Sam joined the Alchemist team after six years in the professional food safety industry and several years in community organizing as a co-founder of the Oak Park Fix-it Cafe. Sam is passionate about building strong equitable communities where the most vulnerable neighbors can flourish. He is a resident of the Oak Park neighborhood and can be found spending his free time gardening, taking evening walks with his spouse, and enjoying time with his children.
Davida was Alchemist’s first employee. She manages the day-to-day operations of the organization, including HR, bookkeeping, contracts and compliance, and budgets/financials, as well as providing assistance to Program Managers for improving program efficiencies and excellence. She has over 20 years of experience working in the non-profit sector, including implementing healthy food access projects in the Sacramento region for 11 years. Additional experience includes three years with a private community outreach firm, and seven years of business management experience. She is originally from rural Missouri, and has been a Sacramento resident for over two decades, currently residing in the Oak Park neighborhood where many of Alchemist CDC’s Neighborhood Empowerment projects are focused. When not working, Davida enjoys teaching English as a foreign language, gardening, bird watching and baking.
Since joining Alchemist CDC in 2017, Emma has grown and developed the CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets and Market Match programs to expand food access in the Farm to Fork Capital. Emma oversees all functions of this work including program staff, interns and volunteers, local advocacy efforts and policy initiatives, and CalFresh education. Most recently Emma developed CalFresh Access Services for regional market operators and has deepened connections in the community to increase food access during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Outside of work, Emma enjoys hiking with her dog, yoga and exploring local restaurants.
Jacob assists with all programs on the administrative side and is a program manager for the Alchemist Kitchen Project. Since beginning at Alchemist CDC in 2016, Jacob has played a pivotal role bringing the Alchemist Kitchen project from concept to reality. As program manager, he co-facilitates the Alchemist Microenterprise Academy program and works with businesses in the Incubator Program. Jacob loves to work with entrepreneurs, see their creative business concepts and eat their delicious creations. Outside of work, Jacob is passionate about Red Sox baseball, cooking and travel.
La Tisha Sohai, Alchemist Microenterprise Academy (AMA) Program Manager
La Tisha is our nutrition and food access expert. She develops food safety and nutrition-related curriculum and technical assistance for entrepreneurs participating in AMA. La Tisha is a Sacramento native, currently working remotely from Denver, CO. She holds certifications in Health & Wellness Education, Food Service Management, Culinary Arts and Medical Assisting. After moving to Denver for college, she returned home from 2015-2020, and has worked extensively with various nonprofits.
Joe Robustelli, Neighborhood Empowerment Program Manager
Joe joined Alchemist with over 25 years of nonprofit experience with the YMCA and several animal welfare organizations where he was responsible for bringing programs to underserved communities. He is also the owner/founder of a small urban nursery in downtown. Joe manages our land-based Community Empowerment projects, which include Oak Park Sol Community Garden, Oak Park Art Garden, and Pansy Community Garden Park. Outside of work he enjoys gardening, volunteering for Front Street Animal Shelter, and watching sports.
Charlie Variano, CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets Program Coordinator
Charlie works on our CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets and Market Match programs, including community outreach, volunteer coordination, and CalFresh application assistance. She first started at Alchemist as a CalFresh volunteer at the Florin Farmers’ Market before joining as staff in 2019. Outside of work, Charlie enjoys knitting, spending time outdoors, and asking strangers if she can pet their dogs.
Jeisy Casas, CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets Program Associate
Jeisy staffs the Laguna Farmers’ Market CalFresh booth in Elk Grove. Before joining the staff, Jeisy first started off as a volunteer. She is currently a full time student at Antelope High School. She is beginning her journey to pursue her career in becoming an Obstetrician-Gynecologist. In her free time, Jeisy loves to stay active, reading, and baking delicious treats—her favorite being chocoflan.
Sneha Chand, CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets Program Associate
Sneha staffs the Midtown Farmers’ Market CalFresh booth in Midtown Sacramento. Sneha started off as a CalFresh intern at Midtown FM during summer 2020 and came back as an associate starting in 2021. She is currently pursuing her Public Health degree, concentrating on Community Health Education, at California State University Sacramento. Sneha loves watching cute romantic comedies, eating spicy food, and is a skincare/self care enthusiast!
Makenzie Pierce, CalFresh at Farmers’ Markets Associate
Makenzie staffs the Country Club Plaza Farmers’ Market CalFresh Booth in Arden. She is currently a full time student at California State University, Sacramento. She is double majoring in Biological Sciences as well as Nutrition and Food with an emphasis in Dietetics. She plans on becoming a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist to work and specialize in Community Nutrition after graduating. In her free time, Makenzie loves to spend time with her loved ones, explore the outdoors, read, and practice yoga.
Laura Shephard, CalFresh at Farmers’ Market Program Associate
Laura joined Alchemist in 2021 and staffs the Natomas Farmers’ Market CalFresh booth in Sacramento. Teaching for over a decade, Laura brings her understanding of the importance of accessible healthy food options for all. In her spare time Laura enjoys DIY home projects, cooking and exploring Sacramento.
Jon Johnson, Planning & Community Development Specialist
Jon conducts research and advises on planning, development and design issues for our land-based Neighborhood Empowerment projects. He brings experience as a Land Use Planner from various jurisdictions, and has a B.A. and M.A. in Environmental/Urban Studies.
Alexi Wordell, Neighborhood Empowerment Intern
Alexi assists Alchemist with community outreach and engagement for land-based Neighborhood Empowerment projects. She brings her experience as an urban planner and passion for participatory action research to the role. Alexi is currently pursuing her M.S. in Community Development at UC Davis where she studies community engagement that emphasizes neighborhood health, equity, and empowerment. Between school and work, Alexi loves to bake, thrift, and be outdoors with her dog.
Board of Directors
Jamie Cutlip, President
Jamie is a Local Government Affairs Representative at SMUD. She has an extensive background spanning 15 years in government and nonprofits including community planning, economic development and environmental advocacy. She holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from San Francisco State University, and is a former board member of the Northern California Solar Association. As a former Associate Planner with the City of Sacramento, her expertise extends from permitting/entitlement reviews to sustainability program management and policy development focused on green building, solar permitting and infill development. When not exploring new campsites or wineries, Jamie resides in Sacramento with her husband and two dogs.
Sarah Dillon, Vice President
Sarah is a Communications and Grants Program Manager for California ReLeaf. She has previously worked in development, nonprofit marketing, and field organizing for political campaigns. Holding a B.A. in Urban Studies & Planning from UC San Diego and a Masters in Food Systems & Society from Marylhurst University, her passion for health, food justice, and livable urban spaces brought her to Alchemist. She can also be found hiking, doing yoga, painting, at trivia nights, and camping with her second cousins.
Matt Read, Treasurer
Matt is a lawyer and advocate working on transportation, health, and municipal policy in Sacramento. Matt has over five years experience on nonprofit boards and has contributed to increasing the internal sustainability of organizations through good hiring and committed management. When he is not helping develop good, green, community-led projects, he is Staff Counsel for the California Strategic Growth Council. Matt provides legal support to advance SGC’s work to help California achieve its climate change goals through place-based, community-driven programming. He previously served as Policy Director and Chief of Staff to Sacramento City Councilmember Steve Hansen. He managed a broad policy portfolio of housing, sustainability, homelessness, public works, transit, and active transportation issues, along with a team of dedicated staffers. He sits on the Sacramento City/County Bicycle Advisory Committee and tries to ride his bike as much as he can. To his mind, bagels are the single-best yeasted bread and he is constantly amazed by the quantity and quality of Prince’s catalog.
Ravenn Moon, Secretary
Ravenn is a Program Analyst with the State of California and is pursuing a M.A. in Diverse Community Development Leadership through the Tseng College, California State Universty Northridge. Ravenn earned a B.A. in Psychology from Earlham College in 2013 and soon after began her career with the State; working with the Department of Rehabilitation developing vocational rehabilitation programs designed to serve Californians with disabilities. She enjoys spending time with her husband and their miniature pinscher, reading, gardening, and listening to music.
Jamila Bebe Khan
Born and raised in Sacramento, Jamila is the Content and Social Media Coordinator for Sacramento365, the year-round source for events. Jamila is a graduate of the University of California, Davis Community and Regional Development program, where she first was introduced to Alchemist’s work. Before joining the Board in 2011, Jamila first worked with Alchemist CDC as an intern at the Bryte and Broderick urban farm stand in West Sacramento. In her free time, Jamila loves to add new stamps to her passport, attend community events, discover new music, and try out new recipes in her kitchen.
Shawn is a CalWORKs Employment Policy Manager with the California Department of Social Services. He has worked in his time at CDSS with county partners, Community Based Organizations, and advocates to implement policies that increase employment. A Sacramento native, Shawn received a Bachelor of General Studies from Arkansas State University in 1999, and was a member of the 2013 cohort of the Boards and Commissions Leadership Institute, facilitated by the Sacramento Housing Alliance. Shawn lives in Tahoe Park with his daughter, a rabid teen fiction fan, Violette. In his free time he enjoys fishing and riding with the 2nd California Cavalry, a civil war living history group.
Mary is the Director of Communications and Marketing for the UC Davis Office of Public Scholarship and Engagement, helping faculty and students use research, teaching and knowledge to serve the public and advance the common good. Before UC Davis, she worked on health education campaigns in the media office for the California Department of Public Health, and served in the Peace Corps in Senegal, West Africa where she supported rural communities in building capacity to export baskets to the U.S. In her free time she’s failing at Pinterest, trying not to get hurt in co-ed recreational soccer, and walking her dog.
Matthew is the Fair Lending Officer at Tri Counties Bank. Prior to working in banking, Matthew worked with nonprofits, including The International Rescue Committee, focusing on refugee placement and employment in the Sacramento area. In addition to serving Alchemist’s board, he serves on the Board of Trustees with NeighborWorks Sacramento. When not working, Matthew is riding his road bike, camping, playing board games, and visiting the many local playgrounds with his son.
Jeff is a Sacramento native and has recently moved back after a long stay in the Bay Area. Jeff works as a Grant Analyst for the CalMoneySmart program, which provides funds for nonprofits working on financial empowerment programs in California. Prior to working for the state, Jeff helped manage the largest open-street program in the country, created and managed farmers’ markets, and somehow was able to pay off his student loans. In his free time, Jeff likes to play piano, read on his couch, and ride his bike.
Saige works with Sacramento County Regional Parks, managing the recreation and volunteer programs at Cosumnes River Preserve. Originally from Bakersfield, CA, Saige was positively influenced by nonprofits similar to Alchemist CDC, encouraging her to pursue a career in nonprofit and land-based work. With a passion for conservation and community engagement, Saige works hard to encourage and create opportunities for urban communities to access natural, outdoor spaces for recreation and education. In her free time, she loves to spend time baking desserts, running, and reading.