Samuel Thomas, President
Dr. Sam Thomas is Associate Professor of Religion at California Lutheran University (CLU), where he teaches courses in environmental ethics, biblical studies, and religion and culture. Sam is the founding faculty adviser of the SEEd (Sustainable Edible Education) Project, which includes a 1/2 acre garden on the CLU campus, serves on the Faculty Steering Committee of the Center for Equality and Justice, and is active in campus sustainability initiatives. He has served as the President of the Board of Directors of the Abundant Table since 2011 and is passionate about its mission, especially its work to make connections between people, land, justice, and faith. He has lived and studied in several countries, is competent in eight different ancient and modern languages, and he has published many books and articles in the areas of religion and ethics. Sam earned his bachelors of arts from St. John’s University, a masters in divinity from Yale University, and a doctor of philosophy from the University of Notre Dame.
Jerome E. Kahler, Secretary
The Reverend Canon Jerome E. Kahler retired after 40 years active ministry in the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. He is presently an active member of both the Faith-based Subcommittee of the city council-endorsed Ventura Social Services Task Force, which seeks to broaden the safety net of resources for the food insecure and to eliminate homelessness in the city of Ventura and of the Ventura Interfaith Ministerial Association, which seeks to promote the public service areas where local religious groups align for the benefit of the broader community. He earned his bachelors of science degree at Whittier College and masters in divinity from Nashotah House, a seminary of the Episcopal Church. In 2009, Bishop J. Jon Bruno appointed him an honorary Canon of the Cathedral Center of St. Paul in Los Angeles.
William Knutson, Treasurer
Mr. Bill Knutson has served on the Board of the Abundant Table since its inception and as its first President. He is currently the Treasurer and a member of the Internal Affairs Committee, responsible for finance, fundraising and personnel issues at The Abundant Table. He works as an executive in the Internet software industry. Bill has served as senior warden of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Ventura and in various governance roles for the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. Bill earned his bachelors of arts in English from Occidental College and a masters in divinity from Episcopal Divinity School. In his spare time, he plays bass in the indie rock ensemble Temple Forte and is an avid home chef.
Mr. John Lazarus is a trained chef and Assistant Director, UCen Dining at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) where he leads a team of over 120 full and part time employees in providing a range of retail dining on the UCSB Campus and manages the operations of a commissary kitchen serving 12 retail locations with an operating budget of $4 million. At the university he is a member of both the UCSB Sustainability Committee and the UC Global Food Initiative. John lives in Ventura where he volunteers with the Ventura County Food Share and American Youth Soccer Organization, embodying a commitment to healthy eating and active living. Before he and his family relocated to Ventura seven years ago, he was a sous chef at several fine dining restaurants in Washington DC.
The Reverend Julie Morris is a priest in the Episcopal Church committed to nurturing the spiritual life of individuals and communities with compassion and joy and a current member and past Co-Chair of the Diocesan Peace and Justice Commission. She leads retreats, workshops and bible studies, and fills in for Episcopal parishes in the Diocese of Los Angeles as needed. Most recently, she was the Chaplain for AlmaVia of Camarillo, an assisted-living community for older adults. She is a co-founder of The Abundant Table and has continued to serve on their Board of Directors since its inception. Julie shares life with Paul DeBusschere, a Ventura County farmer, and their three daughters. Ordained in the Diocese of Los Angeles in 2001, Julie has served as the Rector of Trinity Church Fillmore, Associate Rector of St. Columba’s, Camarillo and was the founding Chaplain of the Episcopal Campus Ministry at California State University, Channel Islands (CSUCI). In collaboration with other religious leaders, Julie founded Campus Interfaith for CSUCI in 2002 and served as Chairperson until 2007. She has served the Diocese of Los Angeles as a Fresh Start mentor for newly ordained clergy, the Chairperson of the Bishop’s Program Group for Ministry in Higher Education, and an occasional Chaplain at Camp Stevens. Julie earned her bachelors of arts at Loyola Marymount University, masters of arts in theology at Boston College and a masters in divinity from the Claremont School of Theology.
Mr. Leticia Sandoval currently serves as the Program Coordinator at Women’s Economic Ventures where she is responsible for growing and sustaining its network of business professionals and supporters while recruiting Spanish-speaking clients interested in starting, growing, or stabilizing a business. A Ventura native and the daughter of hard-working Mexican parents, she is fluent in Spanish and for the past 15 years her work in the County has centered on empowering and strengthening families and communities with a focus on social issues such as kinship care, food security, linguistic justice, and health and nutrition advocacy. Previously she was a Resource Specialist and Trainer at Kids and Families Together and a volunteer at Oxnard’s Community Roots Garden. She is a member of the Language Justice Network, and formally a member of the Oxnard Food Security Coalition. Leticia holds a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz and in her spare time enjoys riding her bike to work, running, playing capoeira, and co-creating delicious, farm fresh feasts.