Board of Directors
The Chef Ann Foundation (CAF) is a registered, tax-exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, governed by a dedicated Board of Directors who share our mission. Our diverse board supports the growth of our foundation by offering guidance in key areas. Click on each name below to read more about these accomplished individuals.
Ann Cooper, President & Founder
Visit the Chef Ann page to learn about her career, books, consulting work, and upcoming speaking engagements.
Patrick O’Kelly, Treasurer
Since 1981, Pat has been Certified Public Accountant and Principal of Cahill O'Kelly and Associates in Boulder, CO. Pat is one of the owners and participants of the world class Colorado music festival in Telluride, Planet Bluegrass.
Karen Trilevsky has promoted social responsibility, sustainability, positive impact, and entrepreneurship for more than 20 years. She created FullBloom Baking Company, a fast-growing company with more 250 employees, based on the belief that a business can lead the way to: better communities, harmony with the environment, and a better life for workers. Her delicious, naturally made products and celebrated 95,000 square foot Platinum LEED-certified baking facility helped her partner with well-respected companies including Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Trader Joes, and Whole Foods.
In 2012, Karen was recognized as a Champion of Change by President Barack Obama for her work demonstrating that corporate environmental leadership makes sense, both for business and for American communities.
People Magazine named Karen a “Hero Among Us” for her decade-long innovative Smart Cookie Scholarship program, which prepares first generation Latina and Latino immigrants for educational success by providing scholarships to help students complete Associate, Bachelor’s, and Master’s Degrees. The program also provides mentors, advising, personal development and enrichment activities, networking opportunities, and other scholarship events to ensure students succeed at the university level and beyond. To date, almost 100 students have earned their degrees through this vertically integrated program.
In 2012 Karen sold her award-winning company to Swiss food conglomerate Aryzta AG.
In addition to CAF, Karen currently sits on the boards of the Smart Cookie Scholarship Fund and GoVoluntr a social network that connects volunteers, nonprofits, and businesses together. A TEDx speaker, she graduated from UCLA's Entrepreneurship Program.
Emily Friedberg helps organizations leverage their ability to market and to increase brand awareness by harnessing the power of technology. She drives development in the product-marketing arena by utilizing a macro-level systems approach coupled with the ability to translate complex concepts into micro-level details, resulting in sustainable/systemic and effective programs. By building strong partnerships, she continues to refine her expertise in product marketing with an acute focus on data-driven results and efficiencies. Prior to moving her focus to smaller technology start-ups, Emily spent 14 years working in large technology companies. She has been and continues to be dedicated to creating excellent customer experiences and exceeding customers’ expectations.
Emily holds a BS in Information Systems and a MS in Telecommunications from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
Helene serves as Guckenheimer’s Chief Innovations Officer, leading the interdisciplinary Operations Excellence Group, comprised of the Culinary team, the Merchandising & Standards team, the Food Lab, and the Continuous Process Improvement Team. A 25+ year food service industry veteran, Helene is a chef who grew into an operational executive. She is a former President of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs (WCR), a former board member of the Chefs Collaborative and an advisory board member for the Southern California School of the Culinary Arts. She has also been recognized by the Beard Foundation’s Great Regional Chefs series.
Raised in Philadelphia, Helene’s first job was working in her family’s pizza shops. She attended Penn State for Restaurant and Hotel Management and started her culinary career with high-end convention hotels. Then she moved to San Diego in 1987 as a concept R&D chef in corporate dining and joined Bon Appetit (BA) in 1996, at The Getty in Los Angeles. Just prior to joining Guckenheimer, Helene was serving as BA’s Regional Vice President of Google Global Accounts.
Tom Spier is the Founder and Managing Partner of Boulder Food Group. Tom previously co-founded EVOL Foods and was the COO of Bear Naked Granola during its rapid expansion. Under Tom’s management, both EVOL and Bear Naked were successfully sold to public companies. Additionally, Tom proudly serves on two food focused non-profit boards, the Growe Foundation and Organic Voices (Just Label It). The Growe Foundation focuses on experiential learning opportunities for children through Boulder Valley School District. Organic Voices has a dual mandate, specifically 1) to promote the growth of organic food and 2) to work at the federal level to achieve mandatory labeling of genetically engineered foods. Tom was born and raised in Santa Fe, NM. He attended Santa Fe Preparatory School and then Vanderbilt University where he graduated magna cum laude with dual degrees in Economics and Spanish. Tom lives in Boulder, CO with his wife and two sons.
With more than 20 years of experience, Amy is a global food-marketing specialist with a flair and passion for developing dynamic communication programs and culinary experiences for some of the nation's most prestigious brands, restaurant chains, and U.S. commodities. She joined Sterling Rice Group in 2015 as a managing director to help further develop the extensive B2C and B2B food practice. Her relationships in the close-knit food community run deep, including media, agricultural and culinary thought leaders, chefs, food scientists, and retailers. Most recently, Amy developed SRG STREETDive, a proprietary culinary immersion and ideation think tank for food professionals and their customers, designed to identify new trends from a street view and stimulate fresh thinking in R&D.
A strong believer of integrated marketing solutions, Amy has extensive expertise in strategic planning, branding, consumer and trade advertising, public relations, culinary innovation, media planning, event marketing, sales support, trend tracking, and producer-grower communications. Her expertise spans both CPG, foodservice brands and agricultural commodities, and non-food companies.
Prior to SRG, Amy was a Senior Vice Presidentwith Ketchum/San Francisco, a global communications firm. Amy currently serves on the Women's Council at the Leeds School of Business at University of Colorado, is a fellow at the Culinary Institute of America, and was president of the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC). She has won numerous advertising, public relations, and marketing awards, including PRSA Silver and Bronze Anvils, ADDY Awards, National Agri-Marketing Awards, and Mercury Awards. Amy resides in Boulder, Colorado, named the "foodiest Town in America" by Bon Appetit magazine, with her husband and two children.
Mark oversees New Seasons Market’s store operations, merchandising and store development teams. Formerly a Regional Vice President for Whole Foods, Mark brings extensive experience in natural and organic grocery. Mark’s work at Whole Foods included a wide range of positions in marketing, merchandising and operations leadership. Mark brings a seasoned, grounded and hands-on approach to store operations and merchandising. Mark currently serves on the board of directors for Urban Gleaners based in Portland, OR and The Chef Ann Foundation based in Boulder, CO.
Maria Emmer-Aanes is a veteran with two decades of experience driving growth revenue and profits by connecting consumer products to their markets. Having honed her expertise at industry leaders like Target and Grey Advertising, Maria shifted her focus to natural, organic and sustainable offerings, directing the marketing efforts for Great Harvest Bread Company, Nature’s Path Foods, Litehouse Foods and now Numi Organic Tea. As Vice President of Marketing and Sales, Maria has brought her experience in natural and conventional grocery Numi Organic Tea to help them reach wider audiences in more meaningful ways, directing innovative approaches that integrate all sales, marketing, social media, branding, ecommerce, packaging and sustainability efforts. She is a professional marketer and expert in harnessing the powers of marketing and sales to create a groundswell of change.
Maria has brought her passion for helping to improve people’s eating habits to all her roles and her empowering leadership was recently recognized as one of the Top Women in Grocery by Progressive Grocer.
Our dedicated staff is integral to running the day-to-day operations of CAF and delivering our mission by continuously growing our reach, capabilities, and available resources.
Mara Fleishman, Chief Executive Officer
After becoming involved in school food as a concerned parent, Mara Fleishman served on the CAF board of directors from the very beginning, then transitioned to Executive Director in March of 2013. She is now the Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation. In this role, Mara supervises all CAF staff and is responsible for program development and oversight, national partnerships, strategic planning, and organizational growth. Mara has nearly 20 years of experience working in natural products including 12 years with Whole Foods Market where she served most recently as National Director of Partnerships. She is dedicated to educating people regarding the benefits of healthy food, and has spoken about sustainable business practices on panels at Yale University and at the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business where she was a guest lecturer. In addition to CAF, she has held board seats at The Growe Foundation, the Kitchen Community, and Naturally Boulder. Mara’s background in marketing and partnerships, combined with her expertise in natural and organic food and her advocacy efforts to improve school food, uniquely position her to lead CAF through its growth and expansion in the coming years.
Favorite school lunch: Sweet & Sour Chicken
Favorite way to keep healthy: Mostly eat plant-based foods, lots of rest, regular exercise, and lots of laughing.
Emily Gallivan, Director of Programs
Emily joined the Chef Ann Foundation in February 2016 as a Program Associate and now serves as Director of Programs. She manages the Get Schools Cooking and Project Produce programs. She also supports the Salad Bars to Schools program and new program development. Emily believes that food is a central aspect to everyday life and all children should have access to not just food, but good healthy food and knowledge regarding that food. Emily received her M.A. in Food Studies where she spent time studying food through various disciplines, including business, culture, history, sustainable agriculture, and the journey food takes from production to consumption. She also spent time researching the potential of farm-to-school programs and agritourism connecting local farmers with consumers. She has experience working in a variety of small food businesses that focus on regional ingredients including restaurants, cheese shop, and distillery.
Favorite school lunch: Veggie Burger
Favorite way to keep healthy: I enjoy playing tennis, swimming, roaming about on long walks, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables.
Danielle Staunton, Development Director
Danielle joined the Chef Ann Foundation as the Director of Development in December 2016 to bolster the organization’s fund raising efforts after a lengthy career in business development. Danielle was inspired by the work of the foundation when she competed in CAF’s first Real School Food Challenge, having to create a school food scratch recipe meeting the strict USDA nutrition requirements and a budget of $1.25. She knew at that moment that she would someday use her talents to make sure kids everywhere know what real food tastes like.
As a mother, Danielle knows first-hand the challenges of raising children with healthy eating habits and how high sugar, highly processed foods can affect a child’s mental and emotional health. Exposure to a variety of fresh fruits and veggies at an early age is key to creating a healthy palate and lifelong positive relationship with food.
Favorite school lunch: Pulled pork sandwich
Favorite way to keep healthy: I love cooking with quinoa, finding interesting substitutions when baking with my son, and spontaneously getting the dance party started no matter where I am.
Caroline Mende, Online Programs Coordinator
Caroline joined the team full time in November of 2017 following the successful completion of a Research and Development Internship. After discovering an interest in foodways while working with archaeological collections at St. Mary's College of Maryland, Caroline gained nonprofit experience as an AmeriCorps VISTA. She is currently excited to work with CAF in a position that ties her interests in food and public health with mission driven projects. She now serves as the Online Programs Coordinator for School Food Institute and The Lunch Box. As the Teaching Assistant for School Food Institute, she ensures courses are up to date, fields questions from students, grades assignments, and evaluates student progress and satisfaction.
Allison Ildefonso, Marketing Coordinator
Allison joined the Chef Ann team in August of 2018 as Marketing Coordinator. In this role, Allison oversees the organization’s digital media and marketing efforts, external communications, public relations, and assists with fundraising initiatives and program awareness. Allison believes that food is closely connected to individual and environmental health, and it all starts with the wellbeing of today’s youth. She received an M.A. in Journalism with a Graduate Certificate in Environment, Science, & Policy from the University of Colorado Boulder. She also holds a bachelor’s in Mass Communication and English writing from Colorado Mesa University.
Danielle Eliser, Director of Online Programs
With 5+ years of nonprofit experience, Danielle Eliser supports the Chef Ann team as Director of Online Programs. In this role, Danielle manages The School Food Institute and The Lunchbox, including site development and enrollment. Danielle believes food choices have a huge impact on our lives, and loves using her project management and marketing skills to improve the world around her. Danielle previously worked for the Humane Society, and spends the weekends reading or hiking with her border collie mix, Tucker.
Messa, Programs Coordinator
Messa, Programs Coordinator with the Chef Ann Foundation, most recently hails from Longmont, Colorado. Their professional and academic career is in sustainable food systems with a focus on regional food policy, agricultural practices, and participatory research methodology. They are currently an active member of the Colorado Food Policy Leadership Council and has led two countywide food policy councils in Colorado. Messa is excited about the Chef Ann Foundation because they believe that school food is a powerful way to impact a regional foodshed and directly increase healthy eating habits and nutrition education in youth across the nation. Messa enjoys a good book and is currently learning how to play jazz riffs on the upright bass.
Leslie Stafford, Director of Accounting and Human Resources
As Director of Accounting and Human Resources, Ms. Stafford is responsible for all financial, budget, and accounting functions of the organization. She provides supervision and leadership for the management of financial accounting and reporting, budgeting, general accounting, payroll, property accounting, accounts payable, and more. Prior to joining the Chef Ann Foundation, Leslie was Chief Operating Officer for Boulder Valley School District and has a strong background in public accounting. She has been a certified public accountant since 1997. Education: B.B.A., University of Georgia; B.A., Texas Christian University
Meet Chef Ann Cooper
Chef Ann Cooper is an internationally recognized author, chef, educator, public speaker, and advocate of healthy food for kids.