It starts in the kitchen!

The Sylvia Center teaches young people how to build healthier lives through food and become healthy food advocates within their communities.

MISSION

The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to establish independent healthy eating habits — so that they may lead healthy and productive lives.

The Sylvia Center is a part of a movement to develop the next generation of healthy eaters, cooks, and advocates that can fundamentally change the future of food.

We work in partnership with others because we know that we can not do it alone. The problem may be big, and the stakes high, but together we can lift up young people to take their own place at the table.

History

The Sylvia Center was founded in 2007 by Liz Neumark, CEO of Great Performances, in memory of her daughter, Sylvia. The mission of The Sylvia Center is to inspire young people and their families to establish independent, healthy eating habits — so that they may lead healthy and productive lives.

Through these critical cooking programs in all five boroughs of New York City and in Columbia County, young people learn what fresh food is, how delicious it tastes, and how to prepare nutritious meals on a daily basis. Over the last decade, The Sylvia Center has made a tremendous impact in all five boroughs of New York City, and in schools across Columbia County — serving more than 23,000 since it began in 2007.

Timeline

  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2009
  • 2010
  • 2011
  • 2012
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019
  • 2007

    The Sylvia Center (TSC) at Katchkie Farm is founded by Liz Neumark and Chaim Wachsberger in memory of their daughter Sylvia. 200 children visit.

  • 2008

    TSC’s one-time afterschool classes begin in NYC.

  • 2009

    TSC begins offering youth programs at 2 NYC public schools.

    The farm hosts 30 day Fresh Food programs.

  • 2010

    In partnership with Rachael Ray’s Yum-o! Organization and The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, our youth program is piloted in New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) community centers.

    One-time classes become a 6-week course for every student.

  • 2011

    Programs shift completely to serve children in the communities where they live, based in NYCHA community centers in Harlem, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and the Bronx. Two teen programs are piloted: NYCHA teen program at Drew Hamilton Community Center and a program for pregnant teens at Inwood House.

  • 2012

    In NYC, TSC pilots Cooking Together family program.

  • 2013

    As NYCHA transitions community center management, TSC establishes new partnerships with Grand Street Settlement, Harlem Children’s Zone, St. Nick’s Alliance, Graham Wyndham, and Green City Force.

    At the farm, in-school multi-week Seed to Plate program is piloted in Columbia County.

  • 2014

    In the city, youth, teen, and family classes are offered at 6 NYCHA sites, 5 days a week.

    At the farm, Seed to Plate program expands to 3 sites.

  • 2015

    In NYC, TSC programs expand to 10 sites, serving all 5 boroughs. TSC partners with ExpandED Schools in a new Teen Apprenticeship to train 25 high school students to teach healthy cooking to day campers in the Bronx. Upstate, Seed to Plate expands to 6 program cycles, and the farm hosts 48 full-day Fresh Food programs.

  • 2016

    In NYC, the Teen Apprenticeship expands to two cohorts, in Brooklyn and the Bronx. Upstate, with funding from Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, TSC launches Healthy Food for All, a multi-week healthy cooking and fresh food distribution program in Hudson after-school programs.

  • 2017

    The Sylvia Center celebrates ten years of serving youth and families in New York — a momentous occasion that is celebrated at The Art of Cooking Gala on October 26, 2017.  In the last decade, the organization has served more than 20,000 students through programs in New York City and in Columbia County.

  • 2018

    The Sylvia Center welcomes new executive leadership with the hiring of Jennifer John in February.  As The Sylvia Center’s new Executive Director, Jennifer oversees NYC and Columbia County programs and growth strategy for the organization. 

  • 2019

    TSC doubled their program sites, cohorts, and added 100 students to their reach for the session.

Our Team

Meet our amazing team of chefs and educators who are passionate about inspiring young people to eat well.

Staff

ROLANDA
BECKETT

Community Chef

MORGAN BLACKBURN

Development Director

NEILON BRIDGEMAN

Chef Assistant

NICOLE CARDISH 

Program Manager, Farm-Based Programs

JONATHAN CETNARSKI

Executive Director

KAREN CHERFILS

Teen Culinary Apprenticeship Community Chef

SOPHIA
CHEUNG

Chef Assistant

EMILY
COLLINS

Chef Assistant

RYAN
CIOFFI

Operations Manager

DOREECE DYER

Community Chef & Program Manager

SARAH
HEASLEY

Community Chef

CINDY HU

Digital Communications Coordinator

SARAH KABALKIN

Community Chef

SAMANTHA KWOK

Community Chef

ELI MATTERN

Chef Assistant

KRISTEN MCCORMICK

Community Chef

DONALD MCGILL

Teen Culinary Apprenticeship Community Chef

THERESA MORELLI

City Youth & Family Program Manager and Community Chef

ALLISON ORELLANA

Chef Assistant

NATALAYA PIGULSKAYA

Community Chef

SELINA PREYER-BLAKNEY

Acting Director of Programs

SHVETA RANA

Chef Assistant

DESTINY SMITH

Chef Assistant

DAVID STEVENS

Chef Assistant

JAINABU WAGGEH

 Chef Assistant

MATTHEW WEISBERG

Teen Culinary Apprenticeship Community Chef

Board of Directors

COURTNEY ARCHER-BUCKMIRE

LYNN
COLE

CINDY
EDELSON

NINA P.
FREEDMAN

DEBORAH
GARDNER

TARA
GENDELMAN

TRUDY ELBAUM
GOTTESMAN

PHIL
MELDRUM

DODI
MEYER, MD

SCOTT
MILLSTEIN

LIZ
NEUMARK

MICHAEL
POLLACK

HOWARD
PULCHIN

CHAIM
WACHSBERGER

Chef Ambassadors

PATTI JACKSON

Kitchen at Shale Hill Farm

RONNY JARAMILLO

Chela

SOHUI KIM

The Good Fork, Insa

CRAIG KOKETSU

Quality Meats

ANITA LO

Annisa

MICHAEL LOMONACO

Hudson Yards Grill, Porter House and Grill, Center Bar

PHIL MELDRUM

FOODMatch

ANTONIO MORO

Quality Bistro

PETER SHELSKY

Shelsky’s of Brooklyn

LEWIS SPADA

Shelsky’s of Brooklyn

MICHAEL WHITE

Altamarea Group

In 2007, CEO Liz Neumark founded The Sylvia Center. Great Performances provides support in The Sylvia Center’s fundraising events and contributes to programs in New York City and Columbia County.

To learn more about how to become a sponsor, contact our Development Director, Morgan Blackburn E-mail morgan.blackburn@sylviacenter.org

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