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Inspirational Leader Uses Food to Foster Economic Development and Family Stability

“WETA Hometown Heroes” Features Liesel Flashenberg in May

Washington, D.C. — Liesel Flashenberg, founder and president of the local non-profit Through The Kitchen Door International, is the focus of a month-long "WETA Hometown Heroes" profile airing in May on WETA TV 26. WETA selected Flashenberg for her leadership and inspiration to underserved youth, women and immigrants by using food services to improve their lives. Her profile premieres on Monday, May 5, just prior to the broadcast of Antiques Roadshow at 8 p.m. on WETA TV 26 and repeats throughout the month.

In 1991, Flashenberg left a successful career as a telecommunications consultant in Washington, D.C., and with her husband and three children moved to Costa Rica where she developed Through The Kitchen Door International, an organization that provides life skills and job training. After several years of running and refining successful workshops and professional training programs, Flashenberg relocated back to the United States and brought Through The Kitchen Door to the Washington, D.C., area.

Locally, Through The Kitchen Door has provided life skills and job training to hundreds of underserved children and adults. The organization’s training programs are designed to enhance and support self-esteem, self-confidence, knowledge and skills. The program starts its trainees in a transformative one-or two-week program that teaches economical and nutritious cooking. Graduates of the program receive additional professional job training in Through The Kitchen Door’s Earning While Learning program, in which trainees are paid as they learn how to work in a commercial kitchen.

“Our training programs and catering services feed our trainees’ and clients’ hearts, minds and souls with more than delicious food,” Flashenberg explains. “Each dish is filled with the respect, joy and gratitude we all feel for the opportunity to work with something as elemental as food to build something as complex as a global community.”

In the five years that Through The Kitchen Door has operated locally, the program has trained more than 300 individuals and paid over $150,000 to its trainees through the sale of catering services to universities, nonprofit organizations, corporations and individuals. It has provided educational, practical and popular after-school programs for at-risk adolescents in area middle and high schools. According to a few of the educators with whom they work, Through The Kitchen Door is an after-school program where kids sneak in rather than out. For more information about Through The Kitchen Door, visit www.kitchendoor.org.

Celebrating its 10th year, "WETA Hometown Heroes" is an Emmy Award-winning multimedia project that heralds individuals who improve their communities and encourages others to volunteer service. To be involved and to submit nominations, visit the website at www.weta.org/heroes where you will find volunteer opportunities at area organizations, archived "WETA Hometown Heroes" features, and forms to nominate a hero. Flashenberg’s "WETA Hometown Heroes" profile will also be featured on the WETA media player, WETA Watch Online at www.weta.org/watchonline. Featuring more than 100 videos, WETA Watch Online includes the latest videos from WETA local productions such as "The WETA Guide," "WETA All Access" and "WETA Extras."

"WETA Hometown Heroes" is made possible through the generous support of Park Foundation, Inc.; The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation; and
The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation.

WETA supports educational and culturally enriching opportunities for local youth through programming and projects such as Reading Rockets and Ready To Learn. To find out more about these projects, visit WETA’s community website at www.weta.org/community.

WETA TV 26 and Classical WETA 90.9 FM are public broadcasting stations serving Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia with educational, cultural, and news and public affairs programming and related services, including four digital channels. WETA is committed to producing programs that highlight the history and people of the Greater Washington area. WETA produces "The WETA Guide," "WETA All Access," "WETA Around Town," "WETA Neighborhoods" and "WETA Extras," spotlighting local people, places and events. WETA’s headquarters is located in Arlington, Virginia. For more information on WETA and its services, visit www.weta.org. Sharon Percy Rockefeller is the president and CEO of WETA.

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