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Our Team

Elaine Gonzalez

Elaine Gonzalez, Pastry Sous Chef

Elaine joined Sunflower in August 2022 as our pastry sous chef. She has a degree and experience in professional baking and has worked in a Michelin star restaurant. Prior to coming to Sunflower, she was in Los Angeles working as a pastry assistant with a restaurant group. Elaine also has a degree in psychology and says that, “Sunflower Bakery combines my two passions, psychology and pastry”

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.

John Katz, Program Director

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.

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.

Alex Mazzeo

Alex Mazzeo, Hospitality Instructor

Alex Mazzeo joined our team in August 2021 as our Hospitality Program Instructor. She brings over 10 years of experience working in a variety of roles in the service industry. Alex is devoted to working with students with learning differences in the employment development training arena. She has over 5 years of experience working with students through their career development journey. We are so excited she has joined the team and has brought her passion and energy into her teaching and program development.

Megan McIntosh

Megan McIntosh, Pastry 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, Senior 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, Operations & IT Coordinator

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.

Joey Nowicki

Joey Nowicki, Hospitality Instructor

Joey Nowicki became our Café Manager in December 2016 with 7 years of front-of-house operations and managerial experience. Joey has a great interest in developing our students’ marketable and transferable skills. He has been especially involved in the development and implementation of our Hospitality program and is a dedicated and passionate instructor.

Marion Pitcher, Senior 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.

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 lever 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.

Prior to Sunflower Bakery, Jody’s experience included management of food system-related programs and projects for DC-based nonprofits. Her work has focused on international and domestic hunger and poverty alleviation; the regulation of biotechnology; local food systems; domestic food safety; and the promotion of healthy food access to underserved communities.

Most recently, Jody had a fifteen-year career at the Capital Area Food Bank where she served as the Chief Operating Officer for the past six years. As COO, Jody was responsible for the daily management of the CAFB’s operational work including providing direction and oversight of the acquisition and distribution of 30 million meals annually to approximately 700 food assistance partners and programs, 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.

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!