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 firstname.lastname@example.org. For more specific questions, please select the staff member that most closely matches your inquiry below.
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
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
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.
Garden & Nutrition Educator (they/themn)
Marbella (mahr-BEH-yah) is honored and thrilled to step into the role of the new Garden & Nutrition Educator at CommunityGrows. Raised in the ever-changing Yelamu (San Francisco), they have learned to cherish and rely on community support for a sense of belonging, empowerment, and care. Embracing these core values has drawn them to CommunityGrows, where they hopes to embody the essence of loving and nurturing the community as a Garden & Nutrition Educator.
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
Community Engagement & Development 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.
BEETs program assistant (they/he)
Born and raised in the East Bay (San Pablo/Richmond), Dmitrius is a product of the California Community College System. They acknowledge themselves as a visitor on Ohlone land, with familial roots stemming from Nicaragua, Cuba, and Puerto Rico. Upon transferring to UC Santa Cruz, they engaged in diverse projects focused on student housing, bird-window collisions, natural history, and climate change. Graduating in the Spring of 2022 with degrees in Environmental Studies/Economics and Philosophy marked a significant milestone for them. Joining Community Grows as the BEETs assistant, they express excitement about facilitating garden maintenance, education, and conversation, along with organizing field trips and fostering creativity. Their journey over the past few years involved teaching natural history to high school students at UCSC, presenting watershed curriculum at elementary schools, instructing garden education at a Spanish Immersion Elementary school in SF, and leading various age groups in stewarding nature preserves across the Santa Cruz Mountains. Their passion for local green spaces fuels their eagerness to engage with BEETs interns, with a focus on reciprocity, stewardship, and community.
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