Executive Director, Dana Rizer
Dana is a lifelong food enthusiast and has been a dedicated student of the body for the past twelve years. Prior to her work at FEAST, Dana worked as a health consultant and wellness educator offering holistic nutrition education, yoga instruction, cooking classes and food consulting to groups and private clients. She has been a part of FEAST's leadership team since the culmination of the first pilot program and has worked in every sector of the organization. She is the co-author of FEAST’s curriculum alongside founder, Sam Polk, and is the developer of the FEAST leadership training methodology. Since 2014, Dana has overseen ongoing program expansion and development, fundraising, program and organization management and administration. She has helped FEAST grow from two groups to more than 50 (with more on the way). Under her leadership, FEAST has helped impact the lives of 500 individuals and their families.
Dana is also a 500-hour Advanced Registered Yoga Teacher, is currently a lead teacher at Wanderlust Hollywood, and has spent many years on the faculty of the Nosara Yoga Institute as a head facilitator for their annual professional yoga teacher trainings. She has a Master’s degree in Food Studies from New York University, and a whole foods culinary training degree from the Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts.
Communications/Development Associate, Lauren Rejvani
Lauren Rejvani is a Colorado native with a MA in International Development from the University of Denver and a BA in Political Science and International Affairs from the University of Colorado Boulder. She is an experienced communications campaign manager who has worked on dozens of projects for nonprofit, environmental and progressive organizations with Portland, Oregon based communications firm, Winning Mark.
While completing her Master’s, Lauren worked for Namlo, an international nonprofit organization serving rural populations in Nepal and Nicaragua. While with Namlo, Lauren focused on fundraising and donor outreach as well as developing the digital infrastructure of the organization and tracking various health and development projects in Nepal and Nicaragua.
In her free time, Lauren enjoys hiking in Griffith Park, doing yoga, and cooking Persian food at home.
Community Manager, Ana Guzman
Ana Guzman brings years of community leadership experience to FEAST’s organizational team. Her leadership roles have included chairperson for the English Learners Advisory Committee, and chairperson for the School Site Council. Additionally, she has served as a translator, LAUSD district meetings representative, and parent board member for the Alliance Board of Directors. A graduate of the second FEAST group, Ana immediately established new partnerships with local schools and community centers, helping to spread FEAST’s programs to additional neighborhoods in South LA. She has served as a FEAST group leader, organizer and recruiter, assisted with translating FEAST's program into Spanish, and now manages the FEAST’s Community Center, broadening our programing and deepening relationships with current Group members and alumni.
Board of Directors
Seth Cohen (Managing Partner, Sweetfin Poke)
Seth Cohen was born and raised in Los Angeles. He received a Bachelor’s degree in business from the USC Marshall School of Business and a concentration in International Business through the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark where he focused his studies on international brand development and marketing. Seth is currently the managing partner at Sweetfin Holdings, a fine, fast-casual restaurant concept that has 7 locations in Los Angeles with national expansion plans in the near future. Sweetfin was launched in April of 2015 with the goal of providing healthy, nutritious and flavorful bowls and a more approachable way for modern diners to enjoy sushi.
Prior to developing the Sweetfin concept, Seth worked in real estate finance where he had been heavily involved in credit and underwriting analysis for commercial, multi-family and residential properties. He currently serves on the Board of Advisors of “Wild and Free,” a recently launched fast-casual concept. When he’s not working, Seth can be found on his road bike or driving around Los Angeles attempting to discover the newest culinary secrets the city has to offer.
Christina M. Ford, MD (Psychiatrist, private practice) Board Chair
Christina Ford, MD, is a Harvard-trained psychiatrist who incorporates traditional and integrative techniques to help her patients realize their fullest potential. She combines a background in general psychiatry and women’s mental health with a nuanced understanding of nutrition, herbs, mind-body techniques and the efficacy of lifestyle changes to provide a holistic approach to mental and emotional well-being. Dr. Ford is passionate about the power of dietary changes to reduce and prevent chronic disease and improve overall health and wellness. A native Angeleno, she previously worked at the non-profit Step Up On Second, providing mental health care to homeless individuals in Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Joining FEAST allows her to combine her passions for social justice, nutrition and self-empowerment.
Dr. Ford earned her BA in English from Barnard College/Columbia University and her MD from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She completed both her Adult Psychiatry Residency and a Fellowship in Women’s Mental Health at Harvard Medical School (Harvard Longwood Psychiatry Residency Training Program/Brigham & Women’s Hospital).
Kurt Halvorson (Portfolio Manager, WAMCO) Board Vice Chair
Kurt Halvorson is a Portfolio Manager at Western Asset Management in Pasadena, CA. He has been with the company since 2010. Prior to joining Western, Mr. Halvorson worked as a Corporate Bond Trader at AEGON Investments, Conseco Capital Management, and Bank of America. He has a B.A. in Business from Covenant College and also holds the Chartered Financial Analyst(CFA) designation. Mr. Halvorson is a former Board member of the Covenant College Foundation and has also served on the Investment Committee for the Endowment at his alma mater. He has three children: Karsten(14), Katelyn(12) and Maren(10). Kurt has a passion for helping people, especially around issues with food, which has been a lifelong struggle for him.
Corlis Lewis (Elementary Educator, LAUSD, FEAST Graduate)
Bio coming soon.
Sky Meltzer (CEO, Manduka Yoga) Strategy Committee Chair
Bio coming soon.
Michael Meyer (Head of Sales & Trading, The Seaport Group)
Michael Meyer is the Head of Sales and Trading at The Seaport Group. Before Seaport, Michael was Head of Global Investment Grade Trading and Sales for Bank of America. Prior to BofA Michael managed the US Corporate Bond Trading Desk for UBS Securities. Before UBS, Michael held various senior level positions for Merrill Lynch and CSFB. Michael holds an A.B. from Duke University.
Sam Polk (Founder, FEAST (formerly Groceryships), Co-Founder, Everytable)
Sam Polk is Founder of FEAST, and the Co-Founder and CEO of Everytable. He is a graduate of Columbia University and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) designation, which he earned during his eight years as a bond and derivative trader for Bank of America, and King Street Capital Management. After leaving Wall Street in 2010, Sam spent the next few years writing a book and doing volunteer work in Los Angeles through organizations like My Friend’s Place and Aviva, before founding FEAST. He is on the Board of Directors for Honor Kids International, and is passionate about helping children.
Amanda Railla (Interior Designer, Fundraiser/Philanthropist) Fundraising Committee Co-Chair
An LA-Native, Amanda's career path has spanned many fields beginning as an educator for children with special needs, to becoming a mom, and then later an interior designer. Outside of her professional work, Amanda supported mission-driven organizations as an active volunteer at her children's schools, and on the Board of Fundraising for Soka University. She brings her incredible eye for design and experience with fundraising to events as FEAST's fundraising committee co-chair.
Joe Spiccia (Attorney, Grancell, Stander, Reubens, Thomas, Kinsey, APC) Secretary
Joe Spiccia is an associate litigation attorney at a statewide insurance defense law firm in El Segundo, CA. Joe became a member of the California Bar in 2008. Prior to his current position, Joe advocated for injured employees and represented workers suffering discrimination, harassment, and wrongful terminations at work. He was also a legal clerk and advocate at the Los Angeles City Attorney's Office and the City of Cleveland Department of Law, Criminal Division. Joe earned his law degree at Case Western Reserve University, where he was the student director of a joint program between the school and Big Brothers, Big Sisters, providing mentorship to children within the community. He earned his B.A. in sociology and history at Ohio State University. Joe has a lifelong interest in the emotional and physical effects of food.
Jim Williamson, (CEO, Sage Street Management) Treasurer
Jim Williamson is the President of Sage Street Management, a services company he founded in 2003. Sage Street operates two business divisions, one in food service and the second in financial consulting services. Mr. Williamson is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) who has twenty years of experience in operations and financial management. Mr. Williamson holds an undergraduate degree in Business/Economics from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He is passionate about health and wellness and also serves as a Board Member of the Collins & Katz Family YMCA.
Dorcia White-Brake, (FEAST Graduate, Everytable Ambassador, Teacher's Aide)
Dorcia White-Brake is a native Angelino, and a mother of three fabulous and creative children ranging from ages 11 - 26. She works as a full-time teacher's assistant in a 1st grade classroom, works evenings and weekends at Everytable as a store lead, and is an entrepreneur, running a small business specialized in event cleaning and maintenance. In addition to her many roles, she is pursuing her Bachelor's Degree in Liberal Arts, and intends to transfer to Cal State Dominguez in the Fall of 2018 in order to become a teacher. A graduate of FEAST's second group, Dorcia says, "Being part of [FEAST] gave me the courage to believe I could achieve my goals... [FEAST] has changed my life in so many ways. My food journey has gotten a lot easier with all the knowledge I gained while in the group. It also taught me to continue to expect food justice for myself and my family. “
Adam Weisblatt (Founder, Last Word Hospitality)
A Massachusetts native, avid traveler, lifelong restaurant man, and well-respected hospitality mentor in Los Angeles, Adam Weisblatt brings over fifteen years of bar and restaurant experience to LWH. After earning a Hotel and Restaurant Management degree from UMass-Amherst, Weisblatt moved to California and began developing his successful style of hospitality leadership. He has worked with multiple venues and management groups including the innovative beverage and nightlife team, Proprietors LLC.
Weisblatt has been responsible for operations in projects ranging from Downtown Los Angeles’ acclaimed cocktail bar and disco, Honeycut, to Norah, one of the most successful restaurant openings of 2016 in Los Angeles, and has provided international consulting in Moscow, and Mumbai. Weisblatt sits on the Board of Directors for LA’s FEAST and is the Director of Last Word Academy, a free management-training program for aspiring hospitality managers and entrepreneurs.
Lauren Fisher is a senior sales and marketing executive with a strong, proven track record of growth and innovation. She’s also a human in pursuit of her personal passions. The two are about to dovetail: since moving from NY to LA, Lauren has achieved nutrition certification and is working towards health coaching certification. Her goal: to make healthy living an option for everyone.
Lauren has made a career out of exceeding her goals. She’s built and managed sales teams, leading them to surpass revenue targets. She’s created highly innovative marketing strategies for such blue-chip media brands as Shape, Glamour and Hollywood Reporter.
Lauren currently leads sales for Pop-Up Magazine Productions, which produces a prestigious series of live events and publishes an award-winning magazine. In that role, she’s helped develop story-led marketing programs for such brands as Amazon Studios, Netflix, Shinola and Mailchimp.
Over a 20-plus-year career, Lauren has forged deep relationships across the media and marketing industries, with a focus on fashion, retail, activewear and consumer goods.
Her goal-oriented approach to her career extends to her personal passion for fitness, nutrition, exercise and health. As a teacher and leader, she gains the most satisfaction from giving others the tools they need to succeed in meeting life goals.
Skip Garrett is a senior analyst with Manatt Digital, a business strategy advisory division of Manatt. He provides strategic analysis, recommendations and development services to companies of all stages looking to accelerate growth within the competitive digital landscape.
With nearly a decade of experience in project management and strategic marketing consulting for several Fortune 500 companies, Skip leverages a background in data analytics, financial modeling and systems engineering to meet clients’ business development needs. Before joining Manatt, he led a cross-functional team of over 50 people, as director of operations for a solar energy solutions company, where he implemented Operations 2.0 playbook for digitizing labor cost analysis, project management and procurement processes, while also developing a data dashboard to monitor, analyze and manage key productivity and cost metrics. Skip has also spent several years in the film, television and music industries as a strategy and marketing consultant for a major record label and a major film studio.
Skip first became a supporter of Groceryships/FEAST in 2015, during the launch of his smoothie start-up called FreshStax. He founded FreshStax to unite the community around solving the food desert problem in Los Angeles by delivering smoothies to people’s home, gym or office using a weekly subscription model and donating fresh produce to the underserved each time a delivery is made.
In addition to donating his products during Groceryships/FEAST’s graduate support circles, Skip has also donated Thanksgiving Feasts to our participants each holiday for the last two years.
Ana Guzman (FEAST Graduate, Community Manager, FEAST)
Ana Guzman is a graduate of FEAST's second ever group, in 2015. Since her graduation, Ana has single-handedly forged new partnerships, recruited group members, launched and led several FEAST Groups. In addition to her work with FEAST, Ana has been an active leader in her children’s school community working for ten years as a volunteer at Normandie Elementary. Leadership roles included chairperson of the English Learners Advisory Committee, and chairperson of the School Site Council. Additionally, she has served as a translator, LAUSD district meetings representative, and parent board member for the Alliance Board of Directors.
Trevor Kale (VP, Chrysalis Enterprises)
Trevor leads Chrysalis’ social enterprises, which collectively generate over 600 transitional jobs per year and more than $7 million in annual revenue. Trevor has over 15 years experience spanning both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. Early in his career he delivered in-home interventions for at-risk youth and their families in his native state of Montana
He then moved to Sydney, Australia in 2000 where he gained international business experience with mobile phone giants Vodafone and Virgin Mobile. Trevor moved back to the USA in 2005 and worked in operations for a high tech startup in Los Angeles before returning to nonprofit work with Chrysalis in 2008.
Trevor was awarded a Marano Fellowship from the Aspen Institute and Public/Private Ventures in 2009, a Coro Executive Fellowship in 2011 and was named to American Express’ “50 under 40” Social Enterprise leaders in 2014. He serves on the Advisory Board of FEAST and is a member of their Board Governance Committee.
Dina Rose (Sociologist, Founder, It's Not About Nutrition)
Dina Rose has a PhD in sociology from Duke University and more than twenty years’ experience in teaching and research. For parents who want to feed their kids right, Dina leverages a unique combination of expertise as a sociologist and a mother to help parents solve their kids’ eating problems by focusing on the root of the problem—eating habits, not nutrition. A member of FEAST’s programming committee, Dina's innovative Food Explorer toolkits are being piloted as a resource for families in FEAST’s programs. Read more about her work here: www.itsnotaboutnutrition.com
Kirsten Thompson (Co-Founder, FEAST (formerly Groceryships), Doctor of Psychiatry, UCLA) Programming Committee Chair
Kirsten Thompson is a Doctor of Psychiatry from UCLA. Prior to UCLA, Kirsten spent two years as a resident in General Surgery at USC. She is a graduate of Cornell University and SUNY Downstate, where she earned her M.D. She co-founded FEAST alongside her husband, Sam Polk after learning firsthand about the healing power of whole foods, and she is interested in the psycho-social and emotional issues surrounding obesity.
Jeff Taraday (Certified Health Coach)
Jeff Taraday is a reformed junk food addict and barbecue junkie who discovered the power of a whole foods, plant-based diet in in 2010. Prior to his dietary change, he was thirty pounds overweight and a heavy drinker. Switching to a plant-based diet has helped him lose the extra weight and transform him into a fitness and exercise junkie and a plant-based nutrition advocate.
Jeff is a certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and a Nutritional Education Trainer through the Nutritional Education Institute. He has also completed a certification in plant-based nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Foundation. He is the author of the blog The Plant Eater, and coaches individuals and families around the country in nutrition how to incorporate nutrient-dense, plant-centric meals into their daily lives.
New York Advisory Board Members
Cricket Azima – Founder and CEO, The Creative Kitchen
Liv Boova – Finance, presently on maternity leave
Angela Deering – Managing Director, Seaport Global
Charlotte Denoyer – Lead Teacher, AmericaCorps
Taylor Durland – Director Next Generation Initiatives, Wilmington Trust
Nancy Easton – Co-Founder/Executive Director, Wellness in the Schools (WITS)
Friso van Reesema – VP Business Development, CipherHealth
Drew Ramsey, MD – Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychiatry, Columbia University, Author