Executive Board Members
Katherine Metzo - Chair
Katherine Metzo works as a freelance research consultant to non-profits and small businesses. She specializes in human-centered research design, using qualitative and quantitative measures. She also teaches Anthropology at Winthrop University. Katherine earned her PhD from Indiana University and her B.A. from Lawrence University and has a certificate in non-profit management from Winthrop University.
Nicole Peterson - Vice Chair
Nicole D. Peterson is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at UNC Charlotte, where she addresses social aspects of environmental problems and the value of anthropology for real world problems, including food access in Charlotte. She received for PhD from the University of California, San Diego, and her BA in Biochemistry from Rice University. She was also a 2015-2016 Science and Technology Policy Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
Karina Gonzalez - Director
Karina Gonzalez is a Registered Dietitian who graduated from Purdue University with a BS in Dietetics and Nutrition, Fitness & Health and completed the American Dietetic Association Accredited Internship from Withrop University. Karina works for the Mecklenburg County Health Department and has served as a Health Educator for over eight years, specializing in the prevention of nutrition and physical activity risk behaviors among Hispanics adults. She lives in Charlotte with her husband and two young boys.
Megan Liddle Gude - Director
Megan Liddle Gude is the Director of Uptown Neighborhoods with Charlotte Center City Partners, where she works with residents and businesses to make Center City a great place to live and work. Gude studied local food systems while earning her Master of Urban and Environmental Planning degree from the University of Virginia, and has worked on local food and access to healthy food with a number of organizations. She is passionate about making Charlotte more vibrant, inclusive, healthy and sustainable.
Marisa Faigen - Treasurer
Marisa Faigen is a Financial Analyst at Foodbuy and has been with the company since August 2011. She has always had a passion for being involved in the community and has volunteered with various organizations such as Relay for Life and the Ronald McDonald House. She graduated from the University of South Florida magna cum laude with a BA in Finance and is currently working towards her MBA at East Carolina University. She lives with her husband and two dogs in Charlotte.
Reggie Singleton - Director
Reggie Singleton has been a health educator with the Mecklenburg County Health Department for more than 20 years. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Reggie is a highly regarded lecturer on issues that include manhood, fatherhood, parenting education, farming and gardening and youth development. During the past 22 years, he has served as Director of the award-winning organization Males Place, Inc. which aims to provide 12-18 year old boys with life skills and support. In addition, Reggie serves as a Youth Minister at Meadowlake Presbyterian Church. Reggie and his wife are the proud parents of three.
Erin Jane Illman - Director
Erin Jane Illman is an attorney at Bradley Arant Boult Cummings LLP. Erin grew up in rural North Carolina and spent most summers helping her parents plant and pick vegetables on their family farm. After spending more than a decade living in San Francisco after law school, Erin moved back to North Carolina with a renewed passion for local, healthy foods. Erin resides in Charlotte with her husband and two boys.
Jodi Helmer - Director
Jodi Helmer is a freelance journalist and author who became interested in the local food movement while researching the impact of food and agriculture on the environment. Her articles have appeared in national magazines including Modern Farmer, National Geographic Traveler, NPR and National Culinary Review. Jodi holds a BA from Trent University and an MFA from Queens University. When she isn’t writing, Jodi can be found in the garden trying to convince her rescue dogs not to eat the cucumbers, poke their noses in the beehive or bark at the chickens.
Elizabeth Debragga - Secretary
Elizabeth DeBragga is a Project Manager at Compass Group, working in the areas of operations simplification and change management. DeBragga previously worked with non-profits and volunteer groups; including the US Peace Corps and homelessness initiatives in Durham, NC. She holds an MBA from North Carolina State University and a BA from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Julie Covington - Director
As a Registered Dietitian, Julie Covington has worked in public health, clinical and education settings with a focus on the vital role of nutrition in the promotion of individual and community health and wellness. She is an Asst. Professor of Dietetics at Lenoir-Rhyne University, where her professional interests include food, nutrition and health policy, childhood obesity prevention and food security. She received her BSPH from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, MS in Foods, Nutrition and Institution Administration from Oklahoma State University, and EdD in Educational Leadership from the University of North Carolina Charlotte. She has lived in Charlotte for over 25 years and when not working enjoys spending time outdoors with her husband and daughter.
Geoff Bragg - Director
Geoff Bragg, a 30-year veteran of the hospitality industry, has spent almost all of his life in Charlotte, NC. Working in restaurants is something he has always enjoyed. His love of service is what, in fact led him to pursue formal training at Johnson and Wales. He has always considered Charlotte his home. His professional focus has always been to find ways of enriching his community through his professional pursuits. In addition to his role as Chef Instructor at the Community Culinary School of Charlotte, he serves on the board of the Cotswold Farmers Market as well as the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Food Policy Council, he assists the SKILLS group of Charlotte, and advises the East Mecklenburg High School culinary competition team. It is through these organizations that Geoff works towards strengthening his community, recognizing the marginalized, and progressing towards a better tomorrow.
Maggie Bean - Director
Maggie Bean works as Communications Director for Friendship Trays, Charlotte’s meals-on-wheels organization delivering over 700 meals every weekday to recipients who are elderly or infirm. In addition she supports the mission of Friendship Gardens, its farm-to-tray program, growing healthy local produce for the organization. She is also a freelance creative director. A graduate of the University of Virginia, Maggie has over 20 years of design, branding and advertising experience, working in some of Charlotte’s top advertising agencies supporting national and international brands. Most days—when she isn’t working—she can be found experimenting in the kitchen (it’s food, it’s science, it’s FUN!), embarrassing herself at hip-hop dance classes, and walking her two beloved rescued Chihuahuas in the Plaza Midwood neighborhood.