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Market Umbrella appoints Kathryn Parker, MPH, PHD, as New Executive Director


NEW ORLEANS, LA, November 15, 2013 – Kathryn Parker has been named as the new Executive Director of Market Umbrella, the organization that operates the Crescent City Farmers Markets in New Orleans and offers assistance to farmers markets nationwide in improving their reach and services to people who desire local, delicious and healthy food options in their communities. Dr. Parker has been a long-time professional partner of Market Umbrella and a loyal shopper at the Crescent City Farmers Market.

Market Umbrella’s board is eager to welcome her to the team, which she will join December 1, 2013. Jonah Dowling, President of the Market Umbrella board says, “From our first meeting with Kate, it was clear that she is very passionate about our mission of bringing more people into public markets for public good. The board is thrilled for her to bring her leadership skills to Market Umbrella as we broaden its reach and increase its impact.”

Kathryn Parker says: “I am honored to have the opportunity to lead this innovative and impactful organization that has brought back the tradition of delivering fresh, local food from the hands of farmers to the kitchens of our residents in a public market. Through our love of food, cooking and good times under the market tent, we can help each other learn about our local food culture and ways to improve our community through eating food produced locally and sustainably.”

A New Orleanian since 1997, Kathryn Parker has enjoyed serving the city, first as a middle school math teacher passionate about her students’ health and well-being, to a program manager at the Prevention Research Center at Tulane University, where she managed research projects to improve communities for walking and biking, and finally as the Assistant Director of the Prevention Research Center at Tulane, where she directed the center’s efforts in policy and advocacy efforts in food access and active transportation.

As assistant director of the Prevention Research Center, Dr. Parker oversaw the coordination of the Food Policy Advisory Committee; a group dedicated to addressing food access issues in both schools and the community at large. FPAC garnered broad support and assisted the City Of New Orleans in implementing the New Orleans Fresh Food Retailer Initiative that funds grocery store projects in neighborhoods without access to places to shop for healthy food. Dr. Parker also was director of the KidsWalk Coalition, a group of transportation and public health professionals dedicated to making neighborhoods more suitable for walking and biking. Under her leadership, the KidsWalk Coalition was able to leverage over $2 million dollars in Safe Routes to School funding for local schools to make improvements that encourage kids to walk and bike to school safely.

Dr. Parker completed her undergraduate degree at Suffolk University in Boston, Massachusetts; her masters in public health in maternal and child health epidemiology at the Tulane University School of Public Health; and her doctorate degree in Global Community Health and Behavioral Sciences, also at Tulane.

Emery Van Hook Sonnier, who has served as Interim Executive Director since January and will stay on as Associate Director says, “Kate brings so much to the table – a strong public health background, a scientific approach to evaluation and a firm commitment to community engagement. She shares Market Umbrella’s vision of improving community health through the innovative use of public spaces. She also makes a mean peach pie. After partnering with Kate for years, I’m excited to welcome her as Market Umbrella’s new Executive Director.”

To welcome Kate into the Market Umbrella family, Kate will be cooking for Saturday market goers on December 7th at 10 am. Kate will be showcasing her sous-chef skills under the tutelage of Alon Shaya, chef from Dominica and a James Beard Award Finalist. Kate and Alon will prepare lamb bolognese with tahini and zaatar crostini in a cooking demonstration and tasting, open and free to the public.

Market Umbrella, a 501c3 nonprofit organization, cultivates the field of public markets for public good. The organization utilizes its emblematic Crescent City Farmers Market as a platform for innovation, learning, and sharing with this growing field. More information at marketumbrella.org.

Crescent City Farmers Market: Uptown - Tuesdays 9am-1pm, 200 Broadway St., (Tulane University Square); Mid-City - Thursdays 3-7pm, 3700 Orleans Ave., (American Can Apartments); Downtown - Saturdays 8am-12noon, 700 Magazine St., at Girod St.; All markets operate year-round, rain or shine; More information at crescentcityfarmersmarket.org.