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 - Farm Apprentice
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.
Mika Shibuya - Farm Crew
Mika Shibuya is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where she studied Creative Writing and Environmental Studies. She returns to Veggielution after completing her Silicon Valley HealthCorps service at the California Native Garden Foundation, where she worked as Nursery Manager. Veggielution was lucky enough to first have her on the Farm Crew as a HealthCorps member from 2012-2014. Mika is passionate about strong food systems and social justice and knows her way around a greenhouse! To her responsibilities managing our small production nursery and guiding volunteers in greenhouse tasks, she brings a strong sense of organization, focused attention, and a wonderful affinity for plants and people.
Jennifer Aguilar - Youth Program Manager
Jennifer is a San Jose native. In 2014, she was introduced to Veggielution as a drop-in volunteer and eventually progressed into more committed roles as an Education Intern and Workday Leader. Jennifer recently graduated from San Jose State University with a BA in Social Science and a minor in Nutrition & Food Science. Her studies were primarily focused on community and social change, which she feels helped stir up a passion to support Veggielution's mission in East San Jose. She is excited to have the privilege of caring for the Youth Garden, as well as maintaining a safe and welcoming atmosphere for children and families to explore while learning about organic gardening, nutrition, sustainability, and building community.
Katie Rummel - Eastside Explorers Field Trip Assistant
Hello, I'm Katie! I'm originally from Southern California but now live up here in the Bay Area. I graduated from Cal State Fullerton with a B.A. in Anthropology. My passion for healthy, conscious eating has brought me to Veggielution. I believe in sustainable farming practices and farm to table meals and I love to share my passions with others. I love spending time outside and I love learning from my peers. I'm ready to have some fun!
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
Madeline Owen - Community Engagement Coordinator
Madeline recently graduated from Santa Clara University and is thrilled to continue her work with community development through the Silicon Valley HealthCorps and Veggielution. At Santa Clara University, Madeline was involved in a multitude of international and national services experiences but it was her work with the Best Buddies and Forge Garden partnership that encouraged her next step to urban farming. This year will be spent finding new ways to engage the community with Veggielution and working to improve food access, nutrition, and opportunity for East San Jose. She is thrilled to work everyday at the incredible Veggielution farm with an out-of-this-world team. Outside of community development, you can find her exploring new trails, working out her down dogs, sending and receiving snail mail, seeking a body of water, and weaving through farmers market stalls..
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.
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.
Bernardo Murillo - Board Treasurer, Tax Accountant
Bernardo Murillo was born and raised on the East Side of San Jose and maintains his residence in the city. He grew up watching the orchards convert to buildings and was excited to find out about Veggielution and its desire to bring the bountiful origins of this valley back to life for the community. He is a tax accountant by trade with over 10 years of experience and hopes to provide insight into the financial aspects of the organization to ensure its success. Backed by his father’s lifelong dedication to the community, Bernardo hopes to bring that same passion to help fulfill the mission of Veggielution.
Rebecca Salner - Board Secretary, Communications Professional
Rebecca is a former journalist who enjoys cooking, gardening and building community so it's no surprise that she found her way to Veggielution, first as a volunteer and later as an advisory board member. She grew up in the Bay Area and worked as a reporter and in nonprofit marketing and communications. She is now the Assistant Managing Editor for the Bay Area News Group.