Title: Executive Director
As Executive Director, Alexandra DeSorbo-Quinn is responsible for leading the development of Pilot Light’s vision and strategic goals. She was hired to the organization in 2014 by its founders as its first staff member. Since then, she has proudly worked in partnership with many educators, chefs, and community members to grow the reach of our Food Education programs from one school to 79, impacting over 20,000 students nationwide.
Alex began her career at Harlem Hospital in New York City, managing its Stroke Center. After seeing that education was key to preventing strokes and saving lives, she accordingly became engaged in public health education programs that harnessed hip hop music to engage students and their families around stroke education. Alex went on to join the research faculty of the Neurological Institute at Columbia University, where she managed two federally-funded community-based studies looking at the impacts of arts-based public health education in New York City Public Schools and faith-based institutions. Alex currently serves on the Advisory Board of Hip Hop Public Health. She is a past Trustee of the Society for Public Health Education.
A graduate of Bryn Mawr College, Alex earned her Master of Public Health degree with a concentration in epidemiology at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and a doctorate in health education from Teachers College of Columbia University. She was a 2018 fellow of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy.
Favorite Food Education Standard: FES #1 – Food Connects Us To Each Other.
It is hard to choose one standard, because they work together to build important knowledge and skills related to our food system. If I have to choose, my favorite Food Education Standard is Standard 1: “Food connects us to each other.” I love this Standard because I see it in action every time I visit a classroom. When food is part of the conversation, students, teachers, and others within the community are eager to share their stories, traditions and memories. Through food, we can build understanding of each other, celebrate diversity, and ultimately enrich our lives through the shared experiences we have around the table. Fostering connections through the universal language of food is at the core of our mission at Pilot Light. If there’s anything we need more of today, it’s connection. And the food is an incredible vessel to achieve it.
A favorite food memory or recipe:
My grandmother–who grew up on a farm–used to have a large garden in her backyard in upstate New York. Every June, she sent me into the garden for peas. I’d collect the pods in a bowl and then join her on the patio, where we’d sit side by side and shell them together. Along the way, we couldn’t resist sampling the raw peas inside, so much so that few probably made it to the dinner table! They were delicious and even today, the sweet taste of fresh peas takes me back to those early days of summer at my grandparent’s.