Who We Are

Food For Life Staff

Marisa Stubbs, Founder and executive Director

For more than 15 years, Marisa Stubbs worked in non-profit administration, development, and program management, primarily in small, community-based organizations. In recent years, she graduated with honors from L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, MD with the intent of combining great food with job training, life skills development, and community building. After working in some of the Washington area’s best restaurants (Mendocino Grille, Sonoma, and 2941) and leading culinary technique classes for Williams-Sonoma, Marisa served as Deputy Director at Through the Kitchen Door, where she taught low-income women and teens about healthy, delicious cooking and managed a full-service catering operation. In addition to directing Food For Life, her secret mission is helping people like ingredients that they think they hate….like the lovely little okra. Marisa graduated from DePauw University, Greencastle, IN with a BA in French.

Karida Celestine, Chef/culinary Instructor

Karida joins Food For Life's team with more than 10 years experience in the culinary industry. Born and raised in Prince George’s County Maryland, her passion for the restaurant industry has afforded her opportunities around the globe. Karida began her culinary career by earning a BA in Culinary Arts from Drexel University. She further honed her skills by studying international cuisines while abroad in London and Paris. Upon returning home, she spent three months training in the kitchen with Master Chef George Perrier at five-star dining establishment Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. She attributes her undying commitment to professionalism and high quality to the rigorous training she completed in these early days of her career. After several years working in DC area restaurants -- including serving as Executive Chef for the historic B. Smith's in Union Station -- Karida founded Sweet Bazil, a personal cheffing and catering company in MD.  

Tashawn Jackson, Program Assistant

Tashawn is from SouthEast DC and first joined Food For Life in June 2013 through the DC Summer Youth Employment Program (a six-week employment program for DC youth ages 14-24). Since he completed the program, he has continued to connect with Food For Life through catering and summer culinary classes. In his new position as Project Assistant, Tashawn hopes to bring new insight and perspective along with a passion to help DC'S youth succeed. He also wants to bring a different level of understanding to the program since he's been where the incoming traininees will be. Tashawn graduated from Phelps ACE High School and later transitioned into The George Washington University. In his spare time, Tashawn is a Music Producer, focusing on the overall artistry of music, integrating faith, and music, and human development. He's currently part of a Christian collective entitled The F.A.M. (Faith and Music), which initially connected through God and music and offically formed in 2015.

Food For Life Board of Directors


Brandi Yee, vice-chair

Brandi uses her love of food and background in workforce development to advance the mission of Food For Life. She is focusing on Food For Life's relationships with employers and developing partnerships with local businesses to provide potential job opportunities for graduating students. Brandi is the chief program officer for ACT for Alexandria, a local community foundation, where she oversees ACT’s philanthropic and community investment initiatives. Brandi has an M.S. in Organizational Learning from George Mason University and a B.A. in Rhetoric & Communication and Sociology-Organizational Studies from the University of California, Davis. Brandi is a member of the Diaconate of Grace DC Church – Downtown. She loves ice cream, baking, cooking blogs, hosting theme parties, spending time at the (ballet) barre, and visiting her family in California.


Elizabeth lives in Silver Spring, MD has greatly enjoyed the opportunity to be both a catering customer and a student in two FFL classes.  She currently works for IMPACT Silver Spring, where her role includes a focus on evaluation of the organization's programs, and supporting an emerging local economy initiative.  Elizabeth is excited to join the founding Board of Directors for Food for Life, bringing to this role a breadth of experience with community-based nonprofit work, both locally and internationally. Elizabeth has a particular passion for youth empowerment and employment; she enjoys all things food-related, especially experimenting with gluten-free baking.


Paul Donnell, Treasurer

Paul lives in Capitol Hill with his wife, daughter and son. As a foodie and someone committed to empowering members of his local community, Paul brings his financial expertise as the Food For Life Treasurer. Paul currently works for PwC where he is a Director in the Deals practice (PwC | Deals). Paul has over 15 years of experience advising corporate and private equity clients with accessing the debt and equity capital markets by providing them with technical accounting, financial reporting and project management advice on Initial Public Offerings and 144/A debt and equity offerings. With both sell side and buy side experience, Paul also has significant experience advising clients with the accounting and financial reporting for large, complex acquisitions and divestitures.


Marcus Littles

Marcus Littles is an experienced social entrepreneur with expertise in racial justice, philanthropic engagement, social innovation and grassroots community change. He is the founder and Senior Partner at Frontline Solutions (FS), a national consulting firm that offers clients in the nonprofit and public sectors a full range of services to enhance impact. Marcus has a background in nonprofit management and organizational development. His experiences range from an educator in South Africa, a mentor in Brooklyn, a grantmaker in equity-focused organizations in the Gulf Coast immediately after Hurricane Katrina, to a consultant and strategist for cross sector efforts to improve the life outcomes for Black men and boys. Marcus has authored and contributed to numerous publications, holds degrees from Auburn University and the University of Delaware. A native of Mobile, Alabama, Marcus resides in Washington DC with his wife and baby boy.   


Stephen Saunders, chair

Stephen Saunders, a firm believer in food and jobs as a way to change an individual’s future, first joined Food For Life as a member of the Advisory Council in February 2015. Currently serving as the Senior Director of Philanthropy for Year Up National Capital Region, Stephen has been working in development and philanthropy roles for the past ten years, serving as Development Director at various charities and non-profits in Washington, DC. Stephen graduated from Marshall University with a BA in Business Administration and a MA in Political Science. In his free time, Stephen enjoys all things food and wholeheartedly embraces the foodie culture: cooking with friends, trying new recipes and new restaurants, and postings pictures of his food adventures on social media. #stephensfoodtour