Making Produce More Affordable
We are a national non-profit addressing complex problems with simple, innovative, effective solutions. Founded by James Beard Award-winning Chef Michel Nischan, Wholesome Wave makes healthy produce affordable for the people who need it most. We played a key role in triggering the first national, federally funded nutrition incentive program in history (FINI), resulting in $100 Million in the 2014 Farm Bill for nutrition incentives nationally. We work in 48 states and counting, and our programs touch over 500,000 people annually.
While Wholesome Wave has historically endeavored to keep administrative expenses low (15% or less) we are more concerned about the impact we have on under-served consumers than we are on how little money we spend. We are a non for profit 501c3 and any donations made to us are tax deductible.
Building a Better Food System, Together
Our energetic and skilled team is working to make our vision a reality: that poverty should never be an obstacle to affording fruits & vegetables.
FOUNDER & CEO, BOARD MEMBER
Michel Nischan is a three-time James Beard Award winning chef with over 30 years of experience advocating for a more healthful, sustainable food system. He is Founder and CEO of Wholesome Wave, Co-Founder of the Chefs Action Network, as well as Founder and Partner with the late actor Paul Newman of the former Dressing Room Restaurant. Along with his team at Wholesome Wave, Nischan has successfully influenced legislative language for the recently passed Federal Farm Bill, supporting affordable access to healthy, locally grown fruits and vegetables for low income consumers. He’s also the author of three cookbooks and a variety of articles focused on sustainable food systems and social equity through food. A lifetime Ashoka fellow, he serves as a director on the board of the Jacques Pepin Foundation; on the advisory board of Chef’s Collaborative, The Amazon Conservation Team, and The National Young Farmers Coalition. In Spring 2015, the James Beard Foundation honored Nischan with the Award for the 2015 Humanitarian of The Year.
CHIEF XPANSION OFFICER
Ed Kelly is Chief Xpansion Officer, heading Wholesome Wave’s Marketing and Development teams. By drawing on his deep relationships and developing innovative alliances, Kelly identifies and capitalizes on opportunities to realize the next level of Wholesome Wave’s growth.
In his more than 25 years at American Express Publishing, Kelly led significant bottom-line growth, serving as CEO and President for nearly 15 years. Kelly oversaw affluent lifestyle brands Travel + Leisure, Departures, Food & Wine, Executive Travel and Black Ink. He has a distinctive ability to identify and capitalize on business opportunities to drive profits, by leveraging strategic assets and developing innovative, client solutions to win in the marketplace. He is highly regarded for building alliances; developing, inspiring, and retaining talent; and creating a high-performance culture of collaboration, innovation, passion and fun.
Kelly serves as a board member of the Kips Bay Boys and Girls Club and co-founded The Kelly Gang, a group of fellow Kellys, who have raised over $700,000 for charity.
CHIEF PROGRAMS OFFICER
As a member of Wholesome Wave’s executive team, Skye oversees national strategy and operations for the National Nutrition Incentive Network and Fruit & Vegetable Prescription health intervention. She has had a leadership role in scaling these programs at farmers markets, retail outlets, community health clinics, and hospitals nationwide in a way that honors unique communities.
Prior to joining Wholesome Wave, Skye worked on brand strategy and marketing for corporations including Unilever, Nestle, Meadwestvaco and Royal Bank of Scotland. She has an MBA from Sacred Heart University.
SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF PROGRAM OPERATIONS
As President Obama’s appointment to lead the USDA Farm Service Agency in Connecticut, Bryan was responsible for the management of a multi-million dollar budget and a staff of twenty. In this position Bryan gained great experience in project management, financial stewardship, and team development. Prior to the Farm Service Agency, Bryan served in the CT House of Representatives where he worked closely with advocates to expand the double coupon program, increase farm to school/institution/table opportunities, and enhance market opportunities for farms.
Bryan’s passion is food access and affordability. He believes in implementing practical solutions and in delivering programs that have real value to farmers and the community.
Bryan grew up and lives in Tolland, CT with his wife and two girls ages 4 and 2 years old. For fun Bryan loves to cook.
CHIEF OPERATIONS OFFICER
PARTNER, GENERATION PARTNERS
Andrew Hertzmark is a Managing Partner at Generation Partners, a private investment firm that provides capital to growth companies through buyout and growth equity investments. Prior to joining Generation in 2004, Andrew was an Associate at Galen Partners, a private equity firm. Andrew also was an Analyst and Associate in the Investment Banking divisions of Dillon, Read & Co and UBS AG, where he worked on a variety of mergers, acquisitions and capital raising assignments for companies in the healthcare sector. Additionally, Andrew worked in the Business Development Group at Pfizer, Inc. as well as the National Economic Council within the Executive Office of the President. Andrew earned a BA in Economics and Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania and an MBA from its Wharton School of Business.
PRESIDENT & FOUNDER – SERENBE
In 1972 Steve opened the Pleasant Peasant, the beginning of a restaurant corporation that grew to 34 restaurants in eight states by the time he departed in 1994. Steve and his family retired to a farm just outside Atlanta and became concerned about urban sprawl invading their adopted paradise. In 2000, Steve led the effort to create the Chattahoochee Hill Country Alliance to bring together landowners, developers and conservationists to find a solution for balanced growth. Through two years of work, a land-use plan was adopted to preserve 70% of the 40,000 acres while providing 20% more housing than the traditional suburban sprawl yield.
In 2004 the Nygrens began development of Serenbe to demonstrate land preservation concepts which interlace agriculture with a mix of housing choices, shops, galleries, restaurants and an Inn in the historic farm compound. A model for water and energy conservation, the development is reminiscent of century-old communities. Steve’s involvement in many civic and charitable organizations provides a wide background in urban, rural and regional planning for sustainable communities.
Ms. Watson’s diverse background has served her as a journalist, a government executive, a policy advocate for a Fortune 100 company and chief communicator for Nielsen, the world’s largest market research firm. Watson started her career at The MacNeil/Lehrer Report and NPR’s Morning Edition. She managed Public Affairs for the FCC and advocated policy issues for EchoStar. As Managing Director of Nielsen Government and Public Sector, Watson applied Nielsen’s commercial research data to solve global public policy issues such as obesity, hunger, sustainability and the digital divide. A collaboration with the White House and the Partnership for a Healthier America encouraged Americans to drink more water and was hailed by Michelle Obama as “groundbreaking.” Savoy Magazine named Ms. Watson as one of the “100 Most Influential Black Executives of 2013.”
Watson consults on the use of big data, market research and commercial advertising to communicate a culture of wellness, centered around nutrition. Her other involvement in the food sector includes being a member of the leadership team of IHI’s 100 million healthier lives initiative, a member of the Newman’s Own Foundation Nutrition Advisory board, advisor to Good Food by the Numbers, and advisor to Farmer’s Fridge, the first “farm to vending machine” business, rated as a top “restaurant” in Chicago.
CHAIRMAN, CEO & FOUNDER – AXCESS WORLDWIDE
Widely recognized as the pioneer of the emerging field of “partnership development,” Kirk has conceived and executed scores of partnerships with many of the world’s most iconic brands. He has generated hundreds of millions of dollars in contracted revenue for companies such as Audemars Piguet, Beats by Dr. Dre, Cadillac, Coca-Cola, Dom Perignon, FENDI, Ferrari/Maserati, Fiji Water, Graff, JP Morgan Chase, Las Vegas Sands, and The Tony Awards. Kirk has also conceptualized and executed partnerships on behalf of unique “living brands” such as Frank Abagnale, Tiki Barber, N’SYNC, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jonathan Tisch.
He is an equity partner in a variety of high-growth companies, including WORTH Media; Forbes Travel Guide; Tequila Avión; Double Cross Vodka; Patagonia Sur; Radical Skincare; Thiel Audio; the Captivate Network; Bonotel Exclusive Trave; and ONEHOPE wine company. He serves on the Board of Directors for Forbes Travel Guide and the Captivate Network.
COFOUNDER – FOOD & WINE AND FOOD ARTS
Ariane Batterberry cofounded two milestone magazines of the 20th century: Food Arts and Food & Wine. She and her husband, Michael, authored 16 books on food, art and social history. For decades, Ariane wrote for national publications and appeared on radio and television to discuss food and drink in their many contexts. She was Harper’s Bazaar’s contributing editor and she and Michael contributed a food column to USA TODAY.
In 1994, they were named Editors of the Year by the James Beard Foundation; in 2010 they received the Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Savoring Gotham summed up their legacy: “Together [Ariane & Michael Batterberry] helped shape the way Americans think about cooking, chefs, and restaurants.”
PRESIDENT - BARNEGAT GROUP
Ellen Marram is President of her business advisory firm, the Barnegat Group. She is a director of Ford Motor Company (presiding director), Eli Lilly and Company (lead director) and the New York Times Company (former presiding director), and has served on the boards of Cadbury Schweppes and Kmart. She was named Outstanding Director by Board Alert Magazine and serves as a member of the NACD Nominating/Governance Committee Chair Advisory Council.
Marram is director of several companies, primarily in the food and consumer healthcare sectors. She is a trustee of Wellesley College and has served as a Trustee of the Conference Board and the Board of Associates of Harvard Business School. Marram is a former CEO of Tropicana and the Nabisco Biscuit Company. More recently, she was a Managing Director (2000-2005) and Operating Advisor (2006-2010) at North Castle Partners, a private equity firm focused on investments in healthy living and aging.
A Note on Our Board
Wholesome Wave has an active and engaged Board of Directors. The Board guides the strategic direction of the organization, manages the performance of the CEO and provides governance infrastructure; all this in addition to helping Wholesome Wave raise funds for its primary mission.
Our team offers a range of skills and backgrounds to help get your program off the ground, build efficiencies, innovate, scale, and increase impact.
VP of Programs
Joined Wholesome Wave in: 2011
Julia directs the organization’s 60-partner, 25-state National Nutrition Incentive Network, develops and implements program strategy, and manages day-to-day logistics. Prior to joining Wholesome Wave, Julia practiced in the private sector as a city planner designing projects with strong community engagement and a focus on social, environmental, and economic equity for all community members. With an entrepreneurial spirit, Julia started three businesses focused on local food in the San Francisco Bay Area. Combining her passions for local food, community empowerment, and innovative, large-scale social impact, Julia is thrilled to be at Wholesome Wave actively working at the forefront of the local food systems movement.
Senior Program Manager
Joined Wholesome Wave in: 2011
Leah manages the day-to-day operations, planning and coordination of the National Nutrition Incentive Network of 60 partner organizations. Prior to joining the National Nutrition Incentive Network team, she organized the implementation and evaluation of pilot projects in Wholesome Wave’s Innovations Lab, and led the development of a collaborative, citywide farmers market network in Bridgeport. Leah first came to Wholesome Wave while studying food policy at Connecticut College’s Holleran Center for Community Action and Public Policy.
Senior Programs Associate
Joined Wholesome Wave in: 2014
Steven provides support and coordination for incentive program partners in the national network, and maintains a critical eye towards key needs and innovations in the field. Throughout his undergraduate studies at the University of Pittsburgh where he earned a BS in Biology and Sociology, Steven worked as a research assistant in the field of public health. Following graduation, he continued his public health focus by working as a nutrition educator for Clemson University, teaching in low-income, rural communities where his desire to apply practical solutions to large food-system challenges became fully formed.
Joined Wholesome Wave in: 2016
Sandy is a Program Manager reporting to the VP of Programs. Prior to joining Wholesome Wave Sandy spent 15+ years in direct-to-consumer marketing. She managed brands in the beauty, banking, healthcare, supplements and CPG sectors to name a few. She is now sharing her talents to focus on meaningful non-profit work. Sandy holds a B.A. from The College of Wooster.
Sandy has been educating her family for years about the importance of living a healthy lifestyle with food as fuel. She vehemently believes that everyone should have the opportunity to live their best and healthiest life, beginning with fruits and vegetables on their tables.
Joined Wholesome Wave in: 2015
Katie Merritt is responsible for coordinating research across Wholesome Wave’s initiatives. Prior to joining Wholesome Wave, Katie learned to advocate for a fairer food system interning at the National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition in Washington, DC. There she was able to articulate the interconnections between agriculture and human health, including agriculture’s role in climate change mitigation and adaptation while completing a graduate degree in Environmental and Occupational Health at the George Washington University.
Culture & Values
Centered on Community, Focused on Change
At Wholesome Wave, our team is passionate and dedicated, working hard everyday to bring our mission to life and have some fun while doing so.
Engaging Work Environment
Health & Wellness
Lunch & Learns
Join the Team
Want to help us transform the food system and ensure that all Americans, regardless of income, can afford fresh produce? Check out our job opportunities today.
Historically, Wholesome Wave has relied heavily on foundation grants, starting with gifts from the Betsy and Jesse Fink Foundation, Newman's Own Foundation, and an anonymous donor. Foundations still comprise a large percentage of our budget, but we have been able to diversify funding sources to include corporate donors, government, and individuals. A small but growing percentage of revenues come from earned-income sources.