About the SCGC Team
The Somerville Community Growing Center is made up of an all-volunteer Board of Directors and a part-time Volunteer Coordinator who oversee the non-profit organization, "Friends of the Community Growing Center." Here is information about them, their background and interests.
Liza Kitchell, Growing Center Board President
Liza Kitchell has been a volunteer at the Growing Center for 17 years and a board member for two years. Liza teaches music at the Community Music Center of Boston and in the Boston Public Schools, as well as teaching piano privately at her home in Somerville. She is a composer, and her works have been heard recently with Lynn + Paul Dance in Riverfest, and in “Postcards from Skratz” at the Armory in Somerville. Liza coordinates the Summer Song Series at the Growing Center and is committed to seeing the Growing Center grow and thrive for the next 25 years.
Lisa Brukilacchio, Growing Center Board Vice President
Lisa is a long time Somerville resident, moving here in 1977 from upstate NY. While a student at Tufts, she discovered community gardening and has been hooked ever since. It was while she was serving as the City's Community Gardens Coordinator as part of the Conservation Commission, that the Growing Center was born. As one of the founding members, Lisa was highly motivated by her own childhood experiences to create a space in the city where children could develop their own relationship with the natural world. In addition, she has strived to continue the creative legacy of the early years of the Center by working to foster an environment where all ages and abilities can discover how to apply their passions and talents towards building a model of sustainability, citizen engagement and cultural exploration.
Kimberly Rhoten, Growing Center Board Secretary
Kimberly Rhoten (They/Them/They) is a recent transplant to the Somerville area and is still learning all the nooks and crannies of this beautiful area. In their day job, they write on current public policy issues facing LGBTI persons as Public Policy Fellow for an international N.G.O.. In their free time, they can be spotted mulling over their herb container garden as well as at local dance events. Kimberly is a mother to two kittens and an endless stream of art projects. They hope to continue growing their knowledge of urban agriculture and community cultivation.
Monica Hileman, Board Member
Originally from the Chicago area, Monica moved to Somerville back when the old Junior High School was on the site of what is now the growing center. She once picked peaches in Colorado, worked in a potato chip factory in Portland, Oregon, as well as a housing advocate at the Community Action Agency of Somerville, and as an aide at the Massachusetts House of Representatives. She currently spends most of her time writing and is learning a lot about the local ecosystem since joining the board.
Betsy Larkin, Board Member
Betsy grew up in the Boston area and moved to Somerville after college. She began volunteering with the Growing Center in 2010, harvesting and selling herbs and produce at the Union Square Farmers Market. After a break of a few years, during which she had three children, she returned to organize the Growing Center’s summer playgroup that gives area children a non-manicured green space in which to play, run around and be free. This helped cement her connection to the space, which she sees as an important asset for area families, especially those without yards to play in. Betsy has a background in the cultural sector, with a particular focus on tourism programming and marketing. She currently works in program development at Road Scholar, a not-for-profit educational travel organization for older adults.
Karl Thidemann, Board Member
Karl is co-founder of Soil4Climate, a Vermont-based nonprofit advocating for soil restoration as a climate mitigation solution. He is also co-founder of Somerville Climate Action. Karl has marketed environmental laboratory services, and later sold electric vehicles for Solectria, an off-shoot of the MIT Solar Car Team. Speaking engagements include guest-lectures at Harvard University, MIT, and Boston University, and he has twice appeared on NPR’s Science Friday radio show. Karl holds a B.A. in chemistry from Wesleyan University.
Additional board members: Aileen Bellwood & Julia Featheringill, Growing Center Board Treasurer
Christine Savage Volunteer Coordinator
Christine (she/her/hers) is the part-time Volunteer Coordinator for the Somerville Community Growing Center. Outside her work at the Growing Center, she can be found wearing her development hat at Food For Free, a local food rescue and hunger relief non-profit based in Cambridge.