Alumni Spotlight: Patti McKenna (MBA ’07)

Patti McKenna (MBA ’07), COO, and Executive Director, ChopChopKids inc.

Getting kids into the kitchen

How do you teach kids to eat well? You let them get their hands dirty, says Patti McKenna (MBA ‘07).

McKenna is the executive director and COO of ChopChop Kids Inc., a nonprofit organization in Belmont, Mass., that inspires kids and their families to cook together.

“Our goal is to get kids back into the kitchen,” McKenna says.

McKenna got her start in the nonprofit sector in Kansas City. When she first moved to the area, McKenna volunteered for the Trolley Run. After serving as chair of the event, she decided that the nonprofit sector was where she wanted to be.

But running a nonprofit requires a lot more than drive — it takes financial prowess.

“I really am a firm believer that nonprofits need to run like a business,” McKenna says. “You need the business acumen in order to make them work the way they should.”

That’s where UMKC came in.

While serving as the membership director at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, McKenna decided to pursue her MBA at the Henry W. Bloch School of Management, with a special scholarship from Henry Bloch himself.

After graduating, McKenna spent several years at the American Heart Association. In 2014, she made the move to ChopChop Kids.

Working with food was a natural fit. McKenna grew up watching her mother cook for their family of seven, and her father was a butcher. Today, she loves cooking for her family and entertaining guests at their home.

At ChopChop Kids, McKenna works to give other kids those experiences she enjoyed as a child. Many of their recipes use ingredients covered under the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, so families of all income levels can participate.

“I believe that cooking with your kids is really important,” McKenna said. “I think it’s the way to get kids to learn manners and cooking and be together as a family.”

Click here ( to view the recipe for McKenna’s favorite dish, French Cassoulet.

This article originally appeared in the special edition of the UMKC Perspectives alumni magazine. To read more stories of alumni from across the country, click here.

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