Susan Leigh, B.A., Co-Founder and Executive Director
When you meet Susan, you know immediately that she has an unbounded passion for healthy living, beautiful and nutritious food, and seeing the teens in our program reach new levels of understanding about how they can make a difference. She is a tireless worker, who has impacted every aspect of Fox Valley Food for Health, since it’s beginning in 2012. She has a unique ability to connect people from our community, gathering volunteers, donors, chefs and teens, while spreading the clear vision of what we are doing, and how we can make an impact. With a Bachelor of Arts degree and a 30-year career in sales and marketing in her native land of Canada in hand, in 2007 Susan started her journey to pursue her passion for food and good health. She completed her Master Gardener certificate at Michigan State University, and started a community garden in Clarkston, Michigan. In 2009, she graduated from Ballymaloe Cookery School in Cork, Ireland, and then after moving to Illinois, got involved in the community of Geneva a year later. Her wonderful, infectious laugh, and passion for Fox Valley Food for Health, will stay with you long after your first meeting. Get to know Susan, and grab hold of the vision that is being created in our community! Susan lives in Geneva with her husband Ken Shearer. She enjoys live music performances, especially jazz and singer-song writers, great food and wine, and being in the great outdoors and traveling.
Mary Fremgen, RD, LDN, Co-Founder and Education/Garden Director
Mary co-founded Fox Valley Food for Health in 2012, with a desire to leverage her experience, knowledge and passion in using nutrition as a tool to heal from severe illness. She began her 35-year career in the specialty area of oncology nutrition, and has seen great strides in how nutrition can help in cancer recovery and survival. Mary has also seen the negative impact of poor diet on the incidence of chronic disease and longevity. Her private practice in the Fox Valley is based on combining her three loves, food, cooking and teaching, while making an impact in peoples lives. The Fox Valley Food for Health project has helped fulfill her vision of providing a vehicle for nutrition education and hands on experiences for teens, caretakers and families struggling with serious illness. No one can deny her passion and commitment to the vision of making a difference in the lives of people who are struggling with health issues, and needing a helping hand along the way to recovery. She is a great recruiter of people in the community to the cause of good health, good nutrition and a new way of eating and supporting healthy lifestyles. Her personal experience with the loss of her father and brother to cancer has inspired Mary along this journey. She witnessed first hand the importance of proper nutrition while they went through treatment, and the difference a strong community connection was throughout their cancer battle. Mary lives in St. Charles with her husband, Mike, and enjoys gardening, visiting farmers markets, hiking and cooking for friends.
Fox Valley Food for Health Staff
Molly Evans, Executive Chef and Teen Development Coordinator
Molly started her culinary adventures at a young age learning from her Mother and Grandmother. To this day, some of her fondest memories are cooking with those she loves at their family cottage in Michigan. Molly has a business degree from Indiana University and spent several years in consulting before pursuing a culinary career. She then obtained a culinary degree from Kendall College in Chicago and began her own personal chef business. From formal dinner parties, to corporate lunches, kids cooking classes, and home meal services, she has years of experience in feeding others healthy and nourishing meals. She strongly believes in the power of food to create and maintain good health and is excited to bring this experience to Fox Valley Food For Health. When not cooking, Molly loves to run, do yoga, and read about food and cooking. She lives in St. Charles with her husband and three children, where they all spend a lot of time in the kitchen.
Marcie Carlson, M.S., Assistant Chef
Are you wondering what is the nutritional science behind the meals that Fox Valley Food for Health teaches teens to cook, and delivers to clients? Get to know Marcie Carlson. Holder of a Masters degree in Nutrition and Dietetics, she is one of the managers behind menu development, recipe creation, and recipe makeover for Fox Valley Food for Health. She maintains the extensive digital and paper-based recipe collection, and each week produces the “Nutri-Bites” that go out with selected meals, providing important information about the nutritional benefits of the meals provided. In addition, she is the Kitchen Manager, responsible for all food and supplies procurement necessary to support the weekly preparation of meals for the program. Marcie is a steady, efficient, smart professional—someone upon which the foundation of the program is built. She is passionate about food, and makes a difference every day at Fox Valley Food for Health. In addition, she is one of our talented Mentor Chefs, providing outstanding teaching and coaching to our teens every week. We are fortunate to have such a true professional on our team.
Susan Ellward, Volunteer Coordinator
Anyone who knows Susan would tell you she loves to meet new people and is always bringing friends together. Couple that with her passion for volunteering and belief in our mission and you can see why she was drawn to working with FVFFH. She loves that FVFFH not only allows her to serve others, put provides an opportunity to expand her passion for healthy living. Susan has a business degree from Indiana University and spent several years in Sales and Marketing before taking a few years off to raise her two children in Batavia with her husband Jim. As Volunteer Coordinator she will use her excellent interpersonal and organizational skills to help people from the community find a spot at FVFFH that fits his or her skills and desires. If you know anyone who would like to make a difference in the lives of others by joining this wonderful group of people, please contact Susan and she’ll help you get started.
Wendy Kraska, Client Care Coordinator
All of us face tragedy or sickness along the way, and yet, sometimes we just don’t know exactly how to respond or what to do. Wendy Kraska has been a part of our management since 2014 at Fox Valley Food for Health, and embodies that spirit of empathy and kindness, along with the understanding of what to do. Wendy’s experience in Community Nursing and Hospice care has allowed her to thrive in her role as Client Care Manager, working in the community, connecting with local resources and providing support to clients and their families. Wendy is passionate about nutrition supporting more than the physical being. While difficult to measure, she feels nutrition also holistically supports the psycho-social and emotional needs of the family. Wendy believes those living with a health crisis and their families should have access to healthy, nutrient dense meals, nutritional education and support. Wendy enjoys working with the wonderful Fox Valley Food for Health volunteers in the garden, kitchen and as well as delivering nutritious client meals. Being a part of the Fox Valley Food for Health team embodies all that she loves… compassion, nature and sustainability. She makes a difference at Fox Valley Food for Health.
Sherri Shallenberg, Garden Coordinator
Sherri’s love for cooking and a desire to give back to the community, was what first brought her to FVFFH as a volunteer in the teen kitchen and Caring Cooks program. The opportunity to participate in the organic farm program has evolved as the gardens grew in size and production. Sherri invites you to join her and other teen and adult volunteers in planting, tending, and harvesting the organic produce from our gardens. She will tell you that there is immense satisfaction in delivering fresh picked produce from the garden directly to the kitchen, where it is used to prepare beautiful, nutritious meals for our clients and their families. The garden program is an important link in the chain of Fox Valley Food for Health, as we seek to bring our community together and make a difference in people’s lives, as we change how people think about food.
Doreen Keating, Delivery, SnapWare and Administrative Coordinator
Do you want to get involved with Fox Valley Food for Health? If so, you need to meet Doreen Keating! She is one of our original volunteers, and has provided so much good energy, passion for the program and just an overall willingness to pitch in and do what is required. She manages the “Delivery Angel” program, ensuring that all the meals arrive each week on time. She has managed the complete overhaul of all of the procedures and administrative structure of the charity. She shows up ready to work at every event. As a couple, Doreen and Ed Keating are stalwart supporters of the program, providing that little extra oomph of energy that makes things go. So if you want to get involved and make a difference in your community through the efforts of Fox Valley Food for Health, get to know Doreen. She will make a difference in your life.