JENNIFER THORNTON, FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Born and raised locally, Jennifer developed her culinary and cross-cultural interest while living in France from 2007 to 2012. In France, Jennifer became an olive oil specialist and worked in olive oil mills, harvests, judged olive oil competitions, and managed an olive oil boutique in Paris. Upon returning to Cleveland, Jennifer began to offer culinary classes and workshops: starting with olive oil courses, French and Provençal cuisine. She is the owner of Buttercream & Olive Oil, LLC and her repertoire now includes a wide variety of classes, the most popular of which is her French Macaron workshop. As a locavore, her emphasis is always on local, seasonal, or organic ingredients. She is fluent in French and fostered a passion for international cultures during her time in Europe, which led to her becoming a volunteer and refugee mentor at the Hope Center for refugees and immigrants in 2016.
AMY DURKALSKI, DIRECTOR OF EDUCATION
After spending twenty years in education, Amy recently received a degree in nutrition from Kent State University. She is a life-style coach for the YMCA’s diabetes prevention program and has worked with local restaurants developing healthy menu options. Along with her husband, Court, they actively pursue philanthropy internationally, nationally, and locally.
CAIT SPRAU, DIRECTOR OF BRANDING & IMAGING
Cait was born and raised in Cleveland and developed a passion for other cultures over the years. In her childhood, she developed relationships with families from around the world through attending four different, diverse schools and at church. In 2015 she traveled to two different countries in Africa which broadened her heart and mind. Because of some close friendships in her adulthood, she found herself intrigued even more to different aspects in cultures. Being in the creative industry as a brand photographer, she is attracted to aesthetic and stories and strives to capture those in her photographs. As an entrepreneur, her heart is to foster and equip others with the skills to support their dreams and families.
JAMES P. COCO, CPA, DIRECTOR OF FINANCE
James is a CPA whose private practice is located in Medina, Ohio, where he was named #1 CPA in Medina. His practice involves small business accounting and taxes, payroll, as well as individual income tax preparation. James has his degree from Cleveland State University in 1982 and has experience in international CPA firms. James is a supporter of the local food community and collects unique English and Japanese cars.
EILEEN WILSON, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNITY RELATIONS
Eileen is the Director of Refugee and Immigrant Ministries with Building Hope In The City. Her 20+ years in Business and Information Technology at major Fortune 500 companies in Northeast Ohio and her Business Administration degree from the University of Phoenix have formed in her a belief in the impact that leadership and teamwork can have in transforming this city. This, coupled with her years as a certified ESOL teacher, her work as a BIA Accredited Representative and conviction that God is up to something good in this great city, give her a broad perspective on the challenges this fast paced culture presents to the refugees and immigrants that grace the streets of Cleveland.