Sunflower Bakery and Cafe will be closed June 19th for Juneteenth.

Donuts available for in-person sale at our Bakeshop on Tue – Fri starting June 18!

Our Team


Jody Tick

Jody Tick, Executive Director

Jody Tick joined Sunflower in August 2021 as Executive Director. Jody leads the organization to operationalize its mission of using food as a tool for greater training and employment opportunities for people with learning differences. Jody is focused on Sunflower Bakery’s long-standing partnerships; the creation of innovative new partnerships; and growth of Sunflower’s work to reach and employ more students.

Jody has 30 years of experience managing food system-related programs and projects for DC-based nonprofits focused on international and domestic hunger and poverty alleviation; food safety; and the promotion of healthy food access to underserved communities.

Prior to Sunflower Bakery, Jody spent 15 years at the Capital Area Food Bank where she served most recently as the Chief Operating Officer. In this role, Jody was responsible for the management of the CAFB’s daily operations, strategic work addressing root causes of food insecurity, and using data and metrics to inform resource allocation decisions.

Todd Troester

Todd Troester, Director of Development

Todd Troester joined Sunflower Bakery in August 2022 as Director of Development. He brings a wealth of experience in building relationships with individual donors, foundations, and corporate partners. He leads the organization in all fundraising initiatives to support Sunflower Bakeries mission to provide holistic workforce development for individuals with learning differences.

Prior to Sunflower Bakery, Todd’s experience includes seven years working in the fine dining industry and over six years experience fundraising for homeless and human service nonprofits in Baltimore. He currently serves on the Board of Directors for Our Joyful Noise Baltimore, a nonprofit that brings music to underserved communities in Baltimore, and is heavily involved with the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

John Katz, Director of Programs

John joined Sunflower in May 2020. He brings a wealth of knowledge, experience and networks from the food industry to Sunflower. After several years as a chef, most recently John served as Operations Manager for Sodexo at Adventist Shady Grove Medical Center. John is excited to further develop a robust employment training program to enable our graduates to secure job and career opportunities in the pastry arts and hospitality industries.

Liz Hutter

Liz Hutter, Culinary Director

Chef Liz has worn many hats at Sunflower. She is instrumental to the development and implementation of our Pastry Arts Employment Training Program as well as our menu and program operations. Liz is dedicated to our students and the work of Sunflower and has been integral to building our organization. In January 2021, Chef Liz celebrated 10 years with Sunflower.

headshot of Cindy Tepper

Cindy Tepper, Business Manager

Cindy has been a part of Sunflower Bakery since its inception in 2009. Cindy has bookkeeping experience of over 30 years and nearly 15 years specific to the non-profit world. Her responsibilities at Sunflower focus on Bookkeeping and Human Resources. Since 2020, Cindy also serves as a Direct Support Professional (DSP) for Target Community & Educational Services in the Montgomery County office.


Vickie Braxton

Vickie Braxton, Hospitality Instructor

Vickie joined Sunflower in May 2023. A native of Washington, DC, Vickie has been training and teaching for over 20 years. Since 2018, she has served as an adjunct instructor at Prince Georges Community College in the Department of Wellness, Culinary Arts and Hospitality. She is also a Workforce Development instructor specializing in customer service and life skills development. Vickie holds undergraduate and master’s degrees in human services with a focus in juvenile justice. She is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Education/Community Care and Counseling/Trauma Focus where she has begun her dissertation and hopes to complete her studies by late 2024 or early 2025.

Mary Chlan, Accounts Payable Clerk

Mary joined Sunflower in September, 2023, after a full career of financial administration for not-for-profit organizations. She brings a broad range of financial experience including: securing funding, developing budgets, reporting, accounting, and overseeing transactions. Her responsibilities at Sunflower include Accounts Payable support and special projects. Mary holds an MS in Management/Finance, and enjoys contributing to a mission of caring.

Liam Kirby, Sunflower Associate

Liam Kirby, a member of the Maryland Service Year Option run by the Department of Service and Civic Innovation, has a rich history of commitment to community and self-improvement. A former Boy Scout, Liam’s passion for service and leadership was built over the course of many years, and which continues to shape his work and values today. Liam is focusing his efforts by supporting Sunflower Bakery’s instructors in their work to teach students important skills such as customer service, task management, and much more. Liam’s journey is marked by his continued learning, community service, and his tenacity to grow in his professional life, and he’s excited to work with Sunflower Bakery to help turn Maryland towards a brighter future.

YaMarie Koroma, Program Coordinator

YaMarie joined our team in December 2022 as our program associate. Prior to Sunflower, YaMarie worked with children on the autism spectrum as a behavior technician, and at an EdTech company that helps high school students create and foster positive learning identities. YaMarie is also currently pursuing her master’s in Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

Chef Rachel Kwon

Rachel Kwon, Assistant Chef Instructor

Rachel joined Sunflower in February 2022. She was most recently a chef instructor at the International Culinary Center in New York City. Her 10+ years of restaurant experience includes 5 years at Jean-Georges as Pastry Sous Chef. Prior to becoming a chef, Rachel earned a degree in early childhood education. She enjoys using her combined experiences to help prepare the students for successful careers.

Megan McIntosh

Megan McIntosh, Sous Chef Instructor

Chef Megan joined Sunflower in June 2021 as a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America. She brings several years of restaurant and bakery experience to Sunflower Bakery. Megan enjoys working with and instructing our students every day. As someone with a learning disability she is passionate about the mission of Sunflower Bakery and providing the right kind of support to our students.

Sara Portman Milner

Sara Portman Milner, LCSW-C, Co-founder & Director of Student Services

As co-founder, Sara was instrumental in helping to establish Sunflower. She now focuses on students and families interested in our Pastry Arts and Hospitality employment training and teen programs. She has helped to develop our curricula and expand our reach to young adults and teens with learning differences in Metro DC. Sara has 45+ years of experience in the disability field and is so proud of Sunflower’s journey.

Chef Anna Myers

Anna Myers, Lead Chef Instructor

Chef Anna is the most recent addition to Sunflower. She has worked as an Executive Pastry Chef in Washington DC for over the last 13 years. She enjoyed three years at Metropolitan Club of Washington DC where she had the opportunity to train with former White House Pastry Chef Roland Mesnier and another 10 years running a large convention hotel pastry shop at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel. She recognizes the importance of structured learning that will help an individual achieve their true potential and goals. Anna is a passionate teacher, loves sharing her enthusiasm for pastry and finds being a part of the staff at Sunflower to be a very rewarding experience and opportunity.

Janis Neville

Janis Neville, Information Technology and Systems Specialist

Janis came to Sunflower in January 2017. She assists customers in placing orders and focuses on developing and implementing our internal databases and ecommerce systems. Janis also serves as our resident IT specialist and website manager.

Chef Chris Pepin

Chris Pepin, Food Prep Chef Instructor

Chris joined Sunflower in December, 2023. As a chef and educator, for more than 25 years, Chris has worked the culinary gamut from fine dining restaurants to cooking with teens on a sustainable farm to personalized catering and from teaching ESL students the fundamentals of culinary arts in a year long program to being an Executive Chef for international food service organizations like Sodexo and most recently Compass Group. His love for cooking has always been driven by the communities it creates. His love for teaching is his true passion. The diversity of his nine years educating youth, teens, college students and adults as well as the many ethnic, cultural, foreign languages spoken and learning differences has continued to leave him humbled knowing that food is a commonality we all have and is a great contributor to life. Having a son with learning differences, Chris knows first hand the needs of our students and is not only committed to their success as cooks yet as individuals as well.

Marion Pitcher, Lead Chef Instructor

Chef Marion brings more than 25 years of experience as a pastry chef in the DC area to her position as the lead instructor of our pastry program.  Her calm and supportive demeanor in addition to her skill and deep knowledge of the industry provide a warm, expert and caring introduction for our students.

Kimberly Rayburn

Kimberly Rayburn, Administrative Coordinator

Kimberly joined our team in July 2021. With over ten years of administrative office and over five in service industry experience, she brings attention to detail, high level customer service, and culinary understanding to Sunflower Bakery. She assists customers with their orders, works with drivers and partner locations getting orders where they need to be, and helps students achieve their goals.

Evelyn Rojas M.

Evelyn Rojas, Cafe Manager and Hospitality Instructor

Evelyn joined the team in January 2023 as the Café Manager and Hospitality Instructor. Evelyn’s years of experience working in the hospitality field is an asset to Sunflower and our students. In addition to her hospitality work experience, she has also worked with young adults with learning differences in hospitality settings.

Paige Sharabi, Employment Specialist

Paige join ed the Sunflower team in January 2024. She aims to be a vibrant force behind empowering young adults to kick-start their careers. As an Employment Specialist at Sunflower Bakery, Paige uses her Masters degree and diverse skill set to assist students in various skills from resume refinement to interview mastery. Paige believes in the power of passion and purpose to drive both personal and professional growth, and aims to help each student reach their fullest potential.

Daniel Washington, Sunflower Associate

Daniel Washington Ortiz is a member of the inaugural cohort of the Maryland Service Year Option program with the Department of Service and Civic Innovation, bringing a unique blend of passion and expertise to his role at Sunflower Bakery. Daniel chose to study culinary arts at Woodland Job Corps, where he found enjoyment, honed his craft and built valuable professional skills. Now at Sunflower Bakery, Daniel is thrilled to be working with both hospitality students and pastry arts students. He assists Pastry Chefs and Hospitality Instructors and mentors students in developing crucial career competencies. Looking ahead, Daniel is excited about the next 10 months, eager to apply his past experiences and knowledge while continuing to learn and grow in a professional workplace. He is dedicated to fostering a welcoming and learning environment that facilitates success.

Becky Webb

Becky Webb, Job Coach

Becky joined our team in May 2022. She brings her experience and expertise to support our Pastry Arts and Hospitality students in job development, placement and transition to employment.

Prior to Sunflower, Becky had been working with young adults with learning differences with career development, independent living skills, and social skills. In December 2022, she will graduate from the University of Maryland with a Master’s of Education in Special Education. Becky is looking forward to supporting Sunflower’s trained professionals on their career journey with dedication, care, and fun!