Incubates Advisory Committee

The Incubates Advisory Committee (IAC) aims to accomplish the following: amplify the work of food businesses owned by BIPOC and women in CitySeed’s network; assist in intentional growth of ventures in line with the implementation of CitySeed’s new commercial kitchen; and support the development and sustainability of Incubates’s program offerings. The duties of committee members include: advise on Incubates strategic plan; disseminate information to committee members professional networks; serve as occasional mentor for businesses in Incubates Network; create opportunities for ongoing community collaboration and action.

We are so excited to have such a multi-disciplinary and diverse set of lived experiences, knowledge, and skill sets in informing CitySeed’s growing Food Incubation Program.

We are thrilled to welcome the following members to the IAC:

Tagan Engel
Tagan Engel brings more than 25 years of experience in cross-sector food systems and justice work – as a chef, food entrepreneur, community builder, and grassroots organizer. She led CitySeed’s community work on food justice, policy, cooking, and food entrepreneurship from 2007-2016. Tagan is an organizational and equity consultant, a Resident Fellow with the Yale Center for Business and the Environment, Host of The Table Underground podcast, a mentor with Collab/CitySeed’s Food Business Accelerator, and a founding Board Member of Soul Fire Farm.

Kwame Asare
Oh Shito! is the brainchild of our co-founder, Kwame Asare. On a trip to Ghana in 2019, he was inspired by the essence and rich culture of his birthplace. The warm greetings of Ghanaians, along with the familiar tastes of bold cuisines reignited buried memories of childhood. One constant staple of his favorite waakye dish was shito — a common sauce condiment in Ghana. Upon returning to the U.S., he shared the highlights of his trip, and informed his siblings of an idea that would bring a Ghanaian classic to the American hot sauce and condiment market.

Anna-leila Williams, PhD MpH
Anna-leila works at the Frank H. Netter MD School of Medicine at Quinnipiac University where she teaches public health content with attention given to the health consequences of food insecurity, hunger, food deserts, and supplemental nutrition programs. As an Arab American, she’s part of a culture that values hospitality and generosity, especially as expressed by sharing good food. She hopes her contributions to CitySeed will help foster food justice today, while honoring the struggle for food justice experienced by her ancestors.

Kismet Douglass
Kismet Douglass is the owner of Momma Kiss Kitchen Cuisine. Kismet has been cooking for as long as she can remember. Kismet loves to cook, that is where her passion comes from. Chef Kiss does catering, meal prep, cake decorating, and more. In 2022, Kismet began teaching cooking classes at the Dixwell Q-House. Kismet is now selling her food at CitySeed’s Farmers Markets.

Raquel Rivera
Chef Raquel graduated with highest honors from the Institute of Culinary Education after completing her externship at Le Bernardin. After working for catering companies Raquel began teaching at a few NYC based cooking studios until opening A Pinch of Salt over 10 years ago. Chef Raquel teaches cooking fundamentals to all ages, focusing on healthy, seasonal, inexpensive meals that are culturally sensitive and delicious. Furthermore, she has trained adults desiring employment in the culinary field who are now vendors of the Bridgeport Farmers Market Collaborative. In 2010 Chef Raquel’s work was recognized with an invitation to the White House South Lawn as a part of First Lady Obama’s Let’s Move initiative and in 2019 she was awarded Women Business of the Year by the Southern CT Black Chambers of Commerce.

Kylah A. Jackson
Kylah A. Jackson is an aspiring entrepreneur and entering the business management consulting field. Kylah is a new graduate student of WGU’s College of Business MBA program and a champion of New Haven’s best meals and local eateries.

Mary Claire Whelan
Mary Claire Whelan is a farmer, coordinator of the New CT Farmer Alliance, and a passionate food systems activist. Through her role at NCTFA she connects with farmers all over the state and works with them to advocate for a more just food system. When she’s not planning farmer gatherings or working on ag policy, you can find her on the farm crew at Massaro Community Farm in Woodbridge. MC is an avid fan of the New Haven food scene and her favorite vegetable is the radish.

Stasia Brewczynski
Stasia Brewczynski (she/her) is a writer, publicist, marketer, and communications expert specializing in elevating food and drink brands beyond noticeable to impactful. In her position as Accounts Director at full-service cultural storytelling agency and creative studio District One Studios, Stasia spearheads client and public relations efforts. Prior to joining District One, she developed messaging for an iconic slow-food restaurant group in Seattle, helped position Maine as a beer destination, and marketed a pioneering wine club. Raised in East Rock and a current Westville resident, Stasia is a member of the New Haven Safe Streets Coalition which advocates for a safer, fairer, and more sustainable New Haven. Her writing appears in publications including Eater, Sip Magazine, and CIDERCRAFT Magazine, and she is a beer and cider judge.

Alisha Crutchfield-McLean
Alisha Crutchfield is a passionate entrepreneur and innovative brand builder with multifaceted expertise in retail, fashion styling, marketing, strategy, business development, and consumer behavior. She transitioned from her 20-year career in the fashion industry into one she found pleasurable and meaningful. BLOOM, a union of community, culture and commerce, has blossomed into a lifestyle movement in Westville. This multi-concept gathering space, rooted in wellness, highlights local makers, emphasizes culture and diversity, and intentionally curates products that encourage people to bloom where they are planted.

Sheila Howard
Sheila Cain is a wife, a mom of 3 adult children, and a first-time grandmother. The first half of her career was as an early childhood educator for 12 years. Shelia has spent the last 15 years of her career as a nurse. Just 3 years ago she began to really explore her love of cooking and food. She has always loved food and cooking and after many years of her friends and family telling her that she should sell food or open a restaurant, it finally sunk in. She started Auntie Sheelah’s cheesecakes about 3 years ago after going out for cheesecake and not finding what she wanted. She decided to research and develop her own product. Sheila also caters small parties and continues showing her love to family and friends by feeding them every chance she gets. Shelia enjoys Farmers Markets gathering great fresh ingredients, as well as visiting the many different cultural grocery stores around New Haven and surrounding areas. Shelia was born and raised in New Haven and sometime in the near future, she would love to open up a small cafe in or around New Haven. She looks forward to serving on the advisory board and also mentoring when and where she can.

Reed Immer
Reed Immer, is the communications director of Atticus and Chabaso. Reed is curious about food products that people are absolutely crazy about and that have a positive social and environmental impact, especially in the Northeast but, especially in New Haven.