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Toni Elka

2015 Speaker

TONI ELKA is the executive director and founder of Future Chefs.  She has a rich and varied background in the arts, community organizing and youth development, and is a lifelong youth advocate. In 1995 she developed Circle of Girls, a pioneering arts and voice centered prevention strategy for inner city middle school girls based on Harvard professor, Carol Gilligan’s, research into the lives of girls. In 2004, Elka became the program director for the Boston chapter of CCAP, a national culinary scholarship program for inner city youth.  When the Boston Chapter was defunded in 2007, there was no question she would continue working in the realm of youth, food and work.  She sought and singularly found the funding and support to begin Future Chefs in January of 2008. In 2011 she was named a Social Innovator by Root Cause and in 2013 she was the first executive director to earn a Boston Neighborhood Fellowship. In 2014 she served as a member of Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s Economic Development Transition Team and in 2015 she accepted an honorary Doctor of Letters from Newbury College for her work with urban youth. Elka completed a certificate at the Institute for Non Profit Management and Leadership at Boston University.  She graduated with honors, from Mass College of Art with a B.F.A. in painting in 1986 and has completed graduate level writing and education classes at Harvard Ed School, Harvard Extension and Radcliffe Seminars. @tonielka