Stories / Impact

Introducing the James Beard Foundation Legacy Network Program

The program advances equitable leadership in the industry 

JBF Editors

September 16, 2021


Image of kitchen staff plating dishes
Photo: Clay Williams

Today we’re launching the Legacy Network program. Founded in partnership with Woodford Reserve, the Legacy Network trains emerging leaders across the culinary industry and connects them with future generations of excellence. By developing and cultivating talent among these influential professionals and their peers, Legacy advances the equitable, culturally relevant leadership required to strengthen the industry. 

Each protégé, under the guidance of Legacy advisors, becomes part of a powerful network that centers the professional growth of talent from historically under-resourced communities. The Legacy Network ensures their career paths are diverse, equitable, and sustainable, prioritizing Black American and Indigenous heritage persons for this first cohort. 

Here are our 2021 Advisors and Advisees.

Neftalí Durán: Neftalí is a community cook, advocate, educator, and organizer who is working toward an equitable food system and building a network of Indigenous food leaders. He is the co-founder of the I-Collective and the Holyoke Collective.

Dr. Cynthia Greenlee: Dr. Greenlee is a North Carolina–based independent historian, writer, and editor. Dr. Greenlee is the winner of a 2020 James Beard Foundation Media Award in foodways writing, and is the senior editor at The Counter.

Tara Gomez: Tara has worked for wineries including Fess Parker and J. Lohr. Her first label, Kalawashaq’ Wine Cellars, was named for the village where her Chumash ancestors once lived. In 2010, she started Kitá Wines, a small premium winery in the Santa Ynez Valley where she is currently the winemaker. She is the first recognized Native American winemaker in the U.S.

Krista Scruggs: Krista is the founding farmer and winemaker of ZAFA Wines, based in Isle La Motte, Vermont. Dedicated to regenerative farming and using hybrid grapes, Krista and her team manage and farm vineyards in Vermont and New Hampshire. 

Leticia Skai Young-Mohan: With more than a decade of experience in hospitality, entertainment, and tourism, Leticia is driven by culture, commerce, and cuisine. Leticia created and launched the LoLo’s Seafood Shack brand.

Jackie Summers: Jackie is an acclaimed author, seasoned public speaker, and serial entrepreneur. Jackie is the founder of JackFromBrooklyn Inc. and the creator of the award-winning Sorel Liqueur

Elena Terry: Elena is a member of the Hocak Nation of Wisconsin and the Ho-Chunk Nation. She is a wild-game specialist, butcher, and is the executive chef and founder of Wild Bearies. She is a lead mentor in the Food and Culinary Program at the Native American Food Sovereignty Alliance.


Lucille Contreras: Lucille is a rancher that wants to teach folks about the healthy food of the Lipan Apache and other Native groups in Texas. At the Texas Tribal Buffalo Project, she and her team supply healthy bison meat and are currently in the process of launching an online website to be able to provide meat for both wholesale and retail.

Danielle Holmes: Danielle has worked in multiple country clubs and restaurants such as Williamsburg Inn (Williamsburg, VA) and The Ocean Room at Kiawah Island (Kiawah Island, SC), and has staged at Kitchen Cray (Washington, D.C.), Epic (Columbus, GA), and Vintage Restaurant (Orange, VA). Danielle is currently furthering her culinary experience at Rose’s Luxury in Washington, D.C.

Geoffrey Kie: Geoffrey grew up on the reservation in the Pueblo of Laguna. After working at Beaver Street Brewery, Geoffrey and his wife decided to run a burger stand for their reservation’s feast day. He continues to use his skills to elevate programs and people to share their stories of Indigenous foodways.

James Linabary: James began at a steakhouse in Oklahoma City and now leads a pastry team at one of Nashville’s larger restaurants. James has also worked at award-winning restaurants like Nonesuch and Vast and had a multi-year stint working directly for the NBA’s Oklahoma City Thunder.

Nya Marshall: Nya is an entrepreneur, commercial real estate developer, environmental activist, and content producer. She is on a mission to live sustainably and inspire others to do the same. Nya opened IVY Kitchen + Cocktails in 2020. She also co-founded Culture of Carbon which consults with corporations in the metro area and beyond on sustainable business models. She sits on Detroit’s Food Policy Board and is a member of the Michigan Restaurant Lodging Association and the Independent Restaurant Coalition.

Dawn Sloan: Dawn has worked in fine dining kitchens in France, Turkey, Ireland, Italy, and Spain, and at San Francisco’s La Folie. Dawn elected to leave fine dining after going blind during service. She currently operates a food truck featuring Soul Food and Tex Mex fusion.

Jared Thomas: Jared is a junior cook at City Beet Kitchens. in New York City. He started his cooking journey through Project Renewal, completing a three-month program followed by a three-month internship. 

Learn more about the Legacy Network here