NYU Steinhardt News

Alum Spotlight: Rachel Alkon, Director at Whole Foods Market

We recently spoke with Rachel Alkon, alumna of NYU Steinhardt’s MA in Food Studies program, about her background, experience at NYU, and current role of Director, Food Policy, Sustainability & Corporate Affairs at Whole Foods Market.

Rachel Alkon

Tell us a little about yourself and what initially brought you to the Nutrition and Food Studies department.

After almost a decade advising Fortune 500 companies across industries, I craved the opportunity to focus on what at that point was just a passion.I had always prioritized health and good, fresh food. I long admired public health and nutrition heroes like Marion Nestle. And I was curious about launching a food business.

So, at 30 years old, I did something radical: I quit my job, started working for the nonprofit Wellness in the Schools, and enrolled in NYU. For once in my life, I didn’t have a grand master plan for what I wanted to achieve, but felt excited about the journey ahead. I didn’t realize my passion would become my career.

What is your current position? Please share a little bit about the work you do.

I’m a Director on the Corporate Affairs team at Whole Foods Market, leading our communications efforts tied to food policy and sustainability issues. It’s the perfect marriage of my first career in reputation management and my recent master’s.

How do you think your time at NYU Steinhardt helped shape your career path?

I apply my knowledge of the food system, advocacy and policy, and entrepreneurship in the work I do every day. The network of peers I gained at Steinhardt—many of whom are food systems leaders working as journalists, at NGOs, or food startups—are incredibly valuable resources and some are close friends.  

Do you have a favorite memory or class from your time at NYU?

One of my favorite memories is discovering live, healthy chickens on Randall’s Island in Carolyn Dimitri’s Sustainability in the Urban Environment class.