Founded in August 2011, Louis’ Groceries is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with the mission of improving dietary health behaviors by addressing obstacles on both the supply and demand side. Learning through pilot projects, we seek to identify viable strategies for increasing access to healthy options in underserved Chicago communities. We work with like-minded partners on educational programs and events to promote healthy eating, and on behavioral research studies to find effective methods for incentivizing healthy choices.
Our organization shares the name of our flagship initiative, a pilot small-format grocery store which operated in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood on Chicago’s South Side from December 2012-December 2014. Insights from data gathered at the store, along with general business lessons learned, guide our ongoing work on healthy food access and choice. The store was named for Louis, the French bulldog of Founder and Board President, Kristy Kitzmiller.
Kristy Kitzmiller, President
Kristy, the founder of Louis’ Groceries, is passionate about healthy eating and food access. She draws grocery industry experience from time spent in the strategy department of PepsiCo North America, and as a business consultant to a venture capital client during a leveraged buyout of a mainstream grocery retailer. Kristy has been a realtor in the Chicago area, and worked in business strategy and financial and economic consulting at firms including Arthur Anderson, Credit Suisse First Boston, and Exelon Corporation. Kristy holds a Bachelor of Science in finance from the University of Illinois-Chicago and a Master of Public Policy from the University of Chicago Harris School. She is a CPA and CFA. Kristy’s favorite vegetables are corn and asparagus.
Terri Zhu, Secretary and Treasurer, Program Director
Terri is a founding board member of Louis’ Groceries and also serves as Program Director, in which capacity she oversees the implementation of all our projects and programs. Previously, she held teaching and administrative positions at the University of Chicago (U of C), and worked on various academic and policy research projects at the U of C, the UCLA Institute for Research on Labor and Employment and the Andersonville Development Corporation. She also served as a Mayoral Fellow under Mayor Richard M. Daley. She received a Bachelor of Arts in German literature from Columbia University, a PhD in German literature from the U of C and a Master of Public Policy from the U of C’s Harris School. Terri’s favorite vegetables are beets and broccoli.
Chris brings a wealth of financial experience to the Board and is a committed advocate for bringing new resources to underserved communities. He is the Managing Director of CFO Accounting Solutions, which provides CFO consulting services to small and middle-market companies. He began his career in the audit department of Deloitte, servicing manufacturing and construction clients, in addition to Central Grocers. A committed volunteer, Chris has provided demolition and construction services to affordable housing initiatives in the Lawndale area. He also serves on the Parish Pastoral Council of his local church and looks forward to coaching Little League baseball in summer. Chris graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelor of Business Administration, concentrating in accountancy. Chris’ favorite vegetables are broccoli and corn.
Melinda Kelly is the Executive Director of Chatham Business Association Small Business Development Inc. (CBA SBDI), where she advocates for and provides effective support to small businesses. CBA works to enhance social, political, and economic growth within Chatham (the home of Louis’ pilot store) and surrounding Chicago communities. Under Melinda’s leadership, CBA created a model community technology resource center to train young people and businesses for the future, and implemented the Get Connected pilot program, which helps local small businesses bridge the technology gap. CBA also lead the creation of the Chatham Cottage Grove Special Service Area (SSA 51). Melinda has been appointed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel to serve on various advisory committees including the Small Business Advisory Council, the TIF Reform Advisory Taskforce Panel, and the Mayor’s Minority Diversity Supplier Committee. In addition to her work at the Chatham Business Association, Melinda serves as Executive Director of the National Organization of Minority Engineers (NOME) and Chairperson of the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce Energy & Environmental Committee. She also serves on numerous boards and committees, including Fifth Third Bank’s Community Advisory Board, Cook County’s Diversity Action Committee, and Senator Mark Kirk’s African American Advisory Board. Melinda’s favorite vegetables are spinach, greens and beets.
Courtney Lance-Morakalis, born in Chicago and raised mostly here, and some in New York, and a teeny bit in Kansas City, MO, has worked for real estate firm Draper and Kramer, Incorporated for over 25 years. There, she is an Internal Auditor focused on process, efficiency and compliance audits. She is also a real estate broker, which keeps her hooked into what’s happening in legislative and regulatory real estate informing her audit work. In her spare time, Courtney cantors at St Mary of Angels Church, and sings for the John Work Chorale, whose mission, aside from bringing historic and beautiful music to the ears of many, is to preserve the Negro Spiritual genre. As a culinary enthusiast, Courtney is a chef, baker, caterer, food demonstrator, judge and writer. It brings Courtney great joy to share her nutrition knowledge with others, and she conducts food and cooking demonstrations in a variety of settings to teach healthy eating and meal preparation. Courtney serves as an officer on the Board of Directors of the MAGIC Foundation, an organization providing support and education to children and adults with growth disorders. She is also the co-author of Pruno, Ramen and Side of Hope: Stories of Surviving Wrongful Conviction (www.prunoproject.com). Courtney loves all vegetables, but her absolute favorites are arugula, Swiss chard, kale, onions and garlic.
Geoff is a Chicago native, and has practiced law in the city for over twenty years. Currently, Geoff concentrates in plaintiff’s personal injury litigation. His additional practice areas include real estate, employment litigation, small business transactions and immigration. Geoff holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Northwestern University and a JD from the University of Michigan Law School. He is committed to giving back to his community, and currently serves on the board of the Francis W. Parker School. Geoff’s favorite vegetables are broccoli and peas.