Houston Staff Spotlight

The Brighter Bites staff in Houston worked together this past spring to serve 8,900 families at 45 sites across the city. The Houston team — the largest in the organization – has a diverse educational background, but they all share a passion for health, food, and service. Read a bit below about the incredible staff that comes together each day to create communities of health in Houston.

Program Director

The Houston team is led by Program Director Emily Kelley, who joined Brighter Bites in 2013 as an Americorps VISTA volunteer before becoming a permanent member and leader of the team. She’s seen Brighter Bites grow from its infancy in Houston into the national program that it is today. The Houston team is so lucky to have her leadership!

Emily is supported by two program managers who have collectively served nine years with Brighter Bites and nine program coordinators, who’ve served a combined 22 years! Learn some fun facts about each member of the team below:

Program Managers

Lani Alcazar is passionate about community work and has a special affinity for nutrition and child health. Lani earned her master’s degree in public health at The University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston before joining the Brighter Bites team.

Molly Oyetunji grew up in Houston with a love for food and cooking that later translated into a passion for chemistry and nutrition. Molly loves sharing nutrition education information and changing children’s lives one Brighter Bites bag at a time. Molly recently had a daughter, Olivia, and hopes to pass on to her a love of healthy food!

Program Coordinators

Michael Carpenter began working with Brighter Bites as a Mission Year intern during the 2015-2016 academic year. Hailing from the Pacific Northwest with its abundance of local fresh fruit, Michael enjoys working to ensure kids in Houston have access to fresh fruit just like he did growing up in Washington.

Jacqueline Castro has a background in health education and uses her passion for nutrition education everyday at Brighter Bites to expose young children to fresh produce and to help build lifelong healthy habits.

Katie Degen loves educating individuals about nutrition and is a rockstar at making nutrition fun for Brighter Bites families.

Jackie Delagarza was born and raised in Houston and became passionate about nutrition education during college. Jackie enjoys playing an active role in educating Houston communities about all aspects of health and nutrition through Brighter Bites.

Jonathan Gerescher‘s passion for the nonprofit sector and serving his community began with Houston’s Discovery Green Conservatory and has since flourished into full-time dedication to help kids build lifelong healthy habits through Brighter Bites.

Thelma Green‘s background in community health and youth outreach in underserved communities has led her to pursue her passion for helping Houston’s young children and their families blossom one bright bite at a time. P.S. Thelma is the Houston team’s resident Zumba leader!

Tanya Reyes knew from a young age that she wanted to make a difference by helping others create a healthy relationship with food. She developed an after school nutrition education outreach program and taught child-focused cooking classes even before joining Brighter Bites!

Samantha Rodriguez came to Brighter Bites with a communications background in the natural foods industry and a passion for promoting healthy eating habits. She loves being a part of Brighter Bites and helping to provide families with produce and nutrition education to support healthy lifestyles!

Jessica Schauman explored the social effects of economic segregation and the influence of nutrition education on children’s health during her undergraduate coursework. She loves doing her part to make an impact on the community with the rest of the Houston team.

The Houston team also includes a group of hardworking program associates who join Brighter Bites part-time during the busiest times of the year. They make it possible for Brighter Bites to serve so many different Houston communities.

The Houston team offices in close proximity to some of the members of the Brighter Bites national team, which supports the growth of Brighter Bites across the country. Keep your eyes peeled for an overview of all the amazing staff who make up the Brighter Bites national team.

Thanks to all the Houston staff members for all that they do to create communities of health through fresh food!