The Better Selves Fellowship is a week of care and support for leaders working for environmental and social change. It’s a chance to rest, replenish, network with others, take risks and go deeper. It propels you to go further with the change work that matters most to you and your communities. This fellowship is about restoring and building people power in a time when people power is essential for liberation and health.
Better Selves Fellows are often aware of their “long work”: work that’s bigger than a job or position or project; work that arises from one’s identity, values and purpose. There are times when that important work, or life calling, is less clear, when it needs to be nurtured and restored. The Fellowship is a gift of time, rest, and reflection. It helps you look at how and where you can do your best work in the world.
Each fellow arrives with certain goals and intentions for a self-directed experience, which they pursue working in a conference room, on walks in the woods, or over a shared meal at the long table in the barn. We do not teach and you are not asked to perform. We provide radical hospitality; healthy, natural food; experience of nature and a regenerative farm, space and quiet, and a careful facilitation of the experience. What also often emerges naturally are important peer bonds, friendships, and a sense of group experience.
Successful candidates are:
- People working on behalf of equity, sustainability and community through a variety of means.
- People who have not had this type of experience before.
- People at a point in life and career to take advantage of a fellowship.
- People with a specific project or idea that could be propelled forward by this week of, space, care and attention.
- People aware of, or on the journey toward, their long work.
Building upon a long history as a refuge in the mountains and a place of learning and transformation, Knoll Farm created the Better Selves Fellowships in 2014. To date, 150 fellowships have been awarded to leaders from 30 states. Knoll Farm has been training and sustaining leaders working for social and environmental justice for twenty years. A core value of the Better Selves fellowship is diversity in all its forms. Our staff and fellowship advisors work hard to ensure that each cohort is representative and inclusive.
All of our 2020 Fellows will participate in 2021 because the pandemic prevented us from holding the program this summer. Please stay tuned.
Meet the 2020-2021 Better Selves Fellows
JAMES ALLEN JR.
Little Rock, AK
Alexis Alleyne-Caputo (MFA, MA, BS/MA) is an anthropologist, archivist, researcher, and award-winning commissioned interdisciplinary artist. As a university professor and lecturer, she has taught at the University of Miami (2014-2017), New World School of the Arts at Miami-Dade College (2010-2015). Beyond the academy, she has created and presented work to illustrate women’s contributions to the arts. In addition to being a Better Selves Fellow (2020-2021), she is also a CATALYST Miami 2019-2020 fellow. Her master project, Afro Diaries™ is compelling and offers a window into the landscape of miscarriages women endure. Her work reflects and refracts the critical issues of identity, cultural differences, and human rights, and draws from myriad issues and concerns that create conflict and inequality in society. Grace and Graffiti™, also an initiative in her portfolio, is a well-being and humanities landscape for interdisciplinary arts and consulting. As part of her Better Selves Fellowship, she will be developing her portfolio for Grace and Graffiti™. She has exhibited in the U.S., Caribbean, and Europe and has been funded by philanthropists, private foundations, arts, cultural organizations, and major corporations. To learn more about the artist/fellow visit www.alexiscaputo.com
Grace is a network weaver and community organizer based in Oakland, CA. Currently, as the Strategic Partnership and Operations Director with PGM ONE, Grace co-directs the largest racial affinity organization for BIPOC working towards environmental justice. PGM ONE envisions a world that centers, values, uplifts, and empowers those who are most impacted by environmental harm and climate change—and in particular black, indigenous, and people of color/of the global majority—to lead the way toward environmental justice and collective liberation. She is a lover of natural wine, cycling long distances, reading, and early bedtimes.
Caesaré Assad is a steward for the earth and has dedicated her life’s work to rebuilding a more equitable food system in the United States. Her 20+ years of food work as an artist, cook, entrepreneur, and business executive spans entity types and functions, all centered around healing connections through food and building community. During this time, she has developed innovative culinary, nutrition, and wellness initiative for community-based organizations to global corporations, with a focus on holistic health and localized economic impact. She grew up in rural Oklahoma and that experience has made her especially passionate about surfacing and supporting food and agriculture issues that impact rural, oppressed, and marginalized communities. In her role as the CEO of Food System 6, she is able to combine her professional and personal experiences with her wonderful community, and creativity – all in support of incredible entrepreneurs who are creating a better food system every day.
Javier is a proud Native New Mexican son of a public-school teacher from Albuquerque’s South Valley and a civil rights attorney from the Acequia Madre community in Santa Fe. In early 2019, Javier began organizing with Albuquerque Interfaith, an affiliate of the Industrial Areas Foundation, and a coalition of social justice-oriented institutions in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Prior, Javier managed several inclusive democracy campaigns and served for three years as Executive Director of the Southwest Organizing Project. Javier has worked with various elected officials, including as then-Congressman (now U.S. Senator) Martin Heinrich’s Speechwriter and Communications Liaison. Javier has two master’s degrees from the University of New Mexico (urban planning and public administration) and earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from Santa Clara University, a Jesuit university in California. He has four children: Mario (12), EJ (7), Felix (4), and Eva (3).
Mandana is an Iranian-American herbalist, storyteller, and gardener. Her exploration of plant medicine began in her childhood kitchen, where she first encountered the sound of the mortar and pestle finding rhythm, the smell of rue and angelica smoke curling up from the sofreh (altar) and the stories of her ancestors carried forward by her mother. She weaves her Iranian culture and plant tradition into all facets of her work as an herbalist and is dedicated to re-centering the voices, stories, rituals, and histories of the BIPOC community, particularly around health, healing and food. Mandana is a co-founder and educator at Wild Gather: Hudson Valley School of Herbal Studies, serves as a member of the Leadership Council for both the New England Women’s Herbal Conference and the International Herb Symposium and is the author of Tick Magic.
Corinne was born and grown in the redwoods of northern California where her time spent camping with family sparked a life-long relationship with nature. She seeks out experiences that allow her to act on her passion for making nature connection and outdoor recreation accessible to everyone. Her varied roles as a lab technician, field researcher, challenge course facilitator, environmental educator, adaptive sea kayak guide, and now as the Youth Outdoor Programs Manager with Big Sur Land Trust have served to reinforce her belief that Nature is for everyone and there is no one right way to “do nature.” In her free time Corinne enjoys surfing, woodworking, eating good food, and watching bad TV.
Naeema is a proud New Jersey raised Jamaican American – who ever since she was young – had a spirit for the outdoors and battling injustice in the world. One of her earliest memories include harvesting callaloo and peppermint from her grandmother’s garden in Queens, NY. Professionally, Naeema has over 10+ years experience in the New Jersey non-profit world where she focuses on environmental advocacy, local news ecosystems and community activism. Currently, she works as a Program Associate at the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation. Her work focuses on supporting the distribution of grants to New Jersey-based on organizations working on environmental issues, local news and information needs. In addition to grantmaking, she managed the biennial Dodge Poetry Festival’s Zero Waste Initiative, where she was responsible for reducing the use of plastic food packaging, reducing food waste and increasing recycling. Prior to joining the Dodge staff, Naeema worked at Partners for Health in Montclair developing community gardening programs and collective-impact initiatives related to active living by design. Naeema is a graduate of Tufts University where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Economics. Currently, Naeema resides in Newark, NJ where she is an avid gardener, hiker, and photographer-always up to exploring new environmentally-friendly enclaves in her community. She also serves on the board of HANDS Inc., an organization working to stabilize underinvested neighborhoods and creating spaces for arts, culture, business, recreation and learning.
Chanté Coleman serves as the Vice President of Equity and Justice where she leads the effort to fully operationalize equitable policies and practices and supports the organization to actively challenge systemic racism. She drives culture change by reframing how the organization thinks about power, while also encouraging others to develop their own expertise on equity and justice in their work. Coleman is an expert in large-scale ecosystem restoration and coalition-building and was previously the Director of the Choose Clean Water Coalition, a 230-member advocacy organization focused on protecting the Chesapeake Bay watershed. At the Coalition, she led regional scale strategies to evolve an intentional focus on equity and justice for the Coalition and its member organizations. Chanté is a member of the Green Leadership Trust, was named a “rising star” by Green 2.0, is a 2017 Environmental Leadership Program Fellow and a 2020 Better Selves Fellow. She frequently appears as a speaker, trainer, and facilitator at conferences across the country. Coleman is a graduate of Princeton University and California Western School of Law. She currently resides in Annapolis, Maryland, and is a firm believer in self-care, regularly practicing yoga and meditation.
Maryann is the School Gardens Coordinator at Harlem Grown, where she cultivates a variety of crops on the organization’s farm sites in Central and East Harlem. After completing two years of AmeriCorps Service as a Citizen Schools Teaching Fellow she began to focus on food sovereignty and local food systems in NYC. She has led food and farming workshops for youth of all ages. Through her role she is able to combine her passion for food and environmental advocacy with her background in education to support the Harlem community.
Tafshier is an advocate and community organizer based in Newark, NJ. Chief Operating Officer at Parent Impact, an organization created by parents for parents dedicated to empowering, advocating, and connecting families to resources that support their family’s needs for greater outcomes in urban communities. Parent Impact envisions creating opportunities where parents are partners and leaders in their communities. A proud Newarker, Mother to three young adults and three wonderful grandchildren. She has spent more than 20 years volunteering and organizing in various schools and community organizations in Newark. She strongly believes that parents active in the school community and neighborhood organizations have a positive effect on student outcomes. She also knows that having school choice is important and continues to advocate for the civil rights of Black and brown children to receive an equitable and quality education. An avid reader, lover of documentaries and lives a pescatarian lifestyle.
Amanda is a community herbalist, the mother of three amazing children, and the creator of Rootwork Herbals, The People’s Medicine School, the Jane Minor BIPOC Community Medicine Garden and various other BIPOC centered herbal initiatives. She tends plants and people growing gardens, handcrafting remedies, offering consultations and teaching. Her approach to herbalism is based in the folkways, on building intimate relationships with the plants that grow nearby in order to reclaim herbal medicine and home healthcare for the people. In doing this, she sees herbalism as a means to support life and thus resist against oppressive systems, which undermine health. Above all, Amanda is a lover of plants and a lover of people and is passionate about bringing them together in a down to earth, joyful and accessible way that promotes personal and planetary healing.
Geoffrey “Geo” Edwards is an educator and healing artist whose practice encompasses herbalism, art therapy, gardening, and community acupuncture. He is creator of Nu Healing Arts Garden, a teaching garden, and owner of Nu Grain & Pestle, an herb apothecary that sells value added products and herbal teas, tinctures, extracts, and oil infusions. Nu Healing Arts Garden has also been the incubator for his studio & healing arts practices. In addition to his practice, Geo is a Guest Lecturer and Teaching Clinic Faculty in the acupuncture program at the Maryland University of Integrative Health. While completing his studies in herbal medicine Geo began the process of cultivating what he now calls the Nu Healing Arts Garden which includes a wide selection of perennial medicinal and culinary herbs. The initial focus of the garden was primarily education, preservation and conservation of plant based medicines and has now entered a new phase of collaboration with local small scale niche crop farmers. Beyond his gardening and healing arts practice, Geo maintains a growing studio art practice and periodically teaches poetry & literature to teens in the DC metropolitan area as well as virtually to teens nationally and abroad. He often facilitates plant walks and workshops on numerous topics ranging from ecology, the 5 elements, and creative writing to herb cultivation and art-as-social action. Geo loves storytelling and building with his wife and sons about all things music, genealogy, food.
Camilo is an outreach coordinator with the Climate & Energy program at the Union of Concerned Scientists. In his role, he works to promote equitable policies supporting a low-carbon modern electricity grid, and clean energy, in key states including New Mexico and Massachusetts. Prior to joining UCS, Camilo was a fellow with the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning, at its Community Innovators Lab, where he co-designed and coordinated the Mel King Community Economic Democracy and Self-Determination Fellowship. Camilo also has experience as an environmental health and safety consultant in South Carolina, and did work on climate adaptation, environmental conservation, human rights and peace building in Colombia, with local NGOs affiliated with the Mennonite Central Committee. He earned a BS in environmental health science from Benedict College, an HBCU, and two master’s degrees from the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, in coexistence and conflict, and sustainable international development.
Agnolia is a parent, educator, student advocate, speech and drama coach, director, poet, and writer. She is a veteran educator of 19 years’ experience in the classroom with 15 of those years at the Central High School National Historic Site in Little Rock. She relocated to Jacksonville, Florida, in the summer of 2012 and pursued a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. She taught two years in the Duval County Public Schools in the area of Drama, and has just finished teaching one year at Pine Bluff High School, where she taught Oral Communication and Drama I. She has directed plays and worked with churches city-wide functions and family reunions including directing and performing in plays at Central High School and in Lake Forest College outside of Chicago. For the past 15 years Agnolia has facilitated workshops for both teachers and students through the A+ Network and Great Expectations Programs coordinated through the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the Arkansas Education Association and the Association for the Study of African Life and History organization (ASALH).
Angelique “Sobande” Greer B.S., CNHP & Afro Herbalist formally trained by her great grandmother. She is a Desert Storm Veteran of 30 yrs as well as a world traveled speaker, community organizer, teacher, consultant, author & spiritual life coach. She is the Founder of the NCB School of Herbalism & Holistic Health which is the oldest African American School in the United States that teaches the art of healing the old fashion way. What began as a herb catalog business in the early 90’s quickly blossomed into a successful retail health food store. By 1999, the store was destroyed by a tornado forcing Sobande to reshape the vision for her life path. While traveling the world extensively teaching classes and workshops the founder’s living room and backyard became the hub for retreats & holistic studies while her kitchen quickly blossomed into an amazing herbal apothecary. Sobande is also the visionary founder of one of the most transformational events on the planet for Black & Brown Women; the Annual Sacred Waters Herbal Retreat for Women Color www.sacredwatersretreat.com as well as the Annual Afro Botany Immersion Conference held in beautiful in Costa Rica. www.naturalchoicesbotanica.com
For the past three decades Eric has worked as a researcher, analyst and policy maker on applied public policy issues ranging from economic development to early childhood education at the local, state, national and international level. He returned home to New Mexico in 1999 and as an Albuquerque City Councilman he co-sponsored and helped pass and implement an increase in the minimum wage, one of the nation’s first local public financing for elections system and the city’s most progressive planning document in its history. As a State Senator he championed progressive tax reform, green jobs and issues
affecting the state’s working children and families. For four years, before leaving to run for Congress, he also ran the largest and most active anti-poverty advocacy, research and policy non-profit organization focusing on children and families, New Mexico Voices for Children. He is currently State Director for the New Mexico Working Families Party, where he leads
policy campaigns and efforts and recruit, train, elect and hold accountable elected officials who place economic and social justice for working people at the center of their agenda. He is also a Doctoral Fellow at the UNM Center for Social Policy at the University of New Mexico’s where his research interests include the connections between economic development policy, politics and social capital.
Adah is the Central Farms Coordinator at Harlem Grown; facilitating corporate and individual volunteers on the central sites. As well as serving as a role model to our youth and reinforcing Harlem Grown values of honesty, respect, mentorship and sustainability. She will continue pursing her passion in helping the community and providing access to fresh foods through hands on education while currently enrolled in Hostos Community College pursuing a nursing degree.
ROBERT ENNIS JACKSON
Rev. Robert Ennis Jackson is co-founder of Brooklyn Rescue Mission Urban Harvest Center Inc a grassroots social service program in Brooklyn. He has worked as minister, community activist, social worker for the last 29 years in New York City. The programming focus of the organization – Brooklyn Rescue Mission, is empowering community residents to improve their food system, create local food businesses and community jobs. BRMUHC has worked to empower youth for the last ten years in Brooklyn to defeat poverty by gaining job skills and seeking higher education.
Reverend DeVanie Jackson is a co-founder of the Brooklyn Rescue Mission Urban Harvest Center, the Bed-Stuy Farm & the Malcolm X Blvd Farmers Market an organization that promotes food justice, youth leadership and hunger relief for Brooklyn Residents. Food sovereignty is an equally important concept for Reverend DeVanie Jackson of the Brooklyn Rescue Mission Urban Harvest Center. In addition to running a food pantry, she and her husband run a community farm, which they view not only as a means of providing much-needed fresh food, but as a tool for building food sovereignty at the community level, ‘putting power in people’s hands – the ability to see it, taste it and touch it’. According to Rev. Jackson, ‘People have a right to eat things they’re accustomed to eating. This process for us has been about respecting the community and learning to grow for it’. Rev. Jackson has also taken part in exchanges with international farmer leaders, including hosting visits to her farm, in addition to participating in meetings on sustainable development at the United Nations.
ERICA FERNANDEZ ZAMORA
When Erica was 10, her family emigrated from Mexico to Oxnard, California. After air pollution there aggravated her asthma, she realized the health of humans and that of the environment are connected. So when she heard that a proposed natural-gas pipeline off the coast would further pollute the area—it was estimated the project would annually release carbon dioxide equal to the emissions from more than 48,000 cars—she gave a stirring speech opposing it at the California State Lands Commission. The proposal failed, and Fernandez became an in-demand speaker at green events at age 17. Winner of the Jane Goodall Global Leadership Award, she spent the summer in Mexico fighting deforestation.
Kahlil has more than twenty years of experience in increasing the capacity of women and youth-serving organizations to develop and deliver high-quality programs and educational enrichment activities. She has worked in Africa, India, and Asia and has extensive experience designing program evaluations that incorporate youth voice. She has coached educators, youth workers, college volunteers, interns, and graduate students to create and implement curricula for young people. Her areas of expertise include education, youth development, arts and culture, project-based learning, child development, holistic wellness, mental health, and career exploration. Kahlil is an adjunct professor at the George Washington University in the Milken Institute School of Public Health and holds a master’s degree in economics with an emphasis on gender and international development. Kahlil is also a Mindfulness Educator for the Montgomery County Public Schools. Additionally, Kahlil serves as a yoga therapist, doula (birth and postpartum), birth keeper, trainer and women’s activist. Her mission is to enhance the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual health of mothers, babies and families through education and support during pregnancy, childbirth and early parenthood. She has been doing this work in the Washington, DC area for more than 10 years. Her goal is to help educate women and families about their choices in childbirth, encouraging them to believe and trust in their ability to birth their babies with as little interference and medical intervention as possible. She also believes that the greatest expert in the birthing process is the birthing woman herself. Mama. The one who knows her body and the baby the best. She encourages Mamas to trust herself, to trust the process and her instincts.
June L. Lorenzo, Laguna Pueblo/Navajo (Diné) lives and works in her home community at Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico. She currently serves as Chief Judge at the Pueblo of Zia, another Keres-speaking native nation, and practices law in tribal, state and international legislative and legal forums. June has years of experience working with community organizations and Indigenous NGOs to address uranium mining legacy issues, resistance to new mining, and protection of sacred landscapes at home and around the world. Additionally, her human rights work before domestic and international human rights bodies has included negotiations on both the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People, and continuing advocacy for the rights of Indigenous peoples before the UN and the OAS. She holds a PhD in Justice Studies from Arizona State University and a Juris Doctor from Cornell University.
Brian has promoted respectful use and thoughtful stewardship of Maine’s coastline with the Maine Island Trail Association since 2005. As Program Director, he oversees MITA’s stewardship and education efforts on the Maine Island Trail – a recreational water trail linking over 240 islands and coastal sites along Maine’s rocky shore. With the help of devoted volunteers and strong partners, MITA encourages Leave No Trace practices, boating safety, and user-based stewardship with a focus on minimizing recreational use impacts, reducing marine debris, and preventing the spread of invasive species. At home, Brian volunteers for the Chebeague & Cumberland Land Trust, where he serves as secretary of the board and co-chair of the stewardship committee. He has a Masters in Environmental Management from Yale University and a B.A. in biology and environmental studies from Bowdoin College. His passion is spending time outdoors, especially when it involves introducing his young son to the beauty and wonders of the natural world. Brian, his wife and their son live Cumberland, Maine, where they are slowly converting their lawn into an organic, edible landscape.
Maira has always been passionate about education and communities. She grew up around community meetings led by her mother to improve the quality of life of her neighborhood. Kitchen table conversations, Socratic circles, or simply engaging in meaningful conversations have always been present in her life. As a communicator (sometimes as a journalist, others as a strategist), Maira has always been passionate about building bridges so marginalized populations can have access to even dreaming of a better life. From facilitating learning and communication at the corporate level, teaching college students about how to work with marginalized communities to mobilizing community members to advocate for high quality of public education or environmental issues. Education is clearly Maira’s way of contributing to the world.
Kamilah is an intersectional human: A seeker. A mother. An adventurer. A wife. An explorer. An empath. A recovering overachiever. A team-builder. An introvert. A do gooder. A nature lover. A soul connector. Professionally and personally, Kamilah has spent two decades finding purpose in helping people, in providing access and opportunity to people often left out or left behind, and in improving programs and systems and teams and organizations. She has served as a philanthropist, an entrepreneur, an NGO representative to the United Nations, a VP of a global environmental and humanitarian organization, and as a council member for an environmental initiative with the World Economic Forum. Kamilah is currently the President & CEO of Katalyst Consulting (katalystconsult.com)–a consulting and advisory group of women leaders committed to helping nonprofit leaders succeed, and has recently been attempting to thrive while challenging as many notions as possible of existing inside prescribed systems and boxes. She also tapped back into her creative side last year and desperately wants to speak into existence that she is an actual, real-life, working photographer. Her exhibition, Peace in a Pandemic, currently only exists in her mind but is bursting with the hope of finding itself on a gallery wall one day somewhere, somehow.
Andres Mejia is a Project Manager for NH Listens, Carsey School of Public Policy at the University of New Hampshire – hosting equity workshops and facilitating courageous and difficult conversations across the state of New Hampshire between community members, police, politicians, farmers, students, teachers and many other constituents. Andres has spent the past ten years working at the University of New Hampshire implementing diversity initiatives and spearheading underrepresented students support and helping leaders across campus—from student organizers to faculty and administrators—to become more culturally competent of folks marginalized within people of color and LGBTQAI+ communities and folks of various other marginalized groups. Currently, Andres serves as a staff advisor for MOS:DEF (Men of Strength, Education and Family), a support group for men of color; and the Queer Trans People of color support group. He is a Social Justice Educator, and a facilitator for the MLK Leadership Summit. He serves on the McNair Program Advisory and Study Abroad Diversity Scholarship Committee. He served on the President’s Commissions on the Status of People of Color, and the University Commission on Community, Equity & Diversity. Andres has been inducted into the 2019 UNH Alumni Diversity Hall of Fame. He received the Mover & Shakers Award in 2014, the Pink Triangle Award in 2014 for the support and advocacy of the LGBTQIA+ community, and the MUB Community Spirit Award in 2013 & 2014. Outside of his work schedule, Andres likes to travel, explore delicious restaurants, and go out dancing.
Oneida, Turtle clan. Herbalist, soil and seed steward, scholar, student, and Earth Worker dedicated to decolonizing and liberating minds, hearts, and land- one plant, person, ecosystem, and non-human being at a time. Stephanie is the Coordinator of the Northeast Farmers of Color Land Trust, grows medicines and food for her community at Sky World Apothecary & Farm; and occasionally mobilizes knowledge for Indigenous-led climate change and food sovereignty research projects.
C. Brandon Ogbunu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, whose research operates at the intersection between genetics, epidemiology, and computational biology. In addition, Brandon is a science writer, currently an Ideas contributor for WIRED magazine. He carries larger interests at the intersection between science, art and culture, and is involved in various initiatives focusing on science communication, diversity and inclusion, and STEM education.
Tom has recently embarked on a personal sabbatical after three decades of work in the public sector, most recently as director of Vital Communities, a community-based organization working on climate, economy and building community in the Upper Valley region of Vermont and New Hampshire. Tom’s prior work has included working in philanthropy in Vermont and the California Bay Area, on homeless and housing issues for San Mateo County and the Bar Association of San Francisco, and on legal services for the poor at the New York State Bar Association. Tom lives at Cobb Hill Co-Housing, an eco-village in Hartland, Vermont with his partner Lorie Loeb and fifty other community members. He enjoys hiking, cross-country skiing, paddling, observing nature and meditating.
Shawn is the Director of Vocational Services and Founding Director of Prospect Meadow Farm at ServiceNet. His responsibilities include overseeing Prospect Meadow Farm, which employs 70 people with developmental disabilities, autism, or brain injuries who raise chickens, sell eggs, manage a large log-grown shiitake-mushroom operation, sell wood products, and operate catering and community landscaping services. Shawn has served on the Town of Hatfield Finance Committee, recently completed two terms as president of the board of the Highland Valley Elder Services, served on the Holyoke Community College Board of Trustees and the MA Board of Higher Education. Currently Shawn serves as a Board Member for the Cooley Dickinson Healthy Community Committee, the Hatfield Council on Aging, and for Community Involved in Sustaining Agriculture (CISA).
JONATHAN LIKEKE SCHEUER
Born and raised on O`ahu, Hawai`i, Jonathan helps communities and organizations manage environmental conflict with the goal that they, their stakeholders, and the natural resources involved will all enjoy sustainable prosperity. He works particularly on issues that intersect environmental concerns and Kanaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) rights. He has worked on the resolution of complex water disputes, the closure of conservation real estate acquisitions, advised fiduciary boards in policy development, and facilitated meetings on climate science and adaptation. As a volunteer, he serves as the Chair of the Hawai`i State Land Use Commission (a unique statewide zoning body), the immediate past Chair of the Hawaiian Islands Land Trust, and the Political Committee of the Sierra Club Hawai`i Chapter. He is also a Lecturer in Law at the William S. Richardson School of Law. Previous volunteer work has been on the Board of Mālama Mānoa and as a Kona Moku representative and Vice Chair of the O`ahu Island Burial Council. He holds a bachelor’s and Ph.D. from UC Santa Cruz and a Master’s from the Yale School of the Environment, all in Environmental Studies.
KATE MITCHELL MEHLE
Kate joined Big Sur Land Trust as Director of Development in May 2015, bringing with her nine years of experience at United Way Monterey County. In that time, she rose to become United Way’s fundraising team leader and raised nearly $28 million for the county. A native East Coaster, Kate grew up in New Jersey, developing her love of nature at Bear Mountain and the Palisades Park. At Penn State University, she earned a bachelor’s degree in marketing and minored in women’s studies. Upon graduation, Kate moved to Boston to join a media-buying firm that served clients such as WGBH, Jordan’s Furniture, Cracker Barrel, and Comcast. Eventually she left marketing and advertising to follow her dream of working in the nonprofit sector. Kate expanded her knowledge of nonprofit management by participating in Community Foundation for Monterey County’s LEAD (Leadership Education and Development Institute) program and is a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE). She has volunteered in leadership roles with organizations such as the Junior League of Monterey County, Parenting Connection for Monterey County and International School of Monterey. She is also member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Monterey Bay Chapter. Kate lives in Monterey with her husband, Matt, and their two young children. Her favorite pastimes include taking her boys hiking or camping.
Ingrid Sibley (is) works to promote, preserve and document the African canon of space and time, connecting disparate pieces as she moves across media. Educated in the advertising field as an art director and in language through studying French, she has found a synthesis in the visual and verbal art forms which has coalesced into her current practice of using the book as a mode for deepening connection to self, other and various spaces and times across history and the future. Experience as a performer and educator is intertwined into her presentation of the written word to craft sacred spaces that venture past the standard notion of the book, guiding readers toward new possibilities. Recently, her project “Black Box” has explored American Black port cities to create a story which is at once connective and diverse, while paying homage to the scattered descendants of her ancestors and studying the cultural meccas of a stolen people. Each city requires a unique outpouring of artistry, resulting in a documentary montage forming a connective vision of a seemingly divided diaspora.
THE BOSTON UJIMA PROJECT is a Black-led, democratic, member-run organization building cooperative business, arts and investment ecosystem in Boston, with a mission to return wealth to working class communities of color. Ujima is bringing together neighbors, workers, business owners, investors, grassroots organizers, and culture-makers, to create a community-controlled economy in our city. James co-leads, recommends, plans and executes specific cultivation, stewardship and solicitation activities for current and prospective philanthropic partners to support the operating needs and continuum of care and investment for Boston Ujima Project and Ujima Resident and Worker Care Fund. James co-designs, manages and executes on improvements to internal org structure, culture, care and communication efforts as well as co-project manage and execute the participatory planning projects in partnership with the community. James is a social worker, visual artist and fundraising strategist originally from Philadelphia. He moved to Boston to serve on the City Year Boston 2012-2013 corps and never left because he found community in Jamaica Plain and doing feminist mens work. James cares deeply about people and the planet and is inspired by the work of the Justice Funders, Bayard Rustin and his Sierra Leonean aunties who taught him all about love.
Barbara J. Woolley, MSW (retired), has an extensive career in mental health which includes inpatient, outpatient and private practice spanning twenty-five years. Responding to an unstoppable spiritual call, she left her known world in 1999 to travel the globe for the next ten years. She has been privileged to learn from many great teachers who represent a diverse sector of spiritual traditions. Her two primary mentors have been Grandmother Twylah Nitsch, Seneca Elder, and, White Waters, the Brazilian master teacher of Ama Deus. In 2009, Barbara stopped traveling to allow integration of this intense period of exploration. Landing in New London, NH, she wrote her first book, Out of the Box: A Soul’s Surprising Journey, which chronicles twenty-five years of lived experience. It’s an unusual account of soul retrieval and spiritual learning. After several years as a hospice and home care social worker, her soul pushed, shoved and otherwise conspired to get her back on the road. Barbara was sent on a major pilgrimage which included the Camino Frances in 2018. She is near completion of her second book, which is, of course, about the journey of soul.
“I feel rooted, I feel thoughtful, I feel quiet inside, I feel rejuvenated. This land has filled me up. I met incredible people, considered the “long work” of my life, sunk my teeth into slowness, and enjoyed the natural evolution of each day.”
“I can’t believe it’s been about a year and a half since I attended the Better Selves fellowship. I still haven’t been able to fully put into words how grateful I am for such a powerful experience. But thank you, thank you for a life changing experience. I still carry the impact of those 5 days at the farm with me, and I want you to know what a positive imprint it has made on my life.”
“I left with more clarity for the next year as well as a new found interest in the intersectionality of race, environment and food”
2017 Fellow, Operations Manager at the Center for Equity and Inclusion
“I walk away with focusing on the journey and the work. Refuge is good for all people. Place matters. ”
2017 Fellow, CHI Elevate Program Manager for the Portland Opportunities Industrialization Center
“The expanse of the land, the distance between the yurt village and the barn/office, the nooks around the property and stone slabs with quotes and paintings on them…all of these contributed to a sense of spaciousness and gentle magic. I didn’t feel pressed for time once all week, which is kind of miraculous considering how I feel most of the time at home! I got to remember how it feels to have time. ”
2017 Fellow, Fellow with EDGE Funders Alliance
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