Board of Directors

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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 Pecak, 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.

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?

Christy Levy, Events

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 Jahn, Secretary

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.

Kay Christ, Governance

Kay returns to the Purple Asparagus board after a hiatus during which she finished her working career and took care of her mother in her declining years. As a board member during the formative years of Purple Asparagus, Kay helped pioneer the educational outreach that grew into Delicious Nutritious Adventures, Purple Asparagus’s signature program. Since closing her instructional design/training/writing company, Kay is looking forward to following her passions –– healthy cooking and eating, fitness and travel. Rejoining the Purple Asparagus board is a perfect fit. Kay is a longtime member of one of Chicago’s oldest Community Supported Agriculture cooperatives, Angelic Organics, and enjoys the exquisite taste of bio-dynamically grown vegetables, especially dark greens, kohlrabi, Brussel sprouts and carrots. Sadly, Angelic Organics doesn’t grow asparagus, although it appears on Kay’s menus often.

T. Alexis Owens, Communications

T. Alexis Owens is a senior executive leader who has provided global marketing solutions and services for 23+ years. In 1999 she founded Ventures Unlimited Inc. with the mantra of “One Idea Can Change the World,” where she has partners with and counseled top business leaders and influencers across the country. Alexis began her consulting practice to merge her training in marketing, communications, outreach, research and management to support businesses and organizations in developing successful and sustainable marketing models.

As a visionary, her work has influenced and impacted initiatives with companies and organizations that have changed people’s lives and transformed communities. Her work portfolio includes Harmony Health Plan, Inc. a WellCare Company, Sears Holding Company, McDonald’s USA, Blue Cross Blue Shield, Housing Action Illinois, Human Rights Educators Inc., The National Urban League and many others.

Alexis has earned a solid reputation as a lead strategist who excels at building programs, campaigns and initiatives that dares others to dream, while asking the question, “what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” Currently she is pursuing a Masters of Divinity Degree from McCormick Theological Seminary and serves as an Assistant Minister at Third Baptist Church of Chicago (TBCoC).

She has served on the Board of Directors for The Black Ensemble Theatre, Athletes Against Drugs and The National Diversity Council. Currently she serves on American Baptist Churches of Metropolitan Chicago Advisory Council, Black Girls Jump and is Vice President of The Heritage Community Development Corporation.

Understanding the important role that food, nutrition and holistic health plans in helping people and communities to live a better, healthier lives, Alexis is excited to join the Purple Asparagus team and serve as Communications Chair.

Michael Levy

Michael is an Associate General Counsel with Ingredion Incorporated, a leading global ingredients solutions provider. In this role, he provides advice and counsel to the Company’s Global Specialties leadership team; negotiates and supports M&A, alliances and other strategic relationships developed through the Company’s Strategy and Global Business Development team and its Global Innovation Group. As the father of two daughters, he knows both the importance of and the challenges of introducing children to healthy eating habits at a young age. Michael’s favorite vegetables include Brussels sprouts, sugar snap peas and corn on the cob.

Non-Voting Board Fellows

Meredith Xu

Meredith is currently an MBA student at the Booth School of Business. Prior to business school, she has worked in consumer products, foods, and over the summer, interned within tech. Through her professional experiences, she became passionate about increasing access to nutritional food. In her spare time, she aims to finish a book every two weeks. Her favorite vegetable is eggplant.

Danielle Calderone

Danielle is an MBA student at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. She has a background working in finance as well as at healthy food startups like Organic Avenue, Just Salad and Eat Purely. She has previously volunteered with City Harvest in New York City on their Cooking Matters for Kids nutrition program. Danielle enjoys teaching children and young adults about the benefits and deliciousness of fruits and veggies and the ease of vegetarian cooking. She loves spending her weekends strolling through the stands at farmers markets. Danielle’s favorite veggies are spinach, kale and shishito peppers!

Past Board Members