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The L.A. Kitchen Team Click on a team member to learn more.
José Andrés
José Andrés Chair Emeritus

José Andrés, Chair Emeritus

Named one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time magazine in 2012 and “Outstanding Chef” by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, José Andrés is an internationally-recognized culinary innovator, passionate advocate for food and hunger issues, author, educator, television personality and chef/owner of ThinkFoodGroup. TFG is the team responsible for renowned dining concepts in Washington, DC, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami and Puerto Rico. Recently he was named Dean of the Spanish Studies program at the International Culinary Center. He is chairman emeritus of DC Central Kitchen, board member of L.A. Kitchen and the founder of World Central Kitchen. He is also culinary ambassador to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves, an effort championed by Secretary Hillary Clinton. José teaches “Science and Cooking” at Harvard.
Alexandra Arenz
Alexandra Arenz Social Work Intern from USC

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Kendra Burks
Kendra Burks Workforce Development Specialist

Kendra Burks - Workforce Development Specialist

kburks [at] lakitchen [dot] org Prior to L.A. Kitchen, Kendra spent 5 years as a Senior Disability Representative for one of the leading global providers in claims management services. She also served as a counselor at David & Margaret Youth and Family Services before transitioning to John Macy School as the Academic and Work Experience Coordinator. Kendra holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Cal State Fullerton.
Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D.
Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. Nutrition Consultant

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Robert Egger
Robert Egger Founder & CEO

Robert Egger, President & Founder

Robert is the Founder and President of L.A. Kitchen, which recovers locally sourced, cosmetically imperfect fruits and vegetables to fuel a culinary arts job training program for men and women coming out of foster care and older men and women returning from incarceration. Founded in 2013, L.A. Kitchen is now located in a 20,000 sq. ft., two–level processing kitchen, located in NE Los Angeles. L.A. Kitchen operates Strong Food, a wholly owned, for-profit subsidiary that hires training program graduates and competes for food service contracts, with an emphasis on opportunities to serve healthy senior meals. L.A. Kitchen’s founding partner is the AARP Foundation, which gave its first million dollar grant to help establish the model. Robert pioneered this model during his 24-year tenure as the president of the DC Central Kitchen, the country’s first “community kitchen,” where food donated by hospitality businesses and farms is used to fuel its nationally recognized culinary arts job training program. Since opening in 1989, the kitchen (which is an $12-million-a-year, self-sustaining social enterprise) has produced over 35 million meals and helped 1,500 men and women gain full-time employment. The Kitchen operates its own revenue-generating business, Fresh Start Catering, as well as the Campus Kitchens Project, which coordinates similar recycling/meal programs in over 57 colleges or high school kitchens. The Kitchen operates its own revenue-generating business, Fresh Start Catering, as well as the Campus Kitchens Project, which coordinates similar recycling/meal programs in over 57 colleges or high school kitchens. In addition, Robert founded CForward, an advocacy organization that promoted the economic role that nonprofits play in every community. In Washington DC, Robert was the founding chair of both the Mayor’s Commission on Nutrition, and Street Sense, Washington’s “homeless” newspaper. He was also the co-convener of the first Nonprofit Congress, held in Washington DC in 2006. Currently, Robert serves on the boards of: - The Los Angeles Food Policy Council - Kitchens for Good (San Diego) - Chef Jose Andres’ World Central Kitchen - #HashTagLunchBag - Rosie’s Foundation Robert’s book on the nonprofit sector, Begging for Change: The Dollars and Sense of Making Nonprofits Responsive, Efficient and Rewarding for All, was released in 2004 by HarperCollins. It received the 2005 McAdam Book Award for “Best Nonprofit Management Book” by the Alliance for Nonprofit Management. L.A. Weekly named Robert one of their 2016 People of the Year, and in 2015, he was given the Conscious Leader of the Year award by Conscious Capitalism. He was included in The NonProfit Times’ list of the “50 Most Powerful and Influential” nonprofit leaders from 2006-2009. He was the recipient of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington’s 2007 “Lifetime Achievement” award and the 2004 James Beard Foundation “Humanitarian of the Year” award. Robert has also been named an Oprah Angel, a Washingtonian of the Year, a Point of Light, a Food Hero by Food Tank, a REAL Food Innovator by the US Healthful Food Council, and one of the Ten Most Caring People in America by the Caring Institute. He is also a blood donor to the American Red Cross. Robert speaks throughout the country and internationally on the subjects of hunger, sustainability, nonprofit political engagement and social enterprise. He writes blogs and editorials to share his ideas about the nonprofit sector and the future of America.
Rudy Espinoza
Rudy Espinoza Board Chair

Rudy Espinoza - Board Chair

Rudy Espinoza is the Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), a community development laboratory committed to building sustainable communities in urban areas. Rudy specializes in identifying profitable investment opportunities in low-income communities, researching the informal economy and its innovative entrepreneurs, building private/nonprofit partnerships, and training the working poor to participate in the socio-economic revitalization of their neighborhoods. Rudy has worked at Emerging Markets Inc. and the AARP Foundation where he used his skills to design and manage place-based initiatives with financial institutions, foundations and regional non-profits. Most recently he was a Senior Program Officer at Community Financial Resource Center (CFRC), a Community Development Financial Institution in South Los Angeles where he provided micro-loans and business assistance to street vendors and other informal entrepreneurs. He serves on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Los Angeles, the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Development Fund, the Board of Directors for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and on the Leadership Board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Rudy holds degrees in Business Administration and Urban Planning.
Theresa Farthing
Theresa Farthing Lead Cook - Impact LA

Rudy Espinoza - Board Chair

Rudy Espinoza is the Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), a community development laboratory committed to building sustainable communities in urban areas. Rudy specializes in identifying profitable investment opportunities in low-income communities, researching the informal economy and its innovative entrepreneurs, building private/nonprofit partnerships, and training the working poor to participate in the socio-economic revitalization of their neighborhoods. Rudy has worked at Emerging Markets Inc. and the AARP Foundation where he used his skills to design and manage place-based initiatives with financial institutions, foundations and regional non-profits. Most recently he was a Senior Program Officer at Community Financial Resource Center (CFRC), a Community Development Financial Institution in South Los Angeles where he provided micro-loans and business assistance to street vendors and other informal entrepreneurs. He serves on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Los Angeles, the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Development Fund, the Board of Directors for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and on the Leadership Board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Rudy holds degrees in Business Administration and Urban Planning.
Alex Funez
Alex Funez Logistics Assistant

Rudy Espinoza - Board Chair

Rudy Espinoza is the Executive Director of Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN), a community development laboratory committed to building sustainable communities in urban areas. Rudy specializes in identifying profitable investment opportunities in low-income communities, researching the informal economy and its innovative entrepreneurs, building private/nonprofit partnerships, and training the working poor to participate in the socio-economic revitalization of their neighborhoods. Rudy has worked at Emerging Markets Inc. and the AARP Foundation where he used his skills to design and manage place-based initiatives with financial institutions, foundations and regional non-profits. Most recently he was a Senior Program Officer at Community Financial Resource Center (CFRC), a Community Development Financial Institution in South Los Angeles where he provided micro-loans and business assistance to street vendors and other informal entrepreneurs. He serves on the Human Relations Commission for the City of Los Angeles, the Advisory Board for the Los Angeles Development Fund, the Board of Directors for Esperanza Community Housing Corporation, and on the Leadership Board of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council. Rudy holds degrees in Business Administration and Urban Planning.
Andres Garcia
Andres Garcia Social Work Intern from UCLA

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Zaid Gayle
Zaid Gayle Board Member

Zaid Gayle, Board Member

As Executive Director of Peace4Kids, Zaid oversees an ambitious organizational growth plan, with the intended impact of helping foster and at-risk youth transition successfully into adulthood. Having been involved in community leadership and program development for over 20 years, Zaid co-founded Peace4Kids to promote peaceful conflict resolution among youth in South Los Angeles. During his fifteen years with Peace4Kids, he has served as a volunteer, mentor, board member, and teacher. Zaid has had the opportunity to use his experience in the film industry to ensure that media is an integral part of improving the lives of foster youth. Most specifically, Zaid was the lead in designing and launching the Peapod Music & Arts Academy in 2008 at the Watts/Willowbrook Boys & Girls Club. The Peapod Music & Arts Academy was the vision of Black Eyed Peas band leader will.i.am and created a state of the art music studio and production facility for foster and at risk teens. In 2010, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law AB12 that is landmark legislation that increased the legal age of foster care from 18 to 21 in the state of California. The passage of this landmark legislation was in part influenced by a campaign that Zaid developed with his youth advocates called “All I did was turn 18”. This campaign received national attention in the press and is also being featured in a local documentary that was co-produced by Peace4Kids youth.
Miriam Gomez
Miriam Gomez Social Work Intern from Cal State Northridge

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Diane Griggs-Ross, LCSW
Diane Griggs-Ross, LCSW Social Work Consultant

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Jenn Gross
Jenn Gross Board Member

Jenn Gross, Board Member

Ms. Gross is a member of The William and Sue Gross Family Foundation which has donated to Mercy Ships, Doctors Without Borders, Earth Institute at Columbia University, Duke University, UCI Stem Cell Research Center, Sue and Bill Gross Women’s Pavillion at Hoag Hospital in Newport Beach, Sue and Bill Gross Surgery and Procedure Center at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles, and The Teachers of Orange County. She also serves on the board for the Association of Sustainable Development Solutions Network, Sustainable Economy Solutions, Duke Global Health Institute and LA Kitchen. She is partnering with Sustainable Economy Solutions to bring solar to rural areas in developing countries. Prior to joining S.E.S., Ms. Gross owned a physical therapy clinic in Beverly Hills. She has 10 years of philanthropic and business experience and earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University.
Matthew Haas
Matthew Haas Board Treasurer

Matthew Haas, Board Treasurer

Matthew Haas serves as Director of Investor Relations and Fund Management for Merritt Community Capital Corp. With over 25 years of affordable housing and community development experience, Matthew has raised in California almost $750MM in the past seven multi-investor funds for Merritt and attracted 16 new bank investors helping to finance over 4,000 apartments. Previously, he was most the Deputy Director of California Lending for the Low Income Investment Fund (LIIF), a CDFI involved in affordable housing, charter schools, childcare and community facilities lending. Prior to LIIF, he worked as a Senior Multifamily Manager at Fannie Mae in Pasadena, CA. In addition, Matthew has worked as a Vice President and Client Manager for Bank of America Community Development Banking in Southern California, Senior Acquisitions Officer at National Equity Fund, and Senior Program Manager for Illinois Housing Development Authority. Matthew has an M.S. in Urban Planning from Columbia University and a B.A. in Architecture / Environmental Design from UC Berkeley. He serves as Board Member and Board Chair of Clifford Beers Housing.
David Hsu
David Hsu Board Secretary & Chair, Shared Plates

David Hsu, Board Secretary

David Hsu is Director of Charities & Education at NationBuilder. An expert on community organizing and technology, David helps leaders develop strategies for mobilizing supporters, volunteers, and donors on a huge scale. He has worked with a diverse range of clients, from the United Nations to the Wharton School of Business. David also brings 8 years of research experience as a social scientist studying public-private networks for solving global challenges. He previously taught international political economy at the University of Pennsylvania. After returning to his native Los Angeles, David created The Dinner Ethic, a project that aims to inspire a new culture of hospitality through dinner parties held in homes across the city. David is a graduate of Duke University and holds a PhD from Princeton University.
Todd Johnson
Todd Johnson Board Member

Todd Johnson - Board Member

Todd Johnson, a Pennsylvania native, attended Slippery Rock University and graduated with a double degree in Business Administration including a Bachelor of Science degree in both Management and Finance. Coming to California in 1986 to pursue a football dream is where his career in restaurants began, when that dream of playing football professionally did not materialize. Todd Johnson worked at Houlihans as a manager for two years before moving on to Chili’s Grill and Bar as a general manager for five and a half. In his effort to continuously improve and grow, he became a general manager for Bobby McGee’s in Burbank, CA for two years. With almost ten years of casual dining management experience under his belt, Johnson was ready to gain experience in an upscale dining environment thus he joined Lawry’s Restaurants, Inc. in early 1998, starting at Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Beverly Hills. Working in multiple locations and participating in the openings of new restaurants, he found himself in cities such as Beverly Hills, Chicago, Tokyo and Osaka before being promoted to general manager at the Tam O’Shanter Inn in 2001. One year later Johnson returned to Lawry’s The Prime Rib, Beverly Hills as general manager and served in that role until 2011. After 25 years of managing day-to-day restaurant operations, Todd Johnson used his culinary service experiences and knowledge to lead The Lawry’s Carvery division as the Director of Operations. As the newest concept in the more than 70 year old company, Johnson excelled in creating systems, maximizing efficiency and developing a team of professionals who could provide a prime dining experience in a quick service setting. Having lead the organization in three of their four dining concepts, Johnson was ready to explore new opportunities. In 2014 he joined Grill Concepts where he saw growth opportunity for himself and the restaurant group’s multiple concepts. He spent time with The Grill on the Alley in both Beverly Hills and Westlake Village. Throughout his restaurant career, Todd Johnson played an active role with many business associations however the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce was always a top priority. He joined the Board of Directors in 2003 and was instrumental in leading the organization through a staff restructuring in 2010 while he served the chamber as the Board Chair. Todd continued to serve on the Board in various capacities including CFO and Restaurant Committee Chair until 2015 at which time he accepted the offer to lead the Chamber as the President and CEO. In this role he is responsible for leading the day-to-day operations of the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce, the third largest standalone Chamber in Los Angeles, comprised of more than 820 members with an operating budget of nearly $1.5M. Todd Johnson is a certified ski instructor and has taught snow skiing at Snow Valley for many years. He has a passion for melted snow as well with more than 30 years of scuba diving experience. He loves the gym and, as a certified trainer, teaches others part time. He holds a black belt in Judo and loves working with kids in all sporting areas. He has long been actively involved in Ability First and many veteran organizations. He first joined the Atwater Village chapter of Rotary International before finding a home at the Rotary Club of Los Angeles. He is the president of this historic LA5 club 2016-2017.
John Kobara
John Kobara Board Member

John Kobara - Board Member

Mr. John E. Kobara has been Senior Vice President of Development and Communications of California Community Foundation since April 2008. Mr. Kobara served as President and Chief Executive Officer of Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Greater Los Angeles area and the Inland Empire. He served as Senior Vice President of Sylvan Learning Systems, President and Chief Executive Officer of OnlineLearning.net, Vice Chancellor of UCLA and Vice President and General Manager of Falcon Cable TV. He has been involved in education, social justice, mentoring and community service for more than 30 years. Previously, Mr. Kobara served as Chief Executive Officer of CK12 Foundation. He has held leadership positions at a wide variety of regional, national, and international non-profit organizations in the arts, education, and philanthropy. He serves as Director of Walden e-Learning, Inc. He serves as Directors of California Community Foundation. He serves as a Member of Board of Governors of the Japanese American National Museum and Walden University. He also serves on the Homeland Security Advisory Council for Region 1. He delivers presentations on education, career change, mentoring, and personal empowerment to Fortune 500 companies, community organizations, and youth groups each year. Mr. Kobara received the 2007 City of Angels award from Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for his service on behalf of children and families. He was a Coro Fellow in Los Angeles and earned degrees from UCLA, USC and Occidental College.
Elena Lopez
Elena Lopez Community Programming Coordinator

Elena Lopez - Community Programming Coordinator

elopez[at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 401-5685
Angie Lopez-Videla
Angie Lopez-Videla Development and Marketing Consultant

Angie Lopez-Videla - Development and Marketing Consultant

alopezvidela [at] lakitchen [dot] org
Jamel Mayrant
Jamel Mayrant Kitchen Assistant

Kimberly May - Logistics Manager

kmay [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8722 Kim has spent 15 years with the City of Irvine’s Senior Nutrition Program, where she worked her way up from a Lead Cook to the Program Manager, overseeing a busy production kitchen, as well as distribution and service. Prior to that Kim spent 8 years in assisted living, once again moving up from Kitchen Assistant to Food Service Manager. Kim has an Advanced Culinary Certificate from Orange Coast College and volunteers with Meals on Wheels.
Marilynn Moscrip Garcia
Marilynn Moscrip Garcia Board Member

Marilynn Moscrip Garcia, Board Member

Marilynn Moscrip Garcia is director of partner services for Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors. She is responsible for all partnership accounts, prime broker accounts, and partnership relations. Prior to joining Kayne Anderson in 1986, Marilynn worked on the fixed income desk at A.G. Becker as a commercial paper salesperson. She was previously a registered representative with A. G. Becker and a registered sales assistant with Blyth Eastman Dillon.
Charlie Negrete
Charlie Negrete Chef Instructor - Empower L.A.

Kimberly May - Logistics Manager

kmay [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8722 Kim has spent 15 years with the City of Irvine’s Senior Nutrition Program, where she worked her way up from a Lead Cook to the Program Manager, overseeing a busy production kitchen, as well as distribution and service. Prior to that Kim spent 8 years in assisted living, once again moving up from Kitchen Assistant to Food Service Manager. Kim has an Advanced Culinary Certificate from Orange Coast College and volunteers with Meals on Wheels.
Nick Panepinto
Nick Panepinto Consultant

Erik Oberholtzer, Board Member

Erik Oberholtzer co-founded Tender Greens in 2006 in Culver City, California, a chef driven, organic, quick-casual restaurant concept with eight locations and counting. Himself a chef, Erik manages a growing team of talent along with some exciting new brands. He is the founder of the Tender Greens Sustainable Life Project, a program aimed to assist at-risk youth develop new skills and career intentions through structured culinary training and farm exposure. Co-founder of P. Balistreri Salumi Company, the first of more chef legacy companies he has helped incubate and bring to market through Tender Greens. Erik did his undergraduate degree in Psychology at Temple University in Pennsylvania and Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.
Mika Perron
Mika Perron Volunteer Coordinator/AmeriCorps VISTA

Mike Perron - Volunteer Coordinator

mperron[at] lakitchen [dot] org (213) 269-8260
Michael Peters
Michael Peters Kitchen Assistant

Erik Oberholtzer, Board Member

Erik Oberholtzer co-founded Tender Greens in 2006 in Culver City, California, a chef driven, organic, quick-casual restaurant concept with eight locations and counting. Himself a chef, Erik manages a growing team of talent along with some exciting new brands. He is the founder of the Tender Greens Sustainable Life Project, a program aimed to assist at-risk youth develop new skills and career intentions through structured culinary training and farm exposure. Co-founder of P. Balistreri Salumi Company, the first of more chef legacy companies he has helped incubate and bring to market through Tender Greens. Erik did his undergraduate degree in Psychology at Temple University in Pennsylvania and Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales in Providence, Rhode Island.
Zee Peters
Zee Peters Director of Nonprofit Programs & Development

Zee Peters - Director of Nonprofit Programs & Development

zpeters [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 263 - 0154 Zee has over 15 years of fundraising and marketing experience. Her focus has been working with organizations in critical growth periods to develop proven, replicable fundraising, relationship management and marketing plans creating stability while helping to develop a culture of philanthropy for long-term success. Zee transitioned into fundraising from working in child protective services. She has raised support for emergency assistance services, pet therapy services, youth mentoring and a state association with a focus on reclaiming fresh produce.  Zee holds a Master of Public Administration in Nonprofit Management plus a Fundraising Certificate from the University of Missouri’s Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, and a dual Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Psychology from Rockhurst University in Kansas City.
Paul Phan
Paul Phan Accounting

Paul Phan - Accounting

accounting[at] lakitchen [dot] org
Renato Ramirez
Renato Ramirez Executive Chef

Renato Ramirez - Executive Chef

rramirez [at] lakitchen [dot] org (213) 268 - 6379 A formerly Regional Executive Chef for Morrison Management Specialists, overseeing the group’s Southern California senior meal contracts providing food, nutrition, and dining services. Chef Ramirez spent most of his career in Morrison’s health care division in progressively responsible positions in healthcare food service. He is a graduate of the Pasadena California School of Culinary Arts.
Robert Reams
Robert Reams Kitchen Assistant

Kimberly May - Logistics Manager

kmay [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8722 Kim has spent 15 years with the City of Irvine’s Senior Nutrition Program, where she worked her way up from a Lead Cook to the Program Manager, overseeing a busy production kitchen, as well as distribution and service. Prior to that Kim spent 8 years in assisted living, once again moving up from Kitchen Assistant to Food Service Manager. Kim has an Advanced Culinary Certificate from Orange Coast College and volunteers with Meals on Wheels.
Franceska Rolda
Franceska Rolda Social Work Intern from USC

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Nathaniel Ru
Nathaniel Ru Board Member

Nathaniel Ru, Board Member

Nathaniel is Co-Founder & Co-CEO of sweetgreen, the destination for simple, seasonal, healthy food. Nathaniel and his co-founders launched sweetgreen in 2007, opening their first location in Georgetown, DC, just three months out of college. The brand’s strong food ethos, embrace of passion and purpose, and investment in local communities has enabled sweetgreen to grow into a national brand with more than 50 locations across the East Coast California, and the Mid-West. Nathaniel has been recognized as a key innovator in food and business, named to Inc’s “30 Under 30”, Forbes’ “30 Under 30” and Food & Wine’s “40 Big Food Thinkers 40 and Under,” among other accolades. While the three founders share CEO responsibilities, Nathaniel’s passion is in design, and he acts as the Creative Director for the brand, overseeing the look and feel of sweetgreen’s restaurants and visual storytelling. Born and raised in Pasadena, CA, Nathaniel graduated from Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, where he met fellow co-founders, Nicolas Jammet and Jonathan Neman.
Michela Ruiz
Michela Ruiz Field Manager/Sourcing Specialist

Renato Ramirez - Executive Chef

rramirez [at] lakitchen [dot] org (213) 268 - 6379 A formerly Regional Executive Chef for Morrison Management Specialists, overseeing the group’s Southern California senior meal contracts providing food, nutrition, and dining services. Chef Ramirez spent most of his career in Morrison’s health care division in progressively responsible positions in healthcare food service. He is a graduate of the Pasadena California School of Culinary Arts.
Lisa Marsh Ryerson
Lisa Marsh Ryerson Board Member

Lisa Marsh Ryerson, Board Member

Lisa Marsh Ryerson is President of AARP Foundation, AARP’s affiliated charity. Lisa served as President of Wells College in Aurora, New York, from 1995 to 2013. She was the College’s 17th President and the first alumna to hold the position. Lisa elevated the college’s standing as a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education and completed the largest and most successful fundraising effort in the college’s history. A highly effective champion of academic excellence and community engagement, she led initiatives that resulted in substantial improvements to the campus; the revitalization of commercial properties in the village of Aurora; a successful transition to coeducation after more than a century as a women’s college; the launch of an endowed Center for Business and Entrepreneurship; and expanded programs and opportunities for students. Under her leadership, the college increased enrollment and enjoyed consistently high national rankings.
Zaneta J. Smith, ACSW
Zaneta J. Smith, ACSW Associate Director, Clinical & Student Services

Zaneta J. Smith, ACSW - Associate Director, Clinical & Student Services

zsmith [at] lakitchen [dot] org (213) 268 - 8122 Zaneta brings ten years of social service experience to her role at L.A. Kitchen. She has assisted youth and adults with improving their quality of life in Atlanta, Chicago, and D.C. in schools, nonprofits, and social enterprises. Zaneta will be facilitating our Life Skills classes and providing case management and counseling services to our students. Zaneta is born and raised in Los Angeles, has a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Chicago and a Bachelor’s in Psychology from Spelman College. She also serves as Board Member-at-Large of the International Association for Social Work with Groups - Long Beach Chapter.
Mahira Sobral
Mahira Sobral Development and Marketing Consultant

Mahira Sobral, Development and Marketing Consultant

msobral [at] lakitchen [dot] org
Karen Truong
Karen Truong Social Work Intern from USC

Sherene Chou, M.S., R.D. - Director of Nutrition

schou [at] lakitchen [dot] org (818) 213 - 8707 Sherene changed her career in 2010 to focus on wellness and nutrition to help others through food. Prior to her career change, she worked at Hewlett-Packard as a Global Procurement Manager. She moved on to attend New York’s Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts Chef’s Training Program. She worked as a Plant-Based Chef, cooking for private clients recovering from surgery and chronic diseases, working at vegetable focused restaurants, and seasonally, as a Culinary Nutritionist for New York City’s Produce and Nutrition Education program. Her current role, as the Nutrition Director for L.A. Kitchen, was featured in British Vogue's “What on Earth is Wellness” video series. At L.A. Kitchen, she developed the nutrition curriculum for the Empower program and a pilot program on Culinary Nutrition for Keck School of Medicine of USC. In addition to serving as the Sponsorship Chair for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics' VN DPG, she is the lead for L.A. Kitchen on the Teaching Kitchen Collaborative, which was launched by The Culinary Institute of America and Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health - Department of Nutrition. She is a proud graduate of USC and CSULA.
Karim Webb
Karim Webb Board Member

Karim Webb - Board Member

Karim Webb is a 25-year veteran of the restaurant industry. In his current position as Co-Owner and Operations Partner of PCF Restaurant Management, a Los Angeles based franchisee of Buffalo Wild Wings; he uses his expertise to oversee the development and operations for each restaurant. Karim was exposed to the restaurant business at an early age. As a teen, working at one of his parents’ McDonald’s restaurants, he was trained on all aspects of restaurant operations. Later, while attending Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA, Karim worked for McDonald's Corporation matriculating from Assistant Manager to Multi-Unit Supervisor. He successfully completed the McDonald’s training program and became an approved McDonald’s Franchisee. In 2007, looking to apply his restaurant expertise to another brand, he became the Operating Partner for PCF Restaurant Management. With his leadership, the Buffalo Wild Wings franchisee group has successfully opened three restaurants in the Los Angeles area, with three more in development. Beyond McDonald’s and Buffalo Wild Wings, Karim is an advisor to the Multicultural Foodservice & Hospitality Alliance (MFHA), an educational non-profit that helps companies maximize their ROI by engaging diverse cultural groups through Cultural Intelligence. Karim, also currently serves as Foundation Vice-Chairman of Greater Los Angeles African-American Chamber of Commerce. He is an Economic Development Commissioner for the City of Carson and Chairman of the Los Angeles Southwest College Foundation. Karim is also on the Board of Corporate Advisor’s for the Brotherhood Crusade, and is a spokesperson for BLOOM, an initiative of the California Community Foundation which seeks to create a more positive and productive future for a specific population of the LA community: 14-18 year old Black males living in South L.A. who are or have been under the supervision of the L.A. County Probation Department.
Ken Weekes
Ken Weekes General Manager

Ken Weekes - General Manager

kweekes [at] lakitchen [dot] org (213) 268 - 7409 Ken brings over twenty-five years of foodservice operations experience to L.A. Kitchen. Ken’s culinary and operations experience is diverse, and runs the gamut from private restaurants to large scale institutional programs, as well as high profile off premise catering. Additionally he has served as a consultant with the Drucker School of Management and Butte County Community College. He also has extensive experience in social service agencies, including directing rehabilitation services and job training programs for OPARC and the Orange County Rescue Mission. Moreover he was part of the program launch and the Vice President of Community Outreach for Stay Designated Inc. Ken holds an MBA from the University of La Verne and is a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor.
Kevin Williams
Kevin Williams Dishwasher

Ken Weekes - General Manager

kweekes [at] lakitchen [dot] org (213) 268 - 7409 Ken brings over twenty-five years of foodservice operations experience to L.A. Kitchen. Ken’s culinary and operations experience is diverse, and runs the gamut from private restaurants to large scale institutional programs, as well as high profile off premise catering. Additionally he has served as a consultant with the Drucker School of Management and Butte County Community College. He also has extensive experience in social service agencies, including directing rehabilitation services and job training programs for OPARC and the Orange County Rescue Mission. Moreover he was part of the program launch and the Vice President of Community Outreach for Stay Designated Inc. Ken holds an MBA from the University of La Verne and is a Certified Addiction Treatment Counselor.
Janet Won
Janet Won Office Manager

Janet Won - Office Manager

jwon[at] lakitchen [dot] org 818-213-8818
Perla Zaragoza
Perla Zaragoza Nutrition Intern

Janet Won - Office Manager

jwon[at] lakitchen [dot] org 818-213-8818
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