Kimbal Musk is an investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a chef.
Kimbal Musk is restauranteur and philanthropist. His personal mission is to pursue an America where everyone has access to real food. Mr. Musk has been named a Global Social Entrepreneur by the World Economic Forum. He is the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of three businesses - The Kitchen Restaurant Group, Big Green, and Square Roots - with real food missions that are rapidly scaling across the US. The Kitchen Restaurant Group -- with its three concepts Next Door, Hedge Row, and The Kitchen -- serves real food at every price point and has created over a thousand mission driven jobs. The restaurants source sustainably grown food from American farmers, stimulating the local farm economy to the tune of millions of dollars a year. Mr. Musk's non-profit organization, Big Green, builds permanent, outdoor Learning Garden classrooms in hundreds of underserved schools across America reaching over 250,000 students everyday. His urban farming company, Square Roots, brings local, real food to people in major cities by empowering next-gen farmers to grow food in indoor, modular, hydroponic farms.
Hugo Matheson is the Chef/Co-Founder of The Kitchen.
Born in England, Hugo grew up eating whatever food his mother picked up that day. Sometimes it was just “a bit of kale from our garden,” other times it was “a slowly simmered leg of lamb from the nearby butcher.” Either way, it was always fresh and represented the best of the area.
Tighe Brown is passionate about and committed to working with youth specifically around growing food and motivating youth to make healthy food choices.
Tighe has worked with Big Green to help create, build, and implement a scalable and successful outdoor educational program for schools with Learning Gardens over the past 5 years. Her passion for this work comes from her background in Sustainable Food Systems and Environmental Education. Previous to Big Green, Tighe worked in the for profit sustainable food systems sector specifically in the natural food industry where she focused and supported early growth, start-up companies. She has also spent time teaching environmental education and coaching youth sports. Tighe earned and a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies from The University of California, Berkeley.
Robin is originally from Philadelphia and spent most of her professional career working in mid-size and large organizations located in New York, Washington D.C. and Dallas.
At Big Green, Robin is responsible for leading our people activities and internal operations. Prior to joining Big Green Robin cultivated her passion for people and process as part of the leadership teams at Conservation International, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Ernst & Young and the National Ecological Observatory Network. She’s earned dual professional certifications in compensation and benefits from World at Work and is also certified as an Organizational Development Practitioner. Robin and her family moved to Boulder several years ago and love spending time outdoors exploring all things Colorado. As a proud alum of the University of Virginia, when she’s not at work you’ll also find her cheering for her favorite sports teams.
Erin is originally from New England. She moved to Colorado with her family in 2010. Prior to joining Big Green, Erin held positions with vcfo, Hale and Dorr, LLP and Carlin, Charron & Rosen, LLP. Erin began her professional career as an electrical engineer redesigning torpedoes for the navy. She holds a BS in Electrical Engineering and a MS in Accountancy and is an active CPA in the States of Colorado and Massachusetts. When not working, Erin enjoys spending time with her husband and children. The decision to join Big Green was not a difficult one. She is grateful for this amazing opportunity to use her professional knowledge to help children across the country.
Phil has worked alongside and within a range of businesses, from those seeking their first investment, to those with revenue in the billions - to develop industry leading strategies, corporate partnerships and sales channels. He is fueled by a belief that success is exciting, though it is the series of moments, the planning and preparation, and the pursuit of victory that must be rewarded, as these are the things that create replicable growth and long-term sustainability. Outside the office, Phil spends his free time with his three children and wife, coaching youth basketball, or competing in adventure races.
Cristina is committed to advancing community health and promoting environmental stewardship.
Prior to joining Big Green, Cristina spent 10 years working in the environmental field providing both research and programmatic support to non-profit and governmental organizations. Most recently, she worked as a researcher for a university-based institute focused on capacity building for tribal environmental programs throughout the nation. Cristina holds a MS from Northern Arizona University in Environmental Sciences and Policy and a BA in Environmental Studies and Sociology (dual major) from the University of San Francisco. On the weekends, Cristina can be found outdoors rock climbing, biking, or skiing.
Nicole is a native to New York, with a passion for all things food. This passion has led to a wide variety of food marketing experiences including stints Gourmet magazine and SAVUER magazine where she developed and oversaw integrated marketing programs and partnerships for top brands, orchestrated high profile celeb chef events, led brand marketing projects, curated farm to table dinners and more. Prior to joining Big Green Nicole worked on marketing and event initiatives with a variety of chefs and restaurants in Boulder, including Blackbelly, Arugula, and Farm to Table chef Grant Buchanan. She received her BA from Emory University and a Digital Design Certificate from Parsons School of Design. When not working, you can find Nicole cooking with fresh, local seasonal ingredients; gardening; practicing yoga; and enjoying the amazing outdoor lifestyle that Boulder has to offer.
A recent transplant to Detroit Odie grew up in rural Mississippi where his passion for plants and gardening was fueled by his family's local farming efforts. After completing his BA at the University of Memphis he spent several years in the restaurant and food service industry before returning in 2009 to complete a Graduate Degree in Landscape Architecture at Mississippi State University. There his primary research focus was strengthening community through design and participatory planning. Prior to joining the Detroit team Odie spent several years in a Residential Landscape Design and Maintenance firm in the Chicago Area.
Amina hails from Michigan, where she grew up cheering on the Spartans, Go Green! Prior to Big Green, Amina worked as the Head Kitchen Teacher at Edible Schoolyard NYC’s Harlem Campus. Earlier in her career, Amina served as a FoodCorps member in the Bronx, a Nutrition and Garden Educator through the Michigan Fitness Foundation, and also served as Healthy Lifestyles Project Coordinator with the Capital Area Health Alliance. Amina brings to her work a degree in Nutrition, a love of trying new things, and a passion for connecting kids to real food.
Raised in the Garden State, Margarita grew up collecting and dissecting plants.
She went to Rutgers University where she received a BS in Agricultural Plant Science. She has worked with Rutgers Cooperative Extension as an intern, AmeriCorps VISTA, and project staff, working in plant and soil science education. When not tending to plants, Margarita likes to visit museums, read books, paint, and go hiking.
Sarah studied at University of Memphis where she graduated with her BS in Education and went on to teach fourth grade for one year and middle school math and science for five years. Sarah has also been a server at The Kitchen Bistro restaurant in Shelby Farms Park, which is where she first learned about The Kitchen Community. Since she started with TKC, she has applied her new gardening knowledge and become an avid home gardener. She enjoys the outdoors, running, blogging, exercising, being involved in her church, and going to the dog park with her dog Laila. Her mission in life is to motivate, inspire, instill confidence and positively impact lives.
Melissa Chananie is a New York native excited to now call Colorado home!
Prior to joining Big Green team, Melissa served two AmeriCorps service years working on communications, fundraising, and outreach with Our City Forest, an urban forestry nonprofit in San Jose, CA and Assuring Better Child Health & Development, an early childhood organization in Denver. Between her two years she spent time traveling and organic farming in Nepal and Thailand. Melissa received her BA in English from Lehigh University in 2013 and currently volunteers on the board of Greenleaf, a local Denver youth leadership & food justice organization and urban farm.
A Nashville Native, Evan is thrilled to find herself at Big Green Memphis. Evan received a B.A. in Literature and Theatre from Butler University, where she also kept a family of red wigglers happy with her table scraps. An environmentalist and aspiring naturalist, Evan is particularly interested in the intersection of youth education and the natural world.
Marie is originally from New York City, but has lived in Memphis long enough to call it home.
Marie has Masters’ in Public and Nonprofit Administration and Anthropology from the University of Memphis, and a culinary certificate from the California Culinary Academy. She is most passionate about engaging youth through gardening, and networking with food system stakeholders in Memphis. Marie spends her free time backyard gardening, chicken keeping, volunteering at local farmers markets, and dancing with the local company Project: Motion Modern Dance Collective.
Emma is a San Francisco Bay Area native, and recent transplant to Michigan. She spent the last ten years collecting degrees in ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Rochester and University of Texas at Austin, throughout which she studied fruit flies, parasitic wasps, social spiders, and other bugs that scared her mom. During this time, she also realized a love for teaching, and especially for bringing outdoor, experiential learning opportunities to schools. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, fostering kittens, gardening, and spending time with friends.
Growing up the daughter of two Deadhead attorneys just north of Indianapolis, Colleen has been surrounded by forests and fields since day one. Her interests in nature and conservation expanded as she completed her degree in Wildlife at Purdue University to include organic agriculture and education. After several seasonal adventures in environmental education, she settled close to her roots and honed her skills as a teacher at a local charter school and a horticulturist at Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis. She also cofounded a yoga studio and herb school with her husband. Her current position as Garden Educator is the perfect combination of her many passions and talents.
Ken has an unshakable commitment to helping young people live better lives. Prior to joining Big Green, Ken spent 10 years working in youth development providing programs for young people to improve their way of life and contribute to their communities. He also has an extensive marketing and multi-media background and holds a Bachelors degree in Television/Multi-media Production from Ferris State University. As a boy, Ken grew vegetables with his grandfather and understands the important role gardening plays in instilling healthy eating habits and developing strong character values.
Lisa Ellis, a native Memphian and Memphis Grizzlies fan, is proud to call Memphis home.
Lisa Ellis was born and raised in Memphis, Tennessee and is proud to call it home.Before joining Big Green, Lisa was a fundraiser at ALSAC / St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She brings a passion for youth along with donor development and events knowledge to Big Green. She is also involved locally with The Junior League of Memphis, AutoZone Liberty Bowl, and St. Jude. Lisa holds an MBA in Management and a BBA in Marketing from The University of Mississippi. When she isn't at Big Green, you can find her gardening, playing tennis or entertaining family and friends with her husband Scott and their dogs Birdie and Brick.
Ryan Graycheck is passionate about landscape design, organic agriculture, and creating spaces that balance both aesthetics and productivity.
Prior to joining Big Green, Ryan spent the last 7 years working in organic agriculture. He has worked on large scale diversified vegetable farms and most recently designed and managed the Greyfield Gardens at the historic Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island, GA. Ryan received a Bachelors in Landscape Architecture from The University of Georgia. He is excited to join Big Green to design Learning Gardens to educate the Memphis community about the importance of sustainable food production and eatingreal food. When not at work Ryan enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, gardening, cooking, beekeeping, camping, and spending time with family and friends.
Kelsey is a Michigan native, but came to Denver by way of Flagstaff, Arizona. She holds a BA from Western Michigan University and studied Educational Theory in Graduate School at Northern Arizona University. She found passion in food and nutrition through ultrarunning, and was soon pursuing education on food systems and sustainability. With a love for real food and a background in education, a career with Big Green feels like a natural fit. When not in the office or at schools, Kelsey can be found with her nose in a book, rock climbing with her partner, Zac, or running through the mountains with her dog, Winnie.
Laura was born and raised in Calexico, CA. She later attended Cal State, Long Beach and double majored in Human Development and Chicano and Latino Studies. She lived in Japan for two years and travelled all over Asia. Laura also attended Le Cordon Bleu and graduated with a degree in Culinary Arts. She loves to travel, cook, and garden - and is now the co-chair of Fountain Community Gardens where she shares a plot with her husband.
Megan is passionate about engaging healthy communities. Her background involves promoting and fostering wellbeing on college campuses. She earned a MA in Health from Sam Houston State University BA in Communication from Western Kentucky University. In her free time, she enjoys running and exploring with dog (Yoda) and husband (Taylor).
Hailing from Virginia, Erika received her B.S. from Virginia Tech in Environmental Policy & Planning, and graduated from Duke with a Masters of Environmental Management. Erika has a strong interest in environmental education through place-based, experiential, and service-learning opportunities. In the past, she managed the Virginia Tech Sustainable Food Corps Student Garden, and was a volunteer through the WWOOF program in Italy and at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. Additionally, Erika completed her masters project focused on creating a web database of garden-based curricula for North Carolina.
Originally from Louisville, KY, Laura has lived in Australia, Norway, Finland, Portugal and Slovenia, but today she enjoys strong roots in Indianapolis, IN. A serendipitous string of events involving yoga, a raw milk cow-share and a front porch egg-CSA lead Laura to start the Indy Winter Farmers Market in 2008 and found Growing Places Indy in 2010. Ever since she has been driving forward the vision for healthier communities through real food and mind-body education. Laura is delighted to bring her experience and commitment to Big Green and to bring Learning Gardens to Indianapolis schools. Away from work, Laura teaches yoga and enjoys time - mostly involving good food - with family and friends. She completed a BA from Butler University in 2000 and an MBA from the Bled School of Management in Slovenia in 2014.
Ava has a strong passion for supporting youth! Prior to Big Green, Ava spent the last 10 years working with large scale nonprofits to open new sites across multiple locations, support program curriculum and school district partnerships. Ava received her MBA in Non-Profit Management from Cleary University. She’s a proud Graduate of Central State University a Historically Black College, where she received her Bachelor of Business Administration/ Marketing. Ava is excited to grow her own garden and teach her nieces and nephews. In Ava’s spare time she loves to travel, practice yoga and enjoy the simple things in life with family and friends.
Katherine, a South Carolina native, holds a BA in Environmental Studies from Lewis & Clark College. Her fascination with farming communities led her to the Australian outback where she spent time wrangling sheep, getting to know local farmers, and researching the political economy of the wool industry. She also travelled across India where she enjoyed adventures like exploring sustainable agriculture in remote communities in the Himalayas, tutoring at an orphanage, and eating tons of local cuisine. Prior to Big Green, she worked as an educator on an urban farm in Portland, Oregon where she loved teaching about plants, nutrition, and chickens. Passionate about increasing access to green spaces and fresh, healthy food, Katherine is excited to bring her knowledge of organic gardening and healthy cooking to communities in Chicago. Outside of Big Green, she enjoys making pottery, traveling, and attempting new outdoor activities.
Sam Koentopp is a gardener, and teacher from Chicago.
Sam Koentopp is the Chicago Program Manager. He has been with Big Green since 2013 and has helped build most of the organization's Learning Gardens currently installed in Chicago schools. Sam is a father of 2 girls and outside of his work with Big Green he enjoys being with his family, cooking, eating, and playing music. Sam is proud to be a part of the Chicago urban agriculture community and believes deeply that we can accomplish the most when we work in cooperation and collaboration with our communities.
Ilana is a graduate from the University of British Columbia (UBC) where she studied Sustainable Food Systems and Food Justice. She believes in the power of urban agriculture and garden education to make meaningful and lasting change. Prior to Big Green, Ilana worked for the UBC Center for Sustainable Food Systems on the field team maintaining perennial crops. She also worked as a program evaluator for the Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security and the Prairie Organic Grain Initiative, two national organizations that support the ecological seed sector and organic farmers in Canada. When she’s not growing food or eating it, you can find her on the dance floor, reading a book, or drinking a hot cup of tea.
A native of Buffalo, NY, Josh holds a bachelors in Environmental Policy (SUNY Buffalo) and a Masters in Environmental Leadership from Naropa University.
Josh is a certified Permaculture Designer and has a particular focus on creating systemic changes in our food systems, studying in Maui, Kenya, Oregon and Colorado. He has worked for numerous non-profits and with Americorps implementing sustainable community development with both youth and adults. He is also addicted to wildlife documentaries.
J.P. is a West Tennessee native who is thrilled to call Memphis home. He has worked on CSA farms in Virginia and Tennessee and was manager of a community garden in New Orleans. He earned a B.A. from University of Memphis in History and English. He is also an avid backyard gardener with a keen interest in biointensive practices and permaculture design. Aside from gardening, J.P. also enjoys art museums, live music, hiking, camping, dancing, and spending quality time with family and friends.
A Chicago native, Laura Mueller comes to Big Green after a decade fundraising in the Chicago Public School system and for other local non-profit organizations in the food space, including Purple Asparagus and Common Pantry. Laura holds two MS degrees from Northwestern University, in Integrated Marketing Communication and Journalism and a BS University of Colorado at Boulder. Prior to her nonprofit career, she was the Corporate Marketing Director of a national hospitality company. As a life-long vegetarian and passionate home cook, Laura is thrilled to work at Big Green to engage young children in the joy of growing and eating real food, especially their vegetables. Outside the office, Laura enjoys hitting the farmers' markets with her Australian Shepherd, Ingo, skiing, hiking, yoga, and cooking creatively with her family.
Madeleine Nelson joined Big Green with five years of non-profit development experience.
Most recently, she was Donor Relations Manager at Western Resource Advocates (WRA), a non-profit environmental conservation organization in Boulder, where she focused on corporate and individual giving and special events. Prior to WRA, she worked in membership at the YMCA of Boulder Valley. Madeleine originally hails from Chicago. She earned a BA in International Affairs from the University of Colorado at Boulder and holds a Nutrition certification from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.
Jonathan aka JP is a native Michigander who has been an educator and small business owner since 2003. JP became hooked on locally produced food while residing in the Pacific Northwest and today proudly supports his local and national real food community through Learning Gardens.
Sophia graduated in 2019 from the University of Colorado, Boulder where she studied Psychology and Business. She started as a Finance intern with Big Green, and is thrilled to be continuing her role full-time as a senior accountant. Originally from California, Sophia grew up spending lots of time in the garden, and is so excited about the opportunity to bring real food to children across the country. In her free time, Sophia enjoys skiing, hiking, biking, and exploring all that Colorado has to offer!
Elisa is happy to settle in Chicago after a few years abroad. She holds a B.S. in Urban and Regional Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University, where she studied land use, economic geography, and sustainable community development. Elisa has taught and learned from Pre-K-8th grade students for 6 years, and her love of nature and growing food stems from running wild on her grandparents’ fields in the countryside of Japan. Elisa’s favorite days are spent feeding tofu to cows, foraging fruit, and walking along a riverbank.
Laura believes that food is a defining aspect of our lives, from our health, to the sustainability of the environment, our connection to the land, and is how we build community, place, and culture. She is passionate about fostering food systems change through education.
Laura has worked across diverse issue areas to build partnerships and empower communities with the resources and tools they need to create change. Most recently, Laura built and managed a network of local government leaders, funders, and thought leaders in communities across the country to develop and execute plans to scale national service programs as a community development tool. Laura holds an MA in International Education and a BA in Political Science and English. Outside of work she enjoys going on adventures in the great outdoors, practicing yoga, and preparing delicious food.
Jenny Tokheim was born a farm-kid in Iowa, but became a Memphian in 2013. She studied English Literature at the University of Iowa, and has tended a garden as long as she can remember. During her time in Memphis, she's worked in Shelby County Schools in the Coordinated School Health Department, as well as in the greenhouses of a local nursery. In Big Green, she loves the merger of education and health and the joy of harvesting something planted with one's own hands. In her free-time, you can find her gardening, flower-arranging, or working on one of her many home-improvement projects.
Dianna joined Big Green after nearly two decades working in public education in Wisconsin. She served as a high school teacher, curriculum coordinator, and middle school principal during that time. Dianna's background includes graduate coursework leading to a Master's Degree in Alternative Education, and licensure in Educational Leadership and Curriculum and Instruction. Her passion has been and continues to be working toward ends that help children reach their full potential, often through creative or alternate programming options.
Kimbal Musk, Board Chairman
Don Degnan, Director The Kitchen
Dorsey Hopson, Director Cigna
Wendy Lea, Director Strategic Advisor, Technology and Innovation
Hugo Matheson, Director The Kitchen
Cindy Mercer, Director Planet Heritage Foundation
Larry Mueller, Director Cuvée
Michael Tang, Director National Material LP
Letter from the Board: Big Green's Promise