TANYA DENCKLA COBB

Director, Institute for Environmental Negotiation + Lecturer

Education: B.A., Government, Smith College


As an environmental public policy mediator, my work extends across a broad range of issues that are important for creating resilient communities and a healthy environment in the context of social equity. My expertise is designing and facilitating community-based research, innovative and robust community engagement, collaborative problem solving, consensus building, and strategic planning. In recent years a primary focus has been initiating and leading projects that will advance both Virginia’s coastal resilience and sustainable food systems. My portfolio is rounded by work on environmental justice, watershed management, and an initiative to develop guidance to help communities and institutions address deep conflict surrounding race, memorials, and public spaces.

In recent years my teaching has taken the form of designing and conducting training for professionals, ranging from planners and landscape architects to regulators, cultural and natural resources managers, historic preservationists, and transportation specialists. My trainings provide both theory and hands-on practice in interest-based approaches to negotiation and conflict management, community engagement, process design, facilitation, as well as building self-awareness about styles of conflict management to enhance personal effectiveness. In past years at the School, I have taught Food Systems Planning, Group Facilitation, and now teach Conflict Management and Negotiation Skills. I co-founded and serve as teaching faculty for the Virginia Natural Resources Leadership Institute.

While IEN is nationally known for its work, one of my goals is to raise IEN’s profile and value within the university itself. I am working on cross-university research partnerships on community resilience with funding from the Environmental Resilience Institute. With funding from UVA Sustainability, I collaborated to host an invitation-only symposium in December 2017 on Sustainable Food Supply Chain. With funding from the Bicentennial Commission, I’m leading a cross-university team to host a large symposium in October 2018 on UVA’s food history and future through the lens of race.

An important IEN goal is to build capacity, which takes the form of developing training for others. One of efforts in the past two years has been working with a multi-university collaborative effort, involving faculty who teach food-related courses, sustainability staff, as well as university dining staff and chefs from George Mason, James Madison, Virginia Tech, and UVA. As part of this, I have worked with a small inter-university team to develop of a 4-credit, 4-week Virginia Food System Leadership Institute which will launch in June 2018, where I will serve as core faculty.

“Community Food Interventions for Healing: The Cases of Janus Youth and Lynchburg Grows,” chapter in forthcoming book on a symposium to be published by the UVa Center for Design and Health.

Reclaiming Our Food: How the Grassroots Food Movement is Changing The Way We Eat (Storey Publishing: 2011). Selected as a “common reader” by Southern Illinois University in 2012.

The Gardener's A to Z Guide to Growing Organic Food (Storey Publishing: 2004). Earlier versions of this book include:  1) Organic Gardener’s Home Reference (Storey Publishing: 1994); and 2) Gardening At A Glance: The Organic Gardener’s Handbook On Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts & Herbs (Wooden Angel Publications: 1991).

“How Should FDA Implement a More Rational and Workable Approach to Regulating Tobacco, Nicotine, and Alternative Harm Reduction Products?” Food and Drug Law Institute Policy Forum, Vol. 3, Issue 18, October 12, 2013. This article presents eight Core Principles developed through a series of stakeholder dialogues convened by IEN.

“Organic Food is Not Just for Snobs, Dr. Oz,” Huffington Post, Zester Daily, March 18, 2013.

“The Food Policy Audit: A New Tool for Community Food System Planning,” O’Brien, Jennifer and Tanya Denckla Cobb. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development (JAFSCD), Vol. 2, Issue 3, June 2012.

“Community DECISION: Stakeholder focused watershed planning,” Bosch, Darrell and James Pease, Mary Leigh Wolfe, Christopher Zobel, Javier Osorio, Tanya Denckla Cobb, Greg Evanylo. Journal of Environmental Management, Vol 112 (2012) 226-232.

“Virginia – An Emerging Leader in the Nation’s Local Food Movement,” The Virginia News Letter, Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, University of Virginia. September 15, 2011.

“Local Food Scene: Dutiful Food Pyramidie Conducts Shopping Experiment” blog, via Dave McNair. The Hook Online, June 12, 2008.

“Global Community Food Projects Suggest Local Possibilities.” The Richmond Times-Dispatch, Op/Ed. June 14, 2008.

“The Waste Solutions Forum: An Innovative and Cooperative Approach to Support the Agricultural Community and Protect Water Quality.” Bendfeldt, Eric and Katharine Knowlton, Tanya Denckla Cobb, Franklin Dukes, Kathy Holm, and Jactone Arogo Ogejo.  Community Development, Journal of the Community Development Society. Vol. 38, No. 4, Winter 2007 (Jan 2008).

“Implementing Waste Solutions for Dairy and Livestock Farms.” Knowlton, K. F. and T. Denckla Cobb. Journal of Dairy Sciences. 89: 1372-1383, May 2006.

“Linking Theory to Practice: A Theory of Change Model of the Natural Resources Leadership Institute.” Addor, Mary Lou and Tanya Denckla Cobb, Franklin Dukes; Michael Ellerbrock, and L. Steve Smutko. Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Vol. 23, No. 2, Winter 2005.

Windward Climate Resilience Fund Grant, $110K, for the RAFT (2018).

Department of Environmental Quality 309 Grant, $50K, for the RAFT (2017).

Virginia Environmental Endowment Grant, $20K, for the RAFT (2017).

Kellogg Foundation, $399K, for Transforming Community Spaces (2017).

Women in History award, Daughters of the American Revolution, Shadwell, VA (2016).

Reclaiming Our Food: named by Booklist “One of top 10 books on the environment in 2012.”

Reclaiming Our Food: selected as a “common reader” by Southern Illinois University in 2012.

Reclaiming Our Food: Nautilus Gold Green Living Award, for books that promote spiritual growth, conscious living, positive social change, stimulate the imagination, and offer new possibilities for a better life and a better world (2012).

Merit Award, Virginia Chapter of Soil and Water Conservation Districts, for excellence in training Virginia’s leaders to address community conflicts on natural resources and environmental issues (2002).

Urban Forestry Award to Greener Harrisonburg, Shenandoah Soil and Water Conservation Districts (1994).

U.S. Department of Labor Award for Distinguished Achievement, for outstanding service in promoting international standards on trade union rights, and for vital contribution to the continuing review of United States policy toward Poland (1984).