Here you will find our Staff, Silicon Valley HealthCorps Members, Board of Directors, and Advisory Board.
Amie Frisch - Executive Director
A 10 year resident of San Jose, she earned a BS in Environmental Studies from San Jose State University, where she was Director of the Environmental Resource Center and Co-founder of the Environmental Club. She was also part of the founding Steering Committee for the Real Food Challenge, a national campaign to unite students for just and sustainable food, where she worked to develop the Real Food Calculator. She is dedicated to working towards a more just and sustainable food system in the Silicon Valley.
Mark Anthony Medeiros - Farm Director
Born and raised in the South Valley, Mark graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelors degree in Sociology, with an emphasis on Community Change. He became politicized around the issues of urban fringe agriculture and open space preservation while in college, and participated in a number of land use debates in Santa Clara and San Benito counties, most notably the proposed Coyote Valley Specific Plan (CVSP), which was halted in March 2008. He decided to devote himself to promoting sustainable agriculture in the Valley of Heart’s Delight, and founded Veggielution along with Amie Frisch. Mark currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Prusch Farm Park Foundation. The son of Portuguese immigrants with a rich farming tradition, he sees farming as the most direct connection that people have with the environment. For Mark, learning and teaching farming is about fostering the values of sustainability and social justice in himself and others in the South Bay community.
Monica Lisa Benavides - Education Director
Being born and raised in San Jose inspired Monica to dedicate herself to working in her community on issues of food access, education, and, social/environmental justice. She graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Child and Adolescent Development, and continued in graduate school through the Critical Research Academy to earn her MA in Education. As the Education Director, Monica is responsible for overseeing Veggielution’s school garden programs, the Youth Garden at the farm, Cooking Matters, and our summer high school program, the Dig Crew. If you have any questions about any of these programs, then please email or call Monica.
Julia Lang - Development Manager
Julia has been with Veggielution since the early days, and has progressed along with the organization. She began as a volunteer in early 2009 and by way of many roles at the farm has landed as a full time staff member. Julia has a B.A. in Sociology with a Concentration in Community Change and a passion for botany, the outdoors, and improving the well being of her community. As the Development Manager, Julia is now coordinating our events, fundraising, membership program, facilitating group workdays, doing our bookkeeping, and creating our monthly newsletter. Be sure to see Julia’s work in action - read our newsletter, bring your company out for a group workday, and take part in our events!
Guadalupe Perez - Community Organizer
Lupe is Veggielution’s first School Garden Organizer, and is spearheading efforts to create and sustain school gardens in the Alum Rock Union Elementary School District. She will facilitate a collaboration between district officials, teachers, parents, children, and the broader community to make that happen. Additionally, Lupe is a Somos Mayfair Promotora focused on community health, a member of Sacred Heart Community Service’s Policy and Organizing program, married, and a mother of three. After graduating from La Mesa Verde’s backyard gardening program and sharing her bountiful home harvests with her neighbors, she is very interested in working with the community to bring healthy and affordable food into low income families’ lives. She wants to ensure that the entire community has access to good food, and that children and youth learn that there are natural cycles that we should not disrupt.
Silicon Valley Health Corps Members
Keri Waller - Youth Education Coordinator
Born and raised in Woodland, CA, she is a recent graduate of San Jose State with a BS in Nutrition. At San Jose State, she was a part of the women’s volleyball program and has many years of experience teaching and coaching at sports camps. Keri has also worked with incoming freshmen student-athletes as a peer mentor, aiding them in the transition from high school to collegiate academics and athletics. She is passionate about teaching healthy eating, sustainable farming, and food justice to our community! Keri is teaching school garden classes at 2 local elementary schools, as well as leading our Youth Program, The Dig Crew.
Nina Vuoso - Youth Education Coordinator
Born and raised in the South Bay of Los Angeles, she earned a BS in Nutritional Biochemistry in 2011 from UC Davis, where she came to appreciate good produce and bicycle riding. Nina has worked with youth as a science tutor and in the Teaching Kitchen at the Davis Food Co-op, assisting in the kid’s cooking classes. As one of the first Nutrition Educators for the student-run Willow Clinic, which serves the homeless population of Sacramento, Nina learned about non-profit management and writing nutrition curricula. She is inspired by the way students engage with their food (if only all school subjects could be edible and delicious). Nina is energized by the Veggielution community, and she is dedicated to bringing science-based food and garden education to the farm and its neighbors.
Diego Ortiz - Farm Hand
A San Jose native, Diego recently graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Global Environmental Policy. While studying at Sonoma State he became very much aware of the many social/environmental impacts that the first world’s food production/intake has on the rest. Motivated and inclined to make a difference, Diego joins the Veggielution team as they embark on a year full of growth, expansion, and awareness creation. He will also be teaming up with other Americorps members in outreach efforts by organizing the Cooking Matters classes for Adults in both English and Spanish. He is excited to counteract hunger/malnutrition in San Jose’s disempowered communities and to continue passing on Veggielution’s community mission.
Mika Shibuya - Farm Hand
Mika Shibuya is excited and grateful for the opportunity to work on the Veggielution farm crew. Having graduated from Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied environmental studies and creative writing, she is ready to get her hands dirty putting theory into practice. Mika developed her passion for farming on two small, organic farms in New York and New Jersey, where she learned the ins and outs of vegetable cultivation, animal care, and small-scale cheese-making. She is excited to bring this passion and experience into an urban context and to be a part of an organization/community that makes a concerted effort to increase food accessibility and to engage a wide cross-section of San Jose with the land that sustains them, building lasting relationships over fresh food and hard work. As the greenhouse manager, she will spend the majority her year in the company of seedlings and soil mix, and hopes you will come join her – and maybe help give a few plants a fighting start. She has a shameless love for puns, and also enjoys cooking, biking, reading, and writing.
Dave Chang - Farm Hand
Dave is enthused to be working in the fields and getting his hands dirty with Veggielution. Following a degree in Biological Systems Engineering from U.C. Davis, he served as an agricultural volunteer in Mali with Peace Corps. After doing time in the cubicle as a technical writer, he set out to travel around the world but only made it as far as Mexico, due to the prevalence of street tacos. Now he's back to his original passion of making good food available to all. He feels fortunate to be involved in such a community-based enterprise with roots in sustainable farming practices and food justice. He gets excited about other people getting excited about growing food. When not at the farm, he's most likely hiking, climbing, or reading a book.
Colleen Hotchkiss - Farm Hand
After attending college in Philadelphia and receiving a B.A. in Spanish with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies in May of 2011, Colleen is excited to be back home in the Bay Area growing food and building community. Since graduating she has worked at two different farms, gaining invaluable knowledge about organic food production and natural process farming. With a background in student organizing and an academic focus on marginalization and identity formation, Colleen is excited to be putting her gardening and farming knowledge to work at Veggielution in a way that directly and intentionally increases food access to low-income communities. She will be managing the Farm Box CSA program, coordinating restaurant distribution, and collaborating on community outreach efforts.
Board of Directors
Cody Kraatz - Board President
Account Director at PRx Communication Strategists
Cody joined the Veggielution community in 2009 as a volunteer and then Workday Leader and Outreach Leader. In 2010, after returning from six months volunteering and traveling in South America, he returned to help with such events as Strawberry Jam and Bounty of Heart’s Delight. He joined the staff in 2010 as Outreach and Education Coordinator, a Silicon Valley HealthCorps position, and after bicycling across the country in 2011 he joined the board. The Board elected him President in 2012. Cody works as Account and New Media Director at PRx Digital in San Jose, is a co-founder of San José Bike Clinic, and has a degree in Global Modern Literature from UC Santa Cruz.
Diana Foss - Board Secretary
Diana is a long time volunteer with Veggielution, and has taken a very active role in the organization since she joined in 2008. She coordinated and prepared the 2009 Veggielution Fundraiser Dinner, and has been heavily involved in running workdays and events.
Michael Burt - Board Treasurer
As a native Texan he moved to the bay area following his partner’s job. Michael enjoys food, cooking, entertaining, and volunteering. He fell in love with the Veggielution community very soon after moving to San Jose in August 2010. He found Veggielution at the San Pedro Farmers Market and quickly joined the Board of Directors after demonstrating knowledge in many aspects off the farm such as cooking, construction and non profit experience. He has served as the administrator for a national non profit pilot’s organization for the past seven years. Michael plans on starting a business selling food products at local bay area farmer’s markets in the near future.
Annie Chang - Board Member
Health (MS) and Medical (MD) Student at UC San Francisco / UC Berkeley Joint
Annie Chang graduated from the University of California, Davis in Communications with an emphasis in Film and Journalism and a Minor in Science and Society; she is currently pursing a joint medical (M.D.) and public health (M.S) degree at the UC San Francisco – UC Berkeley Joint Medical Program. Annie has years of experience working in communications, public health, and in a health plan. She began her most significant work serving as a researcher for National Linguistic & Cultural Programs, Kaiser Permanente National Diversity; the department supports the advancement of the National Standards on Culturally & Linguistically Appropriate Services issued by the Office of Minority Health. Her research has contributed toward strategies and innovations to mitigate health inequities faced by im/migrant communities. Furthermore, over the years Annie has drawn upon her enriching, in-depth experiences working with local and community-based efforts that address health and civic issues (such as End of Life Care, Immigrant Integration, Independent Arts, Urban Planning, and Migration Health). As an aspiring physician and public health leader, Chang values and continues her work as an advocate for vulnerable and underserved communities.
Kim Pederson - Board Member
Attorney, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
After graduating from Santa Clara University School of Law in 2004, Kim Pederson chose to make San Jose her long-term home. Since that time, Kim has worked as an attorney with the Law Foundation of Silicon Valley, an organization in downtown San Jose that provides free legal services to low-income residents of Santa Clara County. She works in the Law Foundation’s Mental Health Advocacy Project, representing people with mental illness residing in the community, along with individuals receiving treatment in psychiatric facilities. Her work focuses on advocating for her clients to live as independently as possible in the least-restrictive settings available to them. She first came to Veggielution in 2010, seeking to explore a different way of working towards social justice, have a closer connection to her personal food supply, and learn about caring for an urban flock of chickens. There’s no other place she’d rather be on a Saturday.
Advisory BoardNora Campos
Speaker Pro Tempore, State Assembly, District 23
Walker Kellogg LEED AP, CSDP
Co-founder and Principal, Inspired Labs, Sustainable Consulting
Executive Director, Loaves and Fishes
Owner, All Things Edible
Principal, Salner Communications, Strategic Communications Consulting
Executive Director, San Jose Parks Foundation and Founder, San Jose Repertory Theatre
Veggielution Board of Directors, Chair of Veggielution Advisory Board Health Committee, Medical (M.D.) and Public Health (M.S.) UC San Francisco – UC Berkeley Joint Medical Program
Patricia Barreto, MD MPH
Santa Clara Valley Medical Center Pediatric Healthy Lifestyles Center
Laurie Bostick Cammon, MD
Medical Director, Pediatric Healthy Lifestyles Center and Primary Care Pediatrician, Santa Clara County Medical Center at East Valley
Executive Director, Michael Lee Environmental Foundation
Principal, Hill Associates | Landscape Architecture | Planning