Mindy Santo is a part-time Program Assistant with ASAN, who first joined the team in October 2017 to help plan the 2017 Food & Farm Forum. She is also a women’s empowerment coach, speaker, relationship-builder, writer, organizer, and food, health, and sustainability enthusiast.
Originally from Ohio, Mindy earned her undergraduate degree in Retail Marketing & Management at Bowling Green State University. During her junior year she was granted an internship that introduced her to Birmingham, AL. After graduation, she relocated to Birmingham exploring her career in Retail Management, Human Resources, and Visual Merchandising. She eventually moved to another company where she traveled across the Southeast, training, merchandising, and relationship-building. As she evolved, her love for the retail industry waned, and she felt disconnected from the excessive company culture.
Taking a leap of faith, she transitioned to an event company a former colleague owned, where she felt her opportunities were vast and exciting. She developed connections with customers and realized her strong inclination for helping people. The guidance she had to help herself contributed to her ability to help others.
Eventually she left to pursue that interest full-time. As she was gaining traction, she suffered a bout with severe stomach pain. She identified the foods she was eating as the culprit; she learned that many of the foods we eat contain harmful chemicals and excessive amounts of sodium. Once she eliminated the offending ingredients and replaced them with real, whole foods, her health improved dramatically and immediately. Consequently, this fostered her connection to food, health, and sustainability and revealed another tool to help people.
ASAN was the perfect culmination of all that she had discovered. Initially drawn to Graze: Birmingham as a volunteer in 2014, she recognized the potential for growth, so Mindy asked to become more involved. She came on board for what was initially a short-term stint, helping to plan the 2017 Food & Farm Forum. She was tasked with coordinating and collecting meal ingredients, and in her communications with the farmers she quickly came to admire their drive and determination to provide real, whole ingredients to consumers. During that short time, she developed meaningful relationships with farmers, members, and participants of the event, her interest in the work intensified — it fueled her to do more. After the Forum wrapped up, she jumped at the chance to take on a standing part-time position with ASAN. Mindy is thrilled at the possibility to learn more, and the potential to get others excited about the food movement.