Tanya Denckla Cobb is a writer, professional environmental mediator, and teacher of food system planning at the University of Virginia. She is passionate about bringing people together to discover common ground and create solutions for mutual gain. She is Associate Director of the UVA Institute for Environmental Negotiation where, since 1997, she works on a broad range of community, environmental, and agricultural issues.
She has worked at the grassroots, co-founding a community forestry nonprofit and mediating for community mediation centers. At the state level, she facilitated the birth of the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute, for which she still serves as teaching faculty, and the Virginia Food System Council. She coordinated and facilitated the 2011 2nd Virginia Food Security Summit that launched Virginia’s first statewide strategic food plan, and the 1st Virginia Food Security Summit in 2007 that led to the successful effort to establish the statewide food Council. She has also initiated the Virginia Food Heritage Project, which is currently working on a pilot project in the central Virginia region.
At home, she enjoys the restorative energy of gardening and cooking from her garden. She lives in Virginia, and is the author of the The Gardener’s A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food and Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement is Changing What We Eat.
While working for the federal government in the early 1980’s, Tanya specialized in international labor rights and served on U.S. delegations to the U.N. International Labor Organization in Geneva. In 1991, after authoring her first book on organic gardening, Tanya co-founded the nonprofit community organization Greener Harrisonburg, and served as Executive Director for three years. During this time she became a certified mediator and mediation instructor. She then worked with the Virginia Department of Forestry and served as the first Executive Director for the nonprofit Virginia Urban Forestry Council. Since 1997, she has worked at the UVa Institute for Environmental Negotiation where her work involves facilitating and mediating a broad range of community and environmental issues.
She also teaches a seminar for the National Preservation Institute on negotiation and conflict for cultural and natural resource managers. And, in 2006, she pioneered with UVa professor Timothy Beatley a series of graduate-level courses on food system planning.