Meet Our Team

Meet Our Team

Annette Laverty 510-268-4218

Annette facilitates nutrition education and physical activity programming in Alameda County. She is the Interim Associate Director (Supervising Program Specialist)

  • Coordinates the California Department of Public Health’s Integrated Work Plan for Alameda County
  • Facilitates County Nutrition Action Partnership (CNAP), a collaborative of USDA food assistance program directors and affiliated organizations.
  • Develops, pilots, and evaluates creative nutrition and physical activity educational programs with the goal of impacting Alameda County residents to change dietary and physical activity behaviors that will help to prevent chronic diseases.
  • Supports county worksite wellness policy development and implementation.
  • Conducts the Nutrition Evaluation for county jail facilities.

Fun Facts:

  • Annette is an Oakland native.
  • As a child, her answer to the question, “What do I want to be when I grow up?” was “a veterinarian” because of her great love for animals.



Brenda (Tavares) Lesh 510-268-4214

Brenda is a Nutrition Assistant II. She is part of our Retail and Cooking for Health Academy Team.

  • She is bilingual in Spanish.
  • She coordinates cooking demonstrations at our retail stores where she promotes Harvest of the Month.
  • Brenda also provides nutrition education to our families through cooking for health academy.
  • During the summer she tests hundreds of recipes for our calendars and retail demos.

Fun Facts:

  • Brenda’s favorite fruit is watermelon and cherries and favorite dish to prepare is chicken posole.
  • Brenda was born and raised in Oakland.



Carlos Gomez

Carlos is a Community Health Outreach Worker focusing on our Safe Routes to School/Active Transportation Program in both Oakland and Ashland Cherryland,

  • Pre COVID19, he worked with nonprofits in San Francisco helping with databases and desktop support.
  • For the 2020 elections, Carlos joined Alameda County’s Registrar of Voters because he believes that citizens must participate in the democratic process not just by voting but doing whatever is possible to strengthen the institutions in charge of the Election process.
  • Carlos is Bilingual (Spanish/ English). His most memorable cultural/social experience was the year he lived in Mumbai, India! Carlos also worked for a nationwide survey on farmworkers and knows a thing or two about the fruits and veggies that we eat.

Fun Fact:

  • Since 2010, Carlos has been writing a novel about a farmworker girl from Salinas who moves to San Francisco. Once the editing process is completed, he hopes to publish.



Carridad Taber 510-268-4215

Carridad is a Nutrition Assistant II who works on multiple teams and projects including Early Education, Employee Wellness, School Age Programing and Retail.

  • She loves building relationships whether it is in the community at an outreach event or with store owners or after school staff; she loves to connect with others.
  • She thoroughly enjoys linking people and organizations to best utilize all resources available in the community. She loves program planning and looking at the bigger picture and how all the puzzle pieces could best fit together for the desired outcome.

Fun Facts:

  • She loves eating kumquat’s and gets excited when she walks in the store and finds that they are in season! Yum.
  • For many years when asked what kind of cake she wanted for her birthday, she requested fruit salad. She is back to requesting cake.



Cindia Sanchez 510-268-4204

Cindia is a Nutrition Assistant II and is part of our Retail and Senior Community Garden Team.

  • Cindia is a graduate of the Nutrition Assistant Program at San Francisco City College. She is bilingual in Spanish.
  • She coordinates cooking demonstrations at our retail stores where she promotes Harvest of the Month.
  • Cindia also provides nutrition education to our senior housing garden sites.



Dale Murai 510-268-4221

Dale is a Program Specialist, who collaborates with community partners to make sustainable changes to grow the health of our community.

  • She facilitates contract management and support for dedicated community-based organizations to promote healthy eating and increase access to nutritious and delicious food for families.
  • Dale coordinates Nutrition Services community events
  • She is bi-lingual English/Spanish.

Fun Fact:

  • Dale loves to take long walks – rain or shine!



Guenet Sebsibe  510-268-4216

Guenet is a Program Specialist managing the implementation of Healthy Retail Program contracts. The program supports small corner stores to offer healthy foods like fruits, vegetables and healthy snacks to Alameda County residents.

Fun facts:

  • Guenet was born & raised in Ethiopia, is a Cal Alumni, has wandered to over 25 countries & loves to share about her travels.



Jackie Russum 510-383-5161

Jackie is a Program Specialist and designs, plans, and teaches Diabetes Self-Management Education classes and support groups with paraeducators Tella Williams and Susie Hanko throughout Alameda County. She also writes the monthly Diabetes Newsletter.

  • She previously worked as a Nutritionist with the Alameda County WIC program supporting pregnant and parenting families.
  • Prior to working with Alameda County, she worked with the California Healthy Kids Resource Center and enjoys working with teachers and students to develop health curriculum and training programs.
  • Go Bears! She is also a Cal Alumni.

Fun Fact:

Jackie worked with Peace Corps in Tonga, teaching science and mathematics, and training teachers and enjoying lots of tropical fruit!”


Joe Whittaker 510-268-4207

Joe provides support & assists with nutrition education done by the direct education team. He is a Nutrition Assistant II.

  • Joe has deep ties to the community having worked for years as a recreation leader with Oakland Parks & Recreation, where he learned numerous easy, fun, physical activities, and enjoyed promoting the importance of being physically active encouraging a healthy living.
  • He was born and raised in Oakland and is passionate and totally invested in promoting education, health and up lifting the youth of the entire community.

Fun Facts:

  • As a kid growing up in Oakland, his favorite fruit was and still is nectarines.
  • Around the corner from his house was a nectarine tree that he’d protect by sitting in it to stop other kids from breaking branches.



Kelly (Thanh) Ho 510-268-4230

Kelly joined the team in December 2018 as a Nutrition Assistant I.

  • Kelly was born in Vietnam and graduated from San Francisco State University as a nutritionist and health education major.
  • She coordinates the Safety Patrol programs and services at Oakland school sites in
  • Her hobbies are baking, traveling, watching Korean drama, and constantly learning new things.

Fun fact:

  • Kelly loves dogs and can stay with them at least 12 hours a day!



Nori Grossmann, MPH, RD 510-268-4225

Nori is a Nutritionist whose work includes support to and promotion of healthy foods (especially fruits and vegetables) in small corner stores in low-income areas of Oakland.

  • She supports Bay Area Nutrition and Physical Activity Collaborative (BANPAC) by helping to develop a systematic approach to ensure equitable safe tap water to all school children.
  • She participates in the Oakland Food Policy Council’s (OFPC) Sugar Sweetened Beverage (SSB) sub-committee to ensure transparency of Oakland soda tax money drawn down by the City of Oakland and helps strategize best ways to educate SSB advisory council on needs and priorities identified by Oakland community members most impacted by negative health effects from SSB’s.

Fun Fact:

  • Nori worked as a Nutritionist in Peace Corps Guatemala for 2 ½ years.



Rachel P. Paras 510-268-4217

Rachel is the Interim Director of Nutrition Services.

  • She oversees our Active Transportation Program Partnership with the City of Oakland and Oakland Unified School District (Safe Routes to School program) and provides guidance for our youth focused work such as our partnership with the Alameda County Office of Education who leads youth participatory action research projects and providing garden mentoring in schools and community-based organizations.
  • Rachel also supports place-based initiatives such as our community driven work in the Ashland/Cherryland unincorporated area of Alameda County.

Fun Facts:

  • Rachel’s likes to cook chicken adobo, but with coco aminos instead of soy sauce!
  • Her parents immigrated from the Philippines. She remembers her mom sharing that she bought chocolate candy bars because she was mesmerized by the shiny, foil and brown candy bar wrapping!



Rafael Cortez 510-268-4206

Rafael is a Community Health Outreach Worker II. He serves as a mentor to school site coordinators for the Safe Routes to school Safety Patrols throughout Oakland.

  • Rafael was recognized by the California Automobile Association (CAA) as the National School Safety Coordinator of the Year in 2013.
  • Rafael previously worked as a Health Care Options Representative at social service sites in Alameda County and at Oakland’s La Clinica de la Raza.
  • Rafael is Bilingual (Spanish/ English) and Bicultural.

Fun Fact:

  • Rafael loves blueberries since they are full of antioxidants!



Veena Koda, MPH, RDN 

Veena is a Registered Dietitian assisting with the activities of the Nutrition Services and Diabetes Program.

  • She previously worked as a clinical dietitian and is passionate about empowering people to prevent, manage, and heal through nutrition and lifestyle changes.

Fun Fact:

  • Veena has been plant-based for over 15 years and loves sharing easy ways to get more plants into your diet.

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