A lover of all things spicy and strange, Elizabeth started her work with Whole Foods Market wrapping cheese and peddling chocolates in Raleigh, N.C. Though her background in opera and fiction writing didn't necessarily scream "natural foods store," she quickly found this company was the perfect place to blend her passion for unusual dishes and people, and explore the stories behind the food we eat. She works on the company newsletters and homepage and is steadily making her way up the Scoville chart of local Texas peppers.
Paige Brady joined Whole Foods Market in 1993 and, after working in various other businesses, found that the stakeholder philosophy and commitment to team member excellence allowed her to focus her passion on communication. From internal team member newsletters to editing our website, Paige has spent years immersing herself in what makes Whole Foods Market tick. She doesn’t claim to know all the answers, but she knows the people who do. When she’s not working, Paige is a dedicated mother of a tween daughter and an accomplished home cook – not of dinner party-type food but of the kind that you eat day in and day out.
As our Seafood Quality Standards Coordinator, Carrie’s work currently focuses on developing and enhancing quality standards for seafood sold at Whole Foods Market. She analyzes critical issues in both ocean fisheries and aquaculture and works with producers to develop solutions that encourage greater sustainability in the seafood marketplace. After getting a Masters degree in Environmental Management from Duke University, where she focused on fisheries management, Carrie worked as an independent consultant for a range of environmental NGOs and for five years as the research and outreach coordinator for the Blue Ocean Institute’s seafood sustainability program. However, her roots in seafood go farther back: her family has been in the seafood business since 1909.
Allison honed her adventurous palate, appreciation of ethnic cuisine and taste for fresh fruits and veggies in her hometown of Hilo, Hawaii. She considers herself lucky to work for a company that shares her enthusiasm for good food and conscious living. With a Master's Degree in Library and Information Science, Allison gets to combine her love of finding and sharing information with her love of good food as the Content Creator and Administrator for our Integrated Media Team. She enjoys the good life with her family in Austin, Texas - hiking, travelling, scuba diving and, of course, eating!
After earning degrees in theatre and English and working in public radio, publishing, and museum education and marketing, native Texan Marla Camp joined Whole Foods Market in 1999. She spent time on both the Marketing and Team Member Services teams before joining Whole Foods Market University—our intranet-based Team Member education site. As Team Leader of “WFM-U”, Marla enjoys the endless creative and learning opportunities she and her team get to explore as they develop instructional videos and interactive courses for Team Members. Some of her favorite activities include laughing so hard she cries, reading to her young daughter, and singing harmony.
Alexia Case recently graduated from the University of the Pacific with a B.S. in Business Marketing. While sitting in on an inspirational presentation given by Whole Foods Market’s Co-CEO Walter Robb on environmental sustainability, she was instantly drawn to the company’s core values and missions. This past July she joined the Global Marketing Team, where she assists on a variety of projects including our 30th birthday celebration in September, product features, recipe research and tracking, and much more. As with any true Austinite, you can be sure to find this gal swimming in Barton Springs, going for a run around Town Lake, or shopping on South Congress during her spare time.
Jennifer’s curiosity in all things food-related began at a young age through memorable experiences watching PBS cooking shows with her grandmother, first-hand cooking lessons from her mother and exploring ethnic foods and traditions with an adventurous aunt. After graduating with a degree in English, she wrote in all sorts of capacities about a variety of subjects from deadly diseases to luxury sheets, so she was elated to finally combine her loves of food and writing as a writer for Whole Foods Market. A native Texan and Austinite since 1999, Jennifer enjoys nightswimming at Barton Springs, discovering new music each year at SXSW and throwing themed potlucks. She is also a little obsessed with New York City and will frequently use any excuse she can to have a picnic.
After developing a plethora of usable job skills as a student of painting and drawing, Karen Christensen’s first produce job was unloading a truckload of organic Florida watermelons by hand in 1988. She received a box of organic Haitian mangoes as part payment and has been hooked on produce ever since. Following stints in warehousing and driving produce delivery trucks, Karen came to Whole Foods Market in 1998 as a regional produce buyer in the Northern California region. Since that time, Karen has held a variety of positions including national produce buyer and regional produce and floral coordinator. When she’s not toting watermelons and enjoying mangoes, Karen can be found talking about cherries and berries while scouting for produce and floral in a variety of locations around the globe.
Cathy Cochran-Lewis has worked with Whole Foods Market since 2004 in community relations, marketing, public relations and as a writer. Previously, Cathy was a daily newspaper journalist and then followed her passion into the culinary world to create and open cooking schools at locations across the country. She continues to be inspired in her exploration of new cooking techniques, great recipes and fresh ingredients. A Texas native, Cathy lives in Austin with her husband and four rescued dogs. Favorite pastimes include cooking, reading cookbooks and traveling to the great food cities of the world.
Malia Curran, MS, MPH is a national and regional nutrition consultant for Whole Foods Market. Malia is the founder of Malia’s Wholesome Health, Nutrition Consulting, and focuses on healthy household makeovers. She holds a Master’s degree in Nutrition Science & Food Policy from The Friedman School of Nutrition at Tufts University, and a Master’s degree in Public Health from Tufts School of Medicine. As a nutritionist, writer, and health consultant, she lectures and writes on a wide range of natural healthy lifestyle topics.
Three years ago, at a crossroads in her career, Kate Demase asked herself an important question: what am I passionate about? The answer was food! After a brief stint in the advertising industry, Kate earned her MBA, accepted a job with Whole Foods, and two years later became the Store Team Leader of the Prospect Street Store in Cambridge, MA. Kate is currently the Store Team Leader of the Wayland store in Massachusetts, where she is lucky enough to combine her love of food with her passion for helping our team members achieve happiness and excellence. Raised with a proud Italian heritage that has had her cooking since she could reach the counter and led her to spend 6 months living in Florence, Italy, Kate is a compulsive food, book, and shoe shopper. Kate has an M.B.A. from Boston University and a B.A. in English from Wellesley College.
Joe started a summer job with Whole Foods Market in Boston over ten years ago, got sucked in by the fact that this is one of the most fulfilling companies that one could possibly work for, and never left. He works as part of the company’s Quality Standards Team, which is responsible for developing and maintaining standards for natural food, bodycare and supplement ingredients. He also works on agricultural and food policy issues, including organic agriculture and genetically engineered crops, and works with our stores to maintain our status as the first national certified organic retailer. He also sits on the USDA’s National Organic Standards Board, the Non-GMO Project Board of Directors, and the Texas Department of Agriculture Organic Industry Advisory Board. Joe first fell in love with organic and sustainable agriculture while a student in New York State’s Hudson Valley; he holds a degree in cognitive neuroscience from Vassar College. When not geeking out about food chemistry, Joe’s probably reading, experimenting in the kitchen, finding a newer, colder swimming hole, or learning how to speak Texan.
After working in the produce industry in Northern California for about five years, Bryan Doane joined Whole Foods Market in 1998 at our Boulder Store. He’s held a variety of jobs with Whole Foods Market — from store level to global — all focusing on Produce. Bryan first became interested in produce while attending college in Santa Rosa, CA. He loves the connection between the earth and plants that help us survive. Now based in North Carolina, he enjoys spending time at the beach with his family, surfing, playing tennis and buying fruit for our stores!
Approaching 8 years of service at Whole Foods Market, Mara Fleishman has had a strong passion for natural and organic foods since she was young. Her Mother took her every week to the Bread and Circus store in Wellesley, MA; Mara grew up instilled with the importance of good quality food. Mara brings a wide range of marketing experience to her current position having nearly 15 years experience working on regional, national and global brands. She started at Whole Foods Market as the Marketing Director for the North Atlantic Region and now works on Special Projects for the Global Marketing team. Mara has spoken about sustainable business practices on panels at Yale University and has been a guest lecturer at Colorado University, Leeds School of Business.
Born and raised in Maryland, Chris Ford starting selling musk melons from his grandfather's garden out of a wheelbarrow on the roadside as a teenager and a passion for produce was born. His natural foods career began in 1993 while working at Alfalfa's Market in Boulder, CO and after a variety of other positions including purchasing and distribution, migrated further west to California to work on an organic farm. Chris joined the Whole Foods produce purchasing team in 2006 and is driven to seek out the best fruit from around the world for our guests. Chris is a long time supporter of Slow Foods, loves to cook and travel and lives in Seaside, California with his wife Lisa and their 6 month old son Chase.
A native Brit, Frances Flower joined Whole Foods Market in 2006 and currently works as an animal production and welfare expert, helping to implement the 5-Step Program. She’s lived in the US, Scotland, and Canada while getting degrees in Zoology, Animal Behavior, and Animal Welfare. Frances cares about how farm animals are raised and is excited to be part of the 5-Step Program. Now settled in Austin, she enjoys running and is passionate about volunteering for a local animal non-profit org. She also loves to garden, which is very fitting given her last name!
Ashley Heaton is passionate about food and a huge proponent of supporting local businesses. In her role with Whole Foods Market, she manages advertising, social media, community outreach and brand building for stores in our Midwest Region, from Chicago to Toronto. Since graduating from DePaul University, she’s focused on brand management and strategic and creative thinking for a wide range of retail, entertainment and food service brands.
Chris joined Whole Foods Market in 2008, drawn by the company's mission to provide a great product while maintaining perspective on the importance of the environment and the communities it serves. Born and raised in Colorado, Chris has always been an avid outdoor enthusiast, and so appreciates the importance of taking care of his body through healthy eating and sound bodycare. Chris moved to Texas to get his MBA and synergistically found the chance to join WFM's National Marketing team in Austin. When not at work, Chris biggest passion is travel, and has visited more than 50 countries around the world.
In 2006, Jessica Johnson joined Whole Foods Market where she initially focused on non-perishable categories. In 2010, Jessica became a National Floral Buyer on the Whole Foods Produce Team where she focuses on imported flowers from such countries as Colombia, Ecuador and Costa Rica. The standards, mission and values initially drew her in and inevitably keeps her coming back every day. She loves that she gets to promote producers in Third World countries under the Whole Trade program. Jessica loves travel, live music and good food. She lives in Austin, Texas with her husband, Corey, and dog, Telula.
Allison Kociuruba is a recipe developer and writer who began her work with Whole Foods Market on the marketing team in Austin, Texas. Before that, she worked in several top New York City restaurant kitchens, including Café Boulud and Butter, as well as the Test Kitchen at Good Housekeeping Magazine, where she was the Senior Food Editor. Allison is now living and cooking in the Bay Area while contributing recipes to wholefoodsmarket.com.
Ha Lam is the National Projects Photographer for Whole Foods Market. She is responsible for creating images for print and web. She also works with the Whole Planet Foundation to document their work in developing-world communities. Outside of her work with Whole Foods Market and the Whole Planet Foundation, Ha does freelance work for clients that include newspapers and magazines worldwide. Her specialization is in editorial portraiture and food. She enjoys coffee, beer and BBQ. She studied journalism at the University of Texas in Austin.
Josiah Leet started with Whole Foods Market in 1993 and has been a Quality Assurance Field Inspector since 2001. "Stationed" on the Eastern seaboard for the winter off-shore-vessel season, every May he begins his "road season." He covers various commodities grown and packed in South Texas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia, New York State, Delaware, Maryland and New Jersey. Raised on the family farm in Pennsylvania where he first learned to drive on a tractor (a 1949 Ford 8N), Josiah has spent time on both coasts and is an avid (though admittedly amateur) surfer and a fairly decent fisherman. He also enjoys "the grilling arts" and a long weekend on the Harley. "Good food is best when served to good friends" is his motto.
Former park ranger Anna Madrona helped open the fourth Whole Foods Market store in Texas in 1985, leaving after a few years for, literally, greener pastures. After working in the environmental field as a cartographer, GIS specialist, archeological dig bum, and historic preservation professional, Ms. Madrona returned to Whole Foods Market in the late ‘90s on the start-up team for Whole Foods Market’s dotcom experiment. In her third incarnation at Whole Foods Market, the ever-curious Anna works as a writer and researcher in Austin. She has degrees in agriculture & resources management, geography, and public history. Her current enthusiasms include permaculture and authoring the first book in her koan mystery series.
With close to 20 years experience, Anne is our resident expert on animal production and welfare, serving as our Global Animal Production and Welfare Coordinator. With Whole Foods Market since 2003, her current role is to implement our animal welfare initiatives, including the launch of Global Animal Partnership’s 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating program here. When she’s not on the road working with our farmers and ranchers, she keeps herself busy by helping her husband run their farm, hiking with her dog Diego and always has 10 knitting projects on the go!
Jeremiah McElwee started his career in the natural food/lifestyle industry at a small herbal apothecary in Harvard Square and has been with Whole Foods Market since 1997. He spent 6 years traveling the country conducting training sessions on the quality and efficacy of Whole Foods Market and 365 Everyday Value Private Label products and Whole Body programs. He works diligently to deliver value to all Whole Foods Market stakeholders through his passion, innovation, and love for all things Whole Body. McElwee worked as a brand manager for Weil Nutritional supplements and was involved in countless product developments and launches. McElwee continues to study all aspects of integrative health care, herbalism, nutrition, and personal care.
Kate is the Multimedia Communications Specialist for the South and Mid-Atlantic regions of Whole Foods Market, based out of Durham, North Carolina. With photography, video, and audio gear in hand, Kate travels the backroads up and down the East Coast documenting the farms and farmers that bring fresh products into our stores. A graduate of the University of Montana journalism school and the Ole Miss Center for Southern Studies, Kate has been working with Whole Foods since 2007. Before that time, she worked as a photojournalist for newspapers across the country.
Ashlea Miller is a writer for Whole Foods Market’s Global headquarters in Austin, Texas, where she lives with her husband, one lovable Terrier mutt, Tessie, and two entertaining tailless cats. She enjoys hiking with Tessie, exploring the wonderfully weird city of Austin, brewing the perfect mug of green tea and enjoying her husband’s amazing vegetarian cooking. Ashlea received her bachelor’s degree in journalism, is a former magazine editor-in-chief, and has written for several newspapers and magazines across the country, including The Boston Globe and Real Simple. She volunteers for local animal rescue organizations and enjoys educating people about animal cruelty and the benefits of a vegetarian/vegan lifestyle. She has never met an animal or a vegetable she didn’t like.
With fond memories of picking berries from her grandma’s garden in Pennsylvania, Christine developed a love of food at a young age. After graduating from Penn State University with a degree in business, Christine worked as a consultant in Washington DC for a number of years; while writing for a local cooking newspaper on the side. Eager to turn her passion for food into a full-time career, she accepted an IT position with Whole Foods Market in 2007 and never looked back. In her free time, Christine enjoys cooking, travel, running and yoga.
With over a decade of experience in nutrition and cooking with whole foods, Mary Olivar is a passionate advocate of healthy eating and good food. Her love of food also extends to the kitchen, where she has worked as a personal and professional chef specializing in plant-based and raw foods, as well as special diets. When not at Whole Foods Market helping others find healthy foods and learn how to deliciously prepare them, Mary is usually at home having culinary adventures of her own, keeping her three hungry children fed.
Born in Mississippi and raised in the South (mainly Texas), James Parker’s first produce job was at 16 in a supermarket in Dallas where he trimmed corn, made orange juice, and put strawberries in plastic containers for 4 hours every day after school. James joined Whole Foods Market in 1986 where he initially focused on retail department design and merchandising- helping open more than 60 stores throughout the US. He has since expanded his interests to include the production and purchasing side of the business for fresh produce and floral. For James, produce is “still life- a physical manifestation of our seasonal cycles. Fresh fruits and vegetables connect us to our world in a way that is dynamic and ever changing. It is a way for us to celebrate the changing seasons and our changing world in a positive way every day.” James is also a painter, fresh food chef and advocate, sometimes successful gardener, avid sand castle builder and pumpkin carver. He lives in Aptos, California with his wife Erin, son Aidan, daughter Delilah, and cat Harry.
From haute cuisine to collard greens, Kate is eager to discuss the latest trends in the food world. Kate joined Whole Foods Market in 2005 and now serves as senior editor for the website and email newsletters. After graduating from the University of Virginia, she worked for a French wine importer in Napa Valley, California, before moving to France to pursue her passion for French language, culture and cuisine. Kate taught English at a high school in Burgundy for a year and then landed a spot as an intern at nearby La Varenne cooking school. She stayed on for three years as associate course director for La Varenne and editorial assistant to the school’s founder, cookbook author Anne Willan. Now based in Austin, Kate enjoys the challenge of mastering the art of backyard vegetable gardening.
Chad joined Whole Foods Market to co-create and assist with the launch of our company-wide Healthy Eating Initiative called Health Starts Here, supporting the program as coordinator, R&D chef, employee immersion programs coordinator and culinary educator. Before joining us, Chad brought his approach to healthy cuisine to some of the world’s premier plant-based restaurants, resorts, film sets and healing centers globally for well over a decade. This included partnering with a boutique international lifestyle company based in central Europe as Executive Chef and Concept developer, to launch the acclaimed SAF restaurant brand; an exciting fine dining, green gastronomy concept highlighting health supportive cuisine and organic wine bars; and successfully launched restaurants in Istanbul, Munich and London.
Derek’s experience includes many years as chef/consultant for an international Tibetan Buddhist monastery, restaurateur, caterer, vegan organic farmer, food designer, consultant, food writer and educator of vegan, vegetarian and animal-based cuisines. Derek joined our Healthy Eating team as a chef and educator to support our healthy revolution initiative. He has owned several restaurants and catering businesses in the Northeast U.S. and his expertise includes macrobiotic and diabetic diets. He founded South Hill Farm in South Berwick, Maine, a sustainable farm and learning center dedicated to providing the community with vegan and organically grown foods and culinary education.
For over 18 years, Errol Schweizer has dedicated his career to improving the natural and organic food industry. As Whole Foods Market’s Global Grocery Coordinator since 2008, Errol has helped to bring more than 6,000 culinary finds to the US marketplace. Errol and the Grocery team continue to lead the charge on ethical sourcing and product innovation at Whole Foods Market, as well as expanding their selection of Fair Trade, Organic, and Non GMO products. Errol’s team has helped establish new milestones for quality and transparency in pet foods, cleaning products, raw/superfoods, HPP beverages, hemp foods, pastured dairy and eggs, vegan foods, and much more across over 70 product categories. He and his family are currently homesteading a few wooded acres on the outskirts of Austin, Texas. In his spare time, Errol can be found hanging out with his kids, reading or hiking.
Susannah grew up eating loads of gulf-coast seafood her father received in trade for ads placed in his small-town newspaper. Summers with Yankee grandmothers-one from an eastern European immigrant family and one a Julia Child fan-taught her both thriftiness in the kitchen and the pleasure of herbs and vegetables grown right outside the back door. Add years of fast-paced restaurant work and Whole Foods Market experience and you get Susannah's quick, experimental style in the kitchen with Slow Food-style enjoyment at the table. Aside from food and cooking, Susannah also devours novels and her passions range from playing basketball to performing punk rock, getting lost in museums or in the wild, doing art or doing yoga.
Cathy Strange joined Whole Foods Market in 1990 and has a wealth of food industry experience and expertise. As the global cheese buyer, she has become an authority at detecting international food trends during her travels around the world while seeking out vendor partners that meet Whole Foods Market's strict Quality Standards. She is a member of the American Cheese Society and the Cheese of Choice Coalition and the Cheese Importers Association. Strange works with small producers helping them sustain a profitable business. She was recently inducted into the distinguished international Guilde des Fromagers de Saint-Uguzon, the most celebrated association of cheese mongers and specialists in France. Strange is one of very few Americans inducted into the prestigious guild of cheese trade professionals, recognized for comprehensive knowledge and attention to the merits of French cheese.
Alana Sugar is a Certified Nutritionist with many years experience as a Dietary Consultant. She resides in Alexandria, Virginia where she works teaching classes, facilitating seminars, consulting with individual clients, writing articles, and creating healthy, all-natural recipes. Alana's currently works with The American Institute for Cancer Research, Whole Foods Market, The United States Federal Government, the City of Alexandria, VA, and the City of Rockville, MD. She has been working with Whole Foods Market for 25 years.
Jill began her career with Whole Foods in 1997 and is currently the Project Manager of the Whole Foods Market University Team. But that is not the only job she has at global headquarters…she is also the Team Leader for the volunteer Green Mission Team, whose responsibility is to implement as many environmentally-sound practices in the office as possible. She is extremely passionate about protecting our environment and is thrilled to be a part of the company’s green mission efforts. She fully embraces the Whole Foods “lifestyle” and enjoys yoga and meditation, and has been a vegetarian for 23 years. She loves working for a company that supports sustainable agriculture, organic and local food, community outreach, and best of all, the well-being of their Team Members.
Jody Villecco holds a degree in nutrition from Cornell University and has been with Whole Foods Market since 1997. As Quality Standards Coordinator, Jody is responsible for developing and communicating the company's Quality Standards and keeping the company current on nutritional issues. She is also the Company’s top nutritionist. Previously, Jody was a nutritionist in private practice where she counseled patients and taught nutrition classes to children, adults and new moms. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in nutritional anthropology at the University of Colorado. In her spare time, Jody enjoys ballet dancing, learning Italian and French, cooking with fresh, seasonal foods and continuing to learn more about her passions: food, nutrition, and most recently, natural personal care.
Steve is the Executive Program Director for the Whole Planet Foundation. He oversees the existing portfolio of microfinance programs and analyzes new projects for funding. Prior to his work with the Foundation, Steve spent time in business development with a technology company and later became a rural development volunteer in the Peace Corps. He is excited to be part of a team that is affecting positive change in the world and redefining corporate consciousness. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with degrees in Business and Spanish. Steve is proud to be a retired rugby player and an owner of the Green Bay Packers.
Theo Weening, our Global Meat Coordinator, was born – literally - into the meat business; entering the world in his father’s Holland meat shop. “My dad ran an old-style shop, and his number one focus was quality,” said Weening, whose family’s liverwurst entry won a silver medal in the 1987 international meat show. “He bought the cattle direct from the farmers to ensure the best quality and everything was processed in-store.” Theo brings that same level of dedication to his work here. Theo’s passion for quality meats; intricate knowledge of raising practices, cuts and preparation techniques; and his dedication to the art of a centuries-old craft has made him a highly-sought national expert.
Our Wine Guys
Whole Foods national wine program was awarded Wine Enthusiast magazine’s "retailer of the year" award in 2008. Geof and Doug make it happen. Geof Ryan: A California native, Geof has lived in Southern California most of his life. He developed a passion for wine early in life,and started working in wine stores before he was of legal drinking age (we hope the statute of limitations is up on that!), moving from box boy to manager within five years. Geof joined Whole Foods Market in 1996 and has held several positions, including wine buyer, specialty team leader, national all-star regional specialty coordinator, and is now global co-wine buyer with Doug Bell. Geof has two children and his hobbies include reading, music and late night television. Doug Bell: Atlanta native Doug Bell is a graduate of University of Georgia. He got his start in the wine business while in college during summer and holiday breaks and continued in the biz, eventually becoming the corporate wine buyer for Harry’s Farmers Markets. When Harry’s became part of Whole Foods Market, Doug’s fate was sealed (and our fortunes enhanced!) when he became our global co-wine buyer with Geof Ryan. Doug and his life partner of 19 years reside on Fightingtown Creek, Blue Ridge, GA. His hobbies include cooking and EATING…reading, hiking, surfing the web and, when forced, home renovating.