Kathryn ParkerKathryn Parker, MPH, PHD
Executive Director

Kate was born and raised in the Boston area, but as they say, she got here as soon as she could. She moved to New Orleans straight out of Suffolk University in 1997 to teach in the public schools of St. John the Baptist Parish. In 1999, she began teaching eighth-grade math at New Orleans Charter Middle School, the first charter school in New Orleans, and one of the few bright spots in what was at the time a deeply troubled school system. Realizing that lack of nutrition was one of the obstacles her students faced in realizing their potential, she began pursuing a master's degree in public health at Tulane University’s School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, receiving her degree in 2006. She also began working at Tulane's Prevention Research Center, where she focused on issues such as improving access to fresh foods and cultivating places to walk and bike within the city. Her work researching the city's bike lanes became the basis of several articles she published in medical journals and her dissertation; she received her doctorate from Tulane in the spring of 2013. She joined in December. Kate lives in Mid-City with her husband and three sons. She loves knitting and sewing, old round barns, strong coffee from a French press, camping in the Vanagon, local foods, triathlons and going to the market. If you see her, say hi!

Emery Van Hook
Associate Director
The great-granddaughter of a New Orleans city girl who fell in love with a country Sicilian truck farmer, Emery Van Hook seemed destined for a career in her hometown's food markets. After graduating from Ursuline Academy, Emery moved to Memphis for barbecue and a degree in English Literature from Rhodes. After college, she headed back downriver to learn the ins and outs of the New Orleans restaurant scene, working her way up to Co-Director of Marketing for Dickie Brennan & Co. In preparation for her move to pursue a Masters in Food Studies at New York University, Emery threw a very timely going away party August 27, 2005. While in New York, she worked as an assistant editor at Food & Wine magazine. In June 2008, Emery packed up her Brooklyn apartment and moved home to join as Director of Markets. When not at market, she enjoys cooking everything she bought there in her Marigny home and visiting farmers markets and restaurants anywhere she finds them.

Lori DowdenLori Dowden
Finance and Administration Manager
Lori is a native New Orleanian who, after finding out what it means to miss New Orleans, returned to the city in 2010. Her ancestry is Acadian, German and one British Islander (how did he get in there?) Her family first settled in Ascension and St. Charles Parishes in the mid 1700s and many of her relatives remain there today. Lori graduated from Ben Franklin High School then received a B.S. from LSU and an M.B.A. from the University of Hawaii. After spending time as a tour guide in New Orleans, she decided to get off the streets and work to better the lives of the people who call New Orleans home. Lori enjoys reading and learning about New Orleans history, knitting, and listening to local music. On fall weekends she can be found loudly cheering her beloved LSU Tigers and New Orleans Saints on to victory. The rest of the year she suffers from football withdrawal.

Kimisha (Kim) Sawyers, MPHKimisha (Kim) Sawyers, MPH
Evaluation Manager
Born and raised in the city of “dressed” po’boys, “makin’ groceries”, and “Laissez les bond temps rouler” (let the good times roll), Kimisha has lived majority of her life in New Orleans, a city rich in culture and tradition. In 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated the city, Kimisha moved for the first time away from home to Katy, Texas to finish high school. Once complete, nothing held her back from returning to the city near and dear to her heart. In August 2007, she returned to attend Xavier University of Louisiana where she received her B.S. in Chemistry. Taking a slightly different approach from her bachelor’s degree, she decided to explore the world of public health and fell in love. In May of 2014, she obtained her Masters of Public Health degree from Tulane University. Her professional concentration is focused on improving the health and accessibility to fresh fruits and vegetables to those who currently live in underserved populations. Kimisha enjoys nothing more than spending time with her son, cooking for friends and family, and looking forward to the opportunity to explore the world and all it has to offer.

Kira McAllister NorrisKira McAllister Norris
Business Manager
Originally from rural Pennsylvania, Kira grew up mostly barefoot playing in the fields and barns of her Amish neighbors. At a young age, she realized the animals in those barns were also on the dinner table and became a vegetarian. Always wanting to explore the world, Kira moved to New Orleans in 2004 to study political science, international development, and Spanish at Tulane. She has lived on three continents but has chosen to call New Orleans her permanent home. Kira lives in Metairie with her husband, young daughter, and her retired racing greyhound, and attempts to hide vegetables in all of their food.

Andrew McDanielAndrew McDaniel
Market Manager
New Orleans area native Andrew McDaniel grew up in a full-blooded Latin American family, "despite any confusion my last name may raise," he says. Upon graduating high school, he decided that he'd rather develop a more intimate relationship with his home city than play soccer for a Mississippi college, so he enrolled in Loyola University New Orleans. As a Sociology and Environmental Studies student, Andrew joined the Solidarity Economics Club and began to rethink the his local food system. This interest led him to an internship with the Sankofa Community Development Corporation, operator of the 9th Ward's Sankofa Farmers Market. He conducted his Senior research project on the ways social and human capital are distributed in retail spaces, studying and comparing the social dynamics of grocery stores and farmers markets. Andrew is a fan of American folk music, particularly that of the Appalachian mountains, plays five-string banjo and enjoys social dancing. He loves to visit the mountains and hike, but when he can’t get away, he thinks nights at home sharing a good meal with friends is always a great alternative.

Patrick FeePatrick Fee
Assistant Market Manager
Born and raised in Oak Park Illinois, Patrick journeyed to New Orleans in 2004 in search of fine food, art and music. It was here that he attended Loyola University’s Music school, earning a degree in Jazz studies. Patrick’s fondness for art, music and fine cuisine made New Orleans a rightly suitable place for him to live. He has spent time working on organic farms in Ireland, and has a great appreciation for locally grown produce. In addition to being a chef and farmers market assistant, Patrick is also drummer and composer with a passionate love for Irish music.

Wil CraryWil Crary
Market Assistant
Born into a family of outdoors-loving Los Angelenos, Wil Crary spent his formative years hiking and biking in sunny Southern California. At a reasonably young age, he gave up his dreams of basketball stardom, but never shook the joy of team sports and activities. Guided by that social spirit, he landed a full-tuition leadership scholarship based on his ability to deeply connect with and inspire passion in others. He graduated summa cum laude from Tulane University with a double major in Sociology and Spanish after spending time abroad in Chile and Nicaragua. While at Tulane, he co-founded a student organization that promoted sustainable growing practices and social justice, an experience that opened his eyes to the empowering nature of growing food. This was further enhanced by his position managing an urban agricultural business aimed at shortening the supply chain by implementing onsite, vertical farms for schools, restaurants, and grocery markets. Wil's love of music and cuisine make him feel right at home in New Orleans, where he continues to search for the perfect banh mi. He spends his free time gardening, experimenting in the kitchen, playing soccer and basketball (still), fixing bicycles, and mastery the art of being mediocre at a multitude of musical instruments.