WhyHunger Elects Two New Members to its Board of Directors

United Talent Agency’s Melissa Newhart and Philanthropist Jimmy Zankel join WhyHunger’s Board of Directors to address the root causes of hunger and ensure the human right to nutritious food

NEW YORK CITY (April 16, 2024)WhyHunger, a non-profit working to end world hunger and the injustices that cause it, today announced the appointment of United Talent Agency (UTA)’s Music Brand Partnerships Executive Melissa Newhart and The Zankel Scala Family Foundation’s Executive Director Jimmy Zankel to its Board of Directors.

“As WhyHunger continues pressing toward a hunger-free world, we’re delighted to welcome new Board members who bring not only their expertise but a passion for creating a more equitable world where no one goes hungry,” said WhyHunger Executive Director, Jenique Jones. “Melissa and Jimmy’s collective leadership experience in marketing, partnerships, music collaborations, communications and philanthropy makes them invaluable additions to our Board. We are ready to embrace their new energy and ideas as we build power through music to end the ongoing hunger crisis perpetuated by social, environmental, racial and economic injustices.”

Over the past seven years at UTA, Newhart has been instrumental in building the company’s  Music Brand Partnership department and overseeing the East Coast brand business. During her tenure at UTA, she has developed artist-specific brand strategies and partnerships, executed brand partnerships for global tours and played an integral role in new business development. With expertise in marketing, branding, advertising, strategic partnerships and media, Newhart’s leadership is pivotal in the agency’s expansion into the Hip-Hop and Latin music genres.

Before UTA, Newhart served as the vice president of Brand Partnerships at Roc Nation, where she oversaw brand strategy and partnerships for the company’s music roster. She assisted in generating revenue in support of artists, events and other music properties, such as TIDAL and the Made in America Music Festival. Throughout her career, Newhart has worked with global artists, including the Jonas Brothers, Karol G, Latto, and Ms. Lauryn Hill, pairing them with brands such as Cadillac, Google, Levi’s, Louis Vuitton and Mastercard.

“I am incredibly grateful to join WhyHunger’s Board and to continue supporting the organization in an expanded role,” said Newhart. “Throughout my career, I’ve seen the influence artists have on communities and organizations like WhyHunger. I look forward to elevating the organization’s mission through meaningful partnerships between artists, brands and WhyHunger’s initiatives.”

As executive director, Zankel uses his years of experience in media, communications, food and philanthropy to lead The Zankel Scala Family Foundation. Formerly a broadcast television writer and producer, Zankel specialized in music news at VH1/Viacom and instructional cooking series at Food Network/Scripps. Additionally, he brings a wealth of expertise in cause-related marketing at Cone/Omnicom and professional cooking at Union Square Cafe to the Board.

Zankel’s dedication to philanthropy is the cornerstone of his professional endeavors. He is currently the chairman emeritus of Carnegie Hall Notables and a trustee at Skidmore College. Previously, Zankel served as the secretary of the Board of The Big Apple Circus, further underscoring his passion for supporting meaningful causes and organizations. Zankel is in the process of documenting his remarkable journey in an upcoming memoir. 

“The recognition of food as a human right is a fundamental outgrowth of the many lopsided equity issues we are seeking to correct. WhyHunger is not only leveling the global playing field but planting and growing healthy and sustainable systems of change. I am so honored to be a part of this movement,” said Zankel.

The appointment of Melissa Newhart and Jimmy Zankel to WhyHunger’s Board signifies the organization’s ongoing commitment to harnessing music’s transformative influence in promoting food justice and ending hunger. Since WhyHunger’s inception in 1975 by musician Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres, the organization has kept music in its DNA through initiatives like the Artists Against Hunger & Poverty program, the annual Hungerthon campaign and Amplified concert.

“With our newly appointed Board members, we are certain that WhyHunger stands at the threshold of extraordinary growth and increased impact across the U.S. and in 23 countries around the globe toward our mission to ensure the right to nutritious food for all. We’re eager to collaborate with Melissa and Jimmy in advancing the human right to food for all,” said Cindy Secunda, Chair of WhyHunger’s Board.


About WhyHunger

Founded in 1975 by the late Harry Chapin and radio DJ Bill Ayres, WhyHunger funds and supports community solutions to protect the human right to food. In nearly five decades of innovation and evolution, our programs and our grassroots partners in 24 countries have expanded agricultural practices that are better for the planet, helped communities address the root causes of hunger, and ensured access to nutritious food for millions of people. As a grassroots support organization, we stand behind the leadership of the people most impacted by hunger and injustice. We prioritize providing resources to support the rights of communities that have been historically excluded from defining and controlling their food systems. We advocate for workers’ rights and champion agroecological food production that unites science and sustainability with Indigenous knowledge and wisdom. Together we can build socially and economically just food systems that nourish all people and the environment. Learn more at whyhunger.org and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Instagram.


Media Contact: Arleevia Lyles, [email protected]