#GivingTuesday is a global giving movement that has been built by individuals, families, organizations, businesses and communities in countries around the world. Millions of people have come together to support and champion the causes they believe in and the communities in which they live. #GivingTuesday isn’t just about fundraising, it’s about communities banding together and giving of their time, power, skills, expertise and resources. It's about the collective spirit of generosity that brings change to our communities.


141x179_IMG_1360Anna Luberoff
Garden Programs Manager

Anna has worked at the intersection of youth development and sustainable agriculture for over 10 years throughout New England and the Bay Area, at organizations including The Food Project, Urban Adamah, and Hampshire College’s Farm Education Collaborative.  She believes that co-powering youth to grow their own food is key to creating a more just and sustainable food system. You can often find her sharing new plant facts, fixing irrigation problems, and digging in the dirt with her students. Anna holds a B.A. in Anthropology and Spanish from Smith College, and her favorite vegetable is delicata squash.

B Freas photo _croppedB Freas
BEETs Educator

B is a gardener, teacher, and activist who has lived in the Bay Area for the past two years, while working as a bilingual garden teacher with Education Outside. They are passionate about destroying the dichotomy between city and nature, and helping people form an emotional connection with plants and the environment as a whole. They hold a Bachelor of Science from the University of Vermont, and enjoy rock climbing, organizing for climate justice, and making art in their free time.

IMG_8133Cristina Vila Ruiz
Garden & Nutrition Educator

Cristina has always been passionate about the environment, cities, sustainability, and food systems. She did her BS in Environmental Science in the University of Puerto Rico, where she is originally from. Then she moved to Raleigh, NC to pursue a M.S. in Natural Resources at NC State University. While she studied she was part of a research project related with the socio-ecological studies of San Juan, PR. Then she decided to give back to education in what she most likes – gardening and food. Cristina believes in facilitating classes so students can learn, enjoy themselves, and be more passionate for the natural world.

Karen Lally
Operations & Development Manager

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.

Kelly ErnstFriedman
Executive Director

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, where 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.

Vanessa Williams picVanessa Williams
Garden & Nutrition Educator

Vanessa is an educator, advocate, and lover of the outdoors. For the past two years she has served as a garden educator with Education Outside connecting minority youth with nature and the natural world. Having worked with the Student Conservation Association since 2015 she is bringing four years of experience in environmental education, trail work, and restoration experience to the Community Grows team. She is excited to continue working with and advocating for Youth of Color in San Francisco, so they may have access to the nature world which is often closed off to them. Hailing from Washington state, where she received her Bachelors of Science in Biology from Pacific Lutheran University, Vanessa is glad to be in a state where it rains a little bit less.

Yaya Persing
Garden & Nutrition Educator

Ya’ara brought her passion for environmental justice and self expression to the Bay six years ago, telling herself she would return to the East Coast when she was no longer inspired. She realizes now this may never happen. Through Urban Adamah, the Berkeley Farmers Market, the Oakland Jewish Community Center after school program and Berkeley REI her work has centered around education and play; city and nature: exploring how growing food in cities shapes our community. She is delighted to be part of the CommunityGrows Team and can’t wait to share her love of learning and food as the Seed to Mouth Garden Educator. She holds a B.A. in Geography with a concentration in City and Nature and M.A. in Community Development and Planning from Clark University.

AmeriCorps VISTA logo   AmeriCorps VISTAS

Angelique croppedAngelique  Niyonkuru
Marketing & Communications Coordinator

Hi, my name is Angelique Niyonkuru. I am originally from Rwanda and Congo. I moved to San Francisco, CA from North Carolina. I graduated from UNC Pembroke in chemistry. I am the oldest out of four girls. My favorite hobbies are traveling, trying new food, and babysitting.

Volunteer Team

Rachel SeamanRachel Seaman
Graphic Designer


Advisory Board:

Abigail Blodgett, Deputy Attorney General, California Department of Justice, Environmental Justice Bureau
Liz Holm, Store Manager, Starbucks
Jessica Jauw, Project Coordinator, JS Sullivan Development, LLC
Casey Johnson, Sr. Associate, RSF Social Finance
Christina Mathis,  Vice President, CCS
William Newsom, Associate, Cooley LLP
Sarah Penney, Manager, Bain & Co
Jaromy Schmidt, District Manager, Starbucks

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.