The Global Food and Drink Initiative Welcomes Newest Board Members

GFDI members Cary Wheelous and Leslie Brown

Share This Post

The Global Food and Drink Initiative (GFDI) is excited to welcome two new board members: Cary Wheelous and Leslie Brown!

Meet Leslie Brown

Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in family and consumer science from California State University, Sacramento and a certificate in project management from California State University, East Bay. After graduation, she was hired as an outreach coordinator at John Muir Health within the nonprofit Community Benefit Hospital.

In this role, Brown developed collaborations and promoted health equality in underserved communities and community partners.

With a focus of her work in the East Bay, Leslie Brown brings over 13 years of experience in public health, education, and community health organizations. Before joining Kaiser Permanente in 2023 as the Community and Health Benefit Manager, Brown managed the American Heart Association’s National Hypertension Control Initiative as a public health program manager, implementing effective hypertension programs in federally qualified health centers throughout California.

“I love GFDI’s storytelling, which is why I joined the board,” Brown says. “I love seeing the highlights of Black entrepreneurs and hearing about their work.” Brown is looking forward to contributing to the expansion of the initiative and helping it grow to reach more community members in the future and present. “We must share our stories and celebrate success so future generations can be inspired.”

Brown lives with her husband and three children in Contra Costa County and enjoys exploring the many trails in the Bay Area.

Meet Cary Wheelous


The combination of his undergraduate studies in business management and finance led Cary Wheelous to pursue a career in entrepreneurship. He held the positions of project manager and assistant vice president at Deutsche Bank, two key roles within the Private Wealth Management division. While there, Wheelous was pivotal in evaluating information from the Banking Operations team, crafting innovative solutions to enhance transaction processing efficiency and ensuring operational excellence for the business unit.

Furthermore, Wheelous is the founder and CEO of Hayti, a leading Black-owned app that aggregates news from Black content creators. Additionally, he founded College Health TV, the nation’s premier streaming service that provides health and wellness programming to college students, two serendipitous ventures that will serve him well in his board title.

“The mission of GFDI to preserve food and drink histories, cultures, and languages of the African diaspora resonated with me,” he says. “The GFDI platform provides me with a meaningful way to contribute to a cause I care about, along with an opportunity to help shape the organization’s direction and impact.”

Wheelous is also eager and excited to participate in the organization’s digital transformation. “I plan to lead discussions on how to enhance its operations, outreach and impact,” he says. “I will stay abreast of the latest technological trends and innovations and implement digital tools and platforms that can streamline processes and improve overall efficiency.”

With nearly two decades of experience in the financial and banking industry, Wheelous is a seasoned executive with a proven track record of driving success and innovation.

                                                               DONATE NOW

How Can You Support?

You can support the mission of The Global Food and Drink Initiative with a donation starting at just $10. Each donation will continue to help us unlock untold stories and preserve Black food cultures around the world.