We are excited to introduce you to our 2021 FoodWIse team. If you are interested in classes and programming please feel free to contact our FoodWIse Administrator Jill VanAirsdale at email@example.com For PSE please reach out to Danielle Nabak at firstname.lastname@example.org
Denise Clark, Nutrition Educator
Denise Clark has recently been hired as a Nutrition Educator in Milwaukee County. She is from Milwaukee, Wisconsin and has been working as a Nutrition Educator in Racine and Kenosha counties for the past 5 years. Denise’s experience has been working with children, parents, and older adults in a variety of settings including, community centers, homeless shelters, food pantries, and elementary schools. In her exploration of continuing education, she is still searching to find M&Ms in one of the food groups on My Plate!
Doris Jones, Teaching Coordinator
Doris Jones is our newly hired Teaching Coordinator! She has worked in the field of education for the past twelve years, working with pre-schoolers to middle-schoolers. During this time, Doris was fortunate to meet hundreds of families and build lasting relationships. She is passionate about families and always looking to help them achieve their greatest potential in all areas of their lives. A couple of years ago, Doris started a backyard garden through the Victory Garden Initiative Program. Along with a mentor in the first year, she grew herbs, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and new this year; she is growing watermelon (so far it’s the size of a D battery!).
Juanita Jara, Nutrition Educator
Juanita Jara is a Bilingual (English/Spanish) Educator for FoodWIse. She has been with Extension for 15 years. She has worked with both the SNAP-ED and EFNEP Programs, teaching at Schools, Senior Centers and also Adult Groups Sites.
Shannon Klein, Office Operations Assistant
Shannon is the Office Operations Associate for Milwaukee County FoodWIse. She previously worked for Milwaukee Center for Independence for five years with the IRIS (iLife) program and has now been with FoodWIse for three years. She is proud to support this team of educators.
Jill VanAirsdale, FoodWIse Program Administrator
Jill VanAirsdale is Program Administrator for FoodWIse in Milwaukee County. In her role as Program Administrator, she provides leadership and support to the UW-Extension FoodWIse team. She is also responsible for building relationships and fostering collaborations with many programs and agencies across Milwaukee County. Jill previously served as the FoodWIse Teaching Coordinator for four years. She spent that time coaching and mentoring nutrition educators, providing curricula guidance and support, and teaching nutrition lessons for youth, parents, child care providers, and older adults. Prior to joining the team in 2015, she worked with Milwaukee parents and youth for seven years as a Classroom Manager and Family Advocate Specialist for Educare/Next Door, a Head Start and Early Childhood Education program in Milwaukee County. In addition to working with families across Milwaukee, she also served as a Home Visitor and Lead Teacher for CAP Services Head Start in Waupaca County for eight years. Jill enjoys spending time with her family and friends. She is currently trying to find her “green thumb” and her goal is to keep several herbs plants (chives, parsley, thyme) alive long enough to enjoy them.
Rachel Skoczek, Nutrition Educator
Rachel was born and raised in Milwaukee, and is a recent MATC graduate. Previously, she was a student worker with the MATC Culinary Arts students, which was a fantastic experience. In the past handful of years she also worked in urban agriculture and gardening positions throughout the county, always with a focus on food and community. Currently, as a Nutritional Science student at UWM and FoodWIse Educator, Rachel is looking forward to sharing her love of food while learning a lot from all of you! Some other things about Rachel: She is a plant nerd. She loves making pancakes with vegetables in them. If she is not working or studying you can find her in her garden, biking, swimming, or making a mess in her kitchen. Also, if she was a fruit she would be a pawpaw.
Natalie Derricks, Nutrition Educator
Natalie joined the Milwaukee FoodWIse team in 2019 and previously worked as a nutrition educator with FoodWIse in Waukesha County for almost a year. While in Waukesha she worked with the incarcerated population, senior citizens and taught youth in a variety of different contexts. Before FoodWIse, she worked to combat food deserts and increase food availability through multiple projects, including a vegetable prescription program at World Hunger Relief, Inc. in Waco,TX and collecting data from grocery stores and evaluating road walkability with the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin (SHOW). Natalie also spent 3 years living and working with rural and urban demographics in North Africa. She received her Bachelor’s degree in dietetics from UW-Stevens Point in 2012.
Maricela Pantoja, Nutrition Educator
Maricela Pantoja is a Bilingual Educator for FoodWIse. She previously worked for Milwaukee Public Schools as a Paraprofessional where she taught to the youth in the community about healthy habits. However, her main focus is working with the Latino community through multiple organizations, mainly in South Milwaukee, by teaching nutrition and cooking classes. Maricela hopes to keep motivating families to seek a happier lifestyle through a healthier balance of physical activity and nutrition. Her favorite hobbies are cooking new dishes from different regions, baking and creating decorations for the Christmas season.
Ruben Jahaziel Ramirez, Nutrition Educator
Ruben Jahaziel Ramirez is a FoodWIse Bilingual Nutrition Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Extension. Ruben has experience working as a Bilingual Special Education Teacher at Milwaukee Public Schools. He has also worked as an educator at Pearson Education, Non-profit organizations like Children Baptist Family Services and various religious organizations in San Antonio, Texas. Ruben received his Bachelor of Arts in Biblical/Theological with a minor in Counseling from Baptist University of the Americas and his Associates Degree of Arts in Cross-Cultural Studies from BUA.
His experience working with multicultural communities has giving him a thorough understanding and vision of awareness to understand the importance of healthy nutrition in our Hispanic communities.
Maria Schmid, Nutrition Educator
Maria joined the Milwaukee County FoodWIse team in the summer of 2021. She was born and raised in Milwaukee and previously worked as a Nutrition Educator for FoodWIse in Southwest Wisconsin for a year and a half. Prior to that she also worked as a Nutrition Educator at 2nd Harvest Foodbank in Spokane, WA. Her experience includes working with youth, adults, and families in schools, food banks, transitional housing shelters, and community centers. She enjoys introducing participants to new foods and simple recipes. Maria has a bachelor’s degree in Communications and Global Health from UW-Madison. In her free time, she enjoys staying active by running, biking, and exploring the outdoors.
Danielle Nabak, Healthy Communities Coordinator
In her current role as a Healthy Communities Coordinator with FoodWIse, Danielle supports policy, systems, and environment change that lead to improved food access, nutrition, and wellbeing. She is passionate about developing youth leadership through food systems projects, supports system-wide school wellness, engages in strategic city-wide and neighborhood-based food systems planning efforts, and sits on the Board of Directors for the Milwaukee Food Council where she co-chairs the Policy Committee. Prior to joining UW-Extension, Danielle worked for the Clarke Square Neighborhood Initiative on Milwaukee’s Southside where she cultivated a community development approach towards public health, and strived to meaningfully connect things like public safety, economic development, and social connections to health and wellbeing. She has a bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from the University of Minnesota, and attended Mount Mary University for graduate school where she became a Registered Dietitian. She enjoys opportunities to practice and improve her proficiency in Spanish. She never lets a day go by without walking her dog, and aspires to travel internationally at least once a year for the next 5 years.
Meg Kilkenny, Healthy Communities Coordinator
Meg grew up in Wisconsin and moved to NYC to receive her Bachelor’s degree in Food Studies from New York University. After graduating, she knew she wanted to return to America’s Dairyland and join Milwaukee’s powerhouse good food movement where she started working at Fondy Food Center. There she learned all about Milwaukee’s local food system and vibrant area farmers markets. She has also worked for a men’s homeless shelter, Guest House of Milwaukee, operating a community garden and growing over 600 pounds of produce used in shelter and donated to local food pantries. Meg also serves on the Board of Directors of the Milwaukee Food Council helping to engage in local food policy. She runs a monthly cooking club with her fellow peers out of her home in Riverwest.