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

Mike Medow, President

Mike Medow is Director of Communications and Finance for Allied Media Projects (AMP) and a founder of the award-winning record label and art production company Emergence Media. He led the process of bringing the annual Allied Media Conference to a new permanent home in Detroit in 2007, and, in the years following, growing attendance to several thousand artists, technologists, community organizers, and educators from across the U.S. and beyond. In recognition of this work, Mike was awarded the Marshall Memorial Fellowship in 2012. He regularly DJs around Detroit, playing vinyl selections of the house, techno, and disco.

Kat Hartman, Secretary

Kat loves data. That’s the truth. With human-centered and participatory design, she makes information accessible and engaging to any audience, operating as a translator between the expert and the public, using narratives and images to foster communication. Staying busy keeps her close to new data and the opportunity to draw new connections among different people. She is currently a fellow at the Civic Data Design Lab at MIT; an artist in residence with Detroit Community High Schools; and a consultant with Excellent Schools Detroit alongside her role on the FoodLab board.

Salvador Zavala, Member at large

Sal originally came to us as part of the 2014 BASE cohort, aiming to develop his taco catering business Chavo’s Tacos, a shout out to his roots in southern California. He and his wife moved to Detroit in the early 2000s and have no intention of leaving any time soon. He is a CPA with an MA in Accounting from the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan. He's worked for a number of local firms, including Deloitte Plante Moran, and, most recently, Heller & Weitzer. After coming across their work via the FoodLab network, Sal applied for and was hired for a position as Financial Manager at the Fair Food Network, a partner non-profit headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI with offices in Detroit.

Will Branch, Member at large

Will 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. He is a great example for businesses just starting in the city.

 

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.  

Angela Dagle, Director of Member Engagement

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. 

Devita Davison, Marketing and Communications 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 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’s programming to address the transforming needs of our members.  

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
  • 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.