Melissa Kogut became Executive Director of Chefs Collaborative in August, 2007. Under
her leadership, the Chefs Collaborative network has grown from 5,000 to 12,000 chefs, food professionals, food producers, food writers and food activists; the organization produced the national Sustainable Food Summit in 2009, an annual event bringing together the leading thinkers about our food system and galvanizing chefs and other experts from around the country to share best practices; and has expanded the organization’s depth and reach of its educational and community building programs. In May 2010, Chefs Collaborative was honored to be invited to deliver a panel to Environmental Protection Agency staff and dignitaries for a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the agency. Melissa has a background in nonprofit management and community organizing.
Prior to her position with Chefs Collaborative, she served for 11 years as executive director of NARAL Massachusetts, a statewide organization that advocates for women’s reproductive health. In 2006, Melissa received the Abigail Adams Award from the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which recognizes and honors outstanding women leaders. Melissa has several years experience working in the restaurant industry and a longstanding interest in food, the environment, and sustainability issues.
After spending many years in the kitchens and fields of the food industry, Rob came to Chefs Collaborative in January of 2011. As Network Manager, Rob works to help food professionals around the country connect and educate one another on issues of sustainability.
Rob holds a B.A. in English from the University of Vermont and an M.L.A. in Gastronomy with a focus in food policy from Boston University. When he’s not busy managing our Local Networks, he can be found writing, cooking, gardening, or riding his bike.
Alisha joined Chefs Collaborative in December 2012 as the Program Manager. Alisha comes to Chefs from Oakland, California, where she worked with the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) to scale and lead their national climate science programs. Alisha helped ACE grow from a small start-up to a national leader in science education – educating more than 1 million high school students about climate science and solutions in less than two years. In addition, she worked with ACE to raise $1.2 million for national programs.
Alisha is thrilled to be working at the nexus of food and sustainability – and is a “lifer” when it comes to advancing more sustainable practices. Previously, Alisha worked with the National Wildlife Federation, the Breakthrough Institute, and MASSPIRG. A native of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, Alisha graduated with a B.A. in geoscience and environmental studies from Hamilton College in 2006. When not at work, Alisha loves to romp with her mini australian shepherd, explore new restaurants, and hike New England.
As Development and Marketing Associate, Gillian handles member relations, produces our bi-monthly newsletter FreshNet, and keeps the office in fighting shape. She can usually be found updating the website, drafting e-blasts, or helping members with questions and membership set-up.
Gillian first fell in love with food during a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, where she spent 3 1/2 months exploring the Tuscan food landscape, visiting vineyards, farms and local markets. She is an M.F.K Fisher devotee and cookbook scholar (read: nerd), and is often found baking her excellent oatmeal cookies. After graduating from Converse College in 2011 with a BA in English, she interned at various sustainable food-focused organizations in the Bay Area, California where she learned the ropes of social media strategy, grant writing and development for non-profits. A Boston native, she began working with the Collaborative as an intern and assisted at the 2012 Summit in Seattle before coming on as a part-time employee. Gillian hopes to begin graduate work in food studies this coming fall.
Jennifer Johnson joined Chefs Collaborative as Director of Development and Marketing in January of 2013 after working as the Seattle-based consultant for the 2012 Summit in the Pacific Northwest. Jennifer is a passionate evangelist for local food communities, chefs, farms, producers, and basically anything that brings people together - in the kitchen or around the table – to share a meal and good conversation.
Prior to her position with Chefs Collaborative, Jennifer spent the last decade primarily working in Seattle-area non-profit arts organizations in the areas of Development, Marketing and Events Management. As the former co-chair of Slow Food Seattle, Jennifer enjoyed the opportunity to engage with chefs, restaurants and food lovers in conversation about food policy and sustainability and looks forward to continuing that dialogue on a national level in her position with Chefs Collaborative.
As a Minnesota-native, she made a point to swim in many of the region’s 10,000 lakes and helped raise Nubian goats on a small family hobby farm in elementary school. She is also a lover of all things delicious, kind of obsessed with foraging, an occasional writer, sporadic tweeter, and she’s looking forward to exploring Boston and New England. Jennifer holds a B.A. in Communications and International Studies from The Evergreen State College (where the mascot is a Geoduck – a giant clam!).