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The staff at the BCCC and the MPF US represent a broad spectrum of experience and training. Bound by a passionate commitment to our shared mission, each staff member contributes a unique perspective to build, refine, articulate and execute our vision.

Rae K. Gomes
Executive Director
Rae joins the BCCC after over a decade spent affecting change in all facets of the food system. With ties to the Central and East Brooklyn communities, Gomes has worked to support community health initiatives in under-resourced neighborhoods in Brooklyn and continues to support food sovereignty work both locally and statewide. Gomes is a proud founding board member of the Central Brooklyn Food Cooperative, has worked alongside the Brownsville/East New York Food Advisory Council, and has facilitated a process that advocates for equity and inclusion of BIPOC farmers and food systems workers for NY State Agriculture and Markets.

She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. Her writing often includes issues of race and activism and has been published in The Nation magazine, Colorlines, Civil Eats, The Counter, and The Root among others.

As an organizer, she works at the intersection of race and food justice to address health disparities in under-resourced communities. Employing a framework of community self-determination, she works with local residents to cultivate power and ownership over the systems that have failed to serve them.

She lives in Brooklyn with her son where she cooks ridiculously elaborate meals and argues with her CSA coordinator about the best combination of seasonal fruits and vegetables in the week’s food box.
Lucas Denton
Director of Melting Pot Foundation USA
Lucas is the co-founder of the Brownsville Community Culinary Center (BCCC). Lucas has had a diverse career, embedding within a variety of disciplines to gain the practical experience necessary to understand and address complex and intertwined social and environmental issues, as a forester, as a researcher for the New York City Commission on Human Rights, and as a Union Ironworker at the World Trade Center.

Most closely informing his work in Brownsville has been the 15 years of experience he has offered supporting community-based organizations. Serving in capacities ranging from mentor to outreach to organizational development and strategy, Lucas has worked with organizations combating substance abuse and alcoholism, harm reduction organizations and needle exchanges, with street outreach programs providing services for the homeless, as a literacy educator, and with the Left Forum.

As cofounder of the BCCC, Lucas has worked with the Brownsville community over the past seven years, collaborating with long-term residents and other community stakeholders to articulate and implement a comprehensive approach to addressing the needs of the community through the Brownsville Community Culinary Center. Lucas now serves as the Director of The Melting Pot Foundation US.
Abigail Merced
Diabetes Wellness Program Manager
Abigail Merced is a proud Latina and community organizer. She obtained her MPH from NYU on Global Health with a focus on Community Wellness in 2019. Her passion for public health, specifically, chronic disease prevention and food security, began shortly after she moved to the United States from Puerto Rico. Her research has been around food eating behavior patterns among the Black and Brown immigrants, food insecurity screening tools, and the quality of food available in East Brooklyn supermarkets.
She has been an active food justice advocate and mobilizer since moving to NYC. She is committed to working with local food sovereignty community organizations and more recently with community residents to help build on their capacity to continue to advocate for affordable and high quality food in various Brooklyn communities.
She lives in Brooklyn NY where she crafts handmade soap and obsesses over cute dog videos on Instagram.
Melchisedek Leo
Community Health Worker
Melchisedek Leo has an unyielding passion for bridging health gaps and tackling disparities experienced by under-resourced communities through health empowerment. Leo is a public health practitioner and a first-generation American of Francophone descendants, who hopes to draw inspiration from his cultural background to advocate for his community. Leo’s ultimate professional aspiration is to advocate for health accessibility internationally particularly in Haiti, his father’s home country, in an effort to fight ongoing systemic abuse that leaves the first free Black Republic disproportionately underdeveloped.
Leo earned his master’s at NYU and received his Bachelor’s from Howard University (Our VP’s Alma Mater!). Prior to working in Brownsville, he spent some time addressing maternal health with the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and taught French at Howard and NYU. He enjoys learning about different cultures through language, food, music, and most importantly dialogue. He believes that these are some of the agents that fosters cohesion within diversity.
Gregory Briggs
Peer Health Educator
Gregory Briggs, is a proud Brooklynite from birth. He has learned to navigate the resources available to him, to further his educational endeavors and professional goals.
He joins the Diabetes Wellness Program team, drawing from a depth of experience in outreach and case management, and continues to work as an Operations Manager for a shelter in Queens, NY.
Employing the motto, “Each one teach one,” he works with others in the community to build awareness of the resources that assisted him, in hopes that he could both inspire and support his community.
Greg’s other passions include reading, playing chess, and traveling.
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