leadership

Leadership

The FoodLab Board

The FoodLab board is a dedicated team of working professionals who share FoodLab's core values and have taken on the responsibility of keeping our proverbial compass pointed north. They guide us with financial and organizational strategy to optimize our capacity to serve the FoodLab membership base and the greater Detroit community on our path to a new food economy.  

Current Board Members

Dr. Alicia Renee Farris, President
Alicia Renee Farris is the State Director of Restaurant Opportunities Center of Michigan where she gives leadership to a local movement to achieve social and economic justice for restaurant workers. Farris, a lifelong resident of Detroit, is passionate about justice and equality. She has worked in local and state government and in nonprofit settings such as New Detroit, Inc. Michigan Institute for Nonviolence Education, Michigan Neighborhood Partnership and Doing Development Differently in Metropolitan Detroit. Dr. Farris has served on numerous local and national nonprofit boards and as adjunct professor for the University of Detroit Mercy’s College of Liberal Arts and Education.

Gina Schrader, Secretary
 
Gina Schrader manages programs to advance and commercialize advanced energy and mobility innovations at NextEnergy, a technology accelerator located in Midtown Detroit. In this role, she works with start-ups and mature firms by finding the tools and resources for entrepreneurs to move their business forward.  She has worn many hats during her career: researcher, analyst, strategy consultant, project manager, fundraiser, and program evaluator. Her past consulting work has focused on business! case strategy development, program evaluation and helping to implement a hospital's healthy, sustainable food policy and food management services program.  During her time at the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies she conducted research on effective investment and sustainable development strategies.

Jake Williams, Treasurer
Jake Williams is an award-winning chef who works as a Cooking Matters satellite coordinator with Gleaners Community Food Bank. In this role, he ensures cooking-based nutrition education classes are held to the highest standard in order to effectively and successfully teach low-income families how to cook healthy, delicious meals on a budget. Before joining Gleaners, he has worked for a mobile catering company feeding race car drivers and their support staff, traveling around North America and Europe. He runs his own catering business, Chef Jake’s Catering, custom building menus for clients’ special events. His love of food where it intersects with culture prompted him to found Sarap Detroit, a Filipino pop-up restaurant concept. After working in the industry for 13 years, he went to Macomb Community College to hone and refine his skills in culinary arts. Williams believes that it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what faith you believe in, food has the power to bring everyone together to the table and learn from each other.

Winona Bynum
Winona Bynum joined the Detroit Food Policy Council (DFPC) as the organization’s Executive Director in January 2015. Prior to joining DFPC, Winona Bynum worked for Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan in Detroit, as a manager of youth and nutrition programs. Her areas of oversight at Gleaners have included the Fresh Food Share Program, Kids Helping Kids, BackPack Program, SmartBites Program, Summer Food Service Program, School Food Mobile Pantries, NuVal Initiative, and SNAP Outreach. Winona is a registered dietitian/nutritionist (RDN), a graduate of Wayne State University’s Coordinated Program in Dietetics, and she has a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree in Applied Informatics from Emory University’s Rollins School of Public Health Executive MPH Program.

Will Branch
Will Branch is co-founder of Corridor Sausage Co. in Detroit. He graduated from Michigan State University with a degree in English and went on to work a series of desk jobs before making the switch to a path in the culinary world. Since finishing culinary school, he has held a number of cook and chef positions in Detroit, trained in New York, ate his way through Paris and, finally, established Corridor Sausage Co. to bring hand-made, artisan meats to the Detroit market. Corridor Sausage is available in stores throughout Michigan, from co-ops to small chains to independent markets. It also sources as close to home as possible, with a majority of purchases from within 250 miles. Corridor has worked hard to build those sourcing relationships in the food system, which will be crucial as it launches a new product line. The future holds promise for Corridor Sausage Co., and that promise transcends from the business world into personal life. Will has a four-year-old daughter and sausage is a go-to meal.  In musing about making her sausage and scrambled eggs for breakfast, Branch says, "That's one of the things that's changed for me … focusing on something healthy for families."

Staff

The staff team at FoodLab is committed to the vision of a diverse, fair, and green food economy built by its membership. We cultivate the know-how and skillset of developing business owners; connect those business owners to other businesses and resources to facilitate a rich network of professionals working together; and catalyze movement toward shared goals to benefit the community at large.  

Devita Davison, Executive Director

A native of Detroit and daughter of a preacher, Devita lived almost 19 years in New York before moving back to her hometown in 2012. For her, words are not just letters strung together; they are vessels for love and fight, heart ache, wisdom, and profound joy. To say she wears her heart on her sleeve doesn't feel adequate; whether decrying from the TED stage injustices in the food system or expounding on the beauty of a ripe strawberry in summer, her passion for this work is palpable. With fiery talk, wide-open arms, and an insatiable appetite for reading the latest in food justice and innovation, Devita propels the growth of FoodLab Detroit to create a food system truly equitable, sustainable, cooperative and community driven

Angela Dagle, Operations Manager

In line with her title, Angela sifts through data, filters what’s necessary, sees connections between seemingly disparate pieces, and easily builds efficient systems to manage the FoodLab membership and related programming. Angela joined the FoodLab community in 2012 as a participating business in the first iteration of BASE where she developed the business that she would later name Beautiful Soup. Beside coordinating the ins and outs of our membership base and spearheading a partnership with Keep Growing Detroit, she has three kids with her husband and maintains an ongoing affair with Jane Austen novels. She may very well be the personification of kindness, too.

Ederique Goudia, Program Associate

If you ask her mother, Ederique started cooking when she was merely three years old and has not stopped since. She hails from a small town nestled along the Mississippi River in between New Orleans and Baton Rouge by the name of Vacherie, Louisiana where she was born and raised.  She moved to Michigan 15 years ago immediately after college. A veteran of the restaurant industry, she is the co-founder and food business consultant for In the Business of Food, LLC, manages all of FoodLab's programming and member support and is the co-owner of Gabriel Hall - a Creole restaurant, bar, and music venue coming to West Village neighborhood of Detroit.  You can catch her hosting pop-ups and catering events in and around Detroit prior to Gabriel Hall's opening.

Scarlett Bickerton, 2018 Sustainability Research Fellow
Scarlett is approaching her third year as an undergraduate student completing a dual B.S. degree in Movement Science and Gender and Health with a supplemental study in the Fundamentals of Public Health. Post-graduation, she hopes to pursue a Master of Public Health in Health Policy and Management.  Scarlett holds leadership roles in 2 extracurricular activities: The Interdisciplinary Health Club, and a social sorority. She is also a member of a grass-roots organization called WeListen that focuses on bridging America’s political divide through small-group discussion, the University of Michigan’s Association for Women in Science, and the Maternal and Child Student Association.

Roselyn Nsenga, 2018 Sustainability Research Fellow
Roselyn is a rising sophomore at the University of Michigan. Her academic interests include History as it pertains to historically misrepresented or underrepresented groups, and Human Biology as it relates to Health, both at an individual and population level. Roselyn lives in Kalamazoo, MI but she grew up in Lilongwe, Malawi and speaks four languages with a never ceasing desire to learn more. Having been raised in a home where she practiced subsistence farming, growing things like corn, tomatoes, cabbage, eggplants, chilli peppers, various leafy greens, root and tuber crops, pumpkins, watermelons, and fruit trees including lemons, bananas, papayas, and mangoes to mention a few, the importance of “good food” has always been a big part of her life. However, it was not until she moved to the US and noticed how hard it could be to get these foods, particularly in terms of accessibility and affordability, that she truly began to understand just how important good food is.  
 
 
 
Former Staff and Fellows
  • Jess Daniel, Founder and Chief Enabler

  • Colin Packard, Co-Director & Community Catalyzer

  • Elana Fox, Co-Director & Creativity Conductor

  • Hildie Haviland, Membership Services Administrator

  • Tawnya Clark, FoodLab Ambassador

  • Anna Springer, Program Manager

  • Rebecca Baylor, Operation Above Ground Research Fellow

  • Purabi Devi, Programming Fellow

  • Paola Mendez, Kitchen Connect Fellow

  • Izzy Morrison, Communications Fellow

  • Tara Tarazi, Membership Fellow

  • Gwen Schaller, Community Action Fellow

  • Kelsey Griffin, Public Health Research Fellow

  • Katherine Pohl, Storytelling Fellow

  • Nazneen Gibson, Storytelling Fellow

 A Special Shout Out to our Founder, Jess Daniel

Jess is FoodLab's cheerful, fierce, and fearless Founder. A curious soul with a boundless capacity for learning and adventure, Jess drew on her varied experiences -- from product marketing at Google, program design and evaluation at local NGOs in Cambodia, policy work at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition, and processing chickens on a small farm in the San Juan Islands -- to envision and design FoodLab’s holistic programs and participatory and practical approach to growing a more resilient, more just, more healthy, and more delicious food economy. She founded FoodLab in 2011, guided by her PhD work in the Department of Community Sustainability at Michigan State University, and inspired by the many entrepreneurs and activists she befriended while running her own small pop-up noodle restaurant in Detroit.  

Thanks to Jess's vision and dedication, and her skill as a systems-thinker, bridge-builder, and facilitator, what started as a small informal meeting around Jess's kitchen table has since grown into a non-profit organization with over 150 dues-paying business members and a solid reputation for effective and thoughtful leadership and for  bringing together diverse groups in a city that's often dividedJess’s efforts have been acknowledged with a Crain’s “20 In Their 20s” award, a Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) Local Living Economies Fellowship, and frequent calls from other cities looking to start their own “FoodLab.” Jess transitioned out of FoodLab in early 2015 and still supports the organization through emails, phone calls, and lots of cyber hugs.