Sarah Lesch

Facility Design Specialist

Sarah found her niche at the intersection of architecture, hospitality design and non-profit organizations. Before joining New Venture Advisors, she worked at one of Chicago’s largest Federally Qualified Health Centers, overseeing the design, construction and opening operations of a large community café and conference center— creating everything from lighting plans to lunch menus. She had a hand in clinic renovations, organizational rebranding, cross-campus wayfinding overhauls, interior design and cooking the daily specials. Prior professional projects include hospitality and retail work in the Chicago loop, single- and multi-family housing in skyscrapers and in the suburbs, and the endless rehab of her family’s 1905 Chicago home.

While working on her Master’s Degree in Architecture, Sarah enjoyed two summers of work-study in Italy. Her thesis project was the proposed design for a light-touch-on-the-earth kayaking center in the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. Ongoing passions include reading, writing (children’s curriculum, recipes, very long emails) and cooking in the community. Sarah never misses a chance to paddle board, kayak, swim or just admire water from the beach with her husband and three kids, all of whom recently relocated to the Berkshires for some fresh air.




 Whatcom County Food System Plan

In 2021, the Whatcom County Food System Committee conducted a community food assessment that pointed to key opportunities to build a more robust and resilient regional food system. New Venture Advisors partnered with Whatcom County staff and the Food System Committee to draft a Whatcom County Food System Plan that builds upon these findings. This Plan focuses on five key goals for building a more equitable, sustainable, and resilient food system, and was informed by an inclusive community engagement process. The Food System Plan will provide the county with a policy roadmap that will strengthen the local food system for years to come. (2023)

 Whatcom Local Food Campus

The Whatcom Community Foundation invests in activities and organizations that improve the ability of people to help themselves, increase connections among people, and take cooperative approaches to community issues. WCF is exploring the development of a local food campus on a waterfront property that would become a multi-tenant site, anchored by a collaborative production kitchen benefitting food access, school system, and community organizations. The goal is strengthening Whatcom County’s local food system by promoting health equity, forging tangible strategic connections between food production organizations, and helping farmers connect with institutional markets. The facility will also feature an incubation kitchen, demonstration kitchen, event and classroom space, collaborative office and conference facilities, and housing.  New Venture Advisors developed the business case for this ambitious project and continues to support its development through engagement and operational development. (2023)