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The fuel that keeps Slow Food USA running cannot be found in our Brooklyn office – it is found in all 50 states, embodied by the volunteer grassroots leaders across the country.  As a staff member, it’s a privilege to be in touch with so many hardworking volunteers who dedicate so much of their time and passion to good, clean and fair food projects and events.  A day (or an hour) doesn’t go by without hearing from an excited volunteer leader who’s doing something wonderful in their community.

The organization has regional leaders called governors who serve as mentors, connectors and sounding boards to local chapter leaders.  Governors serve 4-year terms, and this month, as many governors’ terms are ending, I’d like to recognize them and their accomplishments and to tell our readers a little about each person who has brought so much to the organization in this role.  Thank you, governors!

Virginia Phillips of Pittsburgh is a freelance writer who also translates French cookbooks, serves on the board of Farmers@Firehouse, Pittsburgh’s only mostly-organic farmers market, and was the founding editor of Mt. Lebanon magazine, a regional monthly now in its 25th year.  Virginia co-founded the chapter many years ago with Marlene Parrish, and has started or been a part of several local projects, including the Laptop Butcher .  In addition to writing and food projects, Virginia also spends her time with her husband Jack doting on their many grandchildren.

Tom Montague founded the Chattanooga chapter in 2001 and is also a founding chair of Cornerstones Inc, which works for historic preservation in Chattanooga.  Tom was instrumental in bringing American artisanal foods to Slow Food International’s Salone del Gusto event in 2002.  He and his wife Kristina and their children enjoy traveling abroad, especially to Slow Food events!

Kurt Friese is a chef, author, and blogger who also publishes Edible Iowa River Valley and finds time to serve on the Slow Food USA Board of Directors.  He founded Slow Food Iowa City and spearhaded a project called From the Ground Up, an effort to incorporate vegetable gardens at all Iowa City schools.  He’s now pitching in to our Time for Lunch campaign effort in Iowa City.  Kurt is the owner and chef emeritus of Devotay Restaurant.

Suzanne Fain, the friendly Texan of the group, along with her husband owns A Moveable Feast, a restaurant and health store in Houston.  She spends many of her waking hours at a cruising altitude, as she is also a licensed pilot.  Suzanne corrals leaders and members from Lubbock to Dallas and is quick to remind everyone of the culinary contributions of the state of Texas, including quajillo honey and delicious Texas cheeses.

Carmen Tedesco of San Francisco spends time capturing food producers and activists from all over the world and on film for slowtube.org .  There you can find footage of San Francisco’s school projects, several local events that Carmen has spearheaded, as well as Slow Food members in Brazil, Turkey, Lebanon and Italy.  Carmen founded the Santa Cruz chapter and currently works on film screenings, tasting events and school projects with the San Francisco chapter.

Lorenzo Scarpone, also of San Francisco, by way of Abruzzo, Italy, descends from generations upon generations of farmers.  Lorenzo founded the San Francisco chapter and is a longtime leader of many notable projects in San Francisco, including The Golden Glass annual wine tasting as well as garden projects at 3 area schools.  In rare moments when he’s not devoting his time to Slow Food, Lorenzo keeps busy at his wine importing business, Villa Italia, and by spending time with his wife Susy and their three children.

Frankie Whitman, founder of the Aqua Terra chapter, is a veteran of the specialty food industry who works with companies committed to high quality and sustainability.  Her food professionalism began in the early 1970’s with the food co-op and natural foods movements. Frankie currently works with Full Bloom Baking Co. in San Francisco’s Bay Area.  She also has two terrific daughters who are local food lovers, one of whom was a star summer intern at Slow Food USA’s office several years ago.

Gordon Smith, a chef in San Diego, shows his pride in the form of a snail tattoo (and not the kind that rubs off after a few days!).  Gordon started up the chapter in San Diego and has never looked back, throwing himself into many events and helping to open chapters in Southern California, Hawaii and Nevada.  Gordon is a devotee of Slow Food’s international events, and he caravanned across Europe to attend the first edition of Terra Madre.