Letter from the Executive Director

Dear Friends,

I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself and to thank you all for your continued support of Pilot Light. My name is Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn and I am Pilot Light’s new Executive Director. I recently moved to Chicago from New York City, where I was (and still am) a doctoral candidate and faculty member at Columbia University. At Columbia, I managed two federally-funded, community-based health interventions, one of which was a school-based health education program—a lot like Pilot Light.

I am excited to be joining Pilot Light and its incredible team! In the past year, the Board of Directors has worked with high quality educators and practitioners to help children enjoy a healthy relationship with food. In October, Pilot Light hosted its Back-to-School Block Party fundraiser and used a portion of the proceeds to fund my role. I am honored to be working with such a passionate and dedicated group and I look forward to meeting all of you who make Pilot Light possible.

As you know, we at Pilot Light believe that food and nutrition education is critical to a child’s development and well-being. Over the past few years, we have developed a curriculum that integrates Pilot Light’s food and healthy decision-making lessons into traditional subjects—math, science, social studies, and literacy—and aligns with the Common Core State Standards for grades K-6. Already, over 600 Chicago Public School children have participated in the program and the results have been remarkable. We have transformed the way many children experience food by opening their minds and palettes to new possibilities and encouraging them to ask questions about the food on their plates.

But we are just beginning. Now we need to develop our curriculum and broaden our reach, particularly with regard to the underserved areas of the city. As Executive Director, my job is to grow Pilot Light and scale our program so that we can provide even more children with the critical food and nutrition education that they would not otherwise receive. As we expand, however, we need to make sure our scaled program is effective. That is part of why Pilot Light hired me—at Columbia, we developed and used rigorous evaluation methods and tools to measure the efficacy of our educational programs in the New York City schools. We are planning to use similar tools with Pilot Light so that as we expand and develop partnerships throughout the city, we can prove our program works.

Over the next months, I hope to meet many of you to thank you for your commitment and to share how we will continue to build upon our work. I look forward to working alongside you to make a difference in the lives of the children we serve.

Please feel free to contact me directly at alex@pilotlightchefs.org. I strongly value (and appreciate) your ideas and suggestions.

With best wishes,
Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn
Executive Director, Pilot Light

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