About the Growing Center Team
The Somerville Community Growing Center is made up of an all-volunteer Board of Directors, a part-time Volunteer Coordinator, and a part-time Site Coordinator, who oversee the non-profit organization, "Friends of the Community Growing Center." Here is information about them, their background, and interests.
The Growing Center Board of Directors
Betsy Larkin, Growing Center Board President
Betsy grew up in the Boston area and moved to Somerville after college, more than two decades ago. 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 gave 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 most recently worked at Road Scholar, a not-for-profit educational travel organization for older adults.
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.
Sarah Moylan, Growing Center Board Treasurer
Sarah Moylan is a seven-year resident of the Boston area and longtime admirer of the Growing Center. After moving from Vermont to Somerville in 2013-- and recovering from the shock of moving from the Champlain Valley to a "big city" with lots of concrete-- Sarah found a new appreciation for pockets of nature sprinkled throughout the city. Her interests in food systems and ecology led her to work at Green City Growers in Somerville and Grow Native Massachusetts in Waltham, where she gained a greater appreciation of how plants sustain not only human life, but the entire natural world. These days, Sarah works in commercial real estate finance and accounting as a professional number-cruncher. She is excited to get back to her roots (literally) in the garden and help with finances and fundraising.
Stacey Simon, Growing Center Board Clerk
Stacey is a fourth generation small business owner. With an MBA and a passion for supporting the small business community, she works as an accounting consultant for over 50 entrepreneurs and not-for-profits in the Somerville area. In her free time, she loves to unwind in nature with her family and pup. She first learned about the Growing Center while walking her dog around the neighborhood and joined as a volunteer, hosting a series of playgroups for young children and their caregivers.
Devanshi Desai, Growing Center Board Member
Devanshi has her M.Ed in Montessori education. She has worked in several early childhood environments that were Montessori or Reggio classrooms for 5 years before finding Wildflower and Dandelion. She started at Dandelion Montessori as a fellow of the Global Majority and after-care teacher in 2017, and has been coming through Dandelion to Growing Center ever since. Devanshi is deeply committed to critically examine the materials and practices in the classroom from an equity lens. She is excited to explore an intentional outdoor curriculum as well as engage in early education research. Devanshi is grounded by her children, Reva and Zuri, some of the Indian cultures and traditions, nature, and belief that education is a tool for lifetime and can pass to generations to come.
Kathleen Froehlich, Growing Center Board Member
Kathleen is a native of Long Island, New York and has been a Somerville resident since 2010. She discovered the Growing Center after a career change had her spending less time commuting into Boston and more time enjoying Somerville spaces. She truly fell in love with the space after becoming a parent and enjoys seeing her daughter’s joy exploring and connecting to the beautiful green space. Kathleen is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor working in her own private practice. She is passionate about food justice work and connecting communities to local food systems. In her free time she enjoys spending time outside, yoga, traveling with her husband and daughter, and cozy cuddles with her dog and cat. She is excited for the opportunity to become more involved with the Growing Center and finding more ways to share the resource with the community.
Emma Gildesgame, Growing Center Board Member
Emma is originally from Arlington and moved back to Porter Square in 2019 after a decade living outside of Massachusetts. She has spent most of her life helping build stronger connections between people and nature as an outdoor guide and environmental educator across the US. This is part of why she loves the Growing Center - she’s deeply committed to helping people find and connect with nature even in the most densely developed places. Emma is the climate adaptation scientist for the Massachusetts chapter of The Nature Conservancy, where she works with communities to keep people and nature safer from the impacts of climate change. She earned a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment and has spent many years thinking about and studying how water and people can work better together in cities. Emma lives in Somerville with her partner and many, many plants and can usually be found playing outside, baking, or curled up with a good book.
Liza Kitchell, Growing Center Board Member
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.
Becky Lopes-Filho, Growing Center Board Member
Becky first stumbled upon the Growing Center during the 2012 Maple Boil Down, and was immediately hooked. She’s originally from Key West, Florida (another vibrant, diverse community of artists, recent immigrants, and adventurous thinkers), and the winding nooks and crannies of the Growing Center reminded her of the often hidden, sun-dappled, inviting green spaces pocketed throughout the built environment in Key West. Becky began attending open hours with her young children and has made a point of weaving time at the Growing Center into their experience growing up in the urban environment. Becky’s always been committed to volunteer work and past roles have included wildlife rescuer, farm animal sanctuary worker, cat socializer, new parent outreach, volunteering at her kids’ schools and mutual aid work. Her professional life has focused on Restaurant and Retail management and Marketing. She’s thrilled to deepen her connection to the Growing Center and is especially interested in increasing green-space access to institutionally underserved, historically resilient communities.
Maddie Morgan, Growing Center Board Member
Maddie grew up outside of Boston and currently manages events and programs for the Massachusetts Nonprofit Network (MNN). Before joining MNN, Maddie spent her first year out of college coordinating environmental education programs and events at her alma matter's environmental center in Ohio. Eager to get back outside and in the dirt, Maddie is looking forward to serving the Growing Center and getting more involved with the community.
Marc Occil, Growing Center Board Member
Marc has been involved with several independent grassroots groups within the Boston area for the last nine years involving racial injustice, food inequities, housing justice and gig economy contractor advocacy. A past City Year participant, he has worked in retail, logistics, security and the visual arts, and has also volunteered with the Pine Street Inn. He looks forward to the opportunity to be of use to his community by applying the knowledge he gained while getting his degree.
Sasha Rollinger, Growing Center Board Member
A native of Washington, D.C., Sasha currently works for the School of Architecture and Planning at MIT, after having spent a decade in visual arts fundraising in New York City. In her free time, she enjoys visiting museums, stopping by Somerville's playgrounds and green spaces with her toddler, and growing vegetables with her family at their home in western Massachusetts.
Jun Seung Lee, Growing Center Board Member
Jun is excited to share his passion for community gardens with his fellow neighbors in the Somerville community. His interest in the natural world began at an early age, having spent many hours gardening with his grandmother in Korea, and he hopes to be a part of sparking others' interest and appreciation for all gardens have to offer.
Jun loves many different aspects of gardening. Whether you're interested in growing melons, watering plants, or understanding the science behind composting, Jun hopes you will stop by for a chat. His professional background is in city engagement and policy, and when he's not at work or the Growing Center, you can find him at the gym or outdoors in the mountains.
The Growing Center Staff
Paula Jordan, Site Coordinator and Children in Nature Coordinator
Morgan Lindmayer-Finck, Volunteer and Communications Coordinator