Meet our

Team

CURRENT TEAM MEMBERS

Jason Skipton

Executive Director

With a diverse background in agriculture and community garden education programs particularly in Central America and experience in the Peace Corp, Jason leads the team at Growing Gardens by providing leadership, resources, training and oversight for all staff. (Pronouns: he/him)

*Hablo Español*

Tracey Harper

Business Manager

With a degree in Economics from University of Washington and a longstanding career in nonprofit finance, there’s no one better than Tracey to make sure our office is running efficiently. She’s passionate about working for an organization that strives to better people’s lives through healthy food.

Iva Dubyak

Finance

Iva spent years working markets for California farms and tutoring writing before starting to work for social justice organizations. New to Portland, she is excited to be a part of an organization that builds community food sovereignty and is committed to dismantling racism. Iva is a big nerd for science fiction, their 2 dogs, the ocean and trying to learn from their mistakes. (Pronouns: she/they)

*Govorim Hrvatski*

Ceci Orozco

youth grow educator (lent school)

Ceci is a lifelong learner, mother, mover, facilitator of embodied practices, and bilingual educator. Currently, she is studying a master’s degree in Sustainability Education and Leadership at PSU. Ceci is from la Tierra del mariachi y el agave: Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico. Her Mexican roots and family traditions have drawn her closer to connecting with nature’s abundance, beauty, and teachings. This has led her to share with students and her community earth-based practices and holistic education resources. After moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2015, Ceci received her certification as a yoga instructor, and years later she completed a 300hr Ayurveda Clinical Foundations certification. She has taught yoga and meditation in Spanish to the Latino community in town and is excited to combine her passion for movement and mindfulness with garden-based education. When she’s not in the classroom or the garden or at a yoga studio teaching, Ceci enjoys exploring the great outdoors of the PNW, playing racquetball, traveling, and engaging in rituals of self-care.

Rachel Powers

Grants Manager

Rachel is a writer with a deep interest in regenerative food systems, food justice, and community-led change. With 15 years of storytelling experience in copywriting, marketing, fundraising, and communications, Rachel works with all program leaders and teams to manage grants and secure funding for Growing Gardens projects. She is inspired by Growing Gardens’ creative, respectful, and collaborative approach to social justice action.

Matt Laughter

SCHOOL GARDEN COORDINATOR (Davis and Glenfair Schools)

Matt has been an elementary school educator and after school program coordinator in East Portland since 2008. In the last few years, he has supported the Youth Grow and Hunger Relief programs in both the Reynolds and David Douglas School Districts. In 2022, he had the opportunity to take on the garden coordinator role for Davis and Glenfair Elementary. Between the two sites he manages roughly 30 garden beds, teaches gardening classes, offers parent cooking classes, serves garden produce in the cafeteria, and coordinates volunteer events. He looks to grow a community that cherishes and supports the garden spaces for the next generation of students and educators.

Rima Green

Lettuce Grow Program Director

A Native American, Rima has experienced both foster care and incarceration. After a 30 year career in high-tech, Rima returned to her first love, gardening and working with individuals caught up in the correctional system. Rima directs the Lettuce Grow program which provides garden education to inmates in correctional institutions and juvenile facilities throughout the state of Oregon. (Pronouns: she/her)

Mirabai Collins

lettuce grow program coordinator

With a younger brother currently serving a life sentence in prison, Mirabai and her family have experienced the effects of incarceration. Through her work with Lettuce Grow, Black Food Sovereignty Coalition, and Black Futures Farm, Mirabai remains active in the pursuit of creative and restorative justice in personal and community contexts. (Pronouns: she/her)

Anthea Chiatovich-Sloper

lettuce grow operations assistant

Anthea came to Portland in August 2020 to start Portland State University’s School of Social Work program. A transplant from Northern California with most of their post-bachelor’s career centered in behavioral therapy with youth and their families in both the home and community. Like many people in America, many of Anthea’s loved ones have been incarcerated. This history with the California prisons drew her to the prison population. Serendipitously, the MSW program connected Anthea with Lettuce Grow and after a wonderful 9-month long internship, Anthea transitioned into a part-time position as the  operations assistant. Anthea adores good coffee, good company, good food, and being crafty.

Rashae Burns

Home Gardens Director

As a native Portlander, Rashae knows the city inside and out. She loves promoting health and gardening within the community. With over 20 years of health care experience, she has a vast knowledge of preventative care, chronic illness and social determinants of health. Rashae started our program as a Home Gardens participant to foster a healthy lifestyle.  She became a community organizer in the North Portland region in 2018 and has been instrumental in helping marginalized communities improve their lives through gardening. (Pronouns: she/they)

Antonio Rodriguez

Home Gardens Manager

Antonio joined the Growing Huertos program in 2014 and quickly became one of the program’s most dedicated volunteers, helping with installations and site visits, hosting workshops, and mentoring new gardeners. He has a great passion for agriculture and community education.

*Hablo Español*

Isabel Cruz

Community Organizer – Cully

Isabel joined the Home Gardens program in 2005 and quickly became one of its biggest supporters. She loves growing her own food at home, raising chickens, and spending time with her plants. She is a teacher for Oregon’s Food Bank’s Siembra La Cena (Seed to Supper) garden education course and a Promotor de Salud (Health Promoter). She has led many classes on growing your own vegetables, nutritional health, and healthy cooking. She is fluent in both English and Spanish.

*Hablo Español*

Camilo Centeno

Community Organizer – North PoRTLAND

Camilo’s roots began in Colima, Mexico where he was born. As a child, he worked in the fields and later came to the United States. Camilo’s passions include helping families with limited resources, being involved in his community and spending time with his family and three children.

*Hablo Español*

Cat Phung

Youth Grow educator and Community Organizer – North PORTLAND

Cat is a first-generation Vietnamese-American. Growing up, she spent a lot of time gardening and cooking with her mother. Her childhood encouraged her to study environmental science and work in education and outreach. She enjoyed serving in the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps and is looking forward to continuing to build relationships with families and students. In her free time, Cat enjoys cooking new recipes, hiking with her Paraguayan street dog, traveling to new places, and taking photos!
 
*Tôi nói tiếng Việt*
(I speak Vietnamese)

Carolina Barroso

Community Organizer - Milwaukie

Carolina Barroso started with Growing Gardens as a volunteer. She has been working as part of the team for about 2 years and feel so happy to interact with the plants with the earth. It makes her even happier because her family learns from what she learns at Growing Gardens. She feels happy to help her gardeners learn how to be happy with plants and give them love because if you have love for plants and animals you will have love for everyone!!  She believes that by working with plants, you can end the stress of each person and help you live a happy life.

*Hablo Español*

Gabi Villaseñor

Community Coordinator – Clackamas
And Virtual content coordinator

Gabi Villaseñor is an artist, avid gardener and advocate for the positive effects that can come from growing your own food, flowers and healthy habitats for other species. Originally from Southern California, Gabi has lived and gardened in the Pacific Northwest since 2007. Her art practice involves set design, ceramics and painting, each of which take inspiration from the natural world. She is currently enrolled in a Psychology program at PCC in hopes of becoming an art therapist, specializing in the nurturing and beneficial effects that our green environment and gardening has on our mental health. (Pronouns: she/her)

Karen Torres-Olguin

Community Organizer- Cully

Originally from Los Angeles, Karen moved to attend Portland State University where she earned her degree in Community Development. She began container gardening in her childhood apartment and has learned so much since then. Gardening has helped her feel connected with herself and the land she resides in. She feels fortunate to be able to combine her passion for gardening and community based work. In her free time she likes reading, baking and playing board games.

*Hablo Español*

Angelica Cortes

Community Coordinator – GRESHAM

Angelica Cortes Mejia was born in Mexico and has lived in Portland for 12 years. Her favorite part of her role is helping people in her community grow and sustain their own source of vegetables and fruits. Her favorite part about having her garden is sharing what she harvests with her neighbors and building strong community relations through food. (Pronouns: she/her)

*Hablo Español*

Anna Garwood

Youth Grow Program Director

Anna directs the Growing Gardens Youth Grow program, which teaches children how to grow, prepare and learn to love eating fresh fruits and vegetables. Her background is in managing a sustainable development nonprofit that helps rural communities around the world access clean water, renewable energy and healthy watersheds. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and watching her  daughters grow by leaps and bounds.

*Hablo Español*

Amoreena Guerrero

Youth Grow manager

As the Youth Grow Coordinator/Educator, Amoreena supports other garden coordinators and educators create successful and engaging garden-based programs for many schools and their students. Working with other adults to expand opportunities for students to learn outside is her number one professional goal. She comes to Youth Grow with a Master’s degree in Education and 15 years of teaching experience, both indoors and out. When she’s not out in school gardens, you might find her with her family, or at the dojo teaching a weekly Ki-Aikido children’s class. (Pronouns: she/her)

*Hablo Español*

Kathy Barry

Davis/Glenfair Youth Grow Educator

Kathy started out volunteering as a parent in an afterschool class taught by Growing Gardens when her daughter was in elementary school over 10 years ago. She then envisioned a garden transforming that same school. She was involved in that transformation process by getting garden beds built and teaching a garden class. She grew as the garden grew — evolving from a volunteer into a garden educator and now a Growing Gardens staff member. She loves teaching health and nutrition, watching young individuals thrive in a growing environment and being part of an organization that supports so many communities and is teaching life skills.

Betsy Lattig

lead Youth Grow Educator

Betsy Lattig was born in Portland, and spent half of her childhood growing up in the rugged beauty of the Oregon coast. Betsy is a passionate educator, sparking joy for learning in both children and adults. She has spent the past 15 years teaching art, ecology, and gardening in the Portland area. Beyond her love of children and education, Betsy also enjoys gardening, painting, hanging out with her lovely teenage boys, and spending time with friends and family in nature. (Pronouns: she/her)

Carla Manuel

Youth Grow Food Corps Member

Carla is in her second year with FoodCorps as the Growing Gardens Service Member at Scott Elementary in Portland. With a bachelor’s degree in culinary arts and management in hand, her career evolved from corporate settings to leading K-12 students in culinary and garden lessons. She has over three decades of industry experience that ranges from school and community settings to luxury hotel properties. She has managed kitchens for corporations, opened and managed kitchens for small business startups, led local non-profit events, and instructed intercity youth. She is excited to contribute to supporting rising youth leaders in culinary, garden and building community strength. Striving for nourishment, equity and racial & social justice are intrinsic values for her.  Working with the FoodCorps and Youth Grow familia dedicated to the same aspirations is super exciting!

Ángeles Martínez

Powell Butte School Garden Coordinator & Bilingual Educator

Coming from Puebla Mexico, Angela’s first language is Spanish but has lived in the United States for the past 19 years. She loves children and being out in the nature, admiring flowers, planting fruits and vegetables and the like. Combining these two loves makes her an excellent community organizer for our Powell Butte neighborhood. She loves helping others become more self-sufficient through gardening and appreciating nature.

*Hablo Español*

Kelley Smith

Youth Grow Educator

Kelley grew up on the east coast and moved to Portland for graduate school. While studying Nutrition at National University of Natural Medicine, she fell in love with gardening and wanted to connect the two. After interning with FoodWaves and Wild Lilac, she knew she wanted to be a part of the Farm to School initiative. New to the West coast, she loves exploring and hiking but also spends a good amount of time indoors cooking and reading. This is her first year serving with FoodCorps and she is so excited to share her passion with elementary school kids!

Allison Yoder

Youth Grow Educator

Allison, who is originally from the Midwest, is an avid home gardener who also enjoys baking, hiking, and going to concerts with her partner. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from PSU, and has worked in a variety of social services settings over the last 10 years, most recently managing a youth mentoring program serving elementary-school students in Gresham and Rockwood. Allison‘s love of gardening and enthusiasm for the outdoors inspired her to become a Master Gardener volunteer in 2019, and she recently completed the Seed to Supper facilitator training. 

Corey Pierson

Food Systems Educator David Douglas High School

Corey has benefited from school garden programs as a student since he was in 2nd grade. Now, after moving from Maryland to Portland, finishing college, and learning about food systems and farming through an internship at a local orchard, he is excited to bring those special experiences to a new generation of high schoolers! In his free time, he loves to hike and snowboard on Mt. Hood, cooks new recipes, tries desperately to grow houseplants, and writes electronic and classical music.

*Hablo español

*日本語を話す

Millicent Zimdars

Youth Grow Coordinator

Millicent is a Youth Grow educator and school garden coordinator in order to support growing that sense of belonging and love of place we can nurture by gardening. From Southern California, she’s enjoyed the past 15 years cultivating a community across the Rose City. With a master’s degree in Educational Leadership and Policy with a focus on sustainability, Millicent strives to open her heart and mind to learning from ecological systems including indigenous ways of knowing. Millicent loves crafts, storytelling and experiencing the many natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest. 

Iman Labanieh

School Garden Coordinator, MorrisoN CHILD AND FAMILY SERVICES

Iman is a farmer, herbalist, and educator who moved to Portland in 2020 to pursue a life in land-based work and healing. She loves to learn and to teach about plants, plant medicine, and ethnobotany. Her ancestors are rooted in Damascus and Aleppo, Syria, and she was raised in Southern California before making her way to the Bay Area and finally Portland. With plentiful experience in the realm of care work and counseling, she is excited to be continuing her work with the community through Growing Gardens by collaborating with plants as a means of healing and liberating the land and ourselves. She runs a small farm and herbal medicine business called Baylasan Botanicals – find her at your local farmer’s market!

Thank you to Christine Armbruster and Emily Bolles for taking all the beautiful photos of our staff. You can see more of their work at www.christinearmbruster.com and www.emily-bolles.com

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