While born and raised in Connecticut, Kristen has called Virginia home for over 20 years. She started her teaching career in Fredericksburg City Public Schools and then went on to teach for Fairfax County Public Schools. After earning her Master’s Degree from the University of Virginia, she became an elementary reading specialist and taught part time for UVA. In 2005, she and her husband moved to Warrenton and McAuliffe accepted a position at Taylor Middle School as the reading specialist. Since then, she has worn many hats throughout Fauquier County Public Schools, most recently serving as the Supervisor of Family and Community Engagement.
Jessica Lesefka is the Program Coordinator for FRESH. With more than 10 years of experience in education, she previously worked as a Program Coordinator, and taught adult ESOL classes with the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington. For nine years, Jessica ran her own business as a contracted grant writer and researcher, personal finance and leadership teacher, K-12 and college tutor, as well as a contracted college advisor. Jessica holds a Master of Science in Education as a Reading Specialist and a B.A. in Communications with a concentration in Technical Writing. A native Texan, Jessica moved to Virginia with her husband and son in 2008 after her husband’s retirement with 21 years in the U.S. Navy. In her time off, Jessica likes to take classes and spend time either kayaking or sailing.
Natalie Ortiz, the FRESH Chef, learned at a young age from her grandmother, Aurora, that some of life’s best moments revolve around meals shared with family and friends. This inspired her to earn a B.A. in Culinary Arts & Hospitality Business Management. Prior to joining the FRESH team, she worked for one of the area’s largest corporate & social caterers, and is the owner & chef of Aurora’s Family Table, a personal chef business where she had the pleasure of providing busy families with nutritious & delicious customized meals in line with their dietary needs. Natalie’s joy for growing food & cooking with children was first realized when she worked as a Montessori teacher’s assistant in college. In her spare time, Natalie teaches recreational cooking classes, volunteers in various community programs, and visits state parks with her husband and 4-year-old Lab mix, Sasha.
Susan Payne grew up in State College, PA and earned a BS in Elementary Education/Early Childhood Education from Clarion University of PA. Susan taught 2nd grade in a neighboring county for 13 years and 3rd grade at MM Pierce Elementary School for the last three years. When she isn’t working, Susan enjoys journaling, writing short stories and poems, craft projects, walking at the park with her amazing husband and beautiful baby girl.