programs with the individual in mind to the San Diego Hunger Coalition and uses her experience in curriculum development, program implementation, volunteer management, and community outreach to support the organization’s research, advocacy, and programs to fight hunger in our region.

Prior to joining San Diego Hunger Coalition, Kelly served as a Job Coach/Life Skills Educator for the Center for Employment Opportunities where she provided direct service support to individuals released from incarceration.

Kelly holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Vassar College and a Master of Arts in Nonprofit Leadership and Management from University of San Diego.