Board of Directors
Lori Renzi, Board Chair
Lori is a marketing professional who is passionate about connecting consumers with brands that help them live healthier, more peaceful lives. She has had careers in business development, human resource utilization, and restaurant ownership as well. Lori enjoys sharing helpful information with the public and has been interviewed numerous times on network television, including NBC Nightly News and CBS Sunday Morning on important issues facing consumers, and is excited about sharing Purple Asparagus’ mission with Chicago residents. Purple Asparagus allows Lori the chance to combine her desire to help children become healthier, happier, independent adults with her conviction for changing the way families eat today.
Kinga Pacek, Treasurer
Kinga has worked in the hedge fund industry for over 5 years and specializes in performance analysis and reporting. When not focusing on numbers, she is dedicated to helping people live healthier more active lives by being a community leader at a rock climbing gym and encouraging people to find joy in cooking. Her role at Purple Asparagus allows her to combine her financial know-how with her mission for eliminating nutritional roadblocks for children. Kinga’s favorite vegetable is the brussel sprout.
Laura Mueller, Special Events
Laura Mueller comes to Purple Asparagus with a long and successful tenure in fundraising in the Chicago Public School system. She was recently the Fundraising Chair and Board Member of the Friends of Bell from 2008-2015. Previous to her move to non-profit income development, Laura was in the hospitality industry and served as the National Marketing Director for Entertainment Cruises, where she oversaw advertising, marketing, public relations, menu development and event development for the national chain. Laura is passionate about healthy eating and living. A life-long vegetarian and passionate home cook, she is thrilled to work with Purple Asparagus and engage young children in the joy of cooking real food, especially their vegetables! Laura believes cooking is an art form and should be fun and fulfilling for the whole family. Laura also enjoys all aspects of event planning and is known for hosting elaborate theme parties in her home. She brings this enthusiasm for food and fundraising talent to Purple Asparagus. While it is hard to choose a favorite child, Laura says her favorite vegetable is tie between butternut squash and Japanese eggplant.
Vova Kagan, Development
Vova Kagan joined the board after 3 years of supporting Purple Asparagus. He spreads the message whenever he gets chance, whether he is wearing a purple apron at a community event or hosting friends for dinner. Growing up in an immigrant household, the importance of healthy eating & cooking was instilled in him at an early age. Recognizing the value of that informal education he became interested in teaching Chicago children about the benefits & joys of good food. In his day to day life Vova develops mobile wellness programs that empower users to create healthy eating & exercise habits with the goal of preventing chronic conditions like diabetes. He believes that exposing children to the beauty of fresh fruits & vegetables is the most effective way to build a healthier generation that cares about sustainable food. Vova can usually be found sailing in the summer or figuring out how to sneak beets into a dish. Beet pizza anyone?
Claudia Martin comes to the board in her third year as a Lead Instructor with Delicious Nutritious Adventures, where she has shown great enthusiasm for Purple Asparagus. When her son was born almost ten years ago, she and her family committed to the idea that they would all eat the same thing – no special “kiddie” food. Their diet has morphed over the years to a plant based whole foods diet and she has seen the benefit in her family’s health. She feels strongly that exposure to fruits and vegetables should not be limited to the privileged few. As an interior designer by profession, Claudia focuses a lot on lifestyle – how does your home makes you feel, how productive is your workspace – but she really believes that the energy you radiate starts with diet and exercise. When not working, Claudia likes to run along the lake, travel, juice vegetables, and chop. Chopping is like meditation for her and has the added bonus of resulting in tasty salads. Claudia’s favorite vegetable is eggplant – cooked every way possible.
Christy is an instructional designer, who spends her days trying to come up with creative ways to help people learn and develop new skills. She has dedicated the past decade to volunteering at her children’s school, planning events and raising funds, and is excited to share this experience with Purple Asparagus. A mother with both an adventurous eater and a more cautious one, she enjoys playing with flavor, texture, and color to encourage at least a polite bite. She loves any vegetable roasted just short of being burnt, especially broccoli, carrots, and of course, asparagus, and she can always count on her lab to come running at the sound of peeling carrots.
Jennifer has always been passionate about cooking, willing to try many different types of cuisines. Growing up in a family where food was a focus helped instill in her the desire to prepare well balanced meals. In addition, being a Type 1 Diabetic taught her that healthy eating is a necessary ingredient to a person’s quality of life. Jennifer currently works for a wealth management company serving high net worth individuals. In her role as Investment Administration Manager, she is responsible for implementing and monitoring procedures relating to the operations of the firm’s investment advisory services. Jennifer’s favorite vegetable is green beans.