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Meet OUR mentors

Lisa Donovan

Scholarship Mentor

Lisa Donovan is a James Beard award-winning writer who has redefined what it means to be a "Southern baker" as the pastry chef to some of the South's most influential chefs. She has been formative in developing, writing, and establishing a technique-driven and historically rich narrative of traditional Southern pastry.


Lisa is a regular contributor to Food&Wine and she has been a featured speaker at René Redzepi’s globally renowned MAD Symposium. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, Eater, LitHub, Saveur. Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger (Penguin Press/2020) is her first book.

elle SImone

Scholarship Mentor

Elle Simone is Executive Editor/Inclusion Leader at America’s Test Kitchen. She is also a food stylist for Cook’s Country, an on-screen test cook for America’s Test Kitchen, and host of “The Walk-In” podcast. Elle creates media content for both ATK television
segments and ATK Social Media. She also works to boost ATK’s diversity efforts and promote a culture of inclusion with a specific focus on recruiting, mentorship, and retention. As the founder of SheChef, Inc., a professional networking organization and social enterprise, Elle provides mentoring to women chefs of color pursuing culinary arts as a career.


With her creative eye for telling a story with food and her unique
contribution to the dialogue surrounding women in business, Elle has appeared on Food Network, Food Network Magazine, The Cooking Channel, The Katie Couric Show, CBS Corporation, ABC’s The Chew, and Bravo’s Chef Roble and Co.  Elle has been featured
in stories in the Boston Globe, Forbes, Eater and on the Tom Joyner Morning Show and National Public Radio.

Therese Nelson

Chef & Scholarship Mentor

Therese Nelson is a chef writer and the founder of, a website and digital archive she established in 2008 as a way to honor Black culinary heritage throughout the African Atlantic diaspora. 

As a freelance writer and independent scholar, she contributes to and comments on Black identity in American gastronomy for a wide range of multimedia organizations. Her work focuses on bridging the gap for Black food creatives between the untold historical legacy of Black identity in American hospitality and the practical application of that heritage in the modern hospitality world.

Adrian Lipscombe

Scholarship Mentor

Adrian Lipscombe, a native Texan, is the owner of Uptowne Café. 

She opened Uptowne Café restaurant on the Northside of La Crosse, WI to create a catalyst of urban change, and at the same time, she works with the community to help revitalize the area.

Uptowne is a hearth for the community and also a community impact space. It carries an open-door policy and provides a safe haven to everyone in the community. 


Adrian’s food focuses on southern cuisines by using local ingredients and working with farmers in the Coulee Regional and Organic Valley area. Being a Southerner and using Midwest ingredients has provided a wonderful synergy of exploring cultures, foraging, and creating innovative dishes. Adrian draws her inspiration and storytelling through experiences from life and African American culinary history to tell the story of African American influence in our food culture today. She combines her experience in Southern food and desserts to bring honest food to the table to feed friends, family, and the community.

CHEF Todd Richards

Chef & Scholarship Mentor

Founder, The Soulful Company Restaurant Group: Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ and the upcoming Soul: Food & Culture. Author of SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes. Chef Todd Richards is an award-winning chef known for his contemporary cooking style rooted in Soul & Southern cuisines. A native of Chicago, and based in Atlanta since the early 1990s, Richards is a self-taught chef and two-time semifinalist for James Beard Foundation Awards - Best Chef: Southeast.

Richards is the co-owner of The Soulful Company Restaurant Group, overseeing Lake & Oak Neighborhood BBQ in the East Lake neighborhood of Atlanta and Soul: Food & Culture inside of
Atlanta’s famed Krog Street Market. Chef Todd previously helmed the kitchens of prestigious hotels and restaurants including The Shed at Glenwood, The Pig & The Pearl, Rolling Bones Barbecue, White Oak Kitchen & Cocktails, The Four Seasons Hotel Atlanta, The Ritz-­Carlton (Atlanta, Buckhead and West Palm Beach), Villa Christina and the Oakroom at the Seelbach Hotel, which garnered the prestigious AAA 5 Diamond Award for restaurant excellence under his tenure.

Jon Jackson

Scholarship Mentor

Jon Jackson is a decorated combat veteran who served as a US Army Airborne Ranger, who founded STAG VETS INC. in 2014 and Comfort Farms in 2016 to assist homeless veterans, veterans in need, and veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress and Traumatic 

Brain Injury. 

Jon's work has been featured on Man Fire Food with Celebrity Chef Roger Mooking, Paramount Pictures Wife Swap, Travel Channels Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern, a TEDx Talk at Emory University, NPR, GPB, Atlanta food and Wine, Peach Fest, Civil Eats, Good Grit, The Milledgeville scene, along with numerous news articles and his pork took Second place in the nation's toughest  BBQ Competition in New Orleans Hogs for a Cause.


His Documentary "Comfort Farms a Documentary) won the Grand Jury prize for Best Documentary Feature at Film Invasion Los Angeles 2020. Jon is also an Alumni of UGAs'  Advancing Georgia Leaders in Agriculture and Forestry and his Agricultural Program is supported by the USDA and was Recently Awarded $1 Million in Grants through the USDAs' NIFA and NRCS program to train and teach Veterans to find a new career in Sustainable Agriculture. 

Matthew Raiford

Chef & Scholarship Mentor

Matthew Raiford is a sixth-generation farmer at Gilliard Farms, a sibling-run sustainable farm in Brunswick that has been owned and operated by his family since 1874.   Matthew is a cookbook author { Bress ‘n’ Nyam pre-order on Amazon - deliver May 11, 2021} and is a descendant of the Freshwater Gullah Geechie which is what his cookbook is based on. He has a Culinary Arts degree from The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, and a certificate in Ecological Horticulture from UC Santa Cruz and The Center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems.  Matthew is trained in classic French cuisine and has an affinity for coastal flavors. 


He has 25 plus years of formal experience in the food and hospitality industry, including serving as the director of culinary at the College of Coastal Georgia and the Executive Chef of Little St. Simons Island and Haute Catering in Washington, D.C. at the U.S. House of Representatives. He is now working on opening Sweet Georgia Juke Joint on Jekyll Island, Georgia.  Matthew enjoys traveling and experiencing other food cultural from the agrarian to the cooking and loves teaching whether it be cooking or gardening in the backyard or creating compost systems for larger farm life. His passion lies in creating food memories for others by preparing local, organic and flavorful foods.  Matthew serves on the Chefs Collaborative Board of Directors and is an active member of Slow Food USA.

These mentors have partnered with the Edna Lewis Foundation for the

20201-2022 scholarship.

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