Staff

Madelyn Bullock's picture

Madelyn is a graduate of the Brainfood Kitchen All stars 2013 program and she completed Box Project in the summer of 2014. Over the summer of 2015 Madelyn completed an internship for Brainfood that included working in the kitchen and garden. Currently, she is a senior at Benjamin Banneker Academic High School. Madelyn is a market associate with Brainfood Homegrown on the weekends. She is excited to be working with Brainfood because she enjoys interacting with new people and honing her customer service skills. Once Madelyn graduates high school she hopes to attend college and major in Business and minor in Culinary Arts.

 
 
Paul Dahm's picture

Paul Dahm, Brainfood's executive director, has more than ten years of nonprofit fund-raising and management experience. Prior to joining Brainfood in 2003, Dahm spent two years as a director at Orr Associates, a consulting firm serving the nonprofit community, where he advised a range of organizations such as The National Mentoring Partnership, Gallaudet University, The U.S. Navy Memorial, Youth I.N.C. and the American Bar Association. Previous to Orr Associates, Dahm worked for the Make-A-Wish Foundation as the Community Relations Director for the Washington Metro Area and the Associate Director with overall responsibility for fundraising, community relations, and program services in the Baltimore Metro Area.

Carina Gervacio's picture

Carina Gervacio, Program Director, graduated from the University of Virginia with a BA in Comparative Literature and Environmental Thought and Practice. Prior to joining Brainfood in 2005, Carina worked with several environmental non-profit organizations, including the Southern Environmental Law Center and, most recently, the League of Conservation Voters. Carina first gained experience with youth development as a volunteer for Migrant Aid, an English tutoring program for migrant youth and adults in central Virginia. Brainfood brings together two of her favorite things: food and working with high school youth.

Lyssa Houser's picture

As Garden Manager, Lyssa is excited to grow the Brainfood Youth Garden as an extension of Brainfood’s food-based youth development programming.
Lyssa’s background in food education includes experience developing and implementing intergenerational gardening programming as the Garden and Cooking Educator for the DC Department of Parks and Recreation. She also has experience leading garden education efforts through her work as the Director of Education for Wangari Gardens, where she teaches public workshops, supervises the planning and maintenance of the public gardens, and leads solar-cooked community lunches. She has also worked with Common Good City Farm, Old City Farm and Guild, Solar Household Energy, Inc, and Love & Carrots.

Lyssa’s work in DC urban agriculture is motivated by her belief that cultural connections occur easily over food and that gardens provide the physical landscape for building a healthier, more interconnected city. Brainfood is a natural fit with her passion for food education as a tool for community empowerment.

Amanda Kirsch's picture

As Kitchen All Stars Program Coordinator, Amanda is responsible for programs designed for first-year Brainfood participants. She also serves as Brainfood's Volunteer Coordinator.

Amanda graduated from Northwestern College in Iowa, where she earned a degree in psychology and cultural studies and discovered her passion for youth development. Amanda's interest in accessibility of quality education and enrichment experiences for youth began after serving with a non-profit focused on community development through educational support. Amanda’s diverse teaching experiences with youth of all ages have convinced her that learning and growth happen in a variety of environments—including the kitchen! She continues to welcome the opportunities Brainfood provides to work with and grow alongside youth in interactive settings outside the traditional classroom. 

Katie Kovacovich's picture

Katie grew up in the beautiful northern Minnesota lake country, an avid outdoor adventurer, and graduated from Luther College with a BA in Social Work. Years spent as a summer camp counselor, an employee of state parks, and a member of her college campus grounds crew shaped her interests in youth work and creative ventures. Katie has passions for social justice, building community, and environmental work in many capacities, and loves discovering intersections for youth development. She enjoys camping, biking, hiking, canoeing, and gardening, as well as singing, dancing, and reading. Additionally, she has always been a fan of eating delicious foods and developing her skills in cooking and baking.

Katie is incredibly excited to join the Brainfood team to work, learn, and grow with staff, students, volunteers and DC community members in exploring the concepts of food, cooking, gardening, and sustainable and healthy food ventures.

JaNeya Lee's picture

JaNeya Lee graduated from Friendship Collegiate Academy in 2012. She also attended to Indiana University of Pennsylvania to major in Nursing, but later changed her major to Nutrition. During the summer of 2014, she worked with University of District of Columbia Nutrition Department. While working there, JaNeya provided assistance to community programs in the areas of nutrition and food by supporting numerous health fairs and farmers markets, and providing nutrition education in child care centers. Her experience this summer made her realize that she wanted work in Nutrition. As such, she is very exited join Brainfood and the different experiences and opportunities that it brings.

Aimee McLaughlin's picture

As our Community MVPs Program Coordinator, Aimee teaches returning Brainfood students how to develop and facilitate hands-on workshops on healthy cooking. In this role, Aimee also acts as the Brainfood liaison for DC community service organizations, coordinating opportunities for knowledge exchange and teaching by MVP participants. 

Aimee came to Brainfood in the summer of 2014 as our Youth Garden Manager, and has a keen interest in local agriculture, food justice, nutrition and healthy living. She has volunteered for local high school and elementary school garden programs, taugt ESL to adults in Columbia Heights, and worked in online communications and digital media. In her free time, Aimee experiments with vegetarian cooking, goes hiking, and spends time with her favorite canine friend, Gypsy.

Sophie Neems's picture

Sophie graduated from Grinnell College with a BA in Anthropology and Spanish.

Her interest in food stems from the time she spent attending and working at summer camp on a small farm outside of Iowa City, Iowa. It was here that she learned to appreciate things such as potatoes dug from their home beneath the garden’s soil, emerging like long awaited treasure.

Her background in education is rooted in the philosophy of Place Based Education, or the idea that one’s “place,” both one's community and one's physical environment, should be used as a teaching tool. Though much of Sophie’s past experiences have been focused on garden education in the context of Iowa, she is thrilled to be both working with and learning from Brainfood students and volunteers in Washington, DC.

Molly Pisula's picture

Before joining Brainfood, Molly spent 9 years as the owner and CEO of Vanilla Bean Cuisine, a certified personal chef service specializing in family meals and small event catering. Prior to that, she worked for 6 years in high-tech product marketing at Apple after completing her MBA at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. A regular volunteer with programs like Share Our Strength’s Cooking Matters (teaching cooking skills to kids and families), the “I Have a Dream” Foundation (helping youth in under-resourced communities pursue higher education), and BUILD (helping low-income youth entrepreneurs), Molly is excited to bring her business expertise and passion for healthy cooking to help the youth-run business of Brainfood Homegrown expand and grow. 

Francisco Rivera's picture

 Francisco graduated from Dunbar Senior High School in 2007. He participated in various Brainfood programs throughout his high school career including Brainfood After School, Summer Institute and a Brainfood Internship. He received a degree in professional cooking from Baltimore International College. Francisco started his culinary career at a few local restaurants here in DC and has spent most of his time at Boundary Stone. He is happy to be connected with Brainfood again, this time, as a part of the staff because he truly wants to give back to the program that helped him find his passion for cooking. Francisco believes, “Brainfood provides an outlet for creativity and a safe environment for youth to build character, friendships, and memories through cooking.”

Ryan Williams's picture

Ryan Williams graduated from Woodrow Wilson Senior High School in 2013. He participated in Brainfood’s Kitchen All-stars during his senior year. The following summer, he joined Brainfood’s Box Project.  During Box Project he learned all the basic culinary techniques. This experience ultimately led him to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. After all of Ryan’s accomplishments, he always knew he would return to Brainfood. He is very excited to be back with Brainfood, because now he has a wealth of knowledge that can help Brainfood’s Homegrown sky rocket.