Our Team

We are a team of hardworking, fun-loving individuals motivated to share how easy it can be to make and eat vegetable-forward dishes at home.

Staff

Maddy Booth Chief Operating Officer, Interim CEO

Maddy Booth Chief Operating Officer, Interim CEO

Is there a defining moment in your career that led you to VCP? How'd you get to us?

-When I moved back to Philly from the UK, I worked as a server at the first Pizzeria Vetri for its first year. The rest is history!

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

Fortunately, it relates to my job: I will happily talk about food at length. From growing and learning to forage to exploring food cultures from around the world and supporting local Philadelphia restaurants, food is central to everything.

Who would you choose (current or historical!) to be your life mentor, and why?
Michelle Obama for her wisdom, strength, and to remind me to remain kind especially through hard times.

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up? i.e. after-school activities
From a young age through my college years, I spent all of my extra time playing sports - soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. I do think that I missed my calling by not participating in musicals, but there's still time.

Tara Bledsoe, MS, RDN, LDN VCP Nutritionist

Tara Bledsoe, MS, RDN, LDN VCP Nutritionist

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

-Swiss chard because it is dependable. You can plant it in the spring and harvest its leaves over and over throughout the growing season. Even in the hottest part of the summer you can depend on getting chard!

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

-Farming! I grew up on a third generation farm in Western New York, where my father still has beef cattle and makes maple syrup. I have also worked on vegetable farms for the last 13 years where I get all my yummy produce.

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-My winding career path led me to be a biology researcher, a vegetable farmer, and then a nutrition educator. In my late thirties, while my children were both under the age of three, I decided to go back to graduate school to become a registered dietitian, combining all of my career experiences and passions. I am proud of completing all the hard work that goes into becoming a registered dietitian, and I am extremely grateful for my family’s support during the process.

What is your favorite thing to cook?

-I like to cook pie based on the seasons. Strawberry rhubarb in the spring, blueberry and raspberry in the summer, pumpkin and apple in the fall, and whatever fruit is left in my freezer in the winter!

Mary Bullock Snap-Ed Program Director

Mary Bullock Snap-Ed Program Director

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

-I would be fennel because I'm resourceful and happiest when surrounded by a variety of people and perspectives. Similarly, fennel is an ingredient in many different culinary traditions (very adaptable) and you can use every part of the plant to make something delicious (very resourceful)! Roughly chopped fennel seeds or fennel pollen are for spice blends or rubs. The wispy leaves and bulbs can be eaten raw or cooked. My favorite way to eat fennel right now is thinly sliced in a spunky salad with grapefruit, good feta and olive oil.

Is there a defining moment in your career that led you to VCP? How'd you get to us?

-One of my dearest friends recommended that I join the team in 2016. We met while working at Fork restaurant in Old City, Philadelphia three years earlier. While she went straight from the kitchen to VCP I took the scenic route, in search of new ways to better connect people and their food. Deciding to leave a career in food production years ago was a major shift-- you could even call it a defining moment in my career. But I think the real agent of change is a friendship that began with a shared passion for food.

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up?

-I loved anything crafty when I was young. We used to have Brownies meetings in our school cafeteria after school. I spent so much time on the arts and crafts projects that I was always the last one to leave. Big thanks to my mom who would have to get out of the car line to come remind me that everyone else was gone.

Lacey Cornell EAT360 Program Manager

Lacey Cornell EAT360 Program Manager

What brought you to Vetri Community Partnership?

-Right out of grad school, I joined FoodCorps and was part of that AmeriCorps program for 3 years in Arkansas and Iowa, teaching children and their families about gardening and nutrition education. After completing my terms of service, my family relocated to Albuquerque, New Mexico and I joined Kids Cook! as a nutrition educator and food procurement manager. My family moved to Philly in June 2021 and are excited to lay

If you were a vegetable what would you be and why?

-Rainbow Swiss Chard: I'm colorful and at my best when I've had time to cook for a bit.

What's an interest you could go on and on about?

-Foodways and folklore. I loved it so much I got my master's degree in it.

What neighborhood do you live in and what do you like most about it?

-Swampoodle within Strawberry Mansion. I like looking at all of the rowhouses around my area to see the different architectural stylings from street to street.

Kelsey DeCerchio EAT360 Program Educator

Kelsey DeCerchio EAT360 Program Educator

Is there a defining moment in your career that led you to VCP? How'd you get to us?

-When I was in my final year of my undergraduate degree, I was really feeling frustrated and was looking for something to connect my interests (food, culture) and a need for hands-on, giving back type medium. I interned for a similar organization in Philadelphia doing what I do now, and realized that was what I wanted to be doing. It was a mind-expanding experience! I then moved to Italy and taught English for a year, and when I returned, I started looking very hard for an opportunity like my internship, and with perfect timing a position opened up at VCP.

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

-My mom calls me the bartender from Cheers since I could talk about anything, but I could go on and on about languages and dialects in languages, bicycles, environmental justice, art history, the library, and food justice!

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-I'm most proud of living abroad in Italy twice, and becoming fluent in Italian over time through school and working. Even more so, I can understand and speak some of the dialect of the area where I lived (which is like another language separate from Italian!)

What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like about it?

-I grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia, went to Temple University (go Owls!), and haven't really lived anywhere since. So I've lived in so many neighborhoods in Philadelphia, and I love it all. Thing I love most is how much I've connected with my neighbors. It's the best thing about Philadelphia; the neighborly love.

Erika Dorsey Vetri Cooking Lab Program Coordinator

Erika Dorsey Vetri Cooking Lab Program Coordinator

Is there a defining moment in your career that led you to VCP? How'd you get to us?

-Finishing my dietetic internship last summer was absolutely the defining career moment that led me to being able to apply for a full-time position at VCP, it was perfect timing!

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?-

-There are so many: sparkling water, holistic health and wellness, parenting/motherhood, internet culture, and the idea that there are no "bad" music genres; you can find a great song in any genre.

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-Running 29.6 miles from North Jersey to NYC for a charity is something I'm super proud of myself for doing...and something I don't feel the need to ever do again, ha!

What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like about it?

I live in South Philly where Point Breeze meets Greys Ferry. My favorite part about it is Tom, my neighbor who has been here since his childhood and tells me stories of what our area used to be like.

Fae Z. Ehsan Development Manager

Fae Z. Ehsan Development Manager

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

-Definitely Harry Potter! I've read all the books multiple times, and I have a series of theories about almost every character.

Who would you choose (current or historical!) to be your life mentor, and why?

-My dream life mentor would be Ida B. Wells, a journalist, educator, and civil rights activist. She was the first journalist in the US to report on lynching, and her brave reporting is upheld as the standard in journalistic reporting to this day. She was also committed to obtaining the right to vote for black women. She is my hero!

What is your favorite food?

-Pasta! Any kind of pasta is my kind of pasta.

What neighborhood do you live in?

-I live in West Philly, and I love it here. There is so much incredible diversity here, and so many great restaurants and parks.

Jamara Griffin EAT360 Program Educator

Jamara Griffin EAT360 Program Educator

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?
-If I was a vegetable I probably would be a cauliflower. I am very creative and so are cauliflowers. They can be formed into pizza crusts, rice, and even buffalo wings. Cauliflowers also have an impressive hairstyle. I as well love to do my hair. Let's face it, cauliflowers are super cool!!

What is an interest you could go on and on about?
-I have a HUGE interest in performing arts. Outside of nutrition education, I act professionally. My acting experience include: film, voiceovers and theater. I hope to perform on Broadway one day!

What work/school/life accomplishment are you most proud of?
-In 2019, I published a children's book entitled Healthy Adventures with Kayla. The book is about a young girl (Kayla) sharing her passion of nutrition and her dream of becoming a health teacher. Kayla educates the readers on the various nutrients in certain foods. The book also consists of healthy recipes. I had the opportunity to publish this book while in college. It was a dream come true!

Who would you choose to be your life mentor and why?
- My mentor would be Helen Keller. Helen Keller (an American author born in June 1880) is so inspiring to me! She lost her sight and hearing when she was an infant. Through her hardships, she managed to publish books, become a disability rights advocate, and a teacher. She was so strong. I loved how she did not let her medical condition stop her from doing what she loved.

Trent Haines EAT360 Program Manager

Trent Haines EAT360 Program Manager

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

-I would be an ear of sweet corn. The obvious reason for this is that I'm from Iowa, but also because eating an ear is sweet corn is something people tend to associate with spending time with family, which is by far the most important part of my life.

Who would you choose to be your life mentor?

-My dad because of his ability to simplify and provide great advice on pretty much anything imaginable.

What brought you to Vetri Community Partnership?

-After working in the business world for nearly 15 years, I decided it was time to do something that truly I love. Having the opportunity to be part of the Team at Vetri Community Partnership is a combination of my passion for cooking, teaching, and mentoring kids. I 100% believe in the organization's mission and believe the work we are doing is have a significant impact on the Philadelphia community. As an added bonus, the organization is a group of dynamic people that I find inspiring and bring out the best side of me.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

-Winning my family's Easter Egg decorating contest 3 years in a row and a grand total of 5 times (2009-2011, 2014, 2019).

Lauren Hallowell Development Coordinator

Lauren Hallowell Development Coordinator

What is an interest you could go on and on about?

-Definitely music. I try to listen to every artist I discover at least once and love discussing what other people are listening to. You can find me at a concert on a regular basis.

What is your real-life super power (talent)?

-Remembering birthdays - Your best friend's cousin's dog's birthday is coming up in two months? Don't worry, I'll remind you.

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up?

-I was a figure skater growing up. The combination of flying across the ice and embracing the artistry and music is something I still love to this day.

What is the most important life lesson you've learned thus far?

-To experience as much as possible and enjoy even the smallest, most mundane moments.

Jen Holman EAT360 Program Educator

Jen Holman EAT360 Program Educator

What is an interest you could go on and on about?

-Sauna! My grandparents had roots in Finland, and one of the traditions that we hold on to is the family sauna. In Finland sauna is an intergenerational event, preferably followed by a freezing cold dip (or roll in the snow, if you're feeling bold!) One of my cousins even bought an ice saw, so that we can swim in the middle of winter. Our family sauna is in Massachusetts, so I can't use it as often as I like, but I never get tired of talking about the benefits of sitting in a 200 degree room and then jumping into an icy lake!

What accomplishment are you most proud of?

-For the last few years I have been part of a team that opened a small grocery store in South Philadelphia. I'm very proud of the success of the store, which managed to stay open and serve the community throughout the challenges of the pandemic. Providing fresh, affordable produce and healthful prepared foods to our neighborhood has been a privilege and it's gratifying to see the impact thoughtful business can have.

What is your favorite thing to cook?

-My favorite thing to cook is risotto. It's a dish that has a reputation for being sort of difficult or fussy, but really all it takes is a little patience. A simple parmesan risotto was one of the first recipes I ever picked out and learned to prepare on my own, and making it is kind of a reset for me when I'm feeling tired or in a cooking rut.

Christin Kwasny Development Director

Christin Kwasny Development Director

What brought you to Vetri Community Partnership?

-Out of college, I started working for the Ronald McDonald House Charities. It was there that I realized that my passion for supporting members of my community could be a career. This then paved the way for me to do fundraising for the National Kidney Foundation and after 9 years, happily the joined Vetri Community Partnership team!

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

-The Sixers (and probably Eagles too). I love Philly sports!

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-Being a mom to 2 amazing boys!

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up?

-After school, I loved playing soccer with my friends. Early on, we would play on the school yard but as I grew older, I was a member of my school team.

Sam Landsberg Program Coordinator

Sam Landsberg Program Coordinator

Who would you choose to be your life mentor, and why?

-Julia Child! She changed the world without compromising the weird and wonderful person she was.

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up?

-I loved any kind of art class. I was especially focused on drawing and it's still something I do almost every day.

What's the most important life lesson you've learned thus far?

-The most important life lesson I've learned so far is to listen. Everyone I meet knows something that I don't know or has experienced something that I haven't and listening and taking those things seriously has made me more compassionate. I'm grateful to everyone that has taken the time to teach me something!

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

-I think I'd be a radish, because I'm friendly and adapt myself to most situations (ie. salads, tacos, etc). I'm also a little spicy and go great with butter.

Celia Mason Vetri Cooking Lab Program Manager

Celia Mason Vetri Cooking Lab Program Manager

Is there a defining moment in your career that led you to VCP? How'd you get to us?

-I've always worked with kids or in education in some capacity and firmly believe that students learn by (and are empowered by) DOING. In the past I taught yoga and mindfulness to kids of all ages, then worked with college students studying sustainable agriculture and community development in Central America.

I had a particular interest in food systems and the impact they had on humans and the environment, but it wasn't until I was diagnosed with celiac disease at age 25 that the profound impact of diet on health really resonated with me. I started teaching for Vetri Cooking Lab in 2017 and was immediately hooked by the mission of the organization and the people I worked with.

VCP combines my passion for food, individual and community health, AND my love for hands- on education that celebrates each student as an individual and creates an environment for them to thrive. I am grateful to work with such an incredible team.

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up?

-Dance. I loved the movement, music and self- expression all in one! So therapeutic for me.

What neighborhood do you live in? What do you like about it?

-I live in the Passyunk Square neighborhood near the Italian Market. I Absolutely LOVE my neighborhood because of the diverse communities and small, independent businesses that make it what it is. Within 5 minutes of my house I can eat Vietnamese on Washington Ave, stop at the Asian Supermarket, get fresh tortillas and tamales and tacos on 9th street, access the produce stands, butcher shops, bakeries and cheese shops in the Italian market, and then stroll down Passyunk Ave to pop into any of the dozens of restaurants, coffee shops and bars there. So many flavors and cultures intermingling here to create a strong food culture, and I love it :)

What is your favorite food?

-My all time favorite VCP recipe is our chimichurri chicken thighs with coconut rice- YUM. In my personal life right now it's a toss up between Vietnamese and Indian food. (I know thats a few things, but how could I choose just one?!)

Tara Mataraza Desmond Program Educator

Tara Mataraza Desmond Program Educator

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

-A tomato. It's versatile, adaptable to change, gets along with lots of other ingredients. You can make something fancy with tomatoes, but they also stand on their own without a lot of extra.

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

-Food's impact on mental and physical well-being!

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-Writing and releasing three cookbooks over the same stretch of six years during which I became a parent of three.

What's the most important (life) lesson you've learned thus far?

-Quality over quantity... in friends, work, education, and, of course food.

Vicki Mines EAT360 Program Educator

Vicki Mines EAT360 Program Educator

What is an interest you could go on and on about?

-I am a self taught gardener and absolutely love it, from flowers to food.

What personal accomplishment are you most proud of?

-I took a leap of faith when I resigned from my job after 12yrs to return to school and get my BS in nutrition. I received a lot of support from family and friends and still consider it to be one of my life's best decisions

What was your favorite activity growing up?

-I enjoyed going to tennis camp. It was an opportunity to learn something new and hangout with my friends in the neighborhood.

What Neighborhood do you live in and what do you enjoy most about it?

-I live in the Germantown section of Philadelphia. It is rich in history and has a lot of scenic areas.

Caitlin O'Connell Marketing Manager

Caitlin O'Connell Marketing Manager

What was your favorite activity growing up?

-I played a lot of sports growing up. I was always involved in different sports programs throughout the year...soccer, softball, basketball. I always enjoyed being active and taking part in sports and being part of a team.

Who would you choose to be your life mentor?

-Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I have always admired her quiet strength and determination throughout her life. Ruth was a woman who never waivered from what she believed in and she fought tirelessly for women's rights in this country for decades. She was a trailblazer and true example of what it meant to remain stoic in fighting for the things you care about.

What is an interest that you could go on and on about?

-I come from 10 years in the wedding/events industry. So I think I could talk for hours and hours about the do's and don'ts of weddings and events.

What is your favorite thing to cook?

-I love pasta! I think I could eat pasta everyday of the week and I would certainly cook it everyday if I could! I love to experiment with making my own sauces and to introduce different ingredients and recipes into my pasta cooking adventures.

Emily Oppenheim Education Programs Director

Emily Oppenheim Education Programs Director

If you were a vegetable, what would you be and why?

-I would be a sweet potato! Despite my absolute love my veggies, I also have a crazy sweet tooth. This is why a sweet potato is my happy medium between the two while still being an excellent source of nutrients the body. It's nature's candy!

Who would you choose (current or historical!) to be your life mentor, and why?

-I have great interest in animals and the natural world and I would love someone like David Attenborough to be my mentor due to that fact. David has great knowledge about our planet and that which inhabits it. His interests and passion for the subject shines through in his work and I would love the opportunity to learn from him and his vast number of experiences throughout his 60+ years in the field.

What's the most important (life) lesson you've learned thus far?

-Never doubt that one person can make a difference.

What is your favorite food?

-Tacos! I love how versatile they are with their many combinations, flavors and toppings. They also remind me of warmer weather which is always a plus.

Caryl Palmer Operations Coordinator

Caryl Palmer Operations Coordinator

What is a topic you could go on and on about?

-Dogs and Ireland.

What accomplishments are you most proud of?

-In life, being able to advocate for the care of my parents near their end of life. In work, seeing team members turn around deficient performance after investing in their development. And in school, graduating High school and college at ages 15 and 19 respectively.

If you were a vegetable what would you be and why?

-Spinach because I can be good for you and strong like iron.

What is your favorite thing to cook?

-Chorizo with a blush sauce over pasta

Elena Rece EAT360 Program Educator

Elena Rece EAT360 Program Educator

What school or community activity was your favorite growing up?

-Growing up I loved to play chess and lacrosse.

What is your real life super power or talent?

-I am able to speak Romanian; it was my first language before English!

Who would you choose (current or historical!) to be your life mentor, and why?

-I would choose Michelle Obama as a mentor because I think she is such a powerful influential female leader of our time.

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-Completing my BA from Bloomsburg University as a first generation student!

Tom Whitney Finance Manager

Tom Whitney Finance Manager

What's an interest that you could go on and on about?

-I love music! I have been playing saxophone in & around the Philadelphia area for the past few years, performing anything from Billy Joel to Duke Ellington. My weekends are often filled with performing, going to shows, or jamming out in my apartment.

What life/work/school accomplishment are you most proud of?

-In college, I got my hands on the demo of a video game, and replaced all of the sound effects & music with my own. Getting so see all of the pieces fall into place at the end was extraordinarily satisfying.

Who would you choose (current or historical!) to be your life mentor, and why?

-I would love the opportunity to follow & learn from Ben Franklin. He seemed to have an insatiable curiosity, and wisdom beyond what a person should be able to gather in one lifetime.

What's your real-life super power (talent)?

-I can speed up time! Often on the weekends, I'll sit down to do something I enjoy, and 10 minutes later it'll be dinner time!

Founders & Board

Marc Vetri Founder, CO-Board Chair

Marc Vetri Founder, CO-Board Chair

Vetri Cucina

Jeff Benjamin Founder, Board Member

Jeff Benjamin Founder, Board Member

Vetri Cucina, Fitler Club

Lisa Dykstra CO-Board Chair

Lisa Dykstra CO-Board Chair

Morgan, Lewis & Bockius

DaCarla Albright Board Member

DaCarla Albright Board Member

Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania

Kimberley Brown Board Member

Kimberley Brown Board Member

Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson

Walter Buckley Board Member

Walter Buckley Board Member

Seminal Capital

Jaimie Field Board Member

Jaimie Field Board Member

Entercom

Jameer Nelson Board Member

Jameer Nelson Board Member

Philadelphia 76ers

Yvonne Osirim Board Member

Yvonne Osirim Board Member

Merck

Careers & Internships

Join our team!

Have an interest in nutrition education and cooking? Vetri Community Partnership offers both full-time and part-time positions and internships.

See Our Opportunities

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