Founder and Executive Director
Barbara Wenger is the founder and director of CommunityGrows (formerly the Hayes Valley Neighborhood Parks Group) in San Francisco, CA. Under her leadership, CommunityGrows renovated, helped build, promote, and develop stewardship for five parks in the Western Addition of San Francisco. She is the recipient of numerous educational, environmental, and community awards for the many successful youth and neighborhood programs she developed. Ms. Wenger has an M.A. degree from the New School for Social Research in Sociology and Research Psychology.
Kelly has 10+ years experience in the non-profit and education fields. Prior to joining CommunityGrows in April 2014 as the Director of Programs, she was the Program Director for Food Shift, were she developed and oversaw a food recovery and donation program within the Oakland Unified School District and managed a staff of 36 interns and volunteers. Kelly has also served as a consultant for Bay Area non-profits, providing program development, strategic planning, and grant management leadership. In 2010, she completed her doctorate in Cultural Anthropology with a concentration in Race, Gender, and Social Justice at American University.
Director of Programs
Melissa Tang is passionate about inspiring underserved youth to create change in their environment and community. With 10 years experience working with diverse nonprofits, Melissa is seasoned in developing youth programs with emphasis in environmental education and workforce development, and was our past BEETS Program Manager since 2013. Previous to CommunityGrows, she was the Assistant Manager for a science education and youth development internship program for underrepresented high school students at the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and Environmental Studies from the University of California, Santa Barbara and a Master of Nonprofit Administration from the University of San Francisco.
Garden Programs Manager
Adrian Almquist’s first food memory was picking a carrot from his family’s backyard garden at age four. He began his career in the food system when he was sixteen, as a field hand on a vegetable farm in Eastern Massachusetts. Twenty years later, he is still working in the food movement, teaching youth about ecology and gardening as an educator for CommunityGrows. He earned his Bachelor’s degree from Long Island University in Sustainable Agriculture and Ecology. Over the years he has worked on farms in Massachusetts, California, Hawaii, Ecuador, Costa Rica, New Zealand and Japan. His favorite vegetable is Brussel Sprouts.
BEETS Programs Manager
Osceola is a recent graduate of the UCLA African American Studies masters program and currently sits on the leadership board of the Center for Diverse Leadership in Science at UCLA. He has a love for social justice, the great outdoors, and fresh fruit and veggies. He is so excited to join Community Grows as the new program manager for the BEETS program. His favorite vegetable is okra.
Garden Educator & Site Manager
Anna has been working in farm and garden education since 2008, and is excited to share her love of growing and caring for living things with the students at Rosa Parks Elementary and Community Grows! Anna has worked as a production farmer and educator at many agriculture, garden, and food justice programs throughout New England and the Bay Area, including Hampshire College’s Farm Education Collaborative, The Food Project, and Urban Adamah. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish from Smith College, and her favorite vegetable is delicata squash.
Rosa Parks Assistant Gardener,
Cha’Shay is a graduate of our BEETS Program (class of 2013) and grew up in the Western Addition. In 2015 she was hired as an assistant garden to oversee the Rosa Parks Lower Garden and soon was promoted to educator and began teaching after-school garden classes. Cha’Shay loves interacting with and teaching kids.
Ziek has been with CommunityGrows since 2011 when he enrolled in our BEETS Program. We hired him soon after to be the Rosa Parks Assistant Gardener working with teachers and students in the lower garden there. He is also currently the lead singer of Con Brio, a band that has scaled the charts all over the Bay Area and world, in places like Paris, Australia, Copenhagen and Japan.
Volunteer Program Coordinator
Karen is a recent graduate of the Associated Colleges of the Twin Cities, in Minnesota, with a degree in Environmental Studies and a minor in English. Since graduating, she has worked performing hands-on conservation efforts in Colorado, teaching at an outdoor science school in southern California, and is now happy to join the team at CommunityGrows. She enjoys theater, spontaneous storytelling, and exploring new places in her free time.
Communications & Outreach Coordinator
Laura was raised on the foggy beaches of the Oregon Coast. Having grown up among artists and musicians, Laura found the best way to get involved in the community was to make new opportunities through ‘zine editing, tour planning, web design, and social media, most recently leading toward a stint as a concert promoter and DJ based in Sacramento. Laura aims to become a more effective advocate for socioeconomic equity by boosting our presence and reach at CommunityGrows.
Abigail Blodgett, Associate Attorney, Lexinton Law Group
Avni Desai, Public Policy Manager, Community Housing Partnerships
Arif Husain, Senior Sales Engineer, Instart Logic
Casey Johnson, Financial Analyst, Advisory Services at Nonprofit Finance Fund
Catheline Leung, Senior Manager, Enterprise Client Solutions, Rocket Fuel
Christina Mathias, Assistant Vice President, CCS
Stuart Michler, Equity Research Analyst, Robert W. Baird & Co.
William Newsom, Attorney, Cooley LLP
Sarah Penney, Consultant, Bain & Co
Jaromy Schmidt, Ambassador/Store Manager, Starbucks
Shakirah Simley, Communications/Outreach/Community Manager, Bi-Rite Market
CommunityGrows requires all new and current employees, volunteers and contractors who work with children and youth to have a complete criminal background check on file with Tides Human Resources. Read more about our Criminal Background Check Policy here.
We want to thank the countless volunteers that help make CommunityGrows a thriving asset to the youth in our community.
Help us raise funds to get 1,300 youth from low-income communities away from violence and into programs that make them healthy, smart, environmentally educated and create pathways to jobs.