Barbara Kowalcyk, Ph.D., CEO and Director of Research
An internationally respected expert in food safety and foodborne illness, Dr. Barbara Kowalcyk is co-founder and CEO of the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention (CFI), a national non-profit organization dedicated to preventing foodborne disease. Barb sees CFI as a knowledge broker, bridging the gap between research and policy.
Barb has a strong analytical background with an undergraduate degree from the University of Dayton in Mathematics and a master’s degree in applied statistics from the University of Pittsburgh. In 2011, she earned her Doctorate in Environmental Health with a focus in Epidemiology and Biostatistics from the University of Cincinnati.
With a strong interest in public health, Barb spent the first 10 years of her career in the pharmaceutical industry as a biostatistician conducting clinical research. In 2001, her focus shifted to food safety when her 2 ½ year old son Kevin died from complications due to an E. coli O157:H7 infection. Her family’s story was featured in the 2009 Academy Award nominated documentary Food, Inc. (Read Kevin's Story here)
Since 2001, Barb has worked to improve food safety by bridging the gap between research and policy. She has served on numerous government committees and co-authored the 2010 NAS report, Enhancing Safe Food: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration, which served as a blueprint for the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010. Barb’s efforts to improve food safety have been recognized by Yoko Ono, who awarded her the 2010 Lennon Ono Grant for Peace, and by readers of the Huffington Post, who voted her the 2010 Ultimate Game Changer in Food.
Barb and her family live outside Raleigh, North Carolina. In addition to her work at CFI, Barb also has faculty appointments at both North Carolina State University, where she is an assistant research professor in the Department of Food, Bioprocessing and Nutrition Sciences, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she is an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Epidemiology in the Gillings School of Public Health.
Patricia Buck, Director of Outreach & Education
Food safety advocate and educator Patricia Buck became involved in foodborne illness prevention in 2001 following the death of her 2-½ year old grandson, Kevin Kowalcyk. After Kevin’s death from complications of an E. coli O157:H7 infection, Buck discovered that America’s food safety systems are seriously compromised. In response, Ms. Buck co-founded the Center for Foodborne Illness Research & Prevention with Barbara Kowalcyk and served as the organization’s first executive director from 2006-2011.
Ms. Buck is a co-author of CFI’s report, The Long Term Health Outcomes of Selected Foodborne Pathogens. She is serving her second term on USDA’s National Advisory Committee on Meat and Poultry Inspection and since 2009 has served on the President’s Food Safety Working Group. From 2007-2010, she served on the Board of Directors for the Partnership for Food Safety Education.
Ms. Buck actively represents CFI on the Safe Food Coalition and the Make Our Food Safe Coalition. She championed the SFC’s efforts to label mechanically tenderized meat and worked diligently with the MOFS to pass and fund the Food Safety Modernization Act.
Ms. Buck has presented on a variety of food safety topics and has been interviewed multiple times by local and national media. She has a M.S. in Education and a M.A. in English. In 2004, she was awarded the “Outstanding Woman of the Year” by Pennsylvania’s Mercer County Commission of Women. In 2011 she received a National Rotary Award from Rotary International and was honored as a Food Safety Champion for Extraordinary Advocacy Leadership by The Pew Charitable Trusts. The mother of five children and grandmother of eleven, she and her husband reside in Grove City, Pennsylvania.
CFI Board of Directors
Tanya Roberts, Ph.D., Chair, CFI Board of Directors
Tanya Roberts spent 30 years at the Economic Research Service, USDA before retiring as a senior economist in March 2008. Her research has focused on estimating the societal costs of foodborne illness, the public/private interface of food safety regulations, risk assessment, and the critical role of food safety information in both public and private decision making. Other research areas have included economic incentives for food safety and rapid pathogen testing. Dr. Roberts has numerous publications. She earned her Ph.D. in economics from the University of Washington in Seattle. She has been a member of the American Agricultural Economics Association, the American Society of Microbiologists, and the International Association of Food Protection and organized sessions for these associations as well as other conferences and professional meetings. Tanya currently resides in Vashon, Washington.
Teresa Schwartz, J.D. Secretary, CFI Board Director
Teresa Schwartz is the J.B. and Maurice C. Shapiro Professor Emeritus of Public Interest Law at George Washington University, Washington, D. C., and specializes in consumer law and products liability. In addition, Ms. Schwartz served as the Deputy Director of the Federal Trade Commissions’ Bureau of Consumer Protection from 1995-2001, and for nearly two decades, she has served on the Board of Directors for Consumer Reports. She is a member of the Bar of the District of Columbia where she currently resides.
Ken Costello, MBA, Treasurer, CFI Board of Directors
Ken Costello served in the United States Air Force from 1975 to 1995. At USAF, he served as an Air Force Advance Officer in support of Air Force One and earned a MBA at Embry-Riddle University. After retiring from USAF, he worked as a flight instructor, as well as a corporate and airline pilot at Boeing until 1998. In 1999, he became the Vice-President of Compliance for Conley Investment Counsel and served in that capacity until 2008. Currently, Ken volunteers for numerous community organizations. In 2006, Ken’s mother-in-law, Ruby Trautz, was sickened in the E. coli O157:H7-spinach outbreak and died. Ken was also sickened with the same strain of E. coli, but he recovered. Ken has two residences: one in Nebraska and one in Wyoming.
Walter Armbruster, Ph.D. CFI Board Director
Walter Armbruster is the President Emeritus of the Farm Foundation and has had a long career in agricultural marketing. He has served in numerous officer roles and/or as a committee member for professional associations and land-grant universities, as well as national advisory boards. He has been an author or editor for marketing research, education and agricultural policy publications and provides leadership to institutions that stimulate work in these areas.
Elizabeth Armstrong, B.S. CFI Board Director
Elizabeth Armstrong is a marketing consultant, with expertise in translating strategic plans into tactical deliverables. Ms. Armstrong earned a B.S. in Marketing and International Business from Kelley School of Business, Indianapolis IN. Her most recent employment has been with ROCHE Diagnostics, Indianapolis IN. In 2006, Elizabeth's two year old daughter, Ashley, became sickened with E. coli O157:H7 as a result of contaminated spinach. Ashley survived hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), but suffers serious long-term health complications, including kidney damage. (See Ashley’s Story for more details.) Elizabeth currently resides in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Lee Faulconbridge, M.S. CFI Board Director
Lee Faulconbridge has been a Family & Consumer Science teacher at Lakeview School District, Sandy Lake, PA since 1982. In 2003, she was selected by the Pennsylvania Association of Family and Consumer Science as Pennsylvania’s Family & Consumer Science Teacher of the Year. Ms. Faulconbridge is a graduate of Indiana University of Pennsylvania and earned a M.S. in Education from Villanova University. She currently resides in Grove City, Pennsylvania.
Clare Narrod, Ph.D. CFI Board Director
Clare Narrod currently works for the Joint Institute for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition (JIFSAN). She previously worked at USDA in the Office of Risk Assessment and Cost-Benefit. She has a keen interest in food and water safety, along the value chains of poor producers, and in understanding the role of public-private partnerships to improve markets.
Kathy Norback-Ley, B.S. CFI Board Director
Kathy Ley has worked for the past 16 years as a co-owner of Norback, Ley and Associates LLC providing software and services to the food industry with an emphasis on food safety applications. Ms. Ley and her husband, John Norback PhD, have developed software packages that provide fundamental information on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) planning, hazard identification, sanitation procedures, record keeping and preventive strategies. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point with a B.S. in mathematics and computer science. She currently resides in Middleton, Wisconsin.
Leigh Ann Winnard. CFI Board Director
Leigh Ann Winnard and her son Matthew Larimer are strong victim advocates for food safety. When Matthew was four years old, he was sickened with E. coli O157 and it progressed into hemolytic uremic syndrome. Since then, the Winnard family has become active in food safety advocacy and has made multiple trips to Washington, D.C. to voice their concerns to policy makers and regulators.
Honorary Board Member - Yoko Ono.
Yoko Ono is a multi-media artist who constantly challenges the traditional boundaries of sculpture, painting, theatre and music. Her groundbreaking conceptual and performance pieces in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, experimental films, solo music, and music done in association with John Cage and Ornette Coleman, among others, and then a remarkable collaboration with John Lennon from the time they met until his death, and international one-woman shows and retrospectives during the 1980’s and 1990’s illustrate her varied career. Into the 21st Century, Yoko’s creative influence and prolific artistic output continues to inspire new generations.