Ismail Samad

Ismail Samad
Social Entrepreneur & Food Systems Expert

From Good Food to Communal Sovereignty: Toward an Emancipated Future
in conversation with James Manigault-Bryant, Chair & Professor of Africana Studies

Tuesday, September 26th, 7:00pm
Bronfman Auditorium (Wachenheim Science Center B11), Williams College

Ismail Samad is a social entrepreneur and food systems expert with a focus on economic, environmental, and spatial justice. He has held key positions in both nonprofit and for-profit organizations and has founded several successful enterprises. After opening his first cafe at the age of 23 in his hometown of East Cleveland, Ismail relocated to New England where he became involved in a number of ventures addressing food waste, food insecurity, nutritional health, and racial inequalities in the food economy. Ismail then returned to East Cleveland to confront the destructive effects of systemic racial injustice and economic disinvestment. Since then, he has been working tirelessly to build an alternative economic ecosystem (expanded to New York City and Boston), built upon a closed-loop community-owned supply chain, and nourished by non-extractive, sustainable, cooperative and transparent business practices.

Presented by the Center for Learning in Action

Co-sponsored by: Rice Center for Teaching; Schumacher Center for a New Economics; Oakley Center for the Humanities and Social Sciences; Africana Studies; American Studies; Anthropology & Sociology; Economics; Political Science; Religion; Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies; Davis Center; Chaplains’ Office; Center for Environmental Studies; Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives; Berkshire Black Economic Council; Berkshire Community Action Council

Learning by Doing: Community Engagement and Activism in and Beyond the Classroom
Wednesday, September 27th, 12:00-1:00pm
Faculty Club Lounge 

A Faculty Teaching Lunch Discussion co-sponsored by the Rice Center for Teaching and the Center for Learning in Action, featuring interlocutor Kiaran Honderich, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies; also featuring José Constantine, Director of the Center for Environmental Studies.

Join social entrepreneur and community organizer Ismail Samad in dialogue with faculty, discussing the potential for bringing more community-engaged partnerships, social activism, and fieldwork into Williams courses.

Insights from the Frontline: Dinner & Dialogue with Social & Environmental Justice Activist & Entrepreneur Ismail Samad
Wednesday, September 27th, 5:30-7:00pm
Griffin 3

Join chef, food systems expert, and Loiter executive director Ismail Samad for a meal and informal conversation about his successes and challenges in building community-owned enterprises that result in spatial, environmental, and economic justice.

Please RSVP to help us make sure that we have enough food for everyone!

Co-hosted by: Center for Learning in Action; Zilkha Center for Environmental Initiatives; Chaplains’ Office; Davis Center; Religion

A Muslim Vision for Justice and Community Empowerment
Thursday, September 28th, 5:30pm
Muslim Prayer Room

How does Islam inspire a chef-turned-entrepreneur to empower his Black community to economic independence? What does it mean for Muslims to build their own communal institutions that reflect Islam’s call to social responsibility and stewardship of the earth?

Join Ismail Samad, a Black Muslim and the founder of Loiter, in his final event amongst a series of multiple events on campus. This intimate roundtable discussion is an opportunity for the Williams community to engage with Ismail to learn how Islam inspires him towards social and economic justice reform. After the community discussion in the Muslim Prayer Room, we will gather in the Interfaith Common Room for dinner. Open to ALL. You don’t have to be Muslim to attend.

Please direct your questions to Muslim Chaplain Sidra Mahmood ([email protected]).

Co-sponsored by: Muslim Chaplain; Muslim Student Union (MSU); Center for Learning in Action; Religion

Ismail Samad is the co-founder of Loiter, a nonprofit organization in East Cleveland dedicated to confronting the effects of systemic racism and encouraging intentional re-investment needed to build successful community-owned enterprises that result in spatial and economic justice.

Ismail is a native of East Cleveland, OH, a social entrepreneur, enterprise developer, and a closed-loop food systems expert. While studying environmental biology in college, and working in some of the top restaurants in Cleveland, Ismail developed a passion for the culinary arts. He opened his first cafe, Crust and Crumbs at the age of 23.

After relocating to Vermont, he became deeply involved in the farm-to-table movement, which gave him insight into the impact of food waste and created in him a resolve to find creative solutions to solve the problem.

To this end, he founded a new restaurant concept, The Gleanery. The restaurant eliminates waste and showcases culinary artistry with high-end fare, all while providing economic opportunities for local farm partners.

Ismail served as culinary director and was pivotal in the planning, launch, and early expansion of Daily Table, a nonprofit grocery store in Roxbury and Dorchester, Massachusetts. Daily Table focuses on addressing the conflicting issues of food insecurity, nutritional health, and wasted/surplus food to provide healthy, affordable meals to those in need.

Ismail is also the former director of Contract Manufacturing and Culinary Operating for Commonwealth Kitchen, a nonprofit business incubator located in Boston, MA specializing in building a new food economy grounded in racial, social, and economic justice.

He brings his experience as board president for Boston Area Gleaners, his ability to connect with others to put strategic partnerships in place, and his experience in managing local supply lines, to lead Loiter to develop urban farming in East Cleveland to provide products directly to businesses. This means that every part of the supply chain will be owned by East Clevelanders. Ismail specializes in leading Loiter Marketplace as well as Loiter’s Farms & Apiaries enterprise.

While it may take years to repair the damage caused by neglect, economic disinvestment, and injustice, Ismail believes in the people of East Cleveland to build up a new cultural renaissance.

Press coverage of Ismail and his work: