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
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. 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 disparities. With an 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 a wellness curriculum to low-income youth and families living in LA. 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 and joined Jon+Vinny's Restaurant Group as Service Director. She currently works as a Freelance Consultant in LA.
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, positive change. Veda is passionate about teaching students and their families about sustainability by providing them with tools to live healthier lives. She oversees operations, programming, curriculum development and volunteers coordination for Akasa and she has singlehandedly spearheaded the parent workshops that continue to grow and gain popularity in our program and connect Akasa from the schools to the home.
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.
Amanda Beattie, Lead farmer
Amanda grew up in LA and has been passionate about cooking and the power of sharing meals from a young age. In college Amanda broadened her knowledge of food, working with the Harvard Food Literacy Project to educate herself and her peers about food systems/food justice issues in the US. This led her to apprentice on an organic vegetable farm in the south of France and later on a farm in Morocco, then to co-manage a 1/4 acre urban farm in Lincoln Heights under the guidance of farmer and artist Britt Browne. Amanda believes that focusing on positive action in our local surroundings is a powerful tool for personal and social transformation, and it is this conviction she hopes to share with students as Lead Gardener at Akasa.