Martha apprenticed on a Biodynamic CSA near Ann Arbor in 1989. Since then, she has practiced urban farming and community building in Minneapolis, Santa Cruz, Boston, Chicago, and Guatemala. She arrived in Chicago from a masters program in land restoration, public health, and environmental justice at UW-Madison. She is passionate about grounding self-reliant communities in and around their ecological infrastructure. Martha also holds a certificate in Zen Shiatsu and lives in Woodlawn with (at current count) four cats -- and zero chickens.
Deb, Program Director for our On-Farm Initiative since 2004, has a background in environmental education and organic farming. Her favorite moments with farm visitors include birthing goats, visiting the beehive, making six kinds of cheese, and the alchemy as diverse groups of people join together to work, learn, and feast on the farm.
Sheri is the director of our Stateline Farm Beginnings program and of CRAFT (which stands for Collaborative Regional Alliance for Farmer Training -- our farmer-to-farmer network). Sheri joined the Learning Center in 2009 after working as the Farm Forager for the City of Chicago Farmers Market Program and for the Green City Market. Sheri also has small-scale vegetable production experience, marketing through a CSA and farmers markets.
Danica received a BA in Sociology/Anthropology and Psychology from Olivet College, Olivet, MI and a MS in Environmental Education from the Audubon Expedition Institute at Lesley University, Cambridge, MA. Danica is a dedicated systems thinker, urban dweller and food lover. She grew up in Aurora, Illinois and is excited to finally return Illinois and work within the watershed of her birth.
Kathy Kelley is a life-long resident of the Rockford area, living in the New Milford area of southeastern Winnebago County. Kathy is married to her life-long partner, Dave, and they have 2 adult sons and 3 granddaughters. She graduated from Rock Valley College with associate’s degrees in accounting, business administration and marketing. She has worked in a variety of private sector settings including several manufacturers, an accounting firm, a temp agency and most recently, a group of lumber yards. She also serves as treasurer at her church. She is in the midst of her 2nd term on the Board of Trustees for Rock Valley College, currently serving as its President. In her spare time she enjoys gardening (and the related activities of canning, freezing, jelly & wine making) walking her dogs in the park and motorcycling.
Tara joined the staff in 2007 and provides support to the Resource Development & Communications departments. As the Learning Center's IT manager she keeps the organization's many technological systems maintained and progressive in support of our initiatives. Tara graduated from Valparaisao University with a BA in Art and American Studies she is now a resident & locavore of Beloit WI near the Learning Center's main office.
Corinne joined AOLC in October 2009. She is originally from Bloomington, Indiana, and holds a bachelor's degree in journalism and a master's degree in public administration with a concentration in nonprofit management from Indiana University. Corinne lives in Chicago and in her spare time enjoys training for swimming, running, an cycling races, seeking out locally-grown food, and cooking.
Tom is founding executive director of Angelic Organics Learning Center (AOLC). He is inspired by farms as dynamic places of cultural, ecological, and economic revitalization. At the Learning Center, Tom focuses on strategic planning, building partnerships, and managing our staff team and facilities. He keeps his hands in the dirt and his spirit renewed by managing the AOLC livestock and assisting with the fertility program at Angelic Organics farm. He is based in our main office. Tom joined the Angelic Organics CSA in 1994 and became executive director of the Learning Center in 1999. Prior to coming to the Learning Center, Tom worked 15 years internationally with the YMCA of the USA international group and the United Nations in Costa Rica and New York. Tom was born in California and is married to Venezuelan eco-theologian and pastor Neddy Astudillo. They share life with three boys -- Gustavo, Francisco and Adam -- and three very loud parrots, a tortoise and a hare.
Katie Townsend resides in northwestern Illinois and enjoys the natural landscapes of the region including upland forests, tall grass prairies and the Kishwaukee River. She has an undergraduate degree in Resource Management/ Forestry from the University of Wisconsin –Stevens Point and a Masters degree in Outdoor Teacher Education from Northern Illinois University. Professional experiences include environmental education, forestry and youth development. Interesting jobs include being a backpacking instructor in the Rocky Mountains, working in Christian Camps in Eastern Europe, 21 years of programming at Atwood Center –Rockford Park District in Environmental Education and of course this one—Urban Farm Instructor. Her passion is theology, environmental activism,writing, spending time with her family, kayaking, dog walking and coffee drinking.
Originally from the Mountain West, Laura moved to Illinois to attend Wheaton College, where she graduated with degrees in English Literature and Studio Art. She has since become a seasoned urban dweller in her adopted city of Chicago, and has supported the resource development efforts of several local nonprofit organizations. In her spare time, Laura enjoys cooking and making art, often with and about vegetables. She recently completed a painting which featured organic golden beets.
Jessie Crow Mermel
Bertha Jurado Landeros