Our Team

Meet our Team
About Us

Since January 2021, CommunityGrows has been in the process of restructuring our organization. We are currently working towards a collective leadership model. Our intention is to create a work environment where each member of our team has an equal voice in how we operate. We hope that this new structure will better reflect our values and vision for a just world. The process has been slow and intentional, and has grounded us in our values, excited us in the potential, and brought us closer together as a staff. We look forward to sharing more details on our new ways of operating in the coming months.

Looking to get in touch? For general inquiries, please email info@communitygrows.org. For more specific questions, please select the staff member that most closely matches your inquiry below.

Vanessa Williams

Co-Executive Director (she/her)


Vanessa is an educator, advocate, and lover of the outdoors. She has been working in the outdoor education sector since 2015. Over that time Vanessa has facilitated outdoor learning with youth ranging from Pre-K to High School, and has worked at both the Student Conservation Association and Education Outside. Her professional interests revolve around connecting BIPOC youth to nature, teaching youth how to grow and cook their own food, and the importance of making curriculum relevant to the communities she is in collaboration with.

Contact Vanessa for: General programming inquiries

Perry Dorsey

Co-Executive Director (he/him)


Perry has a passion for creating resilient communities and ensuring a better future for our youth. With over a decade of experience in accounting, finance, community development and non-profit operations, Perry brings an eagerness to learn, grow, and a desire to make a positive impact in this world. After receiving his MA in Diverse Community Development Leadership from CSU Northridge in 2022, his focus on food security and creating sustainable food systems continues to influence his unwavering support of local farmers, producers, and educators. Perry is thrilled to join the CG team and looks forward to contributing to the ongoing success and longevity of CommunityGrows.

Contact Perry for: Financial inquiries

Oliv Brown

Garden and Nutrition Educator (she/her)


Oliv is an enthusiastic gardener and educator. She is a first generation UC Santa Cruz graduate with a B.A. in Agroecology and Dance. From her experiences working on a regenerative farm and interning with the LifeLab Garden Classroom, she discovered a passion for garden-based education. When she’s not planting veggies or engaging with youth, she enjoys singing, dancing, cooking, and arranging bouquets of flowers.

Kunal Palawat

BEETs Program Manager (they/them/she/her)


Kunal is a Desi gardener, critical environmental justice researcher, and cook. They bring several years of experiential education, community organizing, and scientific research experience to CommunityGrows.

Contact Kunal for: BEETs program inquiries

Brittney Mendez

Communications Specialist (she/her)


Brittney is a proud first-generation graduate, of the University of California, Merced with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. Prior to joining CommunityGrows, Brittney worked in community organizing, mentored first-generation high school students, and communications. She is excited to be a part of CG and can’t wait to continue to help highlight the impactful work done by the team in low-income communities.

Contact Brittney for: Marketing and social media inquiries

Brittney Barron

Community Engagement Coordinator (she/her)


Brittney has always been passionate about community service and building relationships within communities, having volunteered at organizations such as Planned Parenthood and FoodNotBombs. She believes that by building relationships with community members, organizations like CommunityGrows can better serve and address the needs of those communities. As Community Engagement Coordinator, Brittney hopes to continue to cultivate and nurture the relationships between the staff and volunteers at CommunityGrows and the communities that they serve and support.

Contact Brittney for: Volunteer Opportunities and other ways to get involved.

Advisory Board
Jaromy Schmidt

Jaromy Schmidt

Community & Safety Consultant, Starbucks

Caitlin McLaughlin

Caitlin McLaughlin

Manager, Clearway Energy Group

Evan Zhang

Evan Zhang

Product Manager, Big Health

Roxie Bartholomew

Roxie Bartholomew

Senior Manager, Bain & Company

Mitali Avadhani

Mitali Avadhani

Product and Data Analytics

Lauren Clark

Lauren Clark

Senior Product Manager, Google

Erin Claybaugh

Erin Claybaugh

Home Economist

Click here for more information on how you can join our advisory board.