2014 Board of Directors

 Cortney bio Cortney Ahern (President) is a passionate patron of good food. In Chicago, she has worked on domestic and international food security at the Greater Chicago Food Depository, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, and Chicago Ideas Week. Cortney holds a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from Colgate University, and studied international social justice throughout Southeast Asia. Her perpetual curiosity in food traditions has brought her from farming on a CSA in Upstate New York with a 1950s Allis Chalmers tractor named Wilma, to learning the proper technique for catching and cooking red ants (and their larvae) in northeastern Thailand. Cortney is hungry for change in the food system, and believes all people have the right to food that is good for themselves and good for the world. She would do anything for one more xiao-long-bao from Yang’s in Shanghai, and always stockpiles extra butter in her freezer.

  Lauren Bloom (Communications) grew up in an old apple orchard in Michigan. As a young local food purveyor, she tried to compete against the neighborhood lemonade stands by selling her family’s unsprayed (and very wormy) apples for a dime. While it might not have been a successful business model, it was a great lesson in just how much is available in your own backyard. In college, she worked with an organization that brought local produce to the cafeteria, and spent a year living in South America, appreciating that so often food was what brought family, friends, and even communities together several times a day. Lauren has worked in educational equity advocacy for the past several years, and spends her free time volunteering for the Andersonville Farmers Market and her husband’s community-supported brewery.


jennifer b bio Jennifer Breckner (Vice President) was influenced early on to cook and to appreciate the act of eating together by her grandmother, Julia Ryznar Breckner, as well as her entire family. Since then she is increasingly interested in how food serves as comfort, sustenance, and history and as an instigator of conversation. For years Jennifer has curated and planned events at arts institutions in Chicago. From 2008-2009 she co-organized Sunday Soup Brunch, a monthly communal meal that served as a funding source for micro-grants for artists. She currently works in the Department of Architecture and Design at the Art Institute of Chicago.


 480326_665063460747_443481781_n Danny Burke (Outreach & Community Partnerships) was helping tend to a community garden plot in west Bloomington, IL when a neighbor lamented that it’s easier for him to get a gun than a tomato.  Since that moment he has made it his mission to make tomatoes more accessible than guns in every neighborhood.  As an Emerson National Hunger Fellow at the Congressional Hunger Center, he worked on improving healthy food access in Louisville, KY with the Community Farm Alliance, and on federal nutrition policy with the Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C.  After returning home to Chicago, he worked as SNAP policy coordinator for the Illinois Hunger Coalition and as Coordinator for the Campus Kitchen Project at Northwestern University, where he worked with students to rescue unused food from dining halls and turn it into nourishing meals for those in need.  Currently, he is the 61st Street Farmers Market manager at Experimental Station in Woodlawn where he’s connecting people with their food on the South Side. He has many passions on this planet, the most important among them being: raspberries, the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Cubs, running, and his pitbull Medgar.


  Lis David (Tastings and Workshops) was brought to Chicago from the Washington D.C. area seven years to volunteer with AmeriCorps in the City Year program to help students with literacy tutoring.  Previous to AmeriCorps she had worked in restaurants in Washington, D.C.  She then decided to venture back to the industry to get an education in culinary arts at Kendall College.  She interned under Shawn McClain and worked as a cook and server at Spring Restaurant and then as the general manager at Green Zebra. In the fall of 2013 she joined the team at Local Foods as a sales account manager where she sells food from Midwest farms directly to restaurants in the Chicagoland area.  Through her work and Slow Food she hopes spread the value of knowing your farmer and eating sustainably grown food.


 144 Aislinn Gauchay (preSERVE Garden) Growing up in mid-Missouri is a great way to learn to love food – from growing and rearing to eating and celebrating.  My upbringing combined with a lifelong passion for the art of cooking and a profound love for the natural world, fostered in me an appreciation of healthy, organic, and sustainable food, valuing the farm (and farmer) to table relationship, and a desire to ensure all people from every walk of life have access to good, clean and fair food – which led me to Slow Food Chicago.  As Shedd Aquarium’s Manager of Great Lakes & Sustianbility, I am fortunate to be a part of the sustainability movement throughout the Chicago area – from sustainable seafood to water conservation, and habitat restoration to Great Lakes stewardship.  We are all intimately connected to the natural world, to the wildlife that share it, and to each other; and I truly believe one of the best ways each of can make a difference is through what we choose to put on our plates.


 Kate Holt Test Kate Holst-Test (Volunteers) is proudly from The Mitten State and, as a lover of Lake Michigan, she moved to Chicago in 2009 after completing her masters in Theatre Management. During the day she works at Steppenwolf Theatre Company. Since she was very young, she been interested in living sustainably and close to the earth. As a theatre maker, she is excited about food’s ability to tell a story and bring people together. From the best beer at a baseball game to a dinner party among friends, the community around food has always interested her and she couldn’t be more excited to be serving on the board of Slow Food Chicago.


 144 Carissa Ilg (Education) is dedicated to sustainable, local food for the sake of health, community and ecological benefits. She is committed to supporting and connecting with local farmers through farm-to-table restaurants, farm dinners and farmers’ markets. Carissa’s passion for sustainable food stemmed from her background in environmental science and appreciation of nature. Carissa attained her Masters in Environmental Science and has worked for the Notebaert Nature Museum, Environmental Protection Agency, Aspen Center for Environmental Studies and currently spearheads the business development at Green Dream Group.


 rjm Rob Montalbano (Producer Relations) has a long-standing interest in gardening, food and nutrition. So much so, in fact, that he and his wife started their own organic farm in 2006. Born and raised in Chicago, Rob brings to Slow Food a passion about growing food, a desire for building local food systems, and a mission to hook kids on healthy eating. He loves introducing people to new vegetables and talking about the way our diet affects our world.


 beth Beth Osmund (Terra Madre and Producer Relations) and her husband Jody left corporate jobs in 2002 and moved their family from the Chicago suburbs to rural Ottawa, IL to start Cedar Valley Sustainable Farm. This launched an avid interest in the production and politics of food.  As a presenter at food & farming related events she works to communicate her experience and passion.  She is committed to inspiring others to make real food an everyday pleasure. Slow Food’s focus on “Good, Clean, and Fair” food and the joy that it brings drew her to the organization and its wonderful members have inspired her to become more involved.


 Peiper SFC photo Audrey Peiper (Development and Events) was drawn to the expansiveness of Slow Food Chicago’s philosophy of bringing people together through food that is good, clean, and fair. Audrey grew up in a Chinese-American family in Kentucky, which made her an adventurous eater, enthusiastic cook, and a lover of offal, bourbon, and farmers markets.  Her first job was at the Louisville Jewish Community Center’s Kosher Café. Audrey has lived in Chicago for the past decade, putting her background in art history and arts administration to work at cultural and conservation organizations such as the Art Institute of Chicago, Brookfield Zoo, and currently the Chicago Humanities Festival.


 144 Carrie Schloss (Events Chair) works as a personal chef and culinary consultant.  She worked as an investment analyst and portfolio manager in London, Mexico City, New York and Chicago, but became a chef which had been her lifelong desire.  She became very interested in sustainability and supporting local farmers while living overseas and this was reinforced through her culinary school experience.  She believes strongly that a meal can not only nourish you, but that it can teach you about other cultures and is a great way to bring people together.


 144 Jill Shepherd (Membership and Development) comes to Slow Food Chicago through fundraising. In her day job, she is Director of Membership for WBEZ, Chicago’s public radio station. She’s excited to dig in and get to know the members of Slow Food Chicago. Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Jill learned early on from her sister’s school report about the atrocities of big agriculture, and has been hooked ever since. She’s particularly passionate about food politics, and working towards a world where everyone has the option to choose food that come from healthy, clean and fair farming practices.


 jeannine bio Jeannine Wise (Treasurer and Snail of Approval) is the principal at Jeannine M. Wise, Culinary Consultant. She was an economist for the federal government, but returned to the culinary field as this is her true passion. She has been volunteering with the Chicago Honey Co-op for several years due to her passion for urban beekeeping. She believes food equals community and love and is looking forward to the opportunity to spread Slow Food values and awareness.