Staff

 

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SARAH NELSON
Executive Director

Sarah has worked on food-related projects in the Bay Area since 2008. She launched Cooking Matters in the Bay Area in 2010. In her previous work with Bay Area farmers' markets, she created the Bay Area’s first Market Match program, which gives farmers’ market customers who use food stamps extra funds to spend at the market, and a Veggie Rx program that helped diabetes patients increase their produce consumption while measuring positive health outcomes. In her youth, she taught yoga and guided bicycle tours in France. In 2011, she founded the nonprofit Three Squares, which merged with 18 Reasons in 2013. She is passionate about cooking, rock climbing, riding her bike, and, yes, her job. She lives in San Francisco. Contact her at sarah@18reasons.org

 

THERESA SALCEDO
Program Director

A native of Virginia, Theresa's curiosity in food was nurtured by her family, which includes talented cooks, farmers, gardeners, and fishermen. When she moved to the Bay Area in 2013, Theresa became a passionate volunteer with both our 18th Street Classroom events and Cooking Matters program. She joined the team full time in 2015 and is eager to have everyone walk through the doors of of the 18th Street Classroom and feel connected to their neighbors, friends, and food. 

When not in the kitchen or at the farmers' market, you can find Theresa reading at Ocean Beach or getting lost in museums. Contact her at theresa@18reasons.org

 

 

 

MIKE WELLER
Chef & Culinary Instructor

Born in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco, Mike grew up in suburbs of San Jose, where he discovered cooking as his first profession and lifetime passion. After wandering through typical teenage jobs at pizza joints and ice cream parlors, Mike’s first “restaurant” job was with Sambo’s Coffee Shops, slinging hash and cooking eggs for the bar rush and Sunday breakfast crowds.  He moved on to help open several restaurants, attend the California Culinary Academy, and study under European chefs with Michelin backgrounds. Later, Mike served as an executive chef for catering companies, wineries and country clubs.  When his son was born, Mike transitioned his career into teaching, returning to the CCA where he eventually became the Executive Chef and Director of Academics.  Having taught for Le Cordon Bleu North America in both online and brick and mortar schools, Mike is thrilled to return to teaching in a neighborhood-based community.  When he is not teaching he tends to his backyard garden, helps his wife to can and preserve food, and loves to cook for his friends and family.

ALLISON ECKERT
Program Manager

Allison believes that sharing a home cooked meal grounds us in time, place, and each other. Some of her favorite people to share a table with these days are the participants in the Cooking Matters program that she helps coordinate. While at Brown University, where she earned a B.A. in Hispanic Studies, Allison became interested in food justice and access in immigrant communities. After graduating, she worked on a few small, organic farms growing everything from melons to shiitake mushrooms. Unable to resist the Bay, she packed up her belongings and moved across the country. She comes to 18 Reasons with a passion for teaching, nutrition, food, and building a community of eaters. In her free time, Allison likes to experiment with new recipes, write short fiction, and explore Bay Area hiking. Contact her at allison@18reasons.org.

 

BRIANA TEJUCO
Program Manager

Briana brings great passion for food and community.  She loves being able to teach others of all backgrounds how to prepare healthy, delicious meals.  Her appreciation for food and experience in culinary arts comes from growing up in her grandmother’s kitchen and graduating from the California Culinary Academy’s Le Cordon Bleu program.  She also recently completed the Nutrition Assistant Certificate program at City College of San Francisco. Briana’s favorite people to cook for are right at home, her three growing sons and her loving husband.  When she’s not cooking, you’ll find Briana exploring new restaurants, enjoying family and friends, or sipping on tea while scrolling through Pinterest.  Contact her at briana@18reasons.org.

 

 

CLAUDIA GUERRERO
Program Manager

Claudia is a strong believer in the ideology that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Her love of food and culture is fostered by her Hispanic background and inspired by the example her late abuelita set of making home cooked meals a priority. She completed her B.S in Health Education with a Certificate in Holistic Health Studies at San Francisco State where she spent most of her time researching issues surrounding food justice. During her time at SF State, she completed an internship with Community Food and Justice Coalition where she conducted research on food policy and was part of the planning committee for the All-In initiative working to end poverty in Alameda County. When she is not enjoying the company of her wonderful colleagues or class participants, you can find her trying out new recipes at home, practicing yoga, hiking, or on a fun road trip! Contact her at claudia@18reasons.org.