Linda Fondren

Linda Fondren is an accomplished real estate developer committed to community development and progress. As the founder and executive director of Shape Up Mississippi, she has demonstrated a passion for improving the public’s health, well-being, and quality of life.

Linda actively seeks sustainable opportunities for physical activities, educates individuals about proper nutrition, and advocates for the integration and advancement of the arts and culture in the Delta Region.

Linda Fondren’s commitment extends across various boards and organizations, where she actively participates in initiatives that promote community development. Her dedication helps drive positive change, shaping a brighter future for everyone involved.

DeShawn L. Blanding

A native of the rural Silver Community in Manning, SC, DeShawn L. Blanding is a congressional staffer for the United States House of Representatives Committee on Agriculture (House Ag) where he advises the Ranking Member and other congressional member offices, plans public hearings, drafts new legislation, and monitors the progress of current federal programs and policies. He leads on a variety of issues for the Committee including rural health and economic development, agricultural credit, civil rights and racial justice, local/regional food systems, specialty crops, organic and urban agriculture, and 1890 Land Grant Institutions. Prior to joining House Ag, DeShawn worked for the U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry and for the Rural Coalition as the Policy and Advocacy Coordinator, where he developed grassroots solutions to civil rights and equity issues in federal agriculture and rural development policies and programs.

DeShawn obtained his Master of Arts in Public Policy (Philosophy and Social Policy) at The George Washington University and his Bachelor of Science in Agricultural and Environmental Systems (Agribusiness) from North Carolina A&T State University as a National USDA/1890 Land Grant Scholar. He is a member of the Black Professional in Food and Agriculture (BPFA), the National FFA Alumni and Supporters, and the historic Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA, where he serves on the Social Justice Ministry.