The Food Council Nominating Committee selects and appoints 25 representatives for a two-year long term as Montgomery County Food Council Members. Members are selected based on their individual qualifications in the following areas:
- Committed to improving the Montgomery County food system.
- Live, work, or have a strong interest/investment in Montgomery County.
- Expertise in one or more local food-related issues such as agriculture, food security and access, nutrition, food business and industrial practices, food education and research, land use and urban food production and distribution.
- A food system sector: production, processing, distribution, consumption, waste management, OR
- a community stakeholder partner: business, local governance, community organizations, health or educational organizations, rural and regional organizations
- Capacity to bring specific food system or community relationships and resources to the effort, as well as potential to represent diverse sectors of the local food system and/or the community at large.
Meet our current Food Council Members
Eleni Antzoulatos, Food Education Working Group
Community Health and Wellness, Suburban Hospital
Working for Suburban Hospital’s Community Health and Wellness Department for more than a decade, Eleni oversees many of the hospital’s health promotion and wellness initiatives aimed at improving community well-being. Eleni manages the healthy lifestyle program known as WellWorks, which offers nutrition, safety and fitness classes to people living in Montgomery County. She also coordinates Worksite Wellness initiatives, which help local businesses incorporate healthy lifestyle practices in the workplace. Eleni is also responsible for producing Suburban Hospital’s annual Community Benefit Report, which provides specific insight on the health improvement initiatives that service the community. Eleni holds a Bachelor of Arts in Biology from McDaniel College and a Masters of Public Health from the George Washington University. In her free time, she enjoys cooking healthy meals for her family and has long been passionate about quality, environmentally sustainable food.
Bruce Baker, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Executive Director, Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research (CHEER)
Bruce is co- founder and Executive Director of Community Health and Empowerment through Education and Research (CHEER), a community based nonprofit serving Takoma Park and the Long Branch area of Silver Spring. Bruce brings an entrepreneurial and collaborative spirit to fulfilling far reaching community goals, such as promoting health equity, housing diversity and availability, providing all young people with the opportunities for success, and building stronger connections between community members. He has been involved in initiating a variety of partnerships and social ventures, such as the Long Branch Health Enterprise Zone, the Takoma Park Youth Collaborative, the Takoma Foundation, and the Long Branch Healthy Food Access Program. Bruce holds a Master of Public Policy degree from Duke University and has extensive experience in public finance, housing, and community development. He is a former evaluator and policy analyst for the U.S. Government Accountability Office where he advised the U.S. Congress on fiscal and economic policy issues. Bruce has lived in Takoma Park for 25 years. He frequents Sligo Creek Park as a runner and hiker, and appreciates wilderness and historical sites in his travels.
Michelle Caruso, Food Education Working Group
Program Manager, Institute for Public Health Innovation
Michelle is passionate about creating a world where the healthy choice is the easiest choice. She currently serves as IPHI’s lead for Healthy Montgomery, a multi-sectoral, collaborative partnership that seeks to achieve optimal health for all Montgomery County residents. Part of this work is focused on implementing policy, system, and environmental changes to prevent childhood obesity and tobacco use through the Healthy Montgomery Transforming Communities Initiative, funded nationally by Trinity Health. Prior to joining IPHI, Michelle led chronic disease prevention initiatives for the City of Houston Health Department. In Houston, she implemented a Healthy Vending policy for city-owned properties, secured USDA funding to implement SNAP access at all Farmer’s Markets, and served on the Executive Committee of the Houston Food Policy Workgroup. In her spare time, Michelle likes to explore the great outdoors, spend time with family, and cook tasty food.
Jeff Clark, Secretary, Steering Committee; Environmental Impact Working Group
Conserve Program Director, National Restaurant Association
Jeff manages the National Restaurant Association’s sustainability projects and education efforts. He acts as an environmental liaison to the restaurant industry, helping businesses minimize their waste footprint and save money. He regularly speaks to audiences about environmental issues, including food waste in the restaurant industry, and works closely with the Food Waste Reduction Alliance. Jeff is originally from Southern California but now lives in Bethesda, MD with his wife and young daughter. They have a large summer garden near Sykesville, MD, where they grow potatoes, squash, bush beans, and other produce. Jeff received his Bachelor of Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz and holds a Master of Public Policy from Duke University. He is a part-time surfer, a full-time foodie, and an amateur photographer.
Jim Dempsey, Food Recovery and Access Working Group; Policy Committee
Jim is an economist with over 35 years of experience in developing countries where he has worked for the US Agency for International Development and non-profit humanitarian organizations. He returned to the US four years ago and moved into Montgomery County. For over two decades, he focused his work on expanding food security, strengthening agricultural value chains and promoting microfinance. Although Jim sees much distance and difference between his overseas work and Food Council efforts in Montgomery County, what he finds common is the partnerships and cooperation among local communities, organizations and the government. Success rests on these partnerships. The open, participatory approach, based in evidence and learning found in the Montgomery County Food Security Plan and the work of the Food Council motivated him to join the Council in 2017.
Susan Eisendrath, Co-Chair, Environmental Impact Working Group
Montgomery County Sierra Club Executive Committee, Master Gardener
Susan has a Masters in Public Health with an emphasis on Behavioral Sciences. She has directed national and international medical education projects and she has developed and implemented a variety of local environmental programs. She is the Co-Chair of the Food Council Environmental Impact Working Group (EIWG), which worked with stakeholders and the County to create legislation requiring the County Department of Environmental Protection to establish a Strategic Plan for Food Waste Composting and Compost Use. For the past year, the EIWG contributed research and reviewed drafts of the Strategic Plan and this year the EIWG will focus on Plan implementation and the promotion of food waste reduction. Susan is a Master Gardener and Master Composter providing trainings on composting and compost use. Along with her husband, she tends to a 3,000 square foot Farmette, growing organic vegetables, fruits, and native plants. As a County Sierra Club Executive Committee member, she has worked on the development of the County Climate Protection Plan, Energy Efficiency Programs, adoption of the International Green Construction Code, and tree planting programs. Susan manages real estate and is part of a cooperative group that protects 81 acres surrounded by the Shenandoah Park. She loves hiking, photography, vegan cooking, and caring for her family, friends and the natural world.
Drew Faulkner, Food Economy Working Group
A respected chef, culinary educator, and journalist, Drew began her career with Madeleine Kamman learning classic French and Italian technique. She went on to work in a number of well known innovative restaurants in Boston and San Francisco areas emerging as an executive chef at restaurants in both the US and Canada. Today her energy is focused on writing and teaching. She has taught extensively at both professional and recreational schools, including the Culinary Institute of America and the L’Academie de Cuisine. She currently teaches through Montgomery Co Department of Recreation. Drew’s culinary writing has been published in both regional and international publications, her most recent writing has been published in”Farming Magazine” and on her blog, CookingWithDrew.com. Drew also served as president of the Washington chapter of Les Dames d’Escoffier, an international association of woman culinary professionals, for four years and now serves on their international board of directors.
Sharon Feuer Gruber, Chair, Steering Committee
Co-Founder, Food Works Group
Sharon is a strategic food systems thinker who thrives when analyzing systems, evaluating programs, engaging stakeholders, and helping to conceive of effective partnerships. She co-founded Food Works Group, a food systems consultancy, in 2013 and serves as one of the principals. Sharon believes that almost all project goals can be accomplished in a way that contributes to a more effective, equitable, and efficient food system; she approaches all engagements through this framework. In addition to her role as council member and Board Chair of the Montgomery County Food Council, Sharon is a board member of the Wide Net Project, a non-profit organization that works to restore biodiversity in the Chesapeake Bay while simultaneously supporting hunger-relief in the mid-Atlantic region.
Ben Fulgencio-Turner, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Director of Coverage & Connections, Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County
Ben Fulgencio-Turner is the Director of Coverage & Connections at the Primary Care Coalition of Montgomery County (PCC), a nonprofit organization committed to improving health and strengthening the systems that serve low-income and under-resourced communities. At PCC, Ben develops and manages partnerships between health care providers, local government, and community organizations. These projects aim not only to link low-income residents to health coverage and services, but to address non-clinical determinants of health, such as food insecurity. He holds a Masters in Public Policy from Georgetown University and has over ten years of experience working in health care access and community engagement.
Mike Houston, Food Economy Working Group
General Manager, Takoma Park Silver Spring Co-Op
Mike grew up in Arlington, VA and is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s School of Agriculture. He began working in natural foods in Brooklyn, NY at Perelandra Natural Foods, an independently owned market opened in 1976. Brooklyn’s natural food scene provided a wealth of opportunities to meet local and independent vendors and learn about the industry. In August 2012 Mike moved back to the DC area and became the Asst Store Manager and later Store Manager for the newly opened Dawson’s Market in Rockville. Dawson’s was honored for commitment to environmental leadership and cited for inclusive hiring practices. Mike became General Manager of Takoma Park Silver Spring Food Co-op in August 2018. Mike is a graduate of Leadership Montgomery and serves on the board for the Takoma Business Association.
Susan Kornacki, Co-Chair, Environmental Impact Working Group
Susan is a graduate student at the Center for a Livable Future at Johns Hopkins University, where she is studying public health policy with a focus on food systems and their impact on the environment. Previously she managed outreach programs at Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, leading county-wide education initiatives including public events and festivals, information campaigns and digital communication. Prior to Montgomery County, Susan worked on watershed protection efforts in Buffalo, New York, and managed education programs focused on community composting and urban forestry in New York City. Susan is a Senior Fellow with the Environmental Leadership Program, and a proud AmeriCorps alum.
David Robert (Dave) Lambert, Food Education and Food Recovery and Access Working Groups
Certified Food Safety Instructor and Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP)
After 35 years in the computer industry working for IBM and later as a defense contractor, Mr. Lambert turned his efforts to religious and non-profit worlds by earning an Equipping Lay Ministry Certificate from Wesley Theological Seminary and studying at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg. Although now retired, he currently serves on several nonprofit Boards of Directors and volunteers at Christ Lutheran Church in Bethesda; for over 5 years, was the project coordinator for the Culinary Arts Initiative of the church’s non-profit, Graceful Growing Together. He has always had an interest in cooking and as a Certified Instructor, Dave teaches the ServSafe® course; as a Registered Proctor, he administers the professional exam for this nationwide food safety course. Mr. Lambert is a Certified Nonprofit Accounting Professional (CNAP), an Executive Member of the National Afterschool Association and a member of One World Everybody Eats (OWEE) community cafe association. In addition, Dave is a member of two Montgomery County Food Council working groups: Food Literacy and Food Recovery & Access.
Karina Lora, Food Education Working Group
Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science, George Washington University
Dr. Lora is faculty in the Department of Exercise and Nutrition Science at the George Washington University (GWU). She holds a PhD in Nutrition and is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Dr. Lora has been faculty at the University of Oklahoma and at the University of Connecticut Health Center. Dr. Lora led the Securing Food Resources for Families Initiative of the Food Supplement Nutrition Education Program (SNAP-ED) at the University of Maryland Extension before joining GWU. Dr. Lora’s research focuses broadly on childhood obesity prevention in minority populations from an ecological perspective. She conducts community-based/public health nutrition research, and has an interest on food insecurity issues, food policy, and nutrition education and behavior. Dr. Lora lives in Rockville, MD and in her spare time she enjoys running, reading and baking.
Jerry Martin, Food Economy Working Group
Senior Director, Global Health Security, DAI
Jerry Martin is a One Health specialist, focusing on the interaction of animal, human and environmental health. He currently leads work on addressing global health security risks including antimicrobial resistance, zoonotic diseases and the economic drivers of emerging pandemic threats. He has recruited and supervised staff with diverse technical expertise including medical doctors, veterinarians, epidemiologists, food safety and nutrition specialists. For over 20 years Jerry directed a series of worldwide projects on rural and agricultural income generation with a focus on improving value chains for small and medium scale farmers and food processors. On the local level, Jerry is a dedicated supporter of Share Our Strength, a national and local organization devoted to ending childhood hunger in the United States. A former Peace Corps Volunteer in Zaire (Democratic Republic of the Congo) in the 1970s, Jerry is looking forward to applying his volunteer and professional experience to the Montgomery County Food Council.
Bob McKay, Co-Chair, Food Economy Working Group
Restaurant Operations/Hospitality Management
Following a childhood in New Jersey (as a reminder, The Garden State!) and an education at University of Denver, Bob’s professional background began with 15+ years in the restaurant industry. Experience included large chains, regional chains, and finally ownership in a restaurant in the Woodmont Triangle of Bethesda in 1999. Following the birth of his daughter he began a second career with hospitality technology companies, helping restaurants reach their guests with tools like email marketing, loyalty programs, online reservations and several others. Bob is a 20 year Montgomery County resident currently working on projects with several organizations. Current affiliations include Crossroads Community Food Network and their Takoma Park / Silver Spring Community Kitchen, Good Food Market / Oasis Community Food Network, and Food and Friends. He is a former member of the Board of Directors of DC Central Kitchen.
Wendy Nevett Bazil, Co-Chair, Food Education Working Group; Policy Committee
Culinary Instructor, Healthier Kitchen
A lawyer turned cooking instructor, Wendy is on a mission to make healthier and delicious home cooking easy and accessible for all: developing recipes, writing a blog and teaching youth and adults healthier home cooking skills in a variety of venues under the name “Healthier Kitchen”. She believes that by cooking for ourselves, we regain control over what goes into our food, so that we can eat ourselves into better health. It’s also a perfect way to remain an integral part of our food system, shopping locally and seasonally, supporting our farmers, avoiding waste and eating wonderfully. Wendy is passionate about food, travel and family, and is happiest when she can combine all three.
Aizat Oladapo, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Program Manager, Community Action Agency
Aizat works with the Montgomery County Community Action Agency that provides direct services and administers partnerships that reduce poverty and promote low-income families’ self-sufficiency. She has been with the agency for over ten years and monitors nonprofits that serve the County’s vulnerable population. Aizat has a master’s in Psychology from University of Lagos and has worked in the nonprofit industry most of her working life, in the USA, in the United Kingdom and Nigeria. She coordinated the running of the food pantry, as a program Director at LINK of Hampton Roads VA and worked with the Bosnia Refugee population at the National Children’s Home (NCH) Family Center in London-UK. Aizat is an active member of the Islamic Center of Maryland, Social Services committee and the Muslim Community Center that provide resources to those in need.
Tanya Spandhla, Food Economy Working Group
Owner/Farmer, Passion to Seed Gardening
Tanya Spandhla-Doka was born and raised in Harare, Zimbabwe. Growing up, her parents instilled in her the importance of growing your own produce. It is from this upbringing that she was inspired to develop a passion for farming. Passion to Seed Gardening (PTSG) came about in 2015 as a link to connecting people from various backgrounds in Montgomery County and beyond through unique, healthy, and sustainably grown produce. Apart from farming, Tanya works full-time for an IT company in Rockville. She is also an active member of her church. Tanya is passionate about composting, sustainable farming, recycling non-toxic biodegradable material to reduce wastage, and incorporating the compost back into the soil to enhance soil fertility.
Thomas Tippett, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Performance Management and Data Analyst, Montgomery County Office of the County Executive
Thomas is a Government Data Scientist that works in the Montgomery County Office of Performance Management and Data Analytics. He is passionate about using data and evidence to drive social impact and the highest quality public services. Over the past two years, Thomas has enjoyed working with Food Council stakeholders to support the food access and recovery effort across Montgomery County. Thomas is very grateful for this opportunity to help further devise and implement innovative solutions within the County’s food system.
Susan Topping, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Senior Director of Partners and Programs, Capital Area Food Bank
Susan’s career has focused on local food access and sustainable agriculture over the last 15 years. She has worked on vegetable and dairy farms, ran farmer’s markets and led programmatic teams that created opportunities between sustainable agriculture and affordable food access. Today, she works in partnership with 444 nonprofit organizations across Montgomery & Prince Georges County, Washington, DC and Northern Virginia to decrease food insecurity through a variety of food access interventions, wellness programs and partnerships. Her responsibilities include: strategic planning, fundraising, compliance oversight, Federal Nutrition Programs and public policy. Susan started her career working with American college students living in Cochin, India. She worked with students to build their intercultural competencies including: communication, host family acclimation, and student travel. Over the years Susan has worked for a number of organizations focused on food security and conservation including Community Harvest, Second Harvest Food Bank and American Oceans Campaign. Susan loves the outdoors and takes any chance she gets to go camping and hiking with her family.
Jenna Umbriac, Co-Chair, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Director of Programs and Policy, Manna Food Center
Jenna Umbriac is a registered dietitian who believes that access to nourishing food is a basic human right. She currently serves as Director of Programs and Policies at Manna Food Center in Gaithersburg, MD. At Manna, Jenna directs the weekend food assistance program, Smart Sacks, nutrition education programming, and designs policies to ensure Manna is providing a safe and healthful food supplement. She also works to provide regionally produced and nutritious food to Manna’s participants through donor education and partnerships with local farms and farm markets. Prior to her position at Manna, Jenna taught life science to middle schoolers as a Vincention Service Corps volunteer before earning an M.S. in nutrition from Bastyr University and completing her dietetic internship at Virginia Tech. Jenna also holds a B.S. in biology from Loyola University, Maryland.
Ryan Walter, Environmental Impact Working Group
Co-founder, The Compost Crew
Ryan co-founded The Compost Crew in 2011 and is their CEO. He has driven The Compost Crew from a fledgling startup to a successful small business serving thousands of customers with ever-accelerating growth. Through this success, Ryan ensures that The Company Crew stays true to their founding mission: to educate, engage, and empower our team, partners, and communities to reduce to zero waste and nurture our soils by creating sustainable, holistic products and solutions of the highest quality with integrity. Before The Compost Crew, Ryan served as a Project Manager and Security Design Engineer. Ryan graduated Cum Laude with degrees in Physics and Engineering Science and a Minor in Engineering Management from Vanderbilt University.
Morgan Wiggan, Food Recovery and Access Working Group
Farmers Market Program Manager, Crossroads Community Food Network
Morgan, originally from Maine, has been dedicated to building a more equitable society since her early days of community service in high school. Through her work in many community health programs directly serving the diverse communities of the DMV area, she has gained experience implementing programs and centering the voices of those most impacted. Currently, she is the Program Manager for the Crossroads Farmers Market located in Langley Park. In this role, she oversees the farmers market and federal nutrition incentive program that seeks to expand access to healthy, culturally appropriate foods. She loves her work at Crossroads because the systematic approach of the organization also bolsters the local food system, empowers youth through healthy food education, supports local food business owners, and fosters a welcoming space for people of all walks of life. She holds a bachelors degree in Anthropology from The George Washington University and is a current MPH Health Equity student at the University of Maryland.
Bart Yablonsky, Co-Chair Food Economy Working Group
Director of Operations, Dawson’s Market
Bart is from Baltimore and began his love of great food as a teen by taking trips to DC with his father to sample the latest and greatest new restaurants. He attended college in New Orleans and continued to develop his interest there. Bart has worked in natural food store leadership in both metro DC and Atlanta. As a small business owner his interests expanded to wellness and green business design owning all-natural Day Spas in Maryland, Virginia and Washington, DC. Bart joins Dawson’s with many years of experience in food and passion for the environment and a healthy lifestyle. He was introduced to his wife of 12 years by one of his natural food customers in Bethesda. They live in Gaithersburg and have a young son who has not yet developed a passion for anything but grilled cheese (organic cheese of course).