Meet the Sanctuary Kitchen Leadership Team
The granddaughter of refugees fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe in the early 1900s, Donna, is a clinical psychologist from Guilford who has been a volunteer working with refugees at IRIS for over a decade. She is passionate about cooking, food justice and community building. She participated in CitySeed’s Master Cook program and has been a decade-long volunteer at New Haven's Downtown Evening Soup Kitchen. She is grateful to be a part of Sanctuary Kitchen.
Karima left her home country of Morocco, at an early age, to further her education in France. Twenty years ago, Karima and her family moved to the U.S. to pursue their dreams. As an immigrant, she feels a deep connection with refugees as they start their lives in this new land. Karima speaks four languages and as a foreign language teacher and volunteer interpreter in New Haven, she is able to break down language barriers and open the lines of communication for refugees. She understands the importance of not allowing language differences to be an obstacle for communication.
Karima believes that sharing food, learning about different food cultures and kitchen etiquette helps break down the divide and eliminate stereotypes. She sees these as the bridge that brings people together from different cultures.
Sehrish moved to New York when she was a kid with her family from Karachi, Pakistan. She's grown up in the Northeast but being an immigrant herself, she is passionate about enhancing the new immigrant experience in the US. She pursued her education at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Systems Engineering and hopes to be able to use her skills in technology to enhance programs that aim to provide justice and bridge communities. She enjoys a good book, heartfelt food and outdoor adventures.
Sumiya is a California native with a passion for food and nutrition education, leading her to collaborate with CitySeed and IRIS to create Sanctuary Kitchen. She is a Registered Dietitian and Community Based Education Specialist for UCONN’s Center for Public Health and Health Policy, serves on the Board of CitySeed, and recently became CitySeed's new Kitchen Program Manager. She hopes her expertise will be of benefit to refugees who have given up so much and are trying to create a new life here.
Emma serves on the Board of CitySeed and has been a volunteer with IRIS since 2016. She is excited about community food systems, meeting new people, and living in New Haven. She has worked in farm-based education, youth development, and forestry, and is currently the Education Director for Connecticut Forest & Park Association. She earned a Masters in Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning with a focus on community food systems, and hopes to use her experiences to further the mission of Sanctuary Kitchen.
Amelia Reese Masterson
Amelia, Executive Director of CitySeed, has worked for over a decade at the intersection of food security, health, agriculture, and refugee services. She has worked with Iraqi and Syrian refugees across the Middle East on food security programming, in addition to spending time in New Haven both earning a Masters in Public Health and working in community-based food and nutrition services. She sees food justice as central to the wellbeing of New Haven, and food as a vehicle for bringing community members together.
Laura has been working in international public health for over 10 years, working with refugees and populations affected by conflict in the US, Ghana, Uganda and Sierra Leone. She is currently a Health Technical Advisor for the International Rescue Committee (IRC). She is a New Haven native and very proud of the Elm City's warm welcome to refugees from around the world, and became a volunteer with IRIS in 2016. She is excited to join this initiative that continues to build New Haven's strong food culture, expanding our palates to enjoy food from the many new neighbors being resettled in our city.
Disha is a cultural programmer, artist and educator based in New Haven. She is an outer borough dining enthusiast, speaker of five languages and has been her grandmother’s kitchen helper since 1990. She has worked in cultural programming and immigration advocacy at the local, national and international level - namely, the City of New York (under Bloomberg's administration), United Nations, Asia Society & Museum, a Taipei based social kitchen fusing food, art and community and has volunteered with IRIS for nearly a decade. As of now, she works as a Community Engagement Manager for an arts and cultural institution in CT.
Sanctuary Kitchen would not possible without the enormous help from the entire team at CitySeed.
Amelia Reese Masterson – Executive Director
Ashley Kremser, Director of Operations
Erin Carey, Market Manager
Alyssa Krinsky, Assistant Market Manager
Frankie Douglass, Mobile Market Manager
Sumiya Khan, Kitchen Program Manager
Ellen Pendergast, Executive Assistant/Events Coordinator