MEET OUR TEAM
Cayce Hill - Executive Director
Cayce is originally from Austin, TX, but arrived in San Jose in 2008 by way of Morelia, New York City, and Tokyo. Before moving to San Jose she worked with the Japan Organic Agriculture Association, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the Children's Hospital at Montefiore. Cayce holds an MPA from NYU Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, with a focus on Health Care Policy and Program Evaluation. As a culinary gardener and garden educator, Cayce has worked with The Absinthe Group, Sons & Daughters Restaurant, and the Delphi Agrarian Arts Foundation. She believes that good food, local community, and social networks - the old-fashioned kind with real people - are what make us all healthy and strong.
Colleen Hotchkiss - Farm Manager
After earning her B.A. in Spanish with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies from Haverford College in 2011, Colleen began her career in sustainable agriculture, working first at a non-profit CSA farm in Maryland and then at a 140-acre natural process farm in Petaluma. Colleen started working at Veggielution In September 2012 as a member of the Silicon Valley Health Corps, managing the Farm Box CSA program and weekly Farm Stand. Promoted to Farm Manager in April 2015, Colleen oversees all farm operations, including fruit and vegetable production and distribution, crop planning, native and ornamental landscaping, equipment and infrastructure, and irrigation systems. She directly supervises a talented team of staff, interns, and HomeGrown Talent fellows to keep the farm operation running smoothly, and works closely with the Executive Director to hone and develop Veggielution's mission-driven programming. Raised in Redwood City, Colleen is passionate about sustainable agriculture in the Bay Area and is working towards owning and operating her own small farm.
Emily Schwing - Development Communications Manager
A native of the Jersey Shore, Emily Schwing came to the Bay Area by way of the University of South Alabama where she earned a B.S. in Meteorology (2011). Emily earned her M.A. in Communication Studies at San José State University (2014) with a focus on Environmental Communication. Emily joined Veggielution in 2014 as the Outreach Coordinator as a member of the Silicon Valley Health Corps. In 2015, she became Veggielution’s fulltime Program Manager. In her current role as Development Communications Manager, Emily coordinates Veggielution’s overall communication strategy across a variety of media platforms. She is responsible for implementing the farm’s education and community engagement programs including Veggielution Cocina, a community cooking class series. A longtime surfer, Emily is now an avid backpacker. When she’s not on the farm, she can be found in the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Rosa Contreras - Eastside Grange Coordinator
Rosa was born and raised here in San José , CA. She graduated with a B.A. in Sociology from the University of San Francisco (USF), where she found various passions in her academics as well as co-founding Baile Folklorico de San Pancho (the Mexican Folk Dance Group of Saint Francisco). Academically, she explored both Biology and Sociology, but fell back onto her roots in Social Justice by emphasizing her studies in Human Trafficking. Ten odd jobs later, Rosa has a dream of bringing delicious healthy food to East Side San Jose, and the East Side Grange Project is the perfect way to do that. As a San José native, Rosa is passionate about serving her community and doing anything possible to ensure a bright future. Veggielution's mission and service is directly in line with her passion and she is delighted to be apart of such a rich, dynamic, and fun community!
Jason Rodriguez - Assistant Farm Manager
Jason is a recent graduate from the Environmental Studies program at UC Santa Cruz, with a focus on Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems. He has produce experience from community gardens to commercial vineyards, most recently as a student supervisor at the UCSC Greenhouses. Here at Veggielution, he will assist with farm operations and help develop our farm system to better serve our social and ecological environment. Jason is excited to bring his experience and enthusiasm back to his hometown.
Yazmin Hernandez Carbajal - Community Engagement Program Manager
Yazmin was born in Ciudad Juarez Chihuahua Mexico to a shoe maker and an accountant. Her and her family moved to San Jose CA when she was 12. Yazmin has a beautiful 8 year old boy named Yahir Hernandez who loves school and cooking. She started working at the age of 15 and have had many roles and jobs until I was able to finish college and get certified as a phlebotomist/CMA and even though she loved her career Yazmin fell more in love with Veggielution. This place has given Yazmin and her whole family community and environmental awareness, as well as given her various opportunities to grow. She is thrilled to keep growing. Yazmin's favorite things to do are to cook, raising her son and spending time with her friends. Yazmin aspires to make a difference not only in her community but why not change the world!
Emily Martinez - Eastside Explorers Field Trip Assistant
Emily was born and raised in the East Bay, but has been immersed in the South Bay community for the past five years. As a graduating senior at San Jose State University, her areas of study are Nutrition Education and Health Science. She enjoys being involved in the community and has joined Veggielution to share her passions for food and health. She hopes to further expand her skills and knowledge as an educator and also a learner. She is excited to be part of a growing community in a new way!
SILICON VALLEY HEALTH CORPS
Esther Ng - Neighborhood Harvest Program Manager
Esther is a native to San Jose and recently moved back after completing her undergraduate degree in Human Development at UC San Diego. As a Silicon Valley HealthCorps VISTA, Esther is looking forward to contributing to the community of San Jose through education, health, and food. She first volunteered at Veggielution as an Education Intern in 2015 and returns as the Harvest Manager for the Neighborhood Harvest Program. Her role focuses on organizing fruit harvesting events as a medium for bringing people together to share and sustain our local food system.
Koko Novak - 1st Saturday Coordinator
Koko is originally from Salt Lake City, Utah and graduated from Bowdoin College with a B.A. in Spanish in 2016. She was involved in various clubs and organizations while attending college and was most inspired by her time with the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program and as a student mentor, which sparked her interests in community building and healthy food access. Koko is excited to work in San Jose and combine those interests as a Silicon Valley HealthCorps VISTA at Veggielution. At the farm, she works with the community through 1st Saturdays and Veggielution Cocina.
Kavita Aiyar - Communication & Development Strategy
Kavita is a seasoned Silicon Valley marketing professional with extensive high-tech industry experience and a proven track record driving innovative marketing programs that produce compelling business results. She is now focused on applying her skills to the non-profit sphere. Kavita has a deep and abiding passion for the written word, as well as for healthy eating and growing her own vegetables. At Veggielution, she is working on evolving the organization's communication and development strategy with a focus on online presence, compelling content, donor and volunteer retention, and creative fundraising.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Kim Pederson - Board Chair
Senior Attorney, Law Foundation of Silicon Valley
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.
Julie Cecilio- Board Secretary, Sales Enablement,
Organization Change Management professional
As 20-year San Jose resident, and high tech worker, Julie is an active member of her
community via her neighborhood, children’s school and her workplace. Most often
Julie’s endeavors focus on health, athletics, leadership, activism and local organic food.
She has been a restorer of historic homes and public spaces, and a rescuer of dogs.
Julie likes to use her organization skills to create to connect and energize others, creating a cumulative positive impact. At VMware, Julie leads a global sales enablement team that helps organizations reach revue targets through strategic planning,
training/instructional design and content management. Julie is a member of the San Jose Women’s Club and a founding member of the San Jose chapter of Solidarity Sundays. She lives downtown with her husband Carlino and their three children and a
large Labrador named Tucker.
Imelda Gonzalez grew-up in Soledad, California, located in the Salinas Valley. Her parents are immigrants from Mexico and were farmworkers prior to their retirement. Imelda participated in school-based agricultural programs as a child. She moved to Bay Area to attend Stanford University and has lived in Downtown San Jose for close to ten years. She is currently the Director of Human Resources at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and she has over fifteen years of experience in human resources and talent development. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, hiking, cooking, exploring restaurants and markets, finding new music, art collecting, reading, and spending time with her nephews.