Our Team

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.

18th Street Kitchen

Theresa Salcedo
18th Street Kitchen 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 Kitchen events and Cooking Matters program. She joined the team full time in 2015 and is eager to have everyone walk through the doors of the 18th Street Kitchen 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.

Mike Weller
Chef and 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, 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.

Alex Bitker
18th St Kitchen Event Coordinator

Alex can’t remember a time in her life when she wasn’t excited about food. Her father, a professional chef, brought his talents home and helped her foster a love and curiosity for all things culinary from a young age. Following in his footsteps, she began working in a small bakery in her home state of Connecticut, eventually making her way to San Francisco where she’s dabbled in everything from creating cakes and custards, handmaking fresh pastas, to curating chocolate + spirit tastings. Alex believes in the transformative powers of food, and that it is never too late to get started in the kitchen. She’s thrilled to be a part of the 18 Reasons team and share her passion for food with her Bay Area neighbors. In her free time Alex enjoys reading, exploring the city's hiking trails, discovering new music and going to live shows, and of course, cooking.

Community Programs

Claudia Guererro
Community Programs Director

Claudia is a strong believer in the ideology that the kitchen is the heart of the home. Her Hispanic background fosters her love of food and culture, and she is especially inspired by the example set by her late abuelita of making home-cooked meals a priority. She completed her B.Sc. in Health Education with a Certificate in Holistic Health Studies at San Francisco State University where she spent most of her time researching issues surrounding food justice. During her time at SF State, she was part of the Community Food and Justice Coalition, where she conducted research on food policy and served on 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!

Briana Tejuco
Community Programs Manager, San Francisco County

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 completed the Nutrition Assistant Certificate program at City College of San Francisco, and received her B.Sc. in Health Education from San Francisco State University. 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.

Elise Hayashi
Community Programs Manager, Alameda County

Born and raised in Colorado, Elise grew up in a family where knowing how to use a paring knife was more important than riding a bicycle. This sparked her passion for food and cooking at an early age, and she enthusiastically relocated to the Bay Area to pursue a BA in Nutrition Science at UC Berkeley. Outside of the classroom, Elise helped implement childhood obesity and exercise research with the Nutrition Policy Institute, and also worked as a pastry assistant to fill her free time with galettes and mousses. After graduation, she spent time abroad working on an organic farm where she gained an appreciation for the labor and commitment that goes into producing food everyday. Now, she is excited about being a part of 18 Reasons to merge her gastronomic backgrounds and to share her love of food with the Bay Area community. During the rare moments when she is not eating, Elise can be found trying out new sports, playing and listening to live music, or wandering the aisles of grocery stores and farmers' markets.

Francesca Boulton
Community Programs Manager, Contra Costa County

Francesca recently moved to the Bay area after completing an M.S. in food systems at the University of Vermont. There, she worked with the Center for Sustainable Agriculture researching child nutrition and dietary practices within refugee families. Now, Francesca is excited to share her love of cooking in support of empowering individuals and communities in accessing fresh, affordable, nutritious, and delicious food, and is looking forward to exploring her new home!

Anna Soloniuk
Community Programs Manager, San Francisco County

Anna values building community and connection through the shared experience of good food and is proud to work for a mission-driven organization that shares her values. Anna earned her BA in Rhetoric and Gender Studies from Lewis & Clark College. She received a certificate in Sustainable Food Systems while studying abroad in Rome. Before starting at 18 Reasons, she had the opportunity to work as a winery apprentice, on an organic farm, for a film festival, in data analytics, and in restaurant marketing. In her free time she is probably planning what to cook for whomever is coming over or outside. 

Abby Suster
Assistant Program Manager, Alameda County

Abby has always had a passion for eating good food, especially as a child when she would join her grandma and mom in the kitchen making classic Hawaiian, Asian, and Mexican dishes, a blend of her family's cultures. She recently graduated from Santa Clara University, with a major in Environmental Studies and minors in Spanish Studies and Sociology. She became interested in food justice and education her sophomore year, leading her to take opportunities as an environmental education intern in Kolkata, India and a food justice researcher in San Jose, CA.  In her free time, Abby loves to find new hiking and camping spots around the Bay Area and also works weekends at a floral shop in Berkeley.

Emma Hodson
Assistant Program Manager, Contra Costa County

Emma was born and raised in the East Bay in a family who planned their next meal before their plates were clean. After completing a degree in International Studies and Political Science at UC San Diego, Emma worked for a wide range of nonprofits, from providing legal support for asylum seekers to leading digital communications for a sexual and reproductive health organization. She has also spent significant time abroad in Latin America, both through travel and working on youth leadership initiatives in the Dominican Republic. Emma's professional and personal experiences have solidified her belief in access, equity, and community, and she is now excited to marry her passions for food and health equity in her position at 18 Reasons. In her spare time, Emma can be found building community through food, sampling new snacks, writing short fiction, and basking in the mild Bay Area sun.

Gia Jones
Nourishing Pregnancy Assistant Program Manager

Gia’s passion for community service and food equity are essential to her work at 18 Reasons. Her interest in food justice started in high school and continued throughout her college career at UC Berkeley, where she studied Conservation and Resource Studies. Gia expanded her political understanding of food systems at the Othering and Belonging Institute as a Global Justice Fellow. She also works on the ground as a regular volunteer with People’s Program Oakland working to feed, educate, and liberate the unhoused Black communities of West Oakland. In her free time, Gia loves to spend time with her friends and family in Sacramento, explore the many hiking trails of the Bay Area, and get creative by painting or crocheting.

Lupita Hernandez
Assistant Program Manager, Nourishing Pregnancy

Lupita was born and raised in the East Bay. Growing up in a Mexican household, she often saw the time, effort and love that went into preparing food, and came to value how cooking connects us to others as well as past generations, and ultimately creates community. She completed her B.A. in Liberal Studies with an emphasis in Health Education and Multidisciplinary Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University. She has focused on nutrition, social justice, community organizing, and utilizes her bilingual abilities and cultural background to bridge a cultural and language barrier. Lupita also really loves drawing, spending time with loved ones, and being outside.

Luisa De Leon
Program Coordinator

Luisa has lived in San Francisco for about 7 years and graduated from San Francisco State University with a B.S. in Nutrition.
Throughout her years living in San Francisco, she's been involved in food related industries working in a local bakery, catering businesses, and in farmers markets.  
Luisa has always had a passion for food and helping out her community. After volunteering for 18 Reasons, she knew she wanted to continue to carry out the organization's values which is to provide the best quality education when working in unity with diverse groups of people around our community.
She loves being involved with her community and bringing people together through food to help promote a healthier lifestyle.  
In her free time you can find her creating crochet items and roller skating all round San Francisco. 

Helena Zindel
Program Coordinator

Helena's work at 18 Reasons is driven by her belief that access to nutritious and affordable food is a human right. Helena grew up in Sacramento, California, where she discovered the power of food as a means of creating community and expressing her care for others. She owes her love of cooking to her parents, both talented cooks themselves, who gave her a cookie cookbook for her tenth birthday. She went on to bake every single recipe in the book, requesting a new cookbook once she'd finished. Her work as a chef and culinary arts educator with Soil Born Farms furthered her lifelong love of cooking and sharing food with others. Helena continued to pursue her passion for food justice while working to increase food access and security for newly arrived refugees with the Internal Rescue Committee. She received her Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington, and is excited to return home to California and use her background in social science to inform her approach to fighting for food justice. When she's not cooking, Helena can usually be found catching up on reading, playing pickleball, carefully crafting playlists, and eating super burritos in the Mission. Helena is someone who passionately believes in the power of food in changing people's lives for the better and is thrilled to be a part of the team at 18 Reasons. 

Kit Gardner
Program Coordinator

Kit feels the most excited and alive when working at the intersection of food justice, waste reduction, and community building. They first became interested in food systems while completing a degree in Environmental Studies at Dartmouth College, and continued on to work as a waste management consultant, prep cook, and paralegal. They believe in the healing power of sharing food, and currently volunteer with a mutual aid group in Oakland that cooks surplus food and distributes hot meals to unhoused neighbors. All of these experiences inform Kit's decision to join the team at 18 Reasons as a Program Coordinator. In their free time, Kit loves to garden, read memoirs, bike, and hang out with their cat, Crosby.


Kali Haire
Program Coordinator

Kali grew up in Memphis, TN and moved to the Bay after graduating from Occidental College with a B.A. in kinesiology. In her kinesiology classes, she found her passion for food and nutrition by learning about the digestive system.  From WWOOFing on an organic farm in Australia to living in a Food Justice House, Kali has continued to develop her interests in increasing access to food and learning about local and sustainable food systems. After graduating, Kali has been working in the Bay Area with a CSA Farm network. She hopes to help all communities gain access to fresh, healthy food through her work at 18 Reasons. In her free time, Kali likes climbing, surfing, backpacking, yoga, and doing tricks with her hula hoop.

Brian Quave
Program Coordinator

A Bay Area native, Brian was born in Berkeley, raised in Richmond, and completed culinary school in San Francisco. His time working in the culinary industry was anchored by his desire to connect with people from all walks of life through food. Inspired by recognizing food as a form of communication, he enrolled in the Communication Studies program at the University of San Francisco where he graduated cum laude. After graduating, he was looking for a way to combine his educational background with his culinary passion and found himself at 18 Reasons! He perpetually strives to share established and innovative ways to discover how food can bring people together. Outside of work, Brian is an avid traveler. He walks the world in a winning shoe collection. He reads an abundance of short stories and enjoys cooking, sports, music, and a good meme.

Development and Communications

Ryan DeBoer
Director of Development and Communications

Ryan comes to 18 Reasons with a deep background in marketing, development, and non-profit operations, plus a passion for all things food. A storyteller at heart, her experience spans advertising, brand and product marketing, and copywriting in the outdoor sports, IT, and hospitality industries. With a pivot to non-profit, Ryan managed teams to increase funding, stabilize systems, and grow community for Girls Inc. of Alameda County and FoolsFURY Theater Company. Always ferreting out new recipes and making a giant mess in her kitchen, Ryan is thrilled to be fusing her love of food with her commitment to equity and health. A California native, she lives, cooks, and rides bikes in the East Bay.

Blair Kirkbaumer
Donor Relations Manager

With a background in museum education and nonprofit management, Blair has spent her career empowering individuals and communities through storytelling. Blair is excited to bring her passion for food, culture, and mission-driven work to 18 Reasons. In her free time, she finds herself at the dog park with her puppy, Walter, exploring Napa, and creating flower bouquets from the farmers market.

Kayla Whitehouse
Communications Manager

Kayla believes that food is a love language, and her multicultural marriage has made home food even more special. She can often be found in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes and re-organizing her lentils, flours, and spices into jars. Professionally she has sought to understand issues of food policy and food security from a variety of angles. From researching and designing an after-school cooking and nutrition education program as part of her graduate capstone, to monitoring federal SNAP policy through a food bank internship, to serving as an Agroforestry Volunteer with the Peace Corps in Guinea, she has a passion for ensuring access to healthy and affordable food.

Board of Directors


Patricia Farrar-Rivas is a founding principal, as well as the CEO, of Veris Wealth Partners. She has been providing investment advisory and wealth management services since 1992. Patricia is a principal consultant to the Envestnet Sustainability Platform and was a member of the Envestnet Advisory Board. Patricia’s previous Board experience includes As You Sow, a nonprofit organization promoting corporate responsibility through shareholder advocacy, grant making, and innovative legal strategies. She also served as a member of the Standards Council for the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB), a nonprofit that works on developing and disseminating industry-specific sustainability accounting standards for material, nonfinancial (ESG) information.

Shannon White Cogen
Board Vice-Chair

Shannon's earliest memories are of her extended Texas family coming together over white bread, frozen vegetables, and great barbeque. Today, she's happy for her local farmers market and for the many ways in which we build community around food. Shannon acts as an advisor and coach to mission-based organizations and their leaders and has led development teams at local nonprofits. Shannon is a trustee of the Urban School of San Francisco and a member of the Jamestown Community Center Council and has also served on the board of the San Francisco Friends School. She and her partner Doug live in San Francisco with their dog and two nearly-grown children. She holds a law degree from Columbia Law School and a B.A. in English from Brown University.

Bob Rosner
Board Treasurer

Bob Rosner is founder, managing member, and portfolio manager of Buena Vista Fund Management. He is on the board of the UCSF investment company and serves on UCSF's Faculty and Student Life Committee. He is passionate about building an equitable Bay Area, running, and his dog. He earned his bachelor's degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and his MBA from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Aaron Hardisty
Board Secretary

Aaron Hardisty has been involved in food security and food education in the Bay Area since 2009. He began as a volunteer for Cooking Matters, then became a member of the Cooking Matters Advisory Committee. He joins 18 Reasons as board member after serving as a founding board member for Three Squares. Aaron is a Mission District resident who follows his kids as they scoot on 18th street between Mission and Dolores to shop at Bi-Rite Market, go to Community Dinner or grab dessert at Bi-Rite Creamery.

Marian Zischke Baldauf
Board Member

Marian has a lifelong love of cooking and baking, and enjoys creating meals that bring people together.  She is a Vice President and shareholder of Dodge & Cox, a San Francisco investment management firm, where she has worked for over 30 years. Marian currently serves on the Board the Bay School of San Francisco and served on the board of The San Francisco School for 11 years, serving as chair of the Finance Committee and Advancement Committee, and as Chair of the Board. Marian has a BA in religion from Dartmouth College.

Isaac Buwembo
Board Member

Isaac Buwembo is a business designer and social entrepreneur passionate about finding a better way. He is the Design Strategy Lead at Year Up, supporting leadership with growth strategy and design research. He is Co-Founder of Civil Labs, an Oakland-based social enterprise supporting youth development in the Bay Area. Isaac is passionate about helping business and society find a better way through market-based mechanisms, localized solutions and social innovation. He believes that helping people be awesome can change the world. He holds a Masters in Business Administration in Design Strategy from California College of the Arts and a BSc. in Cell Biology and Genetics from University of British Columbia.

Sam Mogannam
Board Member

Following a career as a chef, Sam Mogannam re-opened Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco’s Mission District in 1998 in the space his family had operated since 1964. Since then he’s opened Bi-Rite Creamery, founded 18 Reasons, and tilled ground on Bi-Rite’s own Sonoma farms. Sam co-authored Bi-Rite Market’s Eat Good Food: A Grocer’s Guide to Shopping, Cooking & Creating Community Through Food (Ten Speed Press, 2011). He volunteers on the Board of Directors for the National Association of the Specialty Food Trade (NASFT), for the Good Food Awards, and the Community Alliance with Family Farmers (CAFF). He’s the proud father of two girls. 

Sarah Nelson
Board Member

Sarah Nelson has worked on food-related projects in the Bay Area since 2008. She launched the Bay Area’s first Market Match, 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. Previously, 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.

Board Member

Suzy has spent over 20 years working in the healthcare industry and would love to see a world in which food is the first line of defense when it comes to taking care of our health and wellness.  She currently leads a Digital Innovation team at Myovant, a biopharmaceutical company, and has spent her career designing and launching new healthcare solutions.  Suzy has a BA in Psychology from Harvard and an MBA from UC Berkeley Haas.  She lives in San Francisco with her husband and experiments in their backyard “farm” with short cycle seed-to-table microgreens, French intensive gardening, and the variety of exotic seeds they’ve been introduced to through 18 Reasons classes.

Board Member

Poonam Singh comes from a family that has always planned vacations, holidays, and weekends around what to eat next and where. After exploring the world and setting up her home kitchens from Tanzania to New York, she now lives in her hometown of San Francisco, where both the amazing produce and community focus on food equity make her feel lucky every day. A longtime 18 Reasons volunteer, in her day job she works as a corporate lawyer advising on public company governance, M&A, U.S. securities law and corporate finance. She holds a B.A. in Religious Studies and a J.D. from New York University and an M.A. in Religion from King’s College London.

Maggie Spicer
Board Member

Maggie Spicer's earliest memories are of food and have guided her path ever since. From the curiosities of eggs to years of cooking holiday meals with her Southern grandmother, many of her fondest moments are centered around the dining table and the farmers’ market. With a 15-year career spanning experience design, hospitality, finance, and brand strategy, she brings a unique skill set to the Board. Maggie was an early member of 18 Reasons (since 2009!). She's no stranger to the food industry and supporting the local community as the cofounder and owner of a former organic grocery & cafe, Douglas, in Noe Valley, as well as a creative gathering space centered at the intersection of food and art, Baana. Additionally, she cofounded Benne--a restaurant meal distribution service as an immediate response to the global pandemic, and 86Fund, an emergency fund to aid SF Bay Area restaurants and food producers experiencing economic hardship due to the pandemic. Most recently, she’s serving as Partner and COO for DAF Capital, a Donor Advised Fund advisory service for philanthropic venture investment in social and environmental entrepreneurship. She's a regular contributor to and has served as Guest Editor for both Ambrosia and Drift magazines, as well as a former contributor to EdibleSF. Over the past 10 years, she has volunteered with Slow Food San Francisco, Slow Food Nation, Kitchen Table Advisors, and CUESA.

Rosabel Tao
Board Member

Rosabel has a had a life-long passion for eating – and more recently, Instapot home cooking. She believes that cooking, sharing food, and eating together builds relationships, promotes cultural understanding, and leads to better health. In addition to being an expert at eating, Rosabel specializes in corporate transformation. She helps bold ideas take root through creative, interdisciplinary marketing and communications programs to reimagine and elevate brands, products, and services. She lives in San Francisco’s Fillmore district with her husband and Goldendoodle fur-baby.

Calvin Tsay
Board Member

Calvin Tsay has always been at home in the kitchen, gathering inspiration from Julia Child and cooking meals for the family.  With over twenty years of strategic planning, financial analysis, and operations management experience, he has served as a consultant at Booz Allen & Hamilton, director of strategic planning at Macy’s, and general manager at Joie de Vivre Hospitality.  He has a BS and MBA from Stanford University and attended the Cordon Bleu in Paris where he learned that the key to any dish is to monter au beurre! 

Board Member

Sarah was born and mostly raised in rural Kansas.  She is a longtime community volunteer and advisor in the Bay Area, focused on helping organizations and people convert good intentions into real actions. Sarah is a Trustee of the College Preparatory School, a member of Full Circle Fund, and a member of the Dean's Advisory Council of the Harvard Radcliffe Institute.  She has recently served as a Board member of La Cocina and as a Trustee of the San Francisco Friends School.  Sarah holds degrees in Soviet Studies from Harvard/Radcliffe Colleges and in International Business from SIPA at Columbia University.  She enjoys travel, food, books, maps, and being outdoors, and lives in San Francisco with her husband and two sons.

Board Alumni

Claudia Ossa
Marjorie Freedman
Naomi Starkman
Rachel Pringle
Nínive Calegari
Susan Norris
Hollie Greene
Anna Ghosh
Juri Sanchez
Susanna Poon