Board of Directors

Susan Taylor

President

Susan is the founder and Executive Director of the Good Food Project. She has been a food writer for more than 20 years, writing more than 700 stories for such publications as The Chicago Tribune, The Dallas Morning News, Saveur, and the St. Louis Post Dispatch. In the early 90s, before there was a local food movement in the Midwest, she wrote two books about local food, The Guide to Good Eating in Lincoln Land and Central Illinois, and The Guide to Good Eating in St. Louis. In her years as a food writer, Susan has interviewed thousands of people involved in food, including people who grow it, those who bring it to the table, and internationally-known food writers. She has eaten at some of the world’s best restaurants, and explored some of the most exotic markets on the globe. Yet, one of her greatest pleasures is in biting into a fresh-from-the-tree apple, or indulging in the nutty flavor and buttery smoothness of a perfectly ripe avocado. Teaching children to enjoy these simple, easy-to-find, and affordable foods is her passion.

Elesa Commerse

Treasurer

Elesa is the Founding President of the Illinois non-profit organization, Forever Whole, Inc., and is a nationally known meditation teacher of children and adults. For 20 years, as President of Touch Marketing, she served as a consultant to Fortune 1000 and non-profit organizations in the areas of fundraising, program development and marketing. Elesa is the creator, executive director and producer of Finding Your Way, the comprehensive DVD/CD program for women with breast cancer. Elesa earned a B.S. in Psychology, Phi Beta Kappa, magna cum laude, from Smith College, and an MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.

Liz Barrett

Secretary

Liz is a seasoned communications and PR professional with 25 years of experience, most recently focused on consumer food and beverage. She is actively involved in the community, supporting Lookingglass Theatre Company and serving on the board of the Good Food Project. Her passion for food and wine extends beyond her role as vice president, Corporate Communications and PR at Terlato Wines, to her own food blog, www.NoWhiskNoReward.com, where she chronicles her own cooking and eating adventures.

Lauren Petersen Edwards

Lauren is the principal at Sango LLC, a public relations and marketing company for food artisans and purveyors and all things delicious. Working both with local and national businesses, Lauren has placed features in O The Oprah Magazine, Bon Appetit, Town & Country, Real Simple, Saveur, CNN, TODAY Show, CookingChannel, Wall Street Journal and New York Times, among others, in addition to stories with almost all local Chicago and regional media outlets. Lauren worked as a reporter and production assistant with BBC Radio Cambridgeshire in the United Kingdom (UK) and in the newsroom of Nashville’s NBC affiliate. Lauren is excited to work with The Good Food Project, and to help give every child the chance to develop a lifelong love of good food and enjoy the benefits of a healthy life. Lauren holds a bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University and studied at Cambridge University in the UK.

Fred and Linda Koenigshof

Fred and Linda are the owners of K&K Farms in Coloma, Michigan. The 220 acre farm has been in the family for three generations. Linda manages the retail operations of five Chicagoland farm markets. Fred manages the farm. Fred is President Emeritus of the Michigan State Horticultural Society and is the Vice President of the North American Raspberry and Blackberry Association.

Advisors to the Board

Mary Lu Arpaia

Mary Lu Arpaia is a member of the Department of Botany and Plant Science at University of California, Riverside. She is an extension specialist for subtropical fruit, and teaches and conducts research on citrus and avocado production practices and postharvest handling.

Noé Torres

Noé currently serves a social worker for the Chicago Public Schools. He also maintains a consultation practice in the area of grief/bereavement support and has taught social work at the undergraduate and graduate level. He has extensive experience in providing social work services to diverse communities. He has served on boards and as a volunteer with civic and not-for-profit organizations. He holds the Master in Social Work from the University of Chicago-School of Social Service Administration, the Master of Divinity from McCormick Theological Seminary, and Master of Education from Governors State University. He is dedicated to advancing the critically informative and experiential services of the Good Food Project. Good food is vital to creating and maintaining a vibrant healthy community.

Emeritus

Dennis Courtier

Dennis is the owner / CEO of Pepin Heights Orchards, Inc., a vertically integrated grower and processor of apples and apple products based in Lake City, Minnesota. Pepin Heights specializes in growing high culinary quality apple varieties. Dennis is a Board Member and Past President of The Minnesota Apple Growers’ Association, and has served on the Public Relations and Education Committees of The US Apple Association. He is a Board Member of the western New York based Premier Marketing Cooperative, and a Past President and past Board Member of The International Fruit Tree Association. Dennis co-founded and is a Board Member of The Next Big Thing, a grower owned variety management cooperative with members spanning five North American time zones. Dennis believes that improving eating quality and increasing young peoples’ exposure are the keys to stimulating consumption of fresh fruits and vegetables. When apples taste better than junk food, kids will eat more apples.

Sarah Mayeda

Sarah is the founding Executive Director of Spark Chicago, part of a national youth apprenticeship program. Spark connects 7th and 8th graders with professional mentors in real workplace-based learning experiences to help students gain a line of sight to what their future holds if they stay in school, work hard, and dream big. With offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Philadelphia, Spark has created over 1,800 apprenticeships since 2005.Sarah earned an M.Ed. in Instructional Leadership from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a bachelor’s degree in public policy from Northwestern University.