Board of Directors
Reality Kitchen Nonprofit
Board of Directors
It is important to note that the Reality Kitchen Nonprofit Board of Directors are drawn from the community based on the diverse skill sets that are needed to guide our unique organization. A deep knowledge of finance, business and nonprofit governance, food service management and, of course, the perspectives and practical experiences gained from classroom and life skills training in the field of Special Education.
100% of the Board of Directors each contributes financially, as well as through their commitment of time and vision, expertise and skills, goods, items and in kind services to the organization.
The co-founders, Jim Evangelista and Catherine Pickup, made a significant investment in the startup of Reality Kitchen Nonprofit. Both volunteer their work and 100% of their time on behalf of the nonprofit organization and each serves as Executive Director and Program Director respectively. This evidences their commitment to the Mission and goals for success of the each individual Supported Staff member and community inclusive spirit of this organization.
Lynn is an experienced senior manager with a track record of building highly effective cross-functional teams across organizational and geographic boundaries. He brings proven experience in helping his teams set and achieve measurable goals in large, complex organizations. He also brings deep financial management, planning and accounting experience in a number of demanding settings including public accounting, high tech research and development, new business start-up and university fund accounting. He has significant experience in working with diverse cultures having managed staff and worked on teams for Hewlett Packard from Singapore, Puerto Rico, Ireland, Spain, Israel and across the Americas.
Lynn is currently a self-employed non-profit consultant for various nonprofits across Oregon. In the non-profit arena, Lynn currently serves as the Treasurer for Jackson Street Youth Services Inc., Chair of the Location and Building Committee for the Crater Lake District of the United Methodist Church, Board Secretary and grant writer The Eugene Gleemen and Business Manager for Messy Church USA.
Leonard is a regulatory consultant and president of FDA Connect, inc., an independent consulting company which assists small pharmaceutical manufacturers and marketers of OTC medications, homeopathic remedies, dietary supplements and cosmetics to comply with US Food and Drug Administration regulations.
In the non-profit world, he has served on numerous boards over the last 30 years in various capacities. His areas of interest are education, the arts, promotion of community mental health, conflict resolution, sustainability, and human development. His focus has been on non-profit corporate governance, financial oversight, and fundraising.
In the realm of fundraising, in 2007 he organized a successful event in Eugene on behalf of the Oregon Ballet Foundation to break the Guinness World Record for largest indoor ballet class. On behalf of the Eugene Rotary club, he was a co-creator and designer of the Inspirational Invocation book to raise funds for the organization’s community programs. The book was subsequently adopted by the national Rotary organization.
Leonard was enthusiastic and honored to have been invited to join the board of Reality Kitchen. He had been following the progress of the organization over the years through his long-time friendship with its founder, Jim Evangelista. According to Leonard, “Reality Kitchen is a vital resource not only for our community; but it also has the potential of becoming a model for the entire country. Its practical approach and hands-on curriculum is an excellent way to provide real-world work-skills and life-skills to the developmentally disabled community. I have seen with my own eyes the joy and dignity in its students when they have the ability to express themselves through the pride of work.”
Leonard is an avid vegetable gardener, loves to dance and ski, and can often be found on weekends at the top of Spencer Butte.
K Daniels Board Secretary
As the mother of two adults with special needs, K is acutely aware of the need for workplace training. While searching for such a program for her daughter, she discovered Reality Kitchen—and has been a fan every since!
Armed with a masters degree in Special Education, K spent several years working with neurodivergent students. She focused on helping these students find and keep a job and quickly realized that the educational system does not provide the skills these students require to be successful with employment.
Hence, she is delighted to serve on the Board of an organization that addresses this training issue. The staff of Reality Kitchen is dedicated, patient, and practiced at developing and implementing programs that build and reinforce employment skills.
K enjoys hiking the Buttes in Eugene, reading British mysteries, and eating scones baked at Reality Kitchen!
Amelia Abel Board Member
I was born January 14, 1990. I am 32 years old and live with my parents here in Eugene, Oregon. I lived independently in my own apartment for 11 years but moved back with my parents during Covid.
I have Downs’ Syndrome.
I graduated high school from Sheldon High School in 2008.
For 12 years I worked in Child Care as a classroom aid, but that stopped at the beginning of Covid. I have enjoyed working with young children and helping them learn and participate in games and learning activities. I am still employed by the City of Eugene as staff for Eugene Parks and Recreation summer park program.
I really enjoy public speaking opportunities and have spoken at events, fundraisers, Rotary clubs and other civic organization meetings, universities, and classrooms where I am able to share my experiences of living as an individual with Down’s Syndrome. These opportunities to meet with many people in the community and speak about my life led me to become a founder of the “Look Me in The Eye Campaign,” along with Rick Dancer, a local media personality.
Finding new ways to communicate and share my interests and experiences led me to become involved in classes where we learn to make videos and films. I really enjoy working with others on film making and will be exploring this more as a Reality Kitchen Board member.
I first became involved with Reality Kitchen when I took classes there and gain skills and training in customer service and cooking. I particularly enjoyed baking pastries, cakes and pies. I really like working with others at the restaurant and being part of the organization because of the supports and opportunities that they provide to people with disabilities. Because they create a social environment where people can meet and talk and learn from each other, I look forward to helping them in the future and benefitting from my ongoing connection with Reality Kitchen.
For people with disabilities, finding “work friends” and having a social life through work is very challenging. Regular people do not make an effort to connect with people with disabilities. Catherine says that being a social and engaging organization, building community, is Reality Kitchen’s mission. I would like to support Eugene becoming more inclusive and compassionate toward all people with disabilities and life challenges and hope to be part of changing the way people with many different abilities work and learn together.