Our Team


FoodChain Staff

Becca Self

Founder & Executive Director

Becca is a native Lexingtonian, a graduate of the MSTC program at Dunbar, with a Bachelors of Science from MIT. She was a classroom science teacher for 7 years before moving into the nonprofit sector. She worked as the Education Director at Seedleaf before Founding FoodChain in 2011. She is married to her high school sweetheart and is the mother of twins.


Chris Cain

Food Sector Job Training Program Director


Chef Chris Cain is a twenty plus year veteran of the food industry and a second generation chef. He graduated in 2001 from Pennsylvania Culinary, received his associates in science from BCTC in 2017, and is working toward a degree in hospitality management at the University of Kentucky. He is passionate about teaching food and food culture and is excited for the opportunity to share that passion as the Food Sector Job Training Program manager. Chris is a lifelong resident of the north side of Lexington and spends much of his free time transporting his four amazing daughters to a myriad of sports activities or engrossed in all things BBQ. He and his wife enjoy traveling together, especially to New Orleans.


Zack Perry

Farm Manager

Zack Perry is a native of Anderson county. He will complete his BS in agriculture with a focus in aquaculture, in December of 2018. Zack got his start in aquaponics as an intern at Bluegrass Aquaponics. From there he went on to Kentucky State University where he worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the aquaculture research center. At KSU he managed aquaponics systems and was a part of many aquaponics research studies. Prior to FoodChain, he spent six months in the deserts of southern Egypt working with a commercial aquaponics producer. Aside from aquaponics his interests include hunting, fishing, and being outdoors.


Reena Martin

Education Director

Reena Martin started at FoodChain in 2014 focused on program development and community outreach. Reena is the Chairperson of Fayette County Farm to School Program and has spearheaded classroom aquaponics programming. She is a graduate of Berea College and a Frankfort native. Much of Reena’s free time is taken up by being the mother of a bright and energetic 5 (almost 6!) -year-old.


Leandra Forman

Kitchen Manager

Leandra Forman has been at FoodChain since May of 2015. For the first two years she worked as the farm manager, however she is currently launching the Processing Kitchen and Food Sector Job Training Program. As the daughter of a chef, she grew up speaking the language of food and is so excited to share that with others! She is a graduate of Berea College and a Kentucky native, who can usually be seen cycling every street of downtown Lexington.


Nicole Jones

AmeriCorps Vista, Community Engagement Coordinator

Nicole Jones is a women that know that without God things wouldn’t be possible. A strong woman with Faith and strong support system with my community, family and friends. I’m very family person love music, kids and cooking. I graduated from Paul Lawrence Dunbar, I also graduated from FoodChain culinary food force sector class. I have years of experience in childcare about 8 years and 10 in cooking my passion is to own my barbershop and my restaurant together some day. On my free time like to be with family and church my time go’s to the one’s I love! I have 5 Kids (step-kids), 5 Niece&Nephew, and 5 God-kids, I call them my for ever Five! That’s where mostly my free time go too! Thank God everyday for them and allowing me to wake up see another day everyday! Amen! God bless!







Erin Casey

Cook. Eat. Grow. Coordinator

Erin is a native of Wilmington, North Carolina and moved to Kentucky five years ago to pursue a graduate degree in nutrition. She now has a Master’s Degree in Nutrition and Food Systems from the University of Kentucky and is a licensed Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. Erin is passionate about helping people live better lives through food and loves the power food has to bring communities together. In her free time she loves to cook, run and spend time with her 3 furbabies.


Board of Directors

Vanessa Cayson

Board Chair

My name is Vanessa Cayson and I am in my second year of the Americorps VISTA program as the VISTA Leader. I recently completed my first year as VISTA at the Plantory in August and it was such a great opportunity and experience that I decided to go for a second year.  I am a mother of a 7 year old son and I am currently in my senior year at UK getting my bachelors degree in Psychology. It is such a joy to be working in the community that I live in and my goal is to give back to the community that has given me so much through the years.

Janelle Hagar

Board Member

Hello, I am Janelle Hager and am honored to serve on the Board of FoodChain.  I am a Research Associate at Kentucky State University specializing in Aquaponics. Through both my job and current role with FoodChain, I am passionate about education and outreach regarding sustainable agriculture and promoting healthy communities through food and nutrition.


Ryan Foster

Board Member

Ryan D. Foster is a Vice President/Commercial Lending with Traditional Bank, Inc and a local real estate investor.  A graduate of Tates Creek High School and The University of Kentucky, Ryan has spent his entire life in Lexington.  Ryan’s passions include U.K sports, camping, kayaking, travel and drafting his first book, Always Pick up a Penny.  He joined FoodChain’s board in Fall of 2015.

Ouita Michel

Board Member

Since 2001, when Ouita Michel and her husband, Chris, opened the Holly Hill Inn in Midway, Ky., she has made locally grown ingredients a priority in her world-class cuisine. Her restaurants (Holly Hill Inn, Wallace Station, Windy Corner, Smithtown Seafood, and Midway Bakery) have purchased more than $2 million of Kentucky-grown meats, dairy products, fruits and vegetables over the last 16 years. Ouita is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y. She is a member of Slow Food USA; Les Dames d’Escoffier; deacon and free community supper programs coordinator for Midway Christian Church. She, Chris and their daughter, Willa, live in Midway. She has been a Board Member since FoodChain was founded in 2011.

Andrew Dieruf

Board Member

Andrew works primarily with businesses and non-profit organizations on their audit, review and compilation needs.  Andrew also provides consultation and litigation support services.  He also conducts peer reviews for other CPA firms. Andrew began his accounting career at PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Cincinnati, OH. Andrew is a Certified Public Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner and a peer reviewer. Andrew was named partner of Enderle Besten Dieruf, PLLC in January, 2013, where he also serves as the Director of Audit and Attestation Services. Andrew’s experience covers many industries including: manufacturing, retail, pharmaceuticals, financial services, non-profit and natural resources. He joined FoodChain’s board in Fall of 2016.

Shawn Burns

Board Member

Shawn believes all people in the Lexington community should have access to nutritious, delicious food, employment opportunities. Most importantly we need to gather as a ‘Community’ over this bounty of wonderful Central KY food. He brings his skills in large volume food purchasing and operations to the FoodChain board.  His work on the board includes generating capital on the Fundraising Committee and providing cash flow and profitability insights to the Financial Committee.