Ron Karp
Executive Director

Ron has served as Executive Director at Food For Thought since 1996. He brings a combination of skills to the organization which includes previous non-profit executive management, a B.S. degree in computer science with 15 years of related work experience, and management abilities first learned at a family-run business.

Ron played an essential role in the capital funding campaign and the building project for Food For Thought’s current facility in Forestville. He has provided stable leadership by staying focused on the mission of providing excellent nutrition to people in Sonoma County affected by HIV and other serious illnesses.

Rachel Gardner
Deputy Executive Director / Client Services Manager

Rachel co-founded Food For Thought’s organic gardens and horticultural therapy project in 1999, and joined the staff full time as Client Services Manager in 2001. She has also served as Deputy Executive Director since 2010. Rachel enjoys conveying Food For Thought’s values of respect, compassion, and generosity when welcoming and orienting new clients to the food bank.

A native New Yorker, Rachel worked as a professional chef for 13 years in San Francisco prior to moving to west Sonoma County. She is trained in nature-based healing practices, group facilitation, and conflict resolution. Her case study for her doctoral degree in clinical psychology is on AIDS-related stigma. She enjoys hiking and takes refuge in the garden and the high Sierra mountains. Rachel lives within walking distance of the food bank with her wife and their animal companions.

Ali Archer
Food Drive & Volunteer Coordinator

Ali is a Sonoma County native who is passionate about health and her community. During her studies at Saint Mary’s College, she developed these interests as a health education intern and the creator of a peer advocacy group devoted to holistic student health. Her love for health education grew deeper while volunteering with small communities along the Amazon River in Brazil.

Upon graduating with her psychology degree, she worked at a local nonprofit specializing in education for youth with disabilities before completing a community leadership fellowship. During this fellowship, she served as a district lead for the successful Berkeley vs. Big Soda campaign. In 2015, she completed the 2,660 mile Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike from Mexico to Canada, spending nearly six months living out of her backpack. She enjoys trying out new recipes, exploring local trails, playing soccer and, of course, being part of the FFT team.

Elisa Baker
Volunteer Manager

Elisa began volunteering at Food for Thought nine years ago and loved that she always left the food bank feeling better than when she arrived. She was hired as the Volunteer Manager at Food for Thought in 2008, to carry on the work of Stewart Scofield, who was a long-time AIDS activist and Food For Thought's first full-time employee. 

Elisa was the volunteer coordinator at Canine Companions for Independence for five and a half years. Before that, she coordinated Artrails and was the exhibitions curator for the Sonoma County Cultural Arts Council. She was a librarian at Ursuline High School and Santa Rosa Junior College. 

She was born in Noblesville, Indiana and earned her masters in Library Science from U.C. Berkeley. Elisa has one son, Andy, and in her spare time enjoys gardening, photography, reading, and movies. Her assistant and constant canine companion, Samir, shares her life and her office. Both Elisa and Samir are very grateful to be working in a compassionate, caring, fun-loving environment with great staff and volunteers.
 

Mary Bigelow-Gale
Events & Stewardship Manager

Mary comes to Food For Thought with over ten years of nonprofit experience in fundraising, relationship management and special events. She has also owned her own furniture business and co-owned a painting company. She is a Sonoma County native who is very happy to be serving in the community she was raised in after a twelve-year absence.

She shares her home with her husband Steve, who is always willing to serve beside her at events. She has two wonderful adult children, Katie and Steven. She enjoys entertaining, cooking, walking, reading, and being outdoors as much as possible.

For inspiration, Mary looks to the words of renowned anthropologist Margaret Mead: "never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."
 

Robert Bogdanoff
Office Manager

Robert brings a wide range of experience to the position of Office Manager. His career includes 20 years in the film industry managing demanding project schedules, over ten years in the wild world of the World Wide Web, volunteer service with Food For Thought and a number of San Francisco non-profits including Frameline, IGLHRC, and Digital Queers. He is excited to use his skills and knowledge to help make Food For Thought an even better resource for its clients and the community.
 

Mark Brudzinski
Creative Director, FFT Antiques

Mark comes to FFT Antiques with 25 years of visual merchandising and store design experience, beginning in Topeka with Macy’s and traversing the Pacific Rim with Duty Free Shoppers. He is also a talented mixed media artist and has participated in many local shows and Food For Thought arts-based fundraisers.

Mark began working at FFT Antiques since 2008 and his unique skill set has helped FFT Antiques expand its reputation and reach, in many areas, including antiques retailing and estate sales.

A former resident of Hawaii, Mark is glad to have created his own paradise in Guerneville with his partner and the best dog, ever, Ms. C.

Jonathan Cooper
Administrative Assistant

Jonathan came to Food For Thought as a weekly volunteer in 2010 and joined the staff in 2014. He brings a diverse range of computer skills, a head for numbers, and a passion for creative problem-solving to his role as Administrative Assistant, and is thrilled to be able to use these skills to help keep the food bank running smoothly and efficiently during a time of tremendous growth and change for the agency. Jonathan is currently a part-time student pursuing his Bachelor's degree in Computer Science at Sonoma State University. In his spare time, he enjoys playing classical piano, gardening, and reading.

Karen Gardner
Grants and Special Projects Coordinator

Karen began working with Food For Thought in 2014 and brings ten years of experience in the nonprofit sector. With an M.P.A. in Nonprofit Management, she has worked in a variety of program, administrative, and development roles for organizations including Daily Acts, the Tuolumne River Trust, the Salmonid Restoration Federation, and the Ruth Bancroft Garden.

Originally from Sebastopol, Karen has a passion for the outdoors. Karen especially enjoys permaculture gardening, hiking, and mushroom hunting, and is also an accomplished Irish Step Dancer.

Dave Hall
Food Program & Facilities Manager

Dave first came to Food For Thought in 2009 as a volunteer at the antiques auction, then in the food bank, and as a volunteer photographer. He was hired for the Food Program and Facilities Manager in 2012.   He brings a wide variety of skills, technical knowledge, organizational ability, and dedication to Food For Thought.

Dave started as a box boy in a small grocery store in Davis where he was born and raised. He also worked in Sacramento for Bel Air Markets. With over 25 years in the grocery industry, he has worked in many positions, including courtesy clerk, checker, and grocery manager.

In his free time, Dave gardens, works on old houses, hikes, and enjoys spending time with family and friends.  He is a cheetah photographer at Safari West and has a keen interest in landscape and portrait photography.

Dana Leavitt
Manager, Food for Thought Antiques

Dana comes to Food For Thought Antiques with thirty-three years of food retail and catering experience. A native of Boston, he moved to the Bay Area in 1991 to explore new challenges. In 2006, Dana moved to Sonoma County, attracted by the heartfelt people, the varied agriculture, the incredible food, and the fabulous wine.

In June of 2014, Dana was ready for another change and left his retail leadership position of eighteen years. He was glad to find a job with an agency like Food For Thought whose values of respect, compassion, and generosity resonate with his personal values and beliefs.

Dana is excited to be part of this incredible organization and looks forward to the continued challenge of helping Food For Thought grow and expand its mission in Sonoma County.
 

Roberto Martin
Operations Coordinator

Roberto's résumé includes working one-on-one with Spanish-speaking children and families for Growing Readers, a non-profit that partners with Santa Rosa’s libraries. His experience with that job made him realize the importance of making sure Latino and Spanish-speaking populations have access to resources that might be otherwise denied to them because of the language barrier. Roberto recently moved to Sebastopol and appreciates the opportunity to unite his love for people, food, and community service at Food For Thought.

Roberto was raised to value community, kindness, and common sense. His parents, both natives of Mexico, moved to California when Roberto was a few months old to give Roberto opportunities only found in the States. Roberto was drawn to the creative and communal values of working with food and worked in the kitchens of several fine-dining restaurants in Sonoma County. He holds a B.A. in philosophy from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Kaaren Van Dyke
Development Director

Kaaren and her husband have lived in Forestville for 23 years. When she joined the Food For Thought team in 2017 it was a dream come true to be serving her local community.

After graduating from University of San Francisco with a degree in Nonprofit Public Administration, Kaaren worked on the granting side of fundraising with the Mulago Foundation.  She has worked mostly recently in fundraising with San Francisco Theological Seminary and Sonoma Land Trust.

She loves fundraising, and enjoys working with the people in this community who generously give their time and money to serve their community and its most vulnerable citizens.