Kimbal Musk is an investor, entrepreneur, philanthropist, and a chef.
Kimbal is on the board for Tesla Motors, SpaceX, The Anschutz Health and Wellness Center and Chipotle Mexican Grill. His personal mission is to get communities rapidly thriving by improving every part of the food culture. Kimbal is a co-founder of The Kitchen, a growing family of restaurants that sources directly from local farmers, stimulating the local farm economy to the tune of millions of dollars a year, and creating quality jobs. In 2011, Kimbal co-founded Big Green, a complementary non-profit organization. Big Green has already built 200 Learning Gardens reaching over 120,000 students every school day, improving their vegetable intake and academic achievements.
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 Hutchins 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 DC 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.
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.
Olivia is a native of Rochester, NY with a passion for providing children with hands-on learning experiences. Prior to Big Green she served as Development Director for WOW! Children’s Museum in Lafayette, Colorado, where she directed the Museum’s fundraising efforts. She has also worked in communications and marketing for Causewave Community Partners and New York State Assemblyman Joseph Morelle. Olivia holds her BA in Communications from SUNY Geneseo. In her spare time, Olivia volunteers as a Board Member for the Lafayette Public Library and attempts to cook Polish food with her husband and two children.
Fueled with a genuine passion to help people through design, Shaun has over a decade of experience in landscape architecture, design thinking, and creative problem solving. He completed his undergrad at Purdue University with a BS in Landscape Architecture in 2005 and calls Indianapolis his home. When not managing Big Green projects, Shaun can be found playing with his family, catching a concert, and visiting local restaurants and dive bars. Shaun is also the Indy office walking calculator. He can add up sums quicker than you can pull up the calculator on your iPhone!
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.
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.
Alex Brady is the Colorado Development Manager at Big Green.
Alex moved to Colorado three years ago after spending the previous eight years in Vermont. Alex has a passion for real local food and building communities around food. Prior to Big Green, he was alumni and development manager at Johnson & Wales University. He has also worked as a Special Events & Volunteer Coordinator for a non-profit in Vermont and spent two years as the Food & Beverage Director at a private country club. When Alex is not fundraising for Big Green he enjoys cooking as well as spending time outside with his wife Emily and their dog Barley. Alex holds a bachelors degree from the University of Vermont.
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.
Darin is a husband and happy father of two boys and a little girl.
His childhood in rural Indiana led Darin to Ball State University, where he graduated with a Master's of Landscape Architecture. Darin's past experience working for Civitas, Denver Public Schools and Learning Landscapes projects have propelled him to lead Big Green's Project Management team. When Darin's not in the field or the office, you'll find him playing ultimate frisbee, where he competes world-wide.
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.
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.
Matthew Elden is the Human Resources Assistant At Big Green. Matt is responsible for assisting with our people and internal operations, and works out of the home office in Boulder. Matt received his Bachelor’s degree in Nutrition from Saint John’s University in Minnesota, studied Culinary Arts at Johnson & Wales University in Denver, and is currently pursuing his MBA in Human Resource Management. Prior to joining Big Green, Matt has worked all throughout the hospitality industry, along with recruiting in higher education. Outside of the office, you will likely find Matt doing homework, playing with his frenchie, Peter Parker (pictured), and cooking.
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.
Before joining Big Green, Lisa was a fundraiser at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. She brings a passion for children along with donor development and events knowledge to Big Green. She is also involved locally with The Junior League, 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 playing tennis, working in her garden, or entertaining friends with her husband and their puppy Birdie.
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.
Marla believes strongly in the power of cultivating community through gardening. She graduated from Miami University of Ohio with a Bachelor of Arts in Individualized Studies, combining her passions for environmental science, early childhood education, and social justice. During her time at Miami, she helped found the Institute for Food and interned at Heartbeat Learning Gardens in Yellow Springs, Ohio. After graduation, she moved to Great Falls, Montana to serve as an AmeriCorps VISTA Summer Associate with Growing Gardens from Garbage. Before coming to Chicago to begin working with Big Green, Marla served as the FoodCorps AmeriCorps Service Member at Killip Elementary in Flagstaff, Arizona. Marla loves to travel, read, laugh, and learn. She also really loves worms and is happiest when her hands are in the soil.
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.
Charity is an avid vegetable gardener, who is passionate about sharing the joy and impacts of growing food with others.
She has a BA in Environmental Science from Goshen College, and experience working with urban farms, garden education, and edible landscaping projects. Most recently, she coordinated an edible garden outreach program in Pittsburgh, aiming to increase access to fresh and healthy foods through backyard vegetable gardening.
Aside from gardening, Charity enjoys baking, traveling, playing in nature, and spending time with her husband and their mini schnauzer.
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 fostering wellbeing on campus as the Marketing Coordinator for the Department of University Recreation at LSU. 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 and husband.
Hailing from Virginia, Erika received her B.S. from Virginia Tech in Environmental Policy & Planning, and just recently 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 Student Garden, and was a volunteer through the WWOOF program in Italy and at the Durham Public Schools Hub Farm. Additionally, Erika competed 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.
She graduated in 2015 with a B.S. in Environmental Science after falling in love with the food, music, and people of Memphis. While at Rhodes, Karen was involved with the campus garden and farmers market and worked as a research assistant in the archaeology department. After graduation, she spent a year teaching science and caring for chickens and a small farm at a Montessori school in Knoxville. Karen is thrilled to be back in Memphis and continue her work in education and sustainability with Big Green. In her free time, Karen enjoys singing in choirs and planning trips to visit her eight siblings.
Maggie is a Chicagoland native. Having raised a large family, she is passionate about growing vegetables to create home cooked nutritious meals and healthy family time. Prior to Big Green she has spent the last 15 years in corporate sales management roles. She is affiliated with the Institute of Integrative Nutrition and has a BA in Communications/Journalism from Northern Illinois University. In her spare time she enjoys golfing, swimming and biking.
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.
Sydney Karpowich is a landscape designer and is passionate about creating and building spaces that are central, distinct, and empowering places to learn, teach and gather in a school.
Kristin Kirkpatrick is the Regional Director for Colorado at Big Green.
Kristin is passionate about creating environments that make the healthy choice the easy choice. With a background in public health and city planning, Kristin has worked to support the health of Coloradans where they live, work, and play through roles in community-based organizing around obesity prevention, transportation planning at the local and federal levels, in policy advocacy around health equity, and in health-oriented private real-estate development. Kristin is currently an adjunct professor at CSU in the School of Public Health and chairs her local planning commission. Kristin holds a B.S. in Health and Exercise Science from Colorado State University and a Master of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado. As a mother to three young children, Kristin understands the transformational power of the seeds being planted through Big Green's Learning Garden initiative and feels so lucky to be part of the team. In her spare time, you can find Kristin playing outside with her family and her dog, Derby.
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.
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.
Megan’s interest in food and agriculture started early - on her family’s third generation ranch in southwest Arkansas. Prior to joining Big Green and completing her master's degree in Community Development at the University of California, Davis as a McKeehan Fellow, Megan was a high school teacher in Memphis. There, she founded a gardening program focused on food justice, urban agriculture, and health equity. A native of Arkansas and Texas, Megan loves spending time in nature. She is an avid hiker and roller derby enthusiast and loves exploring with her two dogs, Butters and Toast, and her partner, Ian.
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.
Hilary, a Berkeley native moved to Colorado to pursue a degree in economics with a business emphasis from the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Corenna’s passion for sustainable agriculture and community development has led to opportunities working for several non-profits, most recently as a school garden coordinator for a Chicago public charter school.
Corenna earned her master’s degree through Miami University at Ohio, focusing on how gardens can encourage environmental stewardship, community engagement, local and global understanding, and inquiry-based learning. She is most proud of starting a community garden in her neighborhood on the southwest side of Chicago.
A native Chicagoan, Sean is committed to educating communities about the power of real food. He holds a Bachelors in History & Secondary Education, a Masters in Social Justice Education, and is a graduate of the Windy City Harvest Sustainable Urban Agriculture Apprenticeship. Prior to TKC, Sean spent five years as a high school and college educator. In his free time, he co-runs a small, not-for-profit farm on the south side of Chicago, competes in marathons/triathlons, and loves cooking, reading, and spending time with family and friends.
Joris, born and raised in Boulder, developed a passion for real food that started with a love for cooking and transformed into a powerful drive to change the way we connect to the food we eat. He graduated from Pitzer College with a degree in Environmental Physics. Throughout college Joris worked on a variety of farms and community gardens and ran his college’s community garden and composting operation. Joris believes that not only does growing your own food promote healthier and more sustainable eating habits but that it also helps create community and connect people to the place they live.
Theresa grew up plucking fresh veggies from her parents' garden and cherries off their trees. Their example started her own enthusiasm for food, one that extends far beyond enjoying or cooking a meal, to a passionate support of real food and Indy's local farmers. Before Big Green, Theresa worked in development and communications for the IU Center for Global Health and the IU Simon Cancer Center. Even further back, she was an advertising account executive. On weekends, you can usually find Theresa working with various vendors at the farmers' market or outside—tackling a triathlon, running, stand-up paddle boarding, or skating the canal.
Tim Villard is a New Hampshire native with a passion for plants!
Tim began gardening early on with is family back in New Hampshire, establishing immediate rapport with the bugs and worms beneath the dirt. His interest and experience grew and he found himself with a degree in environmental conservation with a focus on wetlands, and field ecology from the University of New Hampshire. After fulfilling his academic commitments Tim explored new areas of interest and experience by working in wetland mapping, tracking bird nesting, and the New England fishing industry. After a 'Magellan-esque' tour of the air and sea, Tim found himself once again drawn to the land and found himself comfortably settled in Boulder, Colorado working in small-scale organic farming. As his passion grew for the healthy impacts farming had on him and his local community, he was drawn to expand those impacts by working with Big Green to welcome kids and communities to growing the best produce possible.
Brooke, a proud Memphis native, received her B.A at Indiana University before pursuing a career in development and events. Prior to joining Big Green, Brooke worked as a Development Representative at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and as a Community Relations and Event Manager at Kendra Scott. Brooke has a passion for her community, events and fundraising and is excited to bring that love to Big Green. In her spare time, Brooke enjoys traveling, weekend getaways and spending time with her dogs, friends and family.
Kate is an entrepreneur, attorney, and outdoor athlete who joined Big Green after spending two years building the Blackstone Entrepreneurs Network in Colorado. Prior to attending the University of Colorado Law school, she founded and served as creative director of BeatUpBoots Media, a content, copywriting, and digital media management firm serving a variety of startup clients. Kate is originally from Cleveland, Ohio, where she attended Hawken School and went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa from Miami University of Ohio. Kate was a competitive, FIS and Junior Olympic alpine ski racer for 15 years. She enjoys skiing (especially in Silverton), drinking craft (beer and bourbon), climbing (Colorado Fourteeners), and hiking (with her dog Stanley).