Melissa Kogut became Executive Director of Chefs Collaborative, a national organization of chefs working to transform our food system, in August, 2007. Under Melissa’s leadership, Chefs Collaborative has grown from a network of 5,000 to 12,000 chefs and food professionals; launched the annual Chefs Collaborative Summit in 2009, bringing together the leading thinkers about our food system and galvanizing chefs to share best practices; and wrote The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook, published by Taunton Press and featured in The New York Times, on CBS This Morning, and in Martha Stewart Magazine (among many outlets). In May 2010, Chefs Collaborative was honored to be invited to deliver a panel to Environmental Protection Agency staff and dignitaries for a series celebrating the 40th anniversary of the agency. Melissa has a background in nonprofit management and community organizing.
Prior to her position with Chefs Collaborative, she served for 11 years as executive director of NARAL Massachusetts, a statewide organization that advocates for women’s reproductive health. In 2006, Melissa received the Abigail Adams Award from the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus, which recognizes and honors outstanding women leaders. Melissa has several years experience working in the restaurant industry and a longstanding interest in food and the environment.
After spending many years in the kitchens and fields of the food industry, Rob came to Chefs Collaborative in January of 2011. As Director of Community Organizing, Rob works to help food professionals around the country connect and educate one another on issues of sustainability.
Rob holds a B.A. in English from the University of Vermont and an M.L.A. in Gastronomy with a focus in food policy from Boston University. When he’s not busy managing our Local Networks, he can be found writing, cooking, gardening, or riding his bike.
Alisha joined Chefs Collaborative in December 2012 as the Program and Marketing Director. Alisha comes to Chefs from Oakland, California, where she worked with the Alliance for Climate Education (ACE) to scale and lead their national climate science programs. Alisha helped ACE grow from a small start-up to a national leader in science education – educating more than 1 million high school students about climate science and solutions in less than two years. In addition, she worked with ACE to raise $1.2 million for national programs.
Alisha is thrilled to be working at the nexus of food and sustainability, and is a “lifer” when it comes to advancing more sustainable practices. Previously, Alisha worked with the National Wildlife Federation, the Breakthrough Institute, and MASSPIRG. Alisha graduated with a B.A. in Geoscience and Environmental Studies from Hamilton College. Outside of the office, Alisha loves to romp with her mini australian shepherd, explore new restaurants, and hike New England.
As Membership Coordinator, Gillian works with our growing member network to cultivate support for the Collaborative’s work. She also keeps the office in fighting shape. She can usually be found drafting renewal letters, working with the database, or alphabetizing anything within reach.
Gillian first fell in love with food during a semester abroad in Florence, Italy, where she spent 3 1/2 months exploring the Tuscan food landscape, visiting vineyards, farms and local markets. She is an M.F.K Fisher devotee, and is often found baking her excellent oatmeal cookies. After graduating from Converse College in 2011 with a B.A. in English, she interned at various sustainable food-focused organizations in the Bay Area, California where she learned the ropes of social media strategy, grant writing and development for non-profits. A Boston native, she began working with the Collaborative as an intern and assisted at the 2012 Summit in Seattle before coming on as official staff. Gillian is currently working on her M.L.A. in Gastronomy/Food Policy at Boston University.