This past summer, Karen Karp sold a majority ownership share in KK&P, the groundbreaking food systems consultancy she founded more than 30 years ago, to two long-time employees, Shayna Cohen and Ben Kerrick. Shayna and Ben are now Managing Partners of the company, while Karen stays on as Founder & Partner and continues to work on special projects while supporting a successful leadership transition.
“Shayna and Ben have been driving the growth of KK&P for the last several years, and I can’t think of two people better equipped to chart the firm’s future. Their insight into the forces that will drive systemic change and their passion for supporting our clients to achieve their goals is unparalleled,” Karen said.
“I’m so thrilled and proud to be taking the reins with Shayna as we lead KK&P into its next phase,” Ben said. “It’s been such an honor to work with and be mentored by Karen since I joined the company. She has built a thriving and innovative practice that resonates deeply with my passions and my values, and I feel so grateful to have this opportunity to carry it forward.”
Shayna added, “I grew up in this business and am so proud of how our approach, partnerships, and our clients’ impact have grown and evolved, as the food system and world have changed. Ben and I are truly excited to continue to work creatively with our fantastic staff, clients, and partners in this next iteration of the company.”
KK&P is a nationally recognized food systems consulting firm whose work spans research, strategy, design, and implementation for a broad range of agriculture-, food- and health- related initiatives. Food security, regionalized and localized supply chains and markets, institutional food procurement, public health initiatives, and community-driven planning processes are among the company’s impact areas. The company also has a practice area devoted specifically to building the human capital and organizational capacities of our clients to drive successful initiatives in food and health.
When Karen launched the firm in New York City in 1990, she observed three interconnected trends that would drive and inform much of the firm’s work: a restaurant revolution driven by young, well-traveled chefs who were bringing the excitement of global cuisines back home; the revival of farmers’ markets and the emergent local food movement; and a shrinking middle class, along with shifts in the social safety net, which resulted in a surge of food insecurity. As a fourth generation agriculture and food entrepreneur, Karen had a strong intuition about building interconnections between chefs, farmers, and food advocates to create opportunities and build equity– what soon became known as food systems thinking.
Shayna has worked at KK&P for 20 years. Her background in agriculture and local food supply chain development combined with her experience with people-centered research and collaborative design processes drew her to the company. This background informs her main practice areas which include strategies, programs, plans, and research focused on food systems workforce, human capital, and regional food procurement.
After beginning his career in NYC’s arts non-profit world, Ben completed master’s degrees in City & Regional Planning and Environmental Science, focusing on food systems planning and agroecosystems. Since joining KK&P 10 years ago, Ben’s work has focused on community- and regionally-driven food system initiatives, data insights, and facilitation.
The pair say their complementary backgrounds, collaborative working style, and shared passion for human-centered food systems innovations have set the stage for this next phase of KK&P. They look forward to continuing the firm’s deep commitment to its clients and to the potential of food systems to drive equity, sustainability, resilience, and community empowerment. “The need for food systems that nourish individuals and communities, create economic opportunity, and respect and restore the ecosystems on which they rely has never been more urgent,” they said. “KK&P’s work has always been about creating smart strategies that bring about real change, and our commitment to these values will propel our work in the years ahead.”