Our team is a group of dedicated individuals that bring our mission to life.
Levi Gardner - Founder & Executive Director
A West Michigan native, Levi has an M.S. in Community Sustainability and Ecological Food and Farming systems, experience in biointensive and organic growing, and is a certified Permaculture Designer. He loves teaching and gives frequent workshops and lectures on food systems, agroecology, and the pedagogy of place. He has designed and implemented multiple courses on food systems and agriculture, and works with local educators, community partners, and consumers to elevate the dialogue around education and place-making. Levi is a always up for a cup of coffee to talk, and he ardently believes that the world desperately needs more celebration, beauty, and dancing. He lives with his family in Grand Rapids, MI.
Jenny Bongiorno - Program Director
A Grand Rapids native, Jenny loves creating meaningful experiences for all people interacting with Urban Roots. She graduated from GVSU in 2006 with degrees in Public Relations and Spanish. After a year working as a project manager in Chicago she decided that having a "real job" wasn't for her and has been working in organic agriculture and community education ever since. From managing an off-the-grid permaculture and design education center in the jungle of Costa Rica to starting a year round, 3rd-12th grade youth education farm program in the rolling hills of rural New Hampshire, Jenny has been a steward of the land and creating programs for people to learn about food in a way that is fun and accessible.
Kelsey Hakeem - Program Assistant
Michigan native Kelsey Hakeem feels most comfortable with her hands in the soil. She began farming as a volunteer at Riley Family Farm in 2006. Kelsey fell in love with growing food and completed the Organic Farming Certificate Program at Michigan State University in 2008. Since then she has worked on a variety of local growing projects around GR. After becoming a mother to two boys, she returned to school, and completed a B.F.A. in Sculpture and Functional Art at Kendall College of Art and Design. Kelsey now spends her days growing food, making art and mothering.
Hannah Mico - Interim Office and Relationships Manager
Hannah was born and raised in Metro Detroit, and moved to West Michigan in 2013 to attend GVSU. She completed her degree in Natural Resource Management in 2016, and after a life-changing study abroad experience in South Africa/Mozambique began working in the non-profit sector. She splits her time between Urban Roots, the West Michigan Environmental Action Council, the Grand Rapids Children's Museum, and Friends of Grand Rapids Parks. She also works as a freelance photographer throughout Michigan. Hannah enjoys eating pizza, watching wildlife documentaries, and camping (mainly for the vegan s'mores). She believes deeply in living a holistic and unbounded life, and loves the new home she's found in the Grand Rapids community.
Maaike Baker - Mobile Classroom Coordinator
Native of Grand Rapids, Maaike is happy to be back in Michigan after five years on the East Coast. She studied journalism on Boston's North Shore before moving to Washington DC to work in veggiescaping and nutrition advocacy. She started at Urban Roots as a regular volunteer in August 2016 and was brought onto the team the following February. When she's not at Urban Roots, she's slinging vegan pizzas or drinking beer in her hammock.
Wuendy Diaz - Community Market Associate
Wuendy was born and raised in Honduras and came to America when she was 13 years old. She has always liked working with plants because her grandma used to love planting flowers and vegetables. She got connected to Urban Roots through a student youth employment program 2 years ago and has been a part of the team ever since. She loves being at Urban Roots because it is like going back to her house with her grandma! She loves that now she gets to be part of the staff because they are all like family. She loves the "family feeling" at Urban Roots and that she is doing what she loves to do - talking to people and being part of something much bigger than herself. She believes it is a way of giving back to the community.
Greg Mankowski - YOUR Compost Program Intern
Bio and pic coming soon!
Andrew Campbell - Intern
Bio and pic coming soon!
Our Board is a group of talented, smart, passionate professionals who seek to co-create a strong, resilient, and sustainable organization.
David Prostko, Board President
Alita Kelly, Vice President
Michael Vanderbrug, Treasurer
Board meetings and committee meetings are held at regularly determined times. If you are interested in participating in a committee for Urban Roots, please fill out a volunteer application on our volunteer page here.