Help Us Grow

Wendy Horton

Executive Director

Wendy is a passionate advocate of consuming nutritious, home-grown foods. Growing up on a farm, she gained a great love for the earth and the bounty it provides. Wanting to share this with her two sons and the East Palo Alto community, she co-founded the nonprofit educational farm, City Limits Urban Farm, which she ran with her husband for seven years. She has extensive experience working with the East Palo Alto, East Menlo Park, and Redwood City communities, providing volunteer opportunities through City Limits, business training, and nutritional guidance through workshops.

Wendy also brings to Collective Roots a breadth of business and nonprofit experience critical to the responsibilities of being an executive director, including extensive fundraising, event, and financial management (plus a past CPA certification). As president of the PTO for her son's elementary, she appropriated funding and coordinated the staff, parents, and upwards of 80 volunteers to ensure the nonprofit's success.

While working at a big-six accounting firm, she oversaw tax-consulting projects and managed large international teams. She has experience organizing forums and managing international delegates from her days at the nonprofit, Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life, in Washington DC. She received master's degrees from Harvard University in world religions and international relations and from Brigham Young University in tax. She looks forward to helping Collective Roots grow, from the ground up!

Najiha Al Asmar

Manager of Community Initiatives

Najiha Al Asmar grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and graduated from the University of California, Irvine in 2012 with a B.A. in Psychology and Social Behavior. She has interned for various organizations that focus on social justice and nature preservation, such as Irvine Ranch Conservancy, Acterra, Hidden Villa, and the Pachamama Alliance.

Her work as health promoter for the non-profit, Nuestra Casa, in East Palo Alto sparked a passion for building community in underserved communities. She is now pursuing a Master’s of Science Degree in Integrative Eco-social Design from Gaia University International; designing sustainable systems in urban societies. She loves the outdoors, growing organic produce, and cooking. 

raffaella cerruti

program and communication director


Raffaella grew up in Italy and earned a Master's degree in Agronomy and a PhD in Agro-food Economics. She began her career doing international research projects related to food and farming in order to promote organic and local food systems. After moving to USA six years ago she had a burning desire to work on promoting local food systems, social justice and fairness. Before Collective Roots, she worked at nonprofits providing research, resource development, fundraising, advocacy and community organizing assistance. From her previous experiences, she brings a strong commitment and passion to help vulnerable families eating and growing organic fruit and vegetables. 

gregoire valadie

market manager assistant 

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Grégoire serves as Market Manager Assistant. He grew up in France and earned a Master's degree in engineering. He began his career working for the automotive industry in Mexico. Interested in helping migrants who wanted to start a new career in France and Ecuador, he earned a degree in social work by working with undocumented immigrants and refugees. He has always been interested in projects that bring people toward autonomy and emancipation in the most general sense.
After moving to USA in 2017 he started to take advantage of being in the Bay Area to learn more about gardening and growing its own food.
With a passion for meeting new people, being nourished by different cultures and helping families in need, he hopes his skills will be helpful for the community.

maya Burke

2017-18 Intern 


Maya Burke is a senior from Kentucky, majoring in Comparative Studies in Race and Ethnicity. She has been interested in gardening and farming since childhood, and comes from two agricultural families. Growing up she was involved with a community garden and a land trust board. Her interests include growing food, and supporting underserved communities.