The Wellness City Challenge is all about people. Our non-profit organization is run by an experienced and dedicated Board of Directors including medical professionals, chefs, entrepreneurs, educators, and one very enthusiastic and knowledgeable spokeswoman.
Kish Rajan (Acting Chair)
Kish Rajan brings a unique blend of business, public sector, political, and legal experience to develop effective public policy and cultivate successful relationships between business and government. His specialties include Public Policy Advocacy, Public/Government Affairs, Strategic Communications through Calinnovates and as the President of the Southern California Leadership Council.
Garry Pearson (Vice-Chair)
Garry Pearson has over 25 years of greenhouse management experience including crop production for tomatoes, peppers, melons, rice, lettuce, fruit, tree and vine as the CA&ES Lead Greenhouse Manager, Department of Plant Sciences for the University of California, Davis. He has trained and supervised numerous undergrads in greenhouse production through hands on exercises and experiences. He also has been a technical advisor for Davis High School greenhouse providing hands on training to high school students in all aspects of greenhouse production including flower, vegetable, fruit and vine production. Requirements include conducting classroom exercises and writing specific classroom materials for the Ag Teacher.
Kristin Zelhart (Secretary)
Kristin is a real food entrepreneur, nutrition educator and health coach and a project consultant for Mount Diablo Unified School District Food Services Department. She recently founded her own food business, the Real Food Cup, creating wholesome, delicious and nutritious meals for professionals on the go. In addition, Kristin works with the RealMealHub to coach clients in health and nutrition, sharing her tips and insights as an experienced nutrition educator. She previously worked as the Education Program Manager for Wellness City Challenge, teaching underserved high school students about healthy cooking and nutrition. She graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo with a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition, concentrating in Culinary Science and Management. She has a certificate in Holistic Nutrition Education from Bauman College, Berkeley where she lives today. Kristin has a passion for real food and enjoys cooking. She is active in her community and loves to hike, bike, do yoga and explore the Bay Area any chance she gets.
Cindy Gershen (Founder)
Cindy Gershen is a well-known and respected advocate for healthy living. Cindy opened the Sunrise Cafe & Bakery in 1981, serving comfort food ‘like Mom used to make.” The cafe quickly outgrew its location and Cindy opened the Sunrise Bistro as a full service sit-down restaurant to compliment the successful cafe. Sunrise is about giving the customer what they want, from healthy and wholesome menu options to smart recipes without added sugar and salt. After having a stroke in 2001, Cindy lost and has kept off over 90 pounds. She is passionate about sharing the lessons of healthy diet and exercise she has learned and condenses that information into simple, practical solutions that people can use everyday. She often speaks and demonstrates cooking with local businesses and organizations to share her tips for healthy eating and its effects on productivity in the workplace and school environment. Cindy spearheaded the Walnut Creek Wellness City Challenge in 2005. Cindy Gershen is married to Dr Lance Gershen and together have 8 children and presently 9 grandchildren and 2 on the way.
Pamela Singh (Executive Director)
Wellness City challenge
After a 25 year career in the banking industry in multiple positions, Pamela is on a journey to work with the non-profit sector to build synergy in order to support the consumer. By joining resources whether its information sharing, individuals and/or monetary, her goal is to build synergy via “best practices” that can be leveraged as needed. With prior experience of taking visions to a state of action/implementation through passion for what she believes in, it is her intent to create a support system which begins at the local level.
Fall Ferguson is a core faculty member of the MA in Health Education Program, College of Graduate and Professional Studies, John F. Kennedy University. She teaches Foundations of Health Education, health & wellness coaching classes, Culture, Community, & Health, Learning Models & Educational Methods, Research, and MA Integrative Project (capstone), as well as some electives such as Embodiment as Transformative Practice, and Holistic Approaches to Working with Body Image.
Lance Gershen MD, FAAP
Lance Gershen M.D., F.A.A.P has been a pediatrician in Contra Costa County since 1974. He has offices in Concord, Antioch and Brentwood. Dr. Gershen graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City. He did his pediatric internship and residency at Los Angeles Childrens Hospital. Dr. Gershen is the former President of the East Bay Pediatric Society. He also served as Chairman of Medical Education and Chairman of Pediatrics at John Muir Health Concord campus and was the Chairman of Pediatrics at Sutter Delta Medical Center. Dr. Gershen is married to Cindy Gershen and together have 8 children and presently 9 grandchildren and 2 on the way.
Chef Alison Negrin and Associates
Professional Chef, Sustainable Food Consultant, Farm to Institution Advocacy
Chef Negrin is the sole proprietor of Chef Alison Negrin an and Associates; a consulting company specializing in transforming institutions into heal thy food zones by connecting them with local sustainable food sources and educating about the power of nutrition and healthy eating in menu development and training.
Executive chef at such noted Bay Area restaurants as Chez Panisse, Bridges and Ginger Island, Alison Negrin has seen some of the summits of the commercial foodservice world. As executive chef for John Muir Health System (JMH’s), Negrin was responsible for writing both patient and cafeteria menus for the three hospital campuses, as well as developing the dishes and menus for the various upscale catered events hosted by the hospital system. Alison had the honor of accepting 2 awards at the 2012 HCWH Food Med conference for JMH’s accomplishments with reducing greenhouse gases through sustainable purchasing and overall increased sustainable purchasing. Alison was the recipient of the Women Who Inspire 2013 Community Service Award from the national organization of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs recognized for her work in bringing healthy and sustainably sourced food to healthcare
Robert Lustig, MD, (Honorary Board Member)
Pediatric Endocrinologist and Professor at UCSF
Robert H. Lustig is a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) where he is a Professor of Clinical Pediatrics. He practices in the field of neuroendocrinology, with an emphasis on the regulation of energy balance by the central nervous system. He also has a special interest in childhood obesity.
Lustig came to public attention through his efforts to establish that fructose can have serious deleterious effects on human (especially children’s) health if consumed in too large amounts. On May 26, 2009, he delivered a lecture called “Sugar: The Bitter Truth” which was posted on YouTube the following July and “went viral” with some 3.47 million viewings (as of Apr 28, 2013). In his lecture, Lustig calls fructose a “poison” and equates its metabolic effects with those of ethanol.