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Meet Our Team


At Growing Gardens, we nourish a culture of inclusiveness. 

To cultivate a team that feels deeply rooted in their work, we strive to empower and employ past program participants, BIPOC, and LGBTQIA+ community members first. 

We know through experience that diverse ideas, perspectives, and backgrounds create a stronger and more creative work environment that yields truly meaningful results.

Meet The Team

Explore Our Staff Directory! 

Growing Gardens is proud to employ over 50 Oregonians (and growing!) 
Use the handy links below to navigate our staff directory by program.
 

The Admin Team
Home Gardens
Youth Grow
Lettuce Grow

Executive Director

JASON SKIPTON

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*
(I speak Spanish)


Lisa Nishimura

BUSINESS MANAGER


Lisa (she/her) manages the business and finance side of Growing Gardens and joined in late 2022 after ten years in retail buying and planning. She is excited to be able to combine her business background with her passion for sharing food with her community. Her interests include baking and cooking for family and friends, growing veggies, practicing yoga, and biking around town.

*日本語を話す*
(I speak Japanese)

 

Jack Nakashima

CULTURE AND OPERATIONS MANAGER

 

Jacklyn  "Jack" Nakashima (she/her) is a community connector, organizer, and hospitality professional. Although she has spent a decade in Portland, Chicago will always be her home and have her heart. She has spent over 14 years working in every aspect of a restaurant while more recently, Jaclyn’s main focus has been fundraising in the form of social justice centered bake sales and free community events. She hopes to uplift and center the BIPOC communities while also creating space for joy, art, healing, and as always, good food.

 

Dashiell Hock

FINANCE COORDINATOR
GRANTS COORDINATOR

 
Dash is originally from Eugene, Oregon and has lived in Portland for the past seven years, working in various capacities for many of your favorite food-related businesses. His love for food and passion for food justice has guided him to Growing Gardens, where he hopes to help strengthen our local food system and end systemic hunger.

 

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.

 

Bee Thornbrooke

DEVELOPMENT MANAGER

 

Bee brings a wealth of strategic consulting and project management experience to the team at Growing Gardens. With expertise in planning, launching, and scaling online education platforms in the alternative healthcare sector, Bee is thrilled to combine their skills and personal passion for fundraising as our new Development Manager.   


About Home Gardens 

Home & Community Gardens


We believe that growing your own food is a transformative experience that connects us to our land, ourselves, and to each other.
 
To cultivate a healthy and more equitable Oregon, our Home Gardens program pairs qualifying participants with neighborhood garden advisors who provide education, resources, and three years of peer-to-peer mentorship free of charge.

 

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 healthcare 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
COMMUNITY 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*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Angel Hammon 

HOME GARDENS
OPERATIONS MANAGER

 Angel (she/her) is thrilled to be working with Growing Gardens at the intersection of gardening and community health and wellness. As Operations Manager for the Home Gardens Program, she gets to work with partner gardens and farmers to extend the benefits of gardening and fresh produce to the community. She enjoys tending to her herb garden and baking (experimenting) in the kitchen with friends. 

 

Isabel Cruz

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Inner Northeast Portland Area

 

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*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Ceci Orozco

Washington County Coordinator
Washington County 

Ceci (Ella/she/her) is a lifelong learner, mother, mover, facilitator of holistic learning experiences, and bilingual educator. Currently, she is in her third year of a master’s program in Sustainability Education and Leadership at Portland State University. 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. After moving to the Pacific Northwest in 2015, Ceci received her certification as a yoga instructor, and years later she completed a 300-hour Ayurveda Clinical Foundations certificate. She has taught yoga and meditation in Spanish to the Latino community in town and is excited to combine her passion for holistic wellness with the healing and liberatory power that growing our own food brings to our personal and collective lives. Ceci enjoys exploring the great outdoors of the PNW, playing racquetball, traveling, and engaging in rituals of self-care.

*Hablo Español*
(I speak Spanish)

 

 

Camilo Centeno

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
North Portland Area 

 

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*
(I speak Spanish)


Carolina Barroso

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
North Clackamas County Area 

 

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*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Cat Ayala

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER 
Southeast Portland Area

Cat (she/her) is a second-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 building relationships with the community. In her free time, Cat enjoys cooking new recipes, hiking with her husband and pup, traveling to new places, and taking photos!
 
*Tôi nói tiếng Việt*
(I speak Vietnamese)

 

Kathy Berry

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER 
Gresham Neighborhood

 

Kathy (she/her) 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.


Angelica Cortes

HOME GARDENS 
COMMUNITY COORDINATOR
East Portland and Gresham Area


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*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Shireen Duke

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Northeast Area

Shireen is a 5th generation Oregonian who loves to get outside to grow collard greens and fresh tomatoes. She is also an accomplished dancer (Line Dancing and Chicago Steppin). Shireen has been involved with Growing Gardens since 2013. She started as a Home Gardens Program participant, then a Garden Mentor, and now serves on the Board of Directors.

 

Lacey Shirahama

HOME GARDENS

Title Coming Soon!

 

Lacey has over 10 years of experience working with youth facing mental and behavioral health challenges and is working toward becoming a Registered Horticulture Therapist to continue to provide this support through the medium of plants. She currently co-facilitates garden groups with Cascadia Health with goals around building community, learning about edible plants and exploring ways to interact with nature. Outside of work, she can be found playing trivia, doing jigsaw puzzles or hiking with her dog, Rye.

 

Romanet Leiva 

HOME GARDENS
PARTNERSHIP COORDINATOR
Providence Milwaukie 

 

Roma studied agricultural engineering in her home town Santiago, Chile where she conducted a variety of sustainable garden workshops for the local community. After leaving university, she explored different areas of the agricultural sector in Chile: Working in endemic and native plant nurseries, serving as a winemaking and yeast lab assistant, participating in seed laboratory research, and so much more than this! She's excited to join the team at Growing Gardens because teaching how to have a sustainable life and talking about plants is her passion.

 

*Hablo Español*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Erika Winters 

HOME GARDENS
PARTNERSHIP COORDINATOR
Cascadia Behavioral Health 

 

Erika Winters (she/her) has been digging up soil success for 30 years! From home gardens to small-farm food production, farm and garden retail to commercial consulting, to teaching the Urban Farm course at U of O, Erika is passionate about growing healthy soil and food for our communities. After earning her professional registration as a horticultural therapist, Erika joined the Growing Gardens team as a partnership coordinator with Cascadia Behavioral Health. She co-leads activities at group homes for people living with mental illness, developmental disabilities, addiction, and houselessness. She cares deeply about increasing access to gardens, providing garden education for health, and promoting life skills, wellbeing, and empowerment through meaningful activities.

 

Tami Clenard

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
Cully/Parkrose

 

Bio Coming Soon!  

 

ShaToya Parker

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
East Multnomah County

 

Bio Coming Soon!  

 

Lindsay Oberlander

HOME GARDENS
COMMUNITY ORGANIZER
North Clackamas County

 

Bio Coming Soon!  

 

About Youth Grow 

School Gardens


The Youth Grow program collaborates with twelve Portland public schools to provide learning gardens, hands-on education opportunities, and comprehensive lesson plans in both English and Spanish. We are proud to offer comprehensive training and certificates for school garden educators and act as a resource hub for educators worldwide.   

 

Amoreena Guerrero

YOUTH GROW
DIRECTOR
 

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*
(I speak Spanish)

 

 

Kimberly Deras

YOUTH GROW
MANAGER
 

 Bio Coming Soon! 

 

Betsy Lattig 

YOUTH GROW
LEAD EDUCATOR
 
Faubion School

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)

 

Kathy Berry

YOUTH GROW EDUCATOR
Davis/Glenfair Schools

 

Kathy (she/her) 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.

 

Kelly 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

YOUTH GROW 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*
(I speak Spanish)

*日本語を話す*
(I speak Japanese)

 

Matt Laughter

YOUTH GROW LEAD COORDINATOR 
Davis / Glenfair Schools

 

Matt has been an elementary school educator and after-school program coordinator in East Portland since 2008. In past years, he has supported the 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.

 

Angeles Martinez

YOUTH GROW COORDINATOR & BILINGUAL EDUCATOR
Powell Butte School

 

Coming from Puebla Mexico, Angeles’s first language is Spanish but has lived in the United States for the past 19 years. She loves children and being out in 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*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Cat Ayala

YOUTH GROW COORDINATOR & EDUCATOR
Kelly Elementary School

Cat (she/her) is a second-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 building relationships with the community. In her free time, Cat enjoys cooking new recipes, hiking with her husband and pup, traveling to new places, and taking photos!
 
*Tôi nói tiếng Việt*
(I speak Vietnamese)

 

Lindsey Gohd

YOUTH GROW COORDINATOR & EDUCATOR
Whitman Elementary School

 
Lindsey (they/them) studied soil ecology and sustainable agriculture in their Masters degree program in Chicago. They deepened their knowledge of food and agriculture while working as a farm manager, and have enjoyed sharing their knowledge of the natural world as a nature educator. Lindsey is originally from New Jersey and while moving around the country, they have enjoyed creating community around their Jewish heritage and in their queer and trans community. They are thrilled to continue building community around food and nature with Growing Gardens, and hope to bring many smiling faces to their gardens. Outside of gardening, Lindsey enjoys going camping in mossy forests and around coastal tide pools, foraging for mushrooms, and playing saxophone at home. 

 

Carla Manuel

YOUTH GROW EDUCATOR

 

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!

*Hablo Español*
(I speak Spanish)

 

Yasmín Abduljalil 

YOUTH GROW
ACTIVITY COORDINATOR
Lents SUN Garden Club 

Baby Yasmín was inspired to grow her own when she would hear stories about her father’s farm in Harar, Ethiopia: *in Yasmín’s dad’s voice* “the sweetest, most juiciest mangoes!" And diving into the mystic Rumi poems about beautiful gardens. Working close to our soil is aligned with being closer to the Creator. She is passionate about us returning to our roots, of BIPOC communities having access to our given right to be in charge of our own foods! And guess what? We are sharing knowledge. We making it happen! Planting a seed whilst smoothly playing her funky jazzy flute with the flow of being a seamstress, danzante, big sister, and archer in training.

 

*Hablo Español*
(I speak Spanish)

 

 

Amber Roth 

YOUTH GROW
GARDEN COORDINATOR
Scott Elementary  

Amber (she/her) joined Growing Gardens in 2023 as the Garden Coordinator at Scott Elementary School. She is a passionate urban farmer who enjoys connecting with the community through food and gardening and sharing garden love with kids. As a climate justice advocate, she believes that sharing skills for growing food, farm sustainably, and supporting native ecology are important direct actions toward creating change for people and the planet. She is a native plant and pollinator enthusiast and enjoys consulting on and supporting native garden restoration projects. Amber has 2 decades of experience in event planning and design, and loves using these skills to create nature-focused events and experiences for her community! If she isn't digging in her garden or chasing around her 3 chickens, you can find Amber exploring nature, creating something artful, or cooking up delicious meals with her 2 kiddos and partner.

 

 

 

Cid Melo 

YOUTH GROW
GARDEN COORDINATOR AND EDUCATOR
Powell  Butte Elementary  

Cid ( they/them) grew up in the Bay Area of California before attending Cal Poly Humboldt where they earned their degree in Sociology. With a decade's experience in Early Childhood Education and organic farming, Cid is passionate about growing food for the community and connecting students to the natural world they are already a part of. As a Garden Educator and Coordinator, Cid is eager to continue Youth Grow's work in providing ecological exploration and education to students, as well as learning right alongside them.

 

About Lettuce Grow 

Correctional Facility Gardens


In partnership with the Department of Corrections and the Federal Bureau of Prisons, The Lettuce Grow program designs hands-on garden-based classes and workshops for Oregon Incarcerated students. The produce generated in our learning gardens supplements nutrition for incarcerated people on the inside and participants earn professional credentials and skills that aid their successful re-entry to society on the outside.

 

Rima Green

LETTUCE GROW 
DIRECTOR

 

As 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)

 

Kate Bildsten

LETTUCE GROW
EDUCATIONAL MANAGER AND MID VALLEY COORDINATOR 

 Years of farming and gardening throughout California led Kate to study horticulture at Oregon State University, always with an eye towards incorporating those skills and lessons towards criminal justice. She is invested in sharing the joys of spending time outside with plants. Her other interests include pottery, marine biology, backcountry exploring, foraging, and sewing. (pronouns: she/her)

 

Keoni Young

LETTUCE GROW
BLACK OUTREACH MANAGER

 

Keoni was born and raised in Portland Oregon, he is continuing his education in urban agriculture after completing Master Gardening training, upon release from incarceration, Keoni has strived to educate and create spaces and programs for African American youth and people of color. He is passionate,
caring, freethinking, and in love with the work he is doing with Growing Gardens, Black Futures Farm and the Black Food Sovereignty Council. He hopes to make urban farming a reality for intercity youth and those who have experienced incarceration and food insecurity.

 

Dashiell Hock

LETTUCE GROW EDUCATOR

 
Dash is originally from Eugene, Oregon and has lived in Portland for the past seven years, working in various capacities for many of your favorite food-related businesses. His love for food and passion for food justice has guided him to Growing Gardens, where he hopes to help strengthen our local food system and end systemic hunger.

 

Join Our Team


We're always on the lookout for passionate, motivated, and hard-working community leaders. Follow the link below to explore current employment opportunities at Growing Gardens. 

 

View Open Positions

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