Beth Knorr, Director

Beth Knorr has spent the majority of her adult life working in the local food and farming realm, inhabiting various roles such as organic vegetable farmer, farmers’ market manager, and local food business owner.  Her varied and extensive experience has led her to involvement with local, state and national organizations where she advocates for policies which support small scale and sustainable farmers, vibrant farmers' markets, healthful food access, and and an improved quality of life through food. 

 Judith Mitchell

Katie Fry, Steering Committee Chair

Katie Fry's 13 years as the owner/operator of a certified organic farm led to her present interest in the Food Coalition. Currently an avid gardener and consultant specializing in organizational development and community engagement, Katie's experience working with local and national non-profits givers her the opportunity to work with the steering team to provide structure and guidance to the coalition.  She consulted with Akron Community Foundation on the 2011 Local Food Assessment and provided recommendations for the coalition's future direction. Most important to Katie is developing an inclusive community engagement strategy; enrolling diverse organizations and individuals from all walks of life to work collaboratively towards a more healthful, equitable, and just local food system.

 Wayne Kaufmann

Lisa nunn, Steering committee vice chair

 Gary Muller

Jill oldham, treasurer

Jill Oldham is the Director of Network Partners & Programs for the Akron-Canton Regional Foodbank, where she has worked since 2008.  Jill's team is responsible for customer service, compliance, education and programmatic activities for the network of 500 hunger relief programs in Carroll, Holmes, Medina, Portage, Stark, Summit, Tuscarawas and Wayne counties. An enthusiastic student and practitioner of collaborative leadership practices including the Art of Hosting, Jill contributes graphic facilitation and recording skills to enhance staff and community meetings. She graduated from Ohio University with an undergraduate degree in Family Studies, and went on to earn a Master of Public Health degree from the University of Akron’s Consortium of Eastern Ohio Master of Public Health program

 Jacqueline Price

Sarah vradenburg, steering committee secretary

Sarah Vradenburg is a Northeast Ohio native who spent too many years acting and eating as if food didn't matter. Retired as an editorial writer for the Akron Beacon Journal, Sarah first used her free time to become a certified Master Gardener Volunteer and then began to find out just how crucial food is to just about everything. Which led her to become involved with the Food Coalition. Her particular interests involve teaching people how to grow their own food and in educating the public on sustainable local ways we can all benefit the environment. She believes that access to healthful food is one of today's major social justice issues.

 Mark Qillaq

Monica Bongue, steering committee

 Linda Sung

Julie Costell, steering committee

 Emily Qillaq

Carlisa johnson, steering committee

CarLisa Johnson is the Program Administrator of Neighborhood Development at Akron Summit Community Action Inc. Previously, she spent ten years with County of Summit Department of Job and Family Services where she served as the Program Manager of Administrative Services.  A recipient of the 2015 Summit County High Point Award, she serves on the Continuum of Care Community Committee and the Summit Lake Community Council.  An alumni of Child and Family Leadership Exchange she is also a member of the Head Start Parent, Family and Community Engagement Advisory Council.  CarLisa earned a Bachelor of Science from The Ohio State University, where she studied Agribusiness and Applied Economics. 

 Bonnie Gonzalez

kristi kato, steering committee

Kristi Kato is a Supervisor in the Population Health Division at Summit County Public Health, where she has worked since 2002. Kristi manages numerous grants that focus on chronic disease prevention that support implementation of population-wide and priority population approaches to prevent obesity, diabetes, and heart disease and stroke and reduce health disparities in these areas.Kristi has a Bachelor’s of Science from Kent State University and holds a Master Exercise Practitioner certification from the Emergency Management Institute.

 Jose Turner

jacqueline kowalski, steering committee

Jacqueline Kowalski is the Ohio State University Agriculture and Natural Resources Extension Educator for Summit County.  Her primary focus areas are small farms and community food systems.  In her role, she works with farms of all sizes, community gardeners, and manages the Summit County Master Gardener Volunteer program. She feels fortunate to be part of a team that continues to collectively work toward equal access to fresh, locally-produced food and values small farm sustainability. She has a Bachelor's of Science in Horticulture from Michigan State University with a specialization in vegetable crop production and a Master's of Arts in Education from the University of the Virgin Islands.

tom lukes, steering committee

Tom Lukes, originally from Manitowoc, Wisconsin, has worked in public and cable TV, biomedical ethics, and theater amplifying messages.  A gentleman urban garlic farmer and student practitioner of sustainable growing techniques, he would like more people to realize our well being is connected to the foods we eat and the soil's health.  Having learned good ethics begins with good facts, he believes this age of easy access to information and having an understanding of how nature works can help guide us to make decisions that will be healthful and sustainable for generations.

 Emily Sanchez

zac rheinberger, steering committee

 Rose Edwards


After retiring from the University of Akron in 2010, Stan Rittgers began and continues to work The Good Soil Garden at Heart 4 the City Outreach Mission in East Akron.  With his wife, Eva, they grow a wide range of produce for use in a free lunch and vegetable give-away program to supplement canned and packaged goods distributed there. Stan has been an active gardener for over 30 years and has been involved in various local organizations such as SFC's Growing Hope educational programs and Summits.  He is currently working with the ‘Future Story’ program at Harvest Home, supplying produce for the markets where they vend at Summit Lake and S. Arlington Rd. His long-term interest is in expanding awareness of the importance of nutritious food through production, availability and preparation in order to have a healthy community.


Oscar Baaye, Emeritus Member

JERRY EGAN, Emeritus Member