Kathryn Parker, MPH, PHD
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 marketumbrella.org 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
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 marketumbrella.org 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.
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.
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.
Ashley moved to New Orleans in 2008, by way of Cedar Falls, Iowa, to help rebuild Hurricane Katrina-damaged homes of elderly and disabled residents through Catholic Charities' Operation Helping Hands program. Being from Iowa naturally means that there are farmers in her family. Ashley's great uncle was a hog farmer. Her great-grandparents grew and sold produce out of their home, and even made their own wines. Every year her family picks enough strawberries to make at least a hundred jars of Great Grandma Millie’s famous strawberry jam, lovingly renamed "Jimmy Jam" after her grandfather, who now spear heads the endeavor and always ensures that a few jars make it to Ashley in New Orleans. While living in Iowa, Ashley helped run a local garden center for four years and obtained a degree in graphic design. She currently lives in the Bayou St. John area with her husband and dog. She enjoys spending time with her stepson and daughter, reading, cleaning the house while listening to very loud punk rock, plants, collecting antique door knobs, art supplies that she never uses and anything lemon. She also works at a café on the weekends to support her troubling coffee habit.
Alexandra (Lexi) Bakkar
Lexi was born in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia but spent most of her life in Northern California among the mountains and rivers. With a Lebanese father and a Texan mother, she grew up in a diverse cultural setting and like most huge families, food was the center of all gatherings. Her interest in food justice and sustainability began in college after working for several environmental groups and a caterer who was active in the local food scene. After spending a summer in Minnesota as the head cook for Outward Bound, she drove down to New Orleans and instantly fell in love. She packed a suitcase and a guitar and started graduate school at Tulane University. Lexi has since received her Master’s in Public Health and continues to work toward food equity and health in New Orleans. When she is not at one of the four farmers’ markets, she is hanging with her dog Salsa at the pottery studio.
Communications and Development Coordinator
Victor (Vic) Robinson