Who We Are

Board of Directors

Karen Meyer, President

Karen’s Whidbey Island roots are deep, dating back to Irish ancestors settling on the island in 1858. Karen’s background includes a management career in financial analysis and publication writing and editing. Karen and her husband Dave own and operate a graphic design and film production company. Food and community have always been part of Karen’s life. Providing healthy and sustainable food for her family and supporting local farms is a priority. Karen enjoys traveling, hiking, painting, and writing. Being part of Slow Food Whidbey Island enables her to give back and be connected to her community and help build awareness for the bounty we have on this island!

Richard Karno, Vice President

Richard’s extensive coffee experience spans over 30 years. From owning a bookstore/coffee house, roasting organic coffees for restaurants and cafes, to operating one of the largest certified organic coffee roasters and seven cafes – all with healthy and homemade menu items. In 2012, Richard’s cold brew coffee company “Lucky Jack” was the first company to infuse nitrogen into RTD coffees, becoming an industry standard. Richard and his wife Tessa moved to Whidbey Island in 2017, roasting at Mukilteo Coffee Company, and then developing a proprietary process for concentrating organic coffee, becoming “Unplugged Coffee” – sold in markets throughout South Whidbey. Richard is dedicated to giving back to the Whidbey Island community and sees his role with Slow Food as an opportunity to do just that.

Penny Harger, Secretary

Penny grew up among “truck farms” in the Garden State (NJ) when “seasonal” and “local” determined what went on the table, and “Home Ec” was a requirement for girls in junior high. Her gourmet cook mother set very high standards for taste, variety and nutrition. Slow Food fits perfectly with these traditions. With a B.A., an Ed.M. and an MBA, Penny worked in management for business, for-profit, educational, academic and non-profit organizations, founding a Seattle-based executive relocation business. Volunteering has always been part of Penny’s life and how she met husband, Bob. Moving to Whidbey in 2006, she has served on the boards of Meerkerk Gardens, South Whidbey Yacht Club, the Whidbey Island Garden Tour and continues to volunteer for Sound Water Stewards and the Freeland Library Book Sale.

Kaitlin Meyer, Membership Director

Growing up in a household that emphasized organic food, daily family meals, and culinary creativity, Kaitlin loves cooking for her family and friends. She has incorporated into her life the lessons she learned from her childhood about the importance of creating a shared space around food and, while juggling the responsibilities of a full-time job, often brings her close-knit family together for inventive and satisfying meals. Being a part of the Slow Food Whidbey Island team provides Kaitlin with an avenue to explore service around her passion for food, cooking, and engaging with the local community. She enjoys the opportunity to meet members at events and be connected with people who share her passion for spreading the Slow Food message.

Colette Nelson, Education Director

Chef Colette Nelson spent three seasons fishing in the Gulf of Alaska, where she discovered her true appreciation for the wild salmon and her infinite respect for the ocean and its creatures. Her passion for cuisine began in kitchens in the Pacific Northwest, and in Spain where she studied abroad in Granada through the University of Washington. For twenty years, she was the chef/proprietor of Ludvig’s Bistro in Sitka, Alaska, a destination restaurant specializing in Mediterranean cuisine that supports Alaska’s sustainable fisheries. In her off-season, Colette worked with Sitka Conservation’s Fish to Schools program, teaching students many issues around fisheries management including nutrition, food justice, community sustainability, and conservation. She now lives on Whidbey Island with her wife, son, dogs, chickens and sheep.  

Arjai (RJ) Allred, Member at Large, Events Team

Arjai (RJ) Allred comes from a long line of talented cooks, from whom they learned about quality ingredients, eating locally, and never wasting food. Growing up as an “Army Brat,” they traveled the world, enjoying the various foods therein, which instilled an adventurous spirit and eagerness to try new things. In 2000, Arjai moved to Whidbey Island and the Rehabilitation Services Department at Whidbey Health Medical Center.  In 2006, they met Morgan Savage, a local from Mukilteo. A few years later, they both decided to learn more about growing food and became active in the Whidbey Island farming community. Arjai enjoys food preservation, fermentation, baking sourdough breads and pastries, cooking whatever they feel like, and making terrible messes in the kitchen.

Bob Finke, Member at Large

Bob learned about food from an early age when his nickname as a baby was “butterball.”  From there, he grew to be 6’4” tall and close to 300 pounds. Part of that was partaking in the Cajun/Creole cuisine of New Orleans. Bob also excelled at detail work – a master’s degree in Computer Science, a 16-year career in software engineering at ROLM/IBM/Siemens, followed by a financial planning business as a Certified Financial Planner™. Life greatly improved after he moved to Whidbey Island from California in September 2015 – where he quickly joined Slow Food Whidbey Island.  Along the way, Bob volunteered on some boards – Secretary for West Bay Opera in Palo Alto, CA and Treasurer for the Santa Cruz Chorale in Santa Cruz, CA.

Rachel Joseph, Member at Large, Newsletter Contributor

Rachel is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, local food enthusiast and forager of wild foods currently living on the south end of Whidbey Island. She moved to the island from Southern California in October 2021 for an AmeriCorps position with the Good Cheer Food Bank and loved it so much here, she decided to stay. Rachel’s contributions to Slow Food include the research and writing of our nutritional pieces for our chapter newsletter. Apart from food and nutrition, Rachel also enjoys trail running, swimming, teaching art, writing, reading and exploring beautiful natural places all over Western Washington.