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  • Francesca Cano-Czagany

Welcoming Our Newest Board Members!

Welcoming our Newest Board Members!

Join us in welcoming the Friends of the Community Growing Center’s newest members of our Board of Directors: Emma Gildesgame, Kathleen Froehlich, Becky Lopes-Filho, Marc Occil, Devanshi Desai, and Jun Seung Lee.

Our Growing Center Board of Directors is made up entirely of volunteers, and we’re thrilled to introduce you all to its newest additions – dedicated to enhancing and furthering the Center’s mission of educating and engaging the full population of Somerville in spending time outdoors. Below is a brief bio on each of them!

Emma Gildesome is a climate adaptation scientist dedicated to helping people connect with nature, no matter the location, having spent most of her life helping to build stronger connections between people and nature as an outdoor guide and environmental educator across the United States. If you see her, ask about how water and people can work better together in cities. She studied this topic extensively while earning a Master of Environmental Management from the Yale School of the Environment. You’re sure to learn a lot from her.

Next, passionate about food justice work and connecting communities with local systems, Kathleen Froehlich is joining our team after over a decade of living in Somerville and even longer as a Registered Dietitian and Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor. Kathleen has been a long-time friend of the Growing Center, having brought her daughter to explore and connect within our spaces. She brings a plethora of experience and excitement for this new role and we’re excited to have her here.

Now, if you’ve ever attended the Somerville Maple Boil Down, you know that it’ll hook you to the Growing Center immediately, and that’s exactly what happened with Becky Lopes-Filho. Becky started coming to the Growing Center with her children more than ten years ago and quickly became an integral part of our community. And Becky’s done it all – wildlife rescue, work at a farm animal sanctuary, PTA volunteer work and new parent outreach – you name it! She’s passionate about increasing green space access to institutionally underserved, historically resilient communities and we’re so excited to see what she’ll do.

We’re absolutely thrilled to add Marc Occil to our team. A 2022 City Year participant and independent grassroots veteran, Marc is bringing the most important issues to the forefront – he is passionate about racial injustice, food inequities, housing justice and gig economy contractor advocacy. We’re sure he’ll be a vital resource in building on the Growing Center’s role in all of these areas.

Have you ever been to Wildflower or Dandelion Montessori? Well then you may have seen our newest board member, Devanshi Desai. She started at Dandelion as a fellow of the Global Majority and after-care teacher back in 2017, which is what introduced her to the Growing Center. Since then, she has worked with the Growing Center at length to address the materials and practices used in classrooms from an equity lens. If you have any questions regarding intentional outdoor curriculum, look no further than Devanshi. In Devanshi’s own words, “Education is a tool for a lifetime and can pass to generations to come.”

Lastly, a warm welcome to Jun Seung Lee. With an innate love for gardening, composting, and community gardens, Jun brings an excitement to the role that is unmatched. He comes to the Growing Center with a background in city management and policy and a curiosity for the natural world that will grow our programs across Somerville and beyond.

We’re honored that these engaged, dynamic, and dedicated individuals have chosen to join the Growing Center Board. Please extend a warm welcome to them, and if you see them around, be sure to say hello!

For a full listing of all of our Board Members, visit this page.


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