Sally Chaves joined the board in 2010, is vice-chair of the board and serves on the fundraising committee. Her first memory of working in the garden was planting and harvesting corn and radishes with her father at five years old. The excitement of watching the first shoots appear and later tasting the freshly pulled radishes led to a lifelong affinity for nutrition and fresh food. Sally has a master’s degree in nutrition and is a part-time lecturer at De Anza College. She previously worked as a pediatric nurse and is passionate about working with children and families in community gardens as they experience the satisfaction of growing the food they eat.
Rebecca Wilson Cohn joined the board in 2013 and serves on the fundraising committee. By Rebecca’s own description, she grew up a country girl who loved to grow, pick and eat fresh fruit. A former physical therapist for over 20 years, she knows the value of healthy eating and exercise. And as the chair of the Assembly Committee on Health in the California Legislature, she helped determine sound policies for promoting health for the entire State of California. She looks forward to sharing her love of planting, cultivating and nurturing with the Collective Roots community.
Amy Sutor joined the board in 2011 and serves on the community advisory board. Originally from Nebraska, she moved to East Palo Alto in 2005, where she is a stay-at-home mother of two daughters and a rare-fruit aficionado. When she’s not farming her high-density backyard garden, Amy volunteers with Collective Roots, GreenSteaders and the San Mateo and San Francisco County Master Gardeners. Her background is in early childhood development and she is proficient in American Sign Language.
Katie Githens joined the board in 2011, is secretary, and serves on the communications committee. Katie first volunteered for Collective Roots’ cooking classes, and had such fun helping rowdy grade school kids (and their parents) discover new culinary skills that she decided to get more involved. She has a degree in journalism and has written for small-town newspapers, travel guidebooks, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Stanford University. She feels that amazing stories are underway at Collective Roots, and she hopes to tell them.
Melanie Harris joined the board in 2011, is board chair, and serves on the strategic planning committee. While her career has been focused in medical device technology, Melanie strives to maintain active involvement in the community. While working in Menlo Park, she served as a mentor, teacher and tutor for programs at the Boys and Girls Club of the Peninsula in East Palo Alto. The project she was most passionate about during her MBA program was working on the strategic plan and branding for a nonprofit focused on women athletes as leaders in the community. As a mother, Melanie appreciates the chance to be educated about food choices for her own family while making a positive contribution to Collective Roots.
Samo Devenica joined the board in 2011 and serves on the finance committee. Samo is a Stanford graduate who has confidence in the power of education, healthy ecosystems and local communities. He believes that a small group of passionate people can bring about great change. He is a technology investment banker by night.
Belinda Rosales joined the board in 2013 and serves as liaison to the community advisory board. She is a retired grandmother, a resident of East Palo Alto for over three decades and an avid backyard gardener. She appreciates seeing the smiles on her neighbors’ faces when sharing her homegrown vegetables and being able to introduce the value of gardening to her children and grandchildren.
Amy Wolf joined the board in 2013 and serves on the communications committee. As a former Sunset Magazine editor, the mom of two veggie-eating kids, caretaker of a revolving cast of chickens, and wife of a peach farmer-turned-businessman who’s been known to make his own pickles and kombucha, she feels a natural pull toward all things home-cured and garden-grown. Now a digital marketing expert at Stanford, she aspires to translate Collective Roots’ many powerful stories into one powerful brand. (And to spend as much time as possible in the garden alongside others who share her vision.)