Director of Public Affairs, Houston
H-E-B Grocery Company
Lisa Helfman is the founder and board chair of Brighter Bites. In the fall of 2011, Lisa and her family took part in a weekly fruit and vegetable co-op, and she watched her children’s eating habits transform—for the better. So much so that her little boy rejected a piece of cake at a birthday party, asking for fruit instead!
Lisa was inspired to replicate this type of positive change in underserved communities identified as “food deserts,” or areas with limited access to grocery stores. Because nutrition education in these communities is often equally lacking, Lisa’s vision was to bring a produce co-op to schools in these neighborhoods that included an educational component while also making it fun. She created a collaborative partnership with Dr. Shreela Sharma, an epidemiologist at the University of Texas School of Public Health, and launched the program now known as Brighter Bites in 2012. Six years later, Brighter Bites has delivered over 20,000,000 pounds of fresh produce to more than 265,000 individuals (including teachers!) across 125+ participating schools in Houston, Dallas, Austin, New York City, Washington, D.C., and Southwest Florida. The Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) recently named Brighter Bites the winner of the 2018 PHA Impact Award. In 2016, Brighter Bites won the Texas Health Champion Award.
When she isn’t pushing kids to drink kale smoothies, Lisa is director of public affairs for H-E-B Grocery Company in Houston. Prior to joining H-E-B, Lisa served as director of real estate services at Texas Children’s Hospital where she created the Real Estate Services Department in order to centralize the hospital’s real estate operations. Lisa worked at Texas Children’s for seven years after leaving Vinson & Elkins where she represented many urban redevelopment clients, nonprofits, and government entities in financing deals, real estate, and other matters. Lisa received her undergraduate degree from Tulane University and graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Houston Law Center with her law degree. The Houston-Galveston chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has named Lisa its 2018 Humanitarian of the Year.