Jan earned a Masters in Public Health in Human Ecology and food ways and worked as an Administrative Dietitian for twelve years running hospital and jail kitchens and as State Nutritionist for the Texas Department on Aging. She trained local agencies to buy food cooperatively and source locally grown food. She lived for 18 months in Umtata, Transkei, a black homeland under apartheid South Africa. She joined her father’s company in 1981.
Environmental campaign organizing became a calling in 2012 when Jan co-led the Right to Know campaign in Ventura County. In 2014 she began organizing grassroots support for Community Choice Energy in Ventura County, Transmission Access Charge reform, and co-chaired the Sierra Club CA Energy Climate Committee with a focus on biological carbon sequestration. She now chairs the California Agriculture Committee that is planning a California Beyond Pesticides Campaign. She participates in Californians for Pesticide Reform a coalition created in 1996 to fundamentally shift the way pesticides are used in California.
Jan founded the first group in her County with a climate advocacy mission, Citizens’ Climate Lobby Ventura County Chapter, and cofounded 350 Ventura County Climate Hub where she serves as policy and communications lead. She is a founding steering committee member of the 350 Southland Legislative Alliance, board member of Climate Reality Project South Central Coast, and has allied with the local oil and gas watchdog organizations, Food and Water Watch, and CFROG since its founding. Her primary focus now is a strategic plan for a Sierra Club California Beyond Pesticides Campaign, but she still supports climate advocacy coalitions in Ventura County cities. Jan is a Health Ambassador for Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA and was awarded Earth Charter Ecological Integrity, Sierra Club’s Ventura County Environmental Woman of the Year, and Pacific Coast Business Times Who’s Who in Agriculture. She belongs to the Farm Bureau and Association for Applied IPM Ecologists and writes, speaks, and organizes workshops on organic and biological agriculture.
Jan works with husband Ron Whitehurst who contributed to the California Department of Pesticide Regulation Sustainable Pest Management Roadmap. Together they promote pest prevention through agroecology systems approaches to eliminate the use of hazardous and polluting chemicals. They are advisors to a project led by UCLA School of Law on Alternatives Assessment exploring a new framework for evaluating risk from pesticides for purposes of registration and permitting for end users.
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