Isabel EljaiekProgram Director

Isabel grew up with two homemade meals every year: A standard Thanksgiving spread (plus coleslaw) and a traditional Cuban roasted pork dinner with all the tostones a kid could want every Christmas. Coming from a family that did not grow their own food or cook much beyond the microwave, she experienced a sharp learning curve when she set out to learn how to do just that. What started as a personal inquiry into her relationship with the earth and community, grew into a strong passion for equity within our food system and belief that food is our ultimate connection to each other and the earth.

As a graduate student, Isabel created an innovative partnership between Tricycle and the VCU School of Social Work, which supported her collaborative work in the development of Richmond’s Healthy Corner Store Initiative, which later became Corner Farm. She previously worked with Slow Food USA in Brooklyn, NY as the Network Manager, where she supported local chapters all over the United States in the fight for a better & more equitable food system. Isabel received her Master’s degree in Social Work Administration from Virginia Commonwealth University while concentrating on food access programming. While there, she also completed a Post-Baccalaureate certificate in Nonprofit Management and was a scholarship recipient for Growing Power’s Growing Food and Justice for All Initiative. She rejoined Tricycle in 2015 and now oversees Tricycles’ programs, data, and operations. Currently serving on the board for the Neighborhood Resource Center, Isabel lives in Fulton with her husband, their two dogs and a growing flock of chickens.

Words to live by

Living simply is not a step backward.

What has been your favorite Tricycle experience?

Our office is in an old gas station, it’s basically one large room that holds working space for all our staff, our kitchen, and our inventory refrigerator and backstock. While chaotic, there are days that I look up from whatever work I’m engaged in, and see all the amazing folks I’m lucky enough to work with everyday on issues we really care about…these are my favorite moments.

What do you do when you’re not working for Tricycle?

I’m a yoga student currently working on my teacher certification. I’m also sort of a nerd about meal and garden planning, on most weekends I can be found tinkering with new (and old) recipes in the kitchen or in our backyard garden playing with the chickens and our dogs.