38, Director of Community Kitchens and Programs with Mercy Chefs, Portsmouth
Business and Civic Involvement:
Rotary Club of Churchland Board Member; Coastal Virginia American Culinary Federation Education Chair; Culinary Institute of Virginia Advisory Board; Portsmouth Partnership Lefcoe Leadership Graduate 2019
What is something that makes you stand out professionally?
I am dedicated to being a leader worth following. Every day, I work to get better at my job and as a leader. As a result, I help all the members of my team improve in both their personal and professional goals.
Who or what keeps you motivated or inspires you?
I am motivated by the fact that I have never gone hungry in my life and that is a privilege many people don’t have. Because of this great privilege, I have a responsibility to use my talents to feed people and teach them how to cook. I am inspired by seeing people grow and develop. It’s so exciting when our food or classes can enable people to improve their lives.
Tell us about an accomplishment that you’re proud of.
I’m so proud of the community kitchen. It was just a dream five years ago. The Mercy Chefs community kitchen enables us to feed people, teach classes and make a difference all over Hampton Roads, just like I dreamed it would.
How do you feel your industry can best respond to the effects of COVID-19?
The food service business is reeling from the closures due to COVID-19, and I hate that so many of my friends and colleagues are hurting. At the core of the food service business though is food and hospitality, which both bring comfort to people. Right now, a good meal can bring hope; that’s what we can offer.
What new idea or development are you excited about in Coastal Virginia?
I’m most excited about regional collaboration and the power it has to take our region into the best future. We have so many brilliant people in leadership across the 757. Working together gives the entire region the chance to capitalize on that unique resource.
What’s the most important aspect you look for in a workplace?
In a workplace, the most important thing to me is a life-giving culture. I want to work in and lead a place where people can bring their full selves to work, feel valued, feel listened to and have the chance to grow towards their full potential. This means businesses valuing personal goals, like having a family, home ownership and volunteering.
What would you be doing if you weren’t in your current position?
If I wasn’t in my current position, I would be teaching the next generation of culinary professionals at the Culinary Institute of Virginia.
What’s your favorite spot to relax in Coastal Virginia?
I am, admittedly, not great at relaxing. One of my favorite places to hang out, due to the fun atmosphere, great food and competitive game is Top Golf in Virginia Beach. Every single time I go there, the staff is welcoming, in a good mood and impeccably trained.