Team

Solid Starts founder Jenny Best with her family in a bathtub eating spaghetti

Jenny Best, founder & ceo

A mom of three, including twin toddlers, Jenny is a baby-led weaning expert and food and farming enthusiast on a mission to make it easier for parents to introduce real food to their babies.

Prior to launching Solid Starts, Jenny led global communications at One Acre Fund and Slow Food USA and served in Mike Bloomberg’s mayoral administration. Before that she was a professional ballerina with the New York City Ballet. Jenny lives in Brooklyn, where she currently neglects 30 edible plants on her rooftop.

Jamie Truppi, nutritionist

A mother of two blossoming children and a baby-led weaning pioneer, Jamie focuses on family nutrition and whole food experiences. She holds a Master of Science & Nutrition in Integrative Health from Maryland University of Integrative Health, and holds a post-graduate board certification as a Certified Nutrition Specialist. Jamie resides in Sun Valley, Idaho, where she helped develop Idaho’s first state-funded Farm to Early Care & Education pilot program.

Headshot of Dr Rachel Ruiz, pediatrician

Dr. Rachel Ruiz, pediatrician & gastroenterologist

Dr. Ruiz is a mom of two and a board-certified general pediatrician and pediatric gastroenterologist, also endearingly referred to as a “poop” doctor.  She treats a wide variety of children who suffer from constipation, abdominal pain, swallowing difficulties, inadequate weight gain, inflammatory bowel disease, fatty liver and other liver diseases, and celiac disease (to name a few).  Outside of the hospital and clinic, Dr. Ruiz enjoys experimenting in the kitchen with her daughter and husband as taste testers. She also loves traveling with her family, getting a good workout in when she can, and of course, eating! 

Dr. Sakina Shikari Bajowala, pediatrician & allergist/immunologist

Dr. Bajowala is a mother of two and a board-certified adult and pediatric allergist and immunologist with a passion for patient education and advocacy. She specializes in the evaluation and management of food allergy, and is a best-selling author on the topic. In her private allergy practice, she helps her young patients overcome food allergies through precision-focused sublingual and oral immunotherapy. Outside of medicine, Dr. Bajowala enjoys sampling a variety of cuisines during her international travels, cultivating her garden, cooking with her family, and writing.

Kim Grenawitzke, occupational therapist headshot

Kim Grenawitzke, pediatric occupational therapist

Specializing in infant and child feeding, eating, and swallowing, Kim has spent the majority of her career in pediatric acute care at some of the largest children’s hospitals on the west coast, focusing specifically on neonatal (NICU) feeding and swallowing, breastfeeding with high risk infants, and infant/pediatric cardiac rehabilitation. In addition to her hospital-based work, Kim counsels families struggling with breastfeeding, transition to solids, selective/picky eating, tube weaning, and oral motor/chewing. When not working, she enjoys cooking with her husband, Will, and chasing after her Golden Retriever, Bailey. 

Kary Rappaport, pediatric occupational therapist

Kary specializes in family mealtime dynamics and eating issues across the spectrum from breast and bottle feeding challenges and picky eating, to dysphagia, tube feeding, and complex food refusal.  Kary has extensive, wide-ranging work experience from NICU to in-home settings, supporting families and children. She currently works in primary care with high risk families to identify and treat developmental, behavioral, and feeding related issues.  Kary is a mom of two, specializing in tantrum resolution, carseat gymnastics, and stain removal.  

Leticia Jones, registered dietitian

Specializing in family health and nutrition with a focus in pediatrics, picky eating, sensory needs, and mealtime challenges, Leticia is a NYS Registered Dietitian and a certified Dietitian-Nutritionist. She holds a M.S. in Health Care Policy & Management and B.S in Nutrition. She works primarily with children and special populations within home care, clinical,  government and community settings. When she’s not juggling her mommy and fur parent duties you can find her providing nutrition counseling and consulting in her private practice.

Venus Kalami, pediatric registered dietitian & nutritionist

Inspired by her mother’s work serving nutritionally vulnerable mothers and infants, Venus is dedicated to bridging nutritional inequities in her work. As a pediatric dietitian in gastroenterology, she works with kiddos with celiac and inflammatory bowel diseases, food allergies, picky eating, and more, while exploring research and program development. Venus completed her Registered Dietitian training at Stanford Medicine and her Masters in Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University. Off the clock, she practices her polyglot skills, sings jazz, and subjects her husband to unconventional culinary creations.

headshot of Andrea Gilbaugh for Solid Starts

Andrea Gilbaugh, pediatric registered dietitian

Andrea has over a decade of experience as a Certified Nutrition Support specialist and pediatric dietitian working in the hospital and clinic setting. Specialties include a wide range of gastroenterology disorders as well as experience in picky eating, food allergies, intolerances and other nutrition issues. Andrea is thankful her parents were interested in cooking and nutrition, helping her find joy not only in a homemade chocolate chip cookie, but also the taste of bitter piece of arugula or flavor of an earthy steamed beet.  Andrea hopes to inspire a happy relationship with many types of food for her own daughter. 

Natalia Stasenko, pediatric registered dietitian

Natalia is a pediatric dietitian and mother of three with a Masters Degree in Nutrition Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. She helps families raise healthy eaters, start solids with their babies, resolve picky eating, and enjoy family meals in simple and delicious ways. Natalia is the co-author of Real Baby Food and Baby Led Feeding cookbooks, has worked as a consulting dietitian for Head Start, and developed professional training modules for health professionals. Natalia lives in the UK where she runs a private consultancy.

Dairian Roberts, lactation consultant

Dairian is an occupational therapist and IBCLC candidate specializing in infant feeding and development. She is passionate about community care and has partnered with pediatrician and midwifery offices to provide holistic care to underserved and underrepresented families. Dairian is a mom of two and enjoys making hair and skin products from scratch, yoga, and swimming. 

Kate Lindquist, Copywriter and Recipe Developer

Kate is guided by the belief that every family deserves access to fruits, vegetables, and whole foods that nourish the soul and the planet. She brings her passion for biodiversity, culture, and storytelling to Solid Starts, where she supports the team with documenting the joy of cooking and eating good food. When she’s not behind her laptop or camera, she can be found standing at her kitchen island, cooking with the flowers, herbs, and leafy greens that she grows in her backyard garden.

Sarah Kinzbach Williams, editor

As an editor and mom of one, Sarah spends her days wrangling wayward words and a busy toddler. She is a former magazine editor and advertising agency copywriter, specializing in research-based editorial and ghostwriting. Sarah lives in upstate South Carolina with an overgrown vegetable garden and fruitless fruit trees.  

Chelsea Synyahl-Gleisner, executive assistant

Based in Arizona, Chelsea brings over a decade worth of experience working with small businesses, start-ups and community based organizations. She passionately advocates for food accessibility and the preservation of native foods and their recipes. Chelsea is a mother of one and currently obtaining a dual degree in Spanish and nutrition.  

Nikki Silvestri, diversity, equity & inclusion coach

Nikki Silvestri is the founder and CEO of Soil and Shadow, a coaching and consulting firm serving social and environmental entrepreneurs. A nationally-recognized thought leader, Nikki’s received numerous accolades for her work and was named among The Root’s 100 Most Influential African Americans.

As our DEI coach, Nikki is guiding conversations about this work in the field of baby food and child nutrition and is advising Solid Starts as it becomes a thought leader in this space.

Nikki has a master’s degree in African American Studies from UCLA. She lives in Oakland with her husband and son.

Lucy Andersen, graphic designer

Lucy is a freelance graphic designer specializing in brand identities, websites, and all types of print and digital design. Her clients range from boutique jewelry studios to global consulting firms.

When not designing things, Lucy can be found wandering around neighborhoods in Brooklyn and getting inspiration from vintage typography, architectural details, and random sidewalk ephemera.

Charlie Best, chief recipe tester

King of food allergies and highly selective, Charlie is our most discerning recipe tester and is known for rejecting many dishes. When not asking to be excused from the table, he can be found playing his guitar or rummaging the kitchen for lollipops.

Adie, pictured in a high chair with food on her face

Adie Best, junior recipe tester

Deliberate and fastidious, Adie is carefully testing each of the foods in our First Foods database. She is the twin sister of Max and a founding member of the #ladieswholoveliver and #solidhairity movements.

Max, 9 months old, eats chicken with his hands.

Max Best, junior recipe tester

Our most aggressive recipe tester, Max likes to shovel food in by the palmful and to test gravity with meatballs. Skeptical of orange-colored foods but willing to try anything green, Max is personally tasting every vegetable in our First Foods database.