Who We Are

Slow Food California Board

Max Caruso, Northern California Governor, came to Slow Food through an active local chapter in Northern California. Growing up in central Illinois, surrounded by corn and soybean fields, he saw the impacts of large scale industrial agriculture. After a career as a Coast Guard officer, his interest in more local, sustainable food systems was peaked by the many worthy projects of local Slow Food chapters.  While volunteering as a chapter treasurer for five years, he became even more inspired by the global Slow Food movement. Supporting presidia projects, raising funds for local school gardens and the 10,000 Gardens in Africa project and participating in national and international Slow Food gatherings motivated him to support additional local chapters as Governor for Northern California.  Max’s other interests include application of technology, financial planning, property management and volunteering in the Big Brother program.

John Casazza, California Region Ark of Taste Co-Chair, grew up in a small community in California and had Italian grandparents whose lifestyle was from the old country. Their yard always had a vegetable garden and multiple fruit trees. They canned tomatoes, peaches, and apricots to carry them through the winter. He never missed the opportunity to be present when his grandfather was tending his plants, or his grandmother was canning the summer harvest. He attributes his early passion for food and agriculture to these two wonderful people.  With a degree in Soils and Plant Nutrition from UC Berkeley, he entered the Peace Corps in Honduras. He later landed a career in agriculture production and management that took him to big and small farms in many countries growing pineapple, bananas, papaya, mango, asparagus, oranges, and salad vegetables. He is fortunate to have experienced how food is grown, sold, prepared and eaten around the world. Lately, with a Masters Degree in Sustainable Food Systems from Green Mountain College, he’s started working with small farms and farmer cooperatives in Asia, Africa, North and South America and Eastern Europe to improve farming techniques and product quality and diversify their crop base to achieve a greater cash flow and a higher return on investment.  He and his wife joined Slow Food San Francisco in 2012 and were on the board supporting the school garden program from 2012 to 2016. They attended Terra Madre in 2012 and represented Slow Food San Francisco at the 2016 event. They celebrate and share their heritage through food with family, friends and other students of good food. He is interested in researching the nexus between sustainable agriculture and good, clean and fair food.  He looks forward to working with the Slow Food California Board and getting involved in the Ark of Taste Committee and the Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Working Group.

Lisa Frank, Slow Food California Central Valley Governor, is a native Californian.  Lisa grew up in rural northern California.  Her childhood consisted of 4-H, raising horses, and foggy summers at the beach (see Mark Twain and San Francisco summers).  An Easy Bake Oven was a cherished and well used Christmas gift, belying a life-long love of cooking, baking and the community inherent in sharing food.  After graduating from the University of California, Davis with a degree in Psychology Lisa fell into California politics becoming a lobbyist.  In 2005 she left it all behind to be in the inaugural Food Culture and Communication Master’s program at the University of Gastronomic Sciences.  Since then she has worked retail, helped manage international conferences, done sales and marketing for a boutique chocolate company as well as an art inspired linen company, and been a tour guide for food and history walking tours in Sacramento.  Lisa serves on the Slow Food Sacramento Board and is Co-Chair of their Snail of Approval program and Slow Food U program; Slow Food California’s Ark of Taste Committee; and founded and is growing Slow Beer, challenging brewers to use Ark of Taste products to brew beer.  And she travels every chance she gets which is why she is a very lousy gardener.

Joyce Hardi, treasurer.

Charity Kenyon is a founding member of the Slow Food California Board and formerly the Governor for the Central Valley of California and an International Councilor. She serves on the Slow Food California Policy Committee and Slow Food USA Food and Agriculture Task Force and is a policy activist with other state and national nonprofits including the Sierra Club. Charity co-chairs the Slow Food USA Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Working Group and has coordinated food justice programming for Slow Food Nations 2017 and 2018.

Kelsey Maher, Secretary and Newsletter Editor, is an East Coast native, who resides in Sacramento taste-testing the locally roasted coffees. She is dedicated to fostering cross-cultural communication through food and agricultural in her professional work and on her podcast, The Culinary Citizen. Kelsey’s professional work includes regional marketing and international programming for agricultural companies. She thrives off of farmers market purchases, enjoys hiking around Northern California, and teaches culinary classes.

Ian McFaul, Bay Area Governor, Communications Chair and California Region Ark of Taste Co-Chair, grew up in Phoenix, then both a food and actual desert, Ian began life eating from chain restaurants and supermarkets. Spending grade school summers on an apple orchard in Door County, Wisconsin, it planted the seed for future growth first at Apple and ultimately leading him to Sonoma County.  Some years later, after reading Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma, his worldview changed to understand the necessity of good, clean, and fair local food and the Slow Food movement. It drove him to volunteer at Alice Waters’ Edible Schoolyard and made him a devoted locavore. Subsequently, travels near and far include seeking out the best of what’s local, invariably delicious food, often varieties boarded to the Slow Food Ark of Taste.  Ian dove deeply into Slow Food after years volunteering at the Gravenstein Apple Fair, and joined Slow Food Russian River after the 2017 Annual Meeting. He has interned for Slow Food USA in Denver, and been a USA delegate in Chengdu, Copenhagen, and Torino, and has recently joined the Slow Food Russian River board.

Tiffany Nurrenbern organizes collaborations that foster collective action towards a more healthy, vibrant, equitable and sustainable food system. She works on projects that aim to redefine the power of networks in the midst of generational changes in how we cooperate, communicate, and affiliate with causes and organizations. For many years, Tiffany worked at Roots of Change where she built and facilitated the California Food Policy Council, led ROC’s Urban-Rural Roundtable program, which worked with urban and rural leaders from the San Francisco Bay area, Los Angeles and San Diego to create action plans for local food policy initiatives. She served as Program Director for the Farmers Guild, and consulted on projects with the NRDC, Friends of the Earth, and Get Gone Traveler before signing on as Executive Director for Zero Foodprint, a non-profit organization supporting restaurants and diners to the lead the fight against climate change. She has served in Slow Food leadership for the last 10 years as a leader of Slow Food Russian River, President of Slow Food California, and a member of the Slow Food International Council.

Peter Ruddock, President and California Region Ark of Taste Committee Chair is also active in Slow Money, Transition, the San Mateo County Food System Alliance and the California Food Policy Council. He is a co-founder of EcoFarm‘s Diversity Advisory Group.  His ramblings can be found on his web-site and blog, Green Omnivore.

Chef Brenda Ruiz was named a Slow Food USA 2018 Snailblazer for her work in Policy Advocacy. Culinary professional Brenda Ruiz has been working in Sacramento’s top restaurants since 1996 including The Waterboy, Freeport Bakery, The Kitchen, and  Biba Ristorante. Highly regarded among her peers for her skill and work ethic, she’s known for combining her love of the culinary arts with her passion for supporting the work of charitable organizations. Ms. Ruiz serves on the Executive Advisory Committee of Slow Food Sacramento as Director of the School Garden Coalition and Chair of Youth and School Projects.

IMG_1152Keith Schild, Southern California Governor and Chair of the Slow Food California Policy Committee, is also on the Slow Food USA Equity, Inclusion, and Justice Working Group. He actively attended the two Slow Meat events and the two Slow Food Nations events. When not involved in Slow Food, he is Professor of Pubic Administration and Director of the Master of Health Administration program at the University of La Verne where he teaches food policy and sustainability courses as well as does research on food systems, food recalls and food waste, and urban ag issues.