Akasa Team

The team at Akasa prides itself on efficiency and quality. This program, founded by Ashleigh Parsons in 2012, is led by a group of talented and diverse women that are dedicated to bringing education and awareness to low-income youth in the city of Los Angeles so that they may make informed decisions about their own health and wellness. #accesstohealthyfoodisahumanright

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Ashleigh J Parsons, Founder + Chairman of the Board

Ashleigh Parsons was born and raised in New Jersey. She graduated from Colgate University with a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Spanish. Her first job out of college was working in the Tenderloin in San Francisco as a Program Coordinator at a free after school program. Here she became deeply interested in food justice, food deserts and health disparity. With this interest in food and education, she staged at La Chassagnette, a Michelin starred restaurant in the South of France. She graduated from Harvard University in 2012 with a Master’s in Human Development and Psychology and moved to Los Angeles. In 2012, she co-founded Alma Restaurant, which was named Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit Magazine in 2013. In tandem with the restaurant, Ashleigh founded Akasa 501(c)(3) a nonprofit created in response to the lack of healthy food opportunities that exist for low-income youth and families in Los Angeles. Akasa teaches an holistic Wellness Curriculum utilizing cooking, gardening and mindfulness to low-income youth in Los Angeles. Today, the program is partnered with four charter schools in Rampart and administers a gardening and cooking curriculum to over 200 students each week. Ashleigh left Alma in 2017. In 2018, she joined Jon+Vinny's Restaurant Group in Los Angeles, focusing on service, operations, marketing and development. 


Veda Romero, Director

Veda Romero is the Director of Akasa. Having grown up in Rampart, Veda has seen the challenges that the community faces and would like to offer solutions that can affect widespread change. Veda is passionate about teaching students and their families about sustainability by providing them with tools to live healthier lives. She has singlehandedly spearheaded the parent workshops that continue to grow and gain popularity in our program.  


Araz Martin, Lead Chef

Araz Martin is the Lead Chef at Akasa. Before joining the team at Akasa, she worked in fine dining restaurants such as SAAM, Bazaar by Jose Andres, Alma, and Drago Centro. Along with baking and cooking, she loves to garden and appreciate its process. Gardening allows us to see and understand the origin of the food we eat. It is crucial that we teach the children how to grow and cook healthy food. This skill set will be used for the rest of their lives. 


Marie Day, Lead Farmer

Marie Day is the Lead Farmer at Akasa. Having worked in organic agricultural environments, she brings a wealth of knowledge in terms of growing, harvesting and hydroponics.


Akasa Boardmembers

Ashleigh Parsons

Chelsea Lucktenberg

Courtney Guerra

Jaime Garcia

John L Parsons, Jr

Audrey Tyau

Cissy Huang

Vivian Ho