Team and Member Leadership
Justin Smith: Executive Director
Justin has worked in direct service, program management and program growth in small to medium-sized nonprofits for over 15 years, and has been with Catalyst Kitchens since 2017. He has experience in workforce development and traditional education settings, and has a breadth of experience helping to manage, grow, design, and administer training programs and social enterprises. Prior to joining Catalyst Kitchens, he worked for two of its members as a Chef Trainer, first at Inspiration Corporation in Chicago, IL, then in Seattle at Farestart. Justin holds a Master of Nonprofit Administration from North Park University, and a B.A. in Sociocultural Anthropology and Gender Studies from the University of Notre Dame. He believes in the work of the Catalyst Kitchens network and the power of collective impact, organizing, and advocacy to change the future of our industry.
Benita Brisco: Director of Development
Benita Brisco joined Catalyst Kitchens as the Director of Development in August 2022. In this role, she will build and implement a fundraising plan that advances the mission and strategic goals of Catalyst Kitchens through effective development operations and systems. Previously, Benita held fundraising and nonprofit management positions with Newcomers' Network and Our Family Table Foundation in metro Atlanta. Her development experience includes launching signature events, grant writing, leveraging corporate sponsors, and designing peer-to-peer campaigns to support social enterprises, culinary training, and literacy. Benita's professional goals and personal pursuits have always aligned with the motto of her alma mater, Princeton University-- "In the nation's service and the service of humanity."
Dina Altieri: Director of Education and Training
After twenty years of teaching and leading academic teams at post-secondary institutions, Dina shifted her focus to nonprofit, community-based culinary training programs. She served as the Director of Culinary Arts at Center on Halsted in Chicago, Illinois and as the Director of Culinary Enterprises at UMOM New Day Centers in Phoenix, Arizona. In the latter role, her team grew the training program and social enterprise, built an employment center, and maintained model membership within the Catalyst Kitchens network. Additionally, she experienced the collective impact of the network and collaborated with leaders on the Member Advisory Council. Dina is inspired by the work of Catalyst Kitchens and is thrilled to join the team.
President: Barbara Hughes, Executive Director of City Beet Kitchens, Project Renewal
Vice President: Patrick McCune, Culinary Operations Manager, West Side Catholic Center
"The path that God has placed me on has taken me to many places and now that I am part of the amazing West Side Catholic Centers team I couldn’t be happier. "
Treasurer: Heather Martin, Senior Director Strategic Partnerships, Providence
Secretary: Kailey Baer, District Program Manager, Columbia Industries
Member: Erin Bourgois, Director of Outcomes & Evaluation, Farestart
Member: Ben Dubow, Executive Director, Forge City Works
Ben has been working with employment based social enterprises within the hospitality industry since 2016. He is has worked both as a professional chef and restauranteur, as well as within the non-profit social service and faith-based sectors. In addition to his non-profit and restaurant work, Ben is an ordained pastor. He has a Master of Divinity degree from the University of Theology & Spirituality, as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut. Ben currently serves on the Board of Directors for the City of Hartford Chamber of Commerce and is a commissioner for the city on the Hartford Food Policy Commission. Ben is passionate about leadership development, equity within the hospitality industry, and LGBTQ+ issues. He lives, works, and (usually) eats in Hartford, CT.
Member: Keri Fisher, Program Director, Common Grounds Training Program, Manna on Main Street
Member: Christie Ison, Executive Director, Food Jobs Work
Member: Paul Jensen, Associate Executive Director, Operations, Trenton Area Soup Kitchen
Member: Paul Fordham, Co-CEO, Homeward Bound of Marin County
Paul has served as Homeward Bound’s deputy director since 2010, moving to become co-leader of the organization in 2022. He also served six previous years as Development Director, helping to launch new fundraising strategies and build the agency’s social enterprise businesses. Fueled by a belief in the power and possibility of change, Paul helped Homeward Bound launch nationally replicated programs such as the first Nonprofit IPO. In 2020, he received a Nonprofit Leadership Award from the North Bay Business Journal for his work with Homeward Bound. Before Catalyst Kitchens formed our member board, Paul was a member of the Catalyst Kitchens Advisory Council from 2019-2021.
Member: Monique Lopez, Chief Strategy Officer, UMOM New Day Centers
Member: Hector Mañon, Coordinator of Post-Secondary Certificate Programs, Arc Broward
Member: Anna McDermott, Sr. Director of Workforce & Community Development, Food Bank of Delaware
Member: Marisa Peña, Program Manager (Stone's Throw), Bread Line, Inc.
Marisa has 15 years of experience as a professional chef and for several years has been part of Bread Line, Inc., an inclusive anti-hunger non-profit organization in Fairbanks, Alaska. She holds a BAS in Culinary Management from the Art Institutes in Chicago and a BA in Communications from Loyola University. Aside from her passion for food and cooking, Marisa is a creative and enthusiastic teacher who believes in giving everyone an opportunity to live their best life despite any barriers they experience. "Where you come from is not as important as where you are going.
David Carleton: Founder 2011, Director 2011-2016
David Carleton founded the Catalyst Kitchens network in 2011 on the belief that together our work and impact could be stronger, and our member programs could create greater change in their communities. Sadly, David passed away in September of 2022. We honor this legacy and David's life with our annual David Carleton Catalyst for Change Award, given each year to a staff person at one of our members who goes above and beyond for their students and community to create change and impact lives, and the David Carleton Founder's Fund, which helps sustain Catalyst Kitchens' operations and team.
Renee Martin: Director, 2016-2021
Renee joined the team in 2013 to expand the reach of the Catalyst Kitchens membership as Director of Network Development and in 2016 she became Managing Director. During her tenure, Renee led Catalyst Kitchens through its greatest period of growth and transition, including leading the pivot to respond to emergent member needs during the pandemic including attracting and regranting $1.7 M to members through Nick Kristof’s Covid-19 initiative. In recognition of the maturity of the network, Renee paved the way for the Catalyst Kitchens membership network to become an independent entity in early 2022.