New CEO at Mama’s Kitchen

Mama’s Kitchen CEO Alberto Cortés is retiring after 21 years on Jan. 26, and under his leadership has grown Mama’s Kitchen from a $1.7 million to a $5.5 million nonprofit, expanding the organizations HIV-focused mission to serve San Diegans with other critical illnesses. Now, Mama’s Kitchen works with more than 350 healthcare providers throughout the county to serve and educate San Diegans with critical illnesses. In addition to the expansion of nutrition programs and services, Cortés also helped guide the organization’s shift to function under the paradigm of Food is Medicine. Over the past ten years, Mama’s Kitchen progressed from simply the provision of food to providing complex medically tailored nutrition. Cortés has collaborated with other nutrition delivery nonprofits across the country, positioning Mama’s Kitchen to become a founding member of the national Food is Medicine Coalition and California Food is Medicine Coalition.

Taking over the reigns is Eva Matthews, MPG, the former director of the Laura Rodriguez Research Institute and Family Health Centers of San Diego director of Grants Management who will lead the nonprofit as it enters its 34th year.

“The work of Mama’s Kitchen is as vital today as it was when its doors opened in 1990, and the demand for services has expanded exponentially,” said Matthews in a press release. “Mama’s Kitchen’s visionary leadership in addressing the growing need for medically tailored meals in San Diego with innovation—as well as with heart—is what drew me to this role and excites me about our future. I am deeply grateful to the Board of Directors for this opportunity to serve as CEO. I look forward to building upon the incredible foundation of my predecessor, Alberto Cortés, and to supporting the dedicated Mama’s Kitchen team in achieving success for years to come.”

A San Diego resident, Matthews was selected following a five-month search for a new chief executive officer after Cortés announced his oncoming retirement last July. She brings 27 years of public health, non-profit, and research experience to her new role as CEO at Mama’s Kitchen, having worked in public health and medical research at both Yale University and the University of Arizona before joining Family Health Centers of San Diego nearly a decade ago.

During her tenure at Family Health Centers of San Diego, Matthews’ leadership as the director of grants management fostered the department’s unparalleled success. From 2018 to 2022 Matthews’ team nearly doubled grant funding, reaching over $74 million in 2022. She also held a leadership role in launching the Laura Rodriguez Research Institute in 2019 and has served as Executive Director since, supporting millions of dollars in grant awards to grow a robust and successful team.

“Eva’s depth of experience in community health and strategic planning have made it clear that she is going to lead the future growth of Mama’s Kitchen with the confidence and inspiring vision that we need,” says Mama’s Kitchen Board of Directors President Caron Calabrese. “Our Board of Directors couldn’t be more excited that our national search for the next CEO of Mama’s Kitchen has resulted in the best, most qualified person for the job.”

Matthews takes the reins as Mama’s Kitchen enters its 34th year with many exciting events and milestones in the coming months. Alongside ramping up for the annual Mama’s Day fundraising gala in May, the non-profit will soon celebrate its 12 millionth medically tailored meal delivery to a San Diegan vulnerable to malnutrition.

“The board of directors developed and implemented a thorough and thoughtful process for the selection of my successor. I am very grateful for that. Eva Matthews will be a wonderful leader for Mama’s Kitchen,” said outgoing CEO Alberto Cortés. “Eva is the perfect person to guide Mama’s Kitchen to its next level of relevance and responsiveness to the growing nutritional needs of San Diego County residents living with critical illnesses. I step down assured that Mama’s Kitchen is left in great hands.”

Before Cortés’ last day, there will be a community celebration honoring Cortés on Saturday, Jan. 20, at Bahia Resort. For more information on Mama’s Kitchen, visit MamasKitchen. org.


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