Elizabeth Williams, President and Director
Liz Williams has been interested in the cultural aspects of food through several careers. Besides her work with SoFAB she is a lawyer who writes about the legal aspects of food, reflecting culture, policy and economics. She has served in the US Army as a JAG officer, taught arts administration law and historic preservation law. In addition she has been involved in several major economic development projects in New Orleans. She is currently working on a book about obesity lawsuits and other food-related litigation in the U.S. Learn more about Liz and what’s she up to here. Follow Liz with her food law related tweets @lizatSoFAB
Philip M. Dobard, Vice President and Director of SoFAB Media
Joe Sunseri, Business Manager and Archivist
Joe comes to the museum with a background in music, museums and archives. He studied Jazz Education North Texas State University and graduated with Honours from Algonquin College in Ottawa, Canada with a degree in Archives Technology. He is an award-winning musician who has worked for some of the 20th Century’s greatest musical icons. The museum/archives side of his career has seen him do contract work for the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), Royal College of Physicians & Surgeons, Canadian Red Cross Archives, Canadian National Archives, the Chapel Hill Museum and the UNC-Chapel Hill Archives. Learn more about Joe here.
Stephanie Carter, Editor in Chief of OKRA
Stephanie Jane Carter holds a Masters Degree in Philosophy from Tulane University and an Associate’s Degree in Culinary Arts from the Culinary Institute of America in New York. She also studied law at Tulane University. She has worked as a chef in the United States (West Virginia, Louisiana, New York, Virginia) and Austria in places as varied as five star hotels and refugee camps. Stephanie’s recent writing projects include editing and writing OKRA, SoFAB’s online magazine, an essay in Room in the Bowl: The IACP Gumbo Giveback Project, and co-authoring Food and Law: An Encyclopedia. She is interested in forestry, alligators, and homebrewing. Follow her and OKRA @okramagazine.
Kelsey Parris, Operations Manager
Originally from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, Kelsey moved down to New Orleans to attend Tulane University in 2005. Returning after Hurricane Katrina, she graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in American History and a minor in Sociology. Though surrounded by great food from her incredibly tasteful family for the most part of her life, she only truly appreciated that fact when faced with the campus dining halls. Luckily, New Orleans restaurants and chefs were up to the task of saving her faith and her interest in eating well, and cuisine and culture formed a major part of her studies. She is now enjoying every opportunity to expand her appreciation of Southern food and tasty beverages at the museum.
Lucy Rosenbloom, Volunteer and Youth Program Coordinator / Collections Manager
Lucy Rosenbloom moved to New Orleans in May 2011 to begin her Americorps VISTA term with SoFAB. Lucy is a California native who graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a BA in American Studies with an Urban Geography focus. She has always had an interest in storytelling and has worked on various oral history and archive projects. She was drawn to SoFAB because of all the stories, about food and a whole lot more, told through the museum’s artifact collection.
Kate Golder, Director of Community Relations
Kate moved to New Orleans from her native New York in early 1998 and quickly immersed herself in the unique culture of her adopted city. As a Royal Street gallery director she specialized in showcasing art created by locally and internationally known musicians and participated in annual French Quarter events such as The Royal Street Stroll and Dirty Linen Night. For the last several seasons she has been involved with The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, liaising with Festival sponsors to ensure the highest level of hospitality for their VIP areas.
Kate has also been instrumental in spreading the word of Long Island Wine Country, promoting local food purveyors and vineyards via wine tastings and dinners on the East End of Long Island. She is looking forward to an exciting future at the SoFab Institute.
Megan Pendergrass, Design Director
Megan is a graphic designer and illustrator living and working in New York. Megan grew up in New Orleans and attended Louisiana State University where she studied Fine Arts with a concentration in Graphic Design. She is delighted to be a part of the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. It combines her love for food and her love for design. Some of Megan’s likes: pure cyan, soup, paper samples, puns, and Vietnamese Spring Rolls. Some of Megan’s dislikes: picky eaters, semicolons, and talking about herself in the third person. Visit her personal website here.
Stephen Binns, Photographer
Stephen has been eating all his life. His mother attested to Stephen’s first unescorted sortie into the kitchen resulted in the partial consumption and total destruction of an unattended lemon pie. Sometime after all that stickiness was cleaned up, Stephen immersed himself in the art field as an apprentice photographer in Conway, Arkansas while simultaneously a full time college student and an apprentice mortician at a local funeral home. Stephen graduated with a BA in Commercial Arts with a Journalism minor. Finding not much overlap in the photography and mortician trades, Stephen found himself as a photographer for the Army at Ft. Polk, LA. From there he relocated to Alaska as a Visual Information Specialist expediting photographic, graphic arts and television support and services during field exercises where skiing, mountain climbing, river navigation and glacier crossing were simply part of the job- which was fun and lasted twenty years. Next, Stephen joined the Army Corps of Engineers as an estimator and Quality Assurance inspector during the construction of Bassett Army Hospital, Fort Wainwright, AK. Family ties brought Stephen back to the Southland, in 2009, where he continues to serve The Corps during construction of flood protection projects.
George Oliver, Volunteer and Special Operations Coordinator
George grew up in the Italian community in New Orleans in the 1940s and 50s. His father managed the well-known A&G chain in New Orleans during the 50s, and George worked in his father’s restaurant in the Gentilly neighborhood in New Orleans in the 60s. He lived in Washington DC and West Virginia for a couple of decades, where he worked professionally as a cook for a few years. His degrees from LSU include English and Linguistics; his occupation for most of his life has been as a writing and ESL teacher, but cooking has always been his first love. He returned to New Orleans last year to join the renaissance in his hometown and to be where people understand not just eating and cooking but the culture of food.
Special Curators and Researchers
Dr. Nina K. Müller-Schwarze, Senior Research Fellow
The cultural anthropologist Dr. Nina K. Müller-Schwarze studies food production, preparation and general ethnobotany in a rural area of Panama. She has also produced a video documentary and academic article on transportation in urban Panama City. Her training includes research in Guatemala, Peru and Panama. She has been published in various academic journals, including Visual Anthropology, the Human Mosaic Journal of the Social Sciences, and Economic Botany. She also produced the 2005 documentary Diablos Rojos: The Buses of Panama.
Cassandra Gaines, Soul Food Curator
Ms. Cassandra Gaines has been actively involved in Tourism in Northeastern Oklahoma region since 1982. A $50,000.00 grant was appropriated in 1997 from the Oklahoma Historical Society to help promote African American Heritage Tourism in Northeastern Oklahoma. Ms. Gaines is the Multi-Cultural Director for convention & tourisms in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Ms. Gaines continues to study African American Histories and promote African –American Tourism in the region and nationally. Ms. Gaines is known throughout the United States for the Oklahoma Historical Black Town Tour and speaking on Heritage tourism which is a new niche in the tourism market. She’s also known for her entertainment ability for putting on various Musical and Educational Events. Ms. Gaines has brought such names to Oklahoma “Ervin Magic Johnson”, Susan Taylor with Essence Magazine, Danny Glover, Najee, Tony Dorsett, Billy Sims, Dr. Bobby Jones, Clarence Smith Essence Magazine, Xernona Clayton Trumpet Awards, Malika Yoba, just to name a few. By being in this position she has made it possible to give out over $150,000.00 in scholarship fee waivers to over 50 deserving students to attend the various colleges in Northeastern Oklahoma.
Elizabeth Pearce, Research Fellow
A native of Louisiana, Elizabeth Pearce has had a life long love of food.
As Senior Curator at the Museum from its inception in 2004 to its opening in 2008, she created all of its exhibits, most notably Restaurant Restorative, commissioned by the James Beard Awards, and Louisiana Eats. As a Research Fellow at the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, she is currently developing a K-12 cultural gastronomic curriculum. Visit her website, or read more about Elizabeth here. Elizabeth writes the column, Neat with a Twist for SoFAB’s magazine OKRA.
Chris Smith, Consulting Curator
Chris Smith is developing numerous strategies to increase donations to SoFAB’s cookbook library, as well as the addition of other culinary artifacts. Smith holds a master of arts administration degree from the University of New Orleans; he also holds a masters degree in Liberal Arts from the University of Chicago. He has earned considerable experience working as a team of collections professionals documenting holdings of the New Orleans Museum of Art. Recently, he helped catalog guns at the National World War II Museum.
Ashley Young, Guest Curator and Research Fellow
Follow the link above to learn about all of our wonderful state curators who are helping to put together States of Taste.