Our Stories

Because community is at the center of Kuluntu’s mission, we think it’s important to share the stories of our team and community. As we evolve, we hope to share more stories.

Kuluntu’s Beginnings in Cape Town with Stephanie & Warren

Kuluntu Bakery was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 2018. For years, we had a dream to open a women-centered nonprofit bakery. After several years of living in New York City, working for nonprofit organizations and high end bakeries, we (Stephanie & Warren) decided to move to South Africa, Warren’s home. 

I (Stephanie) was burnt out from working in toxic kitchen environments with crazy hours, so I decided that it was time to launch Kuluntu. During our time in Cape Town, I spent my time learning local recipes and ingredients and teaching bread making classes with several nonprofit organizations. We moved back to the Dallas area in July of 2018 and have been baking away ever since!

Photo by Hunter Folsom Lacey

Stephanie Leichtle-Chalklen, Director & Baker (she/her)

Stephanie is a Dallas native who loves baking and creating inclusive spaces of gathering for the community. She has a Master’s of Public Service & Administration from Texas A&M where her studies focused on nonprofit management. She’s happy to be planting roots in Dallas surrounded by an incredible support system and community. Stephanie has worked in restaurants and kitchens since she was in high school, and she’s passionate about women’s issues and creating a safer, more equitable food system for all people. Her favorite baked goods (it’s so hard to choose!) are the fig & fennel sourdough and passionfruit kouign amann.

Liz Perini, Bakery Assistant (she/her)

Liz returned to her hometown of Dallas in the mid-2000’s after moving to Northern California with her mom at age twelve. She studied Art and Sociology at University of California, San Diego. She’s a Jack of all trades, who’s worked with a Thai chef, an Italian sculptor, a New York art dealerDallas food truckers, and now, a baker in Oak Cliff. She’s into making modern quilts, reading cookbooks, fighting for reproductive justice and is a proud Election Judge in Dallas county. She lives with two dogs, Buster and Ruby. Her favorite Kuluntu bake is a mini baguette. 

Anisha Mandol, Board Member (she/her)

Anisha believes in using food and food experiences to connect communities, people, and building relationships. Her work in restaurant management and product innovation at Central Market was a result of her passion and curiosities around cuisines and food cultures. Her experiences led her to independent consulting, providing guidance to building a restaurant or market from design to opening, providing operational solutions and balancing creativity and practicality. She also loves connecting people. Other than traveling, she spends her time painting, reading, and exploring new recipes to share with a full table of close friends. 

Professional Headshot copy

Rebecca Little Alley, Board Member (she/her)

Becca cares deeply for building and participating in inclusive communities. After more than ten years fundraising in the nonprofit sector, she left the field to pursue her current passion, providing no-cost, quality mental health care to workers in the nonprofit industry. Kuluntu’s lavender lemon tarts are her pastry of choice.

Taylor Hall, Board Member (she/her)

Taylor Hall has a passion for people and service, leading her to work in the non-profit sector for the past decade. She is a vision to reality translator, by way of innovative, strategic execution.  Taylor’s current work includes strategic project management, organizational development, and cross-functional leadership. She enjoys fashion, trying new eating establishments, and Kuluntu’s cinnamon rolls.

Warren Leichtle-Chalklen, Board Member (he/him)

Warren is a passionate advocate for equity and justice. He is from the country currently known as (CCKA) South Africa and is committed to co-creating liberatory spaces with and under the leadership of African people on the continent, and here in the CCKA the United States of America. His scholarship, teaching and advocacy is underpinned by his lived experiences growing up in a mixed race family in segregated contexts, his teaching in global settings, and his contact with radical Ubuntu as a way of life. He loves Kuluntu’s pain au chocolat!

Note: The word South Africa is a colonial paradigm which invokes racial, gendered and class based hierarchies (apartheid). We have not been able to build a “new South Africa”, that is equitable, inclusive and socially just, from within this colonial imagination. The process of re-imagining, of breaking from the practices of the past, problematizes the current. By using the country currently known as South Africa (CCKA SA), we honor and work in community with the activists who dare us to imagine a post colonial country and world.