The Roots Fund Feature: Securing a Pathway for the BIPOC Community in Wine
Play • 26 min

In 2020, Ikimi Dubose-Woodson co-founded The Roots Fund alongside Carlton McCoy and Tahiirah Habibi. The Roots Fund is a nonprofit dedicated to creating inclusive opportunities for communities of color throughout the wine industry. Ikimi is a chef, restaurateur, writer, nonprofit executive, and inspiration who now runs the organization as Executive Director. She has overseen The Roots Fund’s massive fundraising effort and over 100 scholarships they have awarded since they started.

“Find what you love and let it kill you” is the famous quote wrapped around a global knife tattooed on Ikimi’s back. Destined to be a lawyer to help her Brooklyn community, Ikimi ended up in culinary school by accident. Securing her first job at the World Trade Center Marriott as a silver polisher was a humbling and knowledgeable experience. 

Ikimi attended Johnson & Wales University and traveled the world studying culture through food after graduation. Upon her return to the states, she was the youngest and first woman to complete the Marriott & Ritz Carlton management training program. Her career put her on the path to lead culinary and management teams at sports organizations, restaurant groups, and prestigious educational institutions. After leading the culinary team on Capitol Hill through the largest sustainable food initiative, Ikimi rediscovered her passion for mentoring the next generation. 

In August of 2017, in conjunction with LifeWorks Restaurant Group, Ikimi designed and opened LEO MKT, a food hall in Washington, DC that focuses on cuisines from around the world. Known for her ability to create managers, lead large teams, and encourage the growth of women and minorities in the business, she hasn’t stopped yet. Ikimi summarizes her ethos in just a few words: “When there is no room for me at the table, I usually stand on the table.”

In this episode…

There’s a common misconception that the wine industry is just for people with pins on their lapels attending fancy, black-tie events. However, The Roots Fund is on a mission to change this belief and prove that the wine industry is for everyone. 

Providing education, tools, and mentorship for the BIPOC wine community, The Roots Fund is effecting positive change in the spirits industry. They’re showing younger demographics that the wine space isn’t closed off and creating a safe place to support scholars at any stage of their career. So what’s on the horizon for The Roots Fund — and the wine industry as a whole?

In this episode of VINTed, Scout Driscoll sits down with Ikimi Dubose-Woodson, Co-founder and Executive Director of The Roots Fund, to talk about diversifying the wine industry. Ikimi shares how The Roots Fund is supporting scholars in wine, the new programs that are reaching a younger demographic, and tips for anyone looking to begin their career in the wine industry.  

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