Meet Our 2018 Board of Directors
Clare Johnson, Co-President + Events
Clare is delighted to serve as Co-Chairperson for the Slow Food Chicago chapter. She comes to Slow Food with a background in landscape architecture and therapeutic garden design, along with experience in marketing and graphic design. She currently works for Christy Webber Landscapes on the west side of Chicago as a Marketing Manager + Designer, following her six years at the Chicago Botanic Garden as the Manager of Horticultural Therapy Services.
Clare hails from a central Illinois farming family on her mother's side, and avid home-gardening family on her father's side. Her personal and professional passion is to connect people with nature to help them lead healthier, happier lives, She believes that green space - whether it's a park, edible garden or elevated trail - plays a key role in the health of our communities and creates opportunities to inspire future generations to become stewards of the environment.
With a strong love for good, clean and fair food, community engagement and therapeutic design, Clare is excited to spread the mission of Slow Food to the Chicago region and beyond.
Katie Johnson, Co-President + Communications
Katie is a Chicago native who got her start after college working in marketing + advertising for a Chicago newspaper. After obsessively day-dreaming of farmers market sourced dinners and desserts to make at home after work between emails, data mining and power points (oh my) she decided to try her hand at working in the food industry. Working her way through positions from cashier to management, she has gained experience in restaurants, at grocery stores, in a bakery and even at a local food broker. Along the way, she also obtained a certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from eCornell a took a week-long "Pastry Camp" at the French Pastry School in Chicago. Katie is also the founder of an allergy friendly centered baking business called Smashed Muffin, which has led to adventures both at local farmers markets throughout Chicago as a vendor as well as a curious taster in her own home kitchen. She is thrilled to take on a communications role + as the curator of content for the Slow Food Chicago blog - proof that you can take the girl out of the newspaper, but not the other way around. You can find her on instagram at @smashedmuffingoods or @katydid_katiejohnson.
Chelsea Callahan - Vice President + Social Media
Chelsea fell in love with the Slow Food movement while getting her Master's in Food Culture and Communications at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, also known as the Slow Food University, in Pollenzo, Italy. After a year spent traveling, studying food and eating her weight in pasta and cheese (for the sake of research, of course!), she returned to the US to play a part in building a better food system. Currently, she works as the Program Assistant at FamilyFarmed, supporting their Good Food Business Accelerator and Farmer Training Programs. In her spare time, Chelsea loves running around the city, wandering farmer's markets, cooking up curious concoctions with the best seasonal and local produce, and photographing/writing about farms, farmers, food and animals (mostly goats). You can follow her food adventures on instagram @chelscall.
Heidi Hedeker, Secretary + Education
Heidi Hedeker is passionate about the social mission of food. With her non-profit, It Bakes a Village, she works with mothers and daughters to rekindle the tradition of baking together, with all its relationships. She holds a Master's in Clinical Social Work from University of Chicago and is a Certified Master Baker. She grew up in the apartment above her family's bakery in Chicago, Gladstone Park Bakery, and remembers the mixers being turned on every night at 3 am to make buttercrust white bread. Heidi is a full-time pastry instructor at Kendall College, Chicago. Her favorite foods to make are green tomato pies and jam.
Naaman Gambill, Education
Naaman Gambill is from Terre Haute, IN where growing up on a small family farm he participated in 4-H and the local Farmers Market, along with tending the family’s chickens, pigs, and bees. This rural upbringing has provided transferable lessons of sustainability and locality, which Naaman has been able to impart to Chicagoans. First as a high school teacher, and then as Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance’s, “Greening Programs Coordinator” where he was able to further pass on urban agricultural endeavors, namely gardening and beekeeping to residents on the Westside.
Most recently, Naaman launched The Hive: Chicago’s Beekeeping Supply Store. When not outside playing with bees, he can be found practicing his homemade charcuterie skills to varying levels of success, playing rugby to the consternation of his family, or fishing.
Alison Parker, Ark of Taste & Producer Relations
Alison co-owns Radical Root Farm, an organic vegetable and small livestock farm north of Chicago. She is passionate about food activism, food education, and creating more access to healthy food for all. At the farm, she also grows medicinal herbs, and teaches workshops and classes on herbalism, healthy cooking, fermentation and canning. Her interests include ecological living, growing interesting foods and herbs, foraging, creating interesting ferments, being as DIY as possible, riding her bicycle, writing, blogging, and reading. (She reads a lot about food.)
Brianna Parry, Treasurer
Brianna Parry has loved slow food since long before she knew about Slow Food. During the day, she works in production at Steppenwolf Theatre Company where some days are spent sourcing fake snow and others are spent giving tours to high school students. She represents STC on the Chicago Green Theatre Alliance and the national Production Managers Forum Diversity & Inclusion Committee. She is a graduate of Ohio's Kenyon College. In her free time, she digs baking bread, riding her bike, doing more theatre, and drinking lattes
Molly Schemper, Events
Molly Schemper is a co-founder of FIG Catering, a Pilsen-based boutique caterer, that provides seasonal hand-crafted menus, personal service, and event planning for intimate events. Growing up on a farm-to-table restaurant (before that was a term) in Southwest Michigan with “hippie” parents, Molly’s personal ethos informed the direction of FIG so sourcing the freshest food from local farmers was always a priority.
Before venturing off on her own, Molly worked in marketing for a small advertising agency and as a personal chef/crewmember aboard private yachts. Molly’s knowledge of marketing and optimizing productivity have served her well as FIG grows, but she still enjoys the busyness of working behind a bar, on the floor, or in the kitchen to make an event flow flawlessly. For over ten years, Molly has explored creative and sustainable approaches to catering and she is excited to be helping Slow Food Chicago curate awesome events.
Laurell Sims, Snail of Approval
Laurell Sims is the Production and Marketing Manager for Growing Power's Chicago Office. Laurell has worked for Growing Power since 2006, and oversees production at Growing Power's seven urban farms in Chicago, totaling 12-acres of sustainably grown produce, honey, flowers and livestock cultivated within the city limits. Laurell was formerly the Director for ReVision House Urban Farm, a farm-training program for homeless young mothers in Dorchester, MA. In 2011, Laurell was selected as a Bold Food Fellow, a State Department exchange with farmers from Kenya and Uganda.
She has also served as the Community Outreach & Education Chair for Green City Markets' Junior Board and as the Education Committee Co-Chair for the Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative.
Rachel Post, Snail of Approval
Rachel has a long time relationship with food. Starting with making pies and jam as a child with her Grandma in NJ, to baking bread and cookies with her mom, she developed a love of the meditative practice in making food from scratch to share with her family and friends.
She received an AOS degree from New England Culinary Institute in Essex Junction, VT. She was truly inspired by the bread bakers in Vermont, and moved to Boston in 1999 to hone her craft in bread making. Through the Bread Bakers' Guild of America, she was able to further understand the science of baking as well as the characteristics of different grains grown across the Midwest. He passion further developed when she moved to Chicago in 2006 and began working for small businesses through Kitchen Chicago and at the Green City Market. It was at Green City that she began to truly understand the importance of chefs having a relationship with the people who grow their food. Know your farmer became her mantra. Rachel put her skills to work in developing a bread program for Floriole Bakery, pies with Hoosier Mama Pie Co., and other small businesses getting their start as a market stand at Green City. She began working with Pilot Light in 2013, teaching in the classroom, and was able to share her love of food with the students. In 2015, she combined her love of cooking and bread making with her catering company, Our House Pizza, where she continues to do events and pop ups around Chicago.
Rachel is truly grateful to be a part of Slow Food Chicago and can't wait to bridge her talents with all the other amazing and talented people serving on the board.
Jody Osmund, Slow Meat + Public Relations
Jody grew up on a diverse conventional commodity farm - grains, hay, hoys, cattle, and horses. The farm crisis of the late 80's pushed him toward a professional career off the farm. Fifteen years later, he and his young family moved back to the farm and started the first Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) enterprise in the area. Jody continues to operate Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm's Meat CSA today. He has grown into a local foods leader - serving on food policy councils and starting a non-profit to raise awareness of CSA's in the Chicago area. Slow Food's "Slow Meat" initiative has become a focus over the past three years, attending the Denver conference in 2014 + 2015. The past two years have included trips to Kansas and Omaha to lend Slow Food's voice to the effort and to end the destructive practices of meat monopolies in the US. Jody extended this important work internationally when he traveled to Turin, Italy for Terra Madre last fall (2016) and was on a Slow Meat panel with delegates from around the world!
Tommy Zarlengo, Chef's Liaison
As a third generation restaurateur, Tommy grew up with a reverence for scratch-made goods created by and for people he cared about. These experiences shaped his belief that a meal should be prepared with wholesome and nutritious ingredients of the highest quality; food with integrity that is beautiful and delicious. As a Chef, Health Coach, and Permaculture Designer, Tommy has the great opportunity to empower clients, friends, and family to take responsibility for their health, and support the achievement of individual wellness goals while providing an incredibly delicious dining experience.
Tommy currently lives on an organic homestead with his wife, Julia, and their two lovely daughters. There, they grow and prepare REAL food, made with love, that they are proud to serve to friends and family alike.
Stephanie Lackey, Outreach + Events
Stephanie comes from a family who cherishes both food and locally sourced products. Her family has run an egg distribution company in central Ohio for over 60 years, which continues to source its eggs from the same family run farm as it did back in the ‘50s. Growing up with a passion for food and a curiosity for where that food is sourced from has led her to join Slow Food Chicago. She has lived in Chicago for over 5 years and currently works at an advertising agency. Cheese is by far her favorite food and she has the goal to own a cheese shop some day! When she’s not daydreaming about cheese, you can find her wandering around farmers markets, having a beer at a Logan Square bar, or running on the 606.
Jaime Guerrero, Youth Outreach
A businessman by day working at one of the world’s largest digital transformation firms, Jaime is passionate about food: where it comes from, how it’s grown, and of course, cooking. As a trained personal chef, he regularly holds underground dinner events using only the highest quality ingredients he can find.
Jaime is especially passionate about using innovation to solve programs – either in the kitchen or out in the field. To help overcome Chicago’s weather challenges, he began learning about sustainable farming and the Good Food Movement. He spoke with local chefs who are already practicing indoor farming and have connections with regional farmers for their own restaurants. For him, this sparked an idea: what if he could – with help from those skilled in indoor farming practices – develop a fast casual restaurant that grows all of its food? He talked about his vision to friends, neighbors, and his Alderman, who connected to Carl Schurz High School on Chicago’s northwest side. Schurz is part of the Chicago Public School (CPS) system and the third largest high school in Illinois, with 2,200 students.
Guerrero needed a testing ground and ultimately a skilled workforce for his concept, and Schurz high school quickly agreed to house a working urban farm: he had space at the school and is always looking for ways to reinvigorate the students and the community with new programs. Students from various programs have built and manage the farm, taking complete ownership of the farm’s operations. The farm will be housed in a former shop space in the 100-year-old school building and will contain a series of hydroponic systems with both natural and grow light. It will also search as a teaching room, where students, faculty and community can come to learn about the farm. The program is in its 3rd year of operations and now is food safety certified to not only feed its own students, but to sell to outside markets and restaurants. Jaime plans to scale the program further and take the program to many others schools in the area.
Brekke Bounds, Crop Mobs + preSERVE
Brekke grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, where she first got excited about the outdoors and environmental education exploring the tiny woods and parks within biking distance. She first got excited about the role that food plays in our lives after working at a summer camp on a farm. Brekke currently works full time at a foundation that helps preserve and steward natural areas in Illinois and part-time as an outdoor and garden/good food educator for several organizations. She holds an undergraduate degree in Environmental Studies, a Masters in Sustainable Food Systems, and is certified in permaculture design. Her hobbies include reading, playing outside, karaoke, and growing as much of her own food as she can.
Sarah Roman, Volunteers + Pantry Liaison
Sarah is the manager of community engagement at the Lakeview Pantry on the city's north side. Having long had strong partnerships with midwestern farmers and having a pulse on the Chicago food chain, Sarah knows how to corral a group of people to work together towards a greater good. It is with this background that she is proud to join Slow Food Chicago as the volunteer coordinator. Because of her experience working in a pantry, Sarah will also be helping the Chicago chapter find a home for leftover produce harvested at preSERVE garden days.