WELLNESS IN THE SCHOOLS

creating healthier places in which to learn

Leadership


Nancy E. Easton
Co-Founder/Executive Director

In 2005, Nancy co-founded Wellness in the Schools (WITS) with the goal of inspiring healthy eating, environmental awareness and fitness as a way of life for kids in public schools.  As Executive Director, she has helped WITS grow from three schools to over 50, serving approximately 30,000 students. Nancy has been named a Food Revolution Hero by acclaimed chef-food activist Jamie Oliver, and Ann Cooper, the “Renegade Lunch Lady,” recognized her as a Lunchbox Hero for her dedication to school lunch reform.

She earned her undergraduate degree from Princeton University, Master's Degree from Bank Street College of Education, and her Administration and Supervision certification from City College and Fordham University.  Nancy worked for the New York City Department of Education for over 15 years, serving as a teacher, a teacher mentor and, ultimately, a School Leader.  She was a partner of The Learning Project (TLP), a non-profit organization that designs and manages schools, where she founded and directed TLP One Middle School.  Nancy is also a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and is certified by the American Association of Drugless Practitioners.

As a lifelong athlete with several marathons and triathlons under her belt, including an Ironman distance triathlon, Nancy views fitness as a personal and professional passion.  In 2003, she became a founding board member of Girls on the Run Manhattan (GOTRM), a non-profit organization that uses the power of running to change the way girls see themselves and their opportunities.  Nancy also serves on the board of Friends of Princeton Track and the Samara Fund.  She has leant her expertise to numerous high-profile panel events, including the Teach for America’s 20th Anniversary and the American Museum of Natural History's 21st Annual Environmental Lecture + Luncheon. Nancy was also chosen as a judge for the Perkins + Will Healthy School Design Contest and continues to be a sought after speaker and media resource.

Seeing the powerful impact WITS has had on public school children and their families is incredibly rewarding for Nancy, but nothing makes her more proud than raising her own kids to be aware, caring, responsible and healthy individuals.  Nancy, her husband and their three children live in New York City.

nancy easton headshot

Chef Bill Telepan
Executive Chef

One of New York’s first and most acclaimed devotees of Greenmarket cooking, Bill Telepan is committed to showcasing the season’s bounty through his cuisine. Bill insists on understanding where his ingredients come from, how they’ve been cared for and using the best of what is available—a thoughtfulness that’s reflected in the vibrant dishes he creates at his namesake restaurant. Bill’s style of cooking stems from his childhood in New Jersey, where his family shared hearty meals made with vegetables from their garden. His mother took pride in serving bold dishes influenced by her Hungarian heritage, and her passion resonated with Bill.  He began working at local restaurants before enrolling in the Culinary Institute of America.

After graduating in 1987, Bill accepted a job at one of Manhattan’s top restaurants, Gotham Bar and Grill.  As a line cook working under Alfred Portale, Bill learned the importance of treating vegetables with care and precision to enhance their natural beauty and flavor. In 1990, Bill traveled to Mionnay, just north of Lyons, to apprentice with Alain Chapel at his eponymous Three-Star Michelin restaurant. While there, Bill acquired an appreciation for cooking locally and seasonally. Bill’s career came full circle in 1991, when he signed on as executive chef of Gotham Bar and Grill with Alfred Portale.  During his four years there, Bill prepared refined dishes using ingredients from nearby Union Square Greekmarket.  Seeking a change, he became executive chef of Ansonia on the Upper West Side, where he developed his own menu and further refined his craft.

With the desire to make his cuisine accessible to the home cook, Telepan penned the cookbook Inspired by Ingredients (Simon & Schuster), published in 2004.  The following year, he opened Telepan restaurant on the Upper West Side.  The restaurant allows Bill to showcase his simple and balanced approach to cooking and has attracted a loyal following and accolades including a glowing two-star review from The New York Times and the title of “Best Newcomer” in the 2007 Zagat survey.

When not at the restaurant, Bill most enjoys spending time with his wife, Beverly, and daughter, Leah. Since 2008, he has been the Executive Chef of Wellness in the Schools where he works with WITS in Residence Cooks to make school food healthier and more delicious.  As the first chef involved with WITS, Bill has spearheaded its goals by developing nutritious school menus, training cafeteria workers and teaching culinary and nutrition concepts to students, parents and teachers. Bill's daughter Leah, a student at PS-87, inspired him to join WITS and makes healthy school food a cause that he holds close to his heart. In 2009, as part of his work with WITS, Bill was selected to First Lady Michelle Obama's initial Taskforce to launch the Chef's Move to Schools initiative.

bill telepan headshot 2012
 
"[Thanks to WITS] our students have developed a greater understanding of and respect for the food they eat and the importance of eating healthy."
-Principal of a WITS school