Katherine Soll, CEO/President. Kathy Soll believes that all New Yorkers should be committed to ending hunger, food insecurity and poor nutrition in one of the world’s greatest cities and that connecting youth to this mission and each other is a critical part of achieving that goal. Teens for Food Justice was built on the concept that hands-on volunteering and helping others builds character and creates a unique level-playing field where people of all backgrounds can contribute equally through hard work and commitment, something hard to find in an increasingly polarized, stratified world. She also believes that a service is a powerful tool for tapping young people’s talents, resources, and abilities, helping them flourish and work productively with others, and that youth who help solve social problems become more positive, engaged, hopeful adults who remain active throughout their lives on behalf of social change. Prior to forming Students for Service in 2010, Kathy raised and educated two children in New York City’s public and independent school systems, serving in various leadership capacities within their schools’ PTAs and other community organizations. A lifelong New Yorker, she has also worked in the for-profit sector in management and marketing.
Gabrielle Mosquera, Deputy Director. Gabrielle has worked at the intersection of public education and equity issues for the past 13 years. Before joining TFFJ she held development roles at PowerMyLearning and Turnaround for Children, nonprofits that provide educational technology and trauma-informed classroom practices to district-run public schools, respectively. She also worked as a Senior Director within the NYC DOE’s Office of School Design and Charter Partnerships, where she monitored and evaluated the academic, organizational, and operational performance of 23 network-affiliated and independent charter schools. Additionally, she worked in new school development at the Newark Charter School Fund, where she helped launch two charter schools, and at EdisonLearning, Inc., where she managed proposals for new and renewed charter schools as well as for supplemental education services. She currently serves as the Founding Board Chair at LEEP Dual Language Academy Charter School in Brooklyn, and is a high school mentor through the iMentor program. Gabrielle earned a BS in Journalism with honors from Boston University, and is currently earning her Executive MPA from Baruch College.
David Goldstein, Farm Operations Manager. David is a hydroponicist that provides expertise in farm management, system design, and horticulture. Combining his passions for food and technology, David uses controlled environment agriculture to emulate the farm-to-table lifestyle he experienced while working on small farms in the US and Italy. After moving to New York City, he managed hydroponic farms for a multitude of non-profit and private organizations ranging from community food pantries to Michelin starred restaurants. Now David is engaging educational and high-tech industry members to optimize production in urban food deserts. He holds a BA in Psychology from Brandeis University and MS in Organizational Behavior from NYU.
Harrison Hillier, Senior Hydroponics Manager. Harrison graduated from the University of Maryland with a Bachelor of Science in 2013, before doing further coursework at NC State. At these institutions, he gained hands-on experience and insight into both soil-based and vertical hydroponic farming techniques. He has over four years of experience designing indoor vertical hydroponic systems and developing commercial grade methodology for crop management from seed to harvest in greenhouses and indoor farms.
Clare Hyre, Senior Program Manager. Clare graduated from Guilford College with a double minor in Peace and Conflict Studies and Religious Studies in 2008. After graduating and prior to joining Teens for Food Justice, Clare apprenticed on several small-scale CSA farms, as well as managed several farm education programs and farmers’ markets. In 2016, Clare graduated from New York University’s Food Studies Master’s Program, where she studied the intersection of food systems and social justice. Clare is thrilled to bring her experiences in working with youth, building sustainable food systems, and strengthening communities in New York City to Teens for Food Justice.
Joshua Serrano, Senior Marketing and Development Manager. Joshua received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Public Policy from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in May 2016. Before joining the TFFJ Team, Joshua was an Americorps Public Ally at Fair Chance, where his work focused on partner communications and new partner outreach, and a Research Assistant at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he worked on the Criminalization of Poverty Project, focused on the growing ways in which those in poverty are disproportionately targeted, marginalized, and prosecuted. He is from Brooklyn, New York and spent time as an undergraduate studying in Vietnam and Washington DC. He also is a former New Economy Maryland Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC.
Debbie Chan, Communications and Development Associate. Debbie graduated from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in May 2019, where she studied Philosophy, Digital Media & Journalism, and Sociology. As a former copy editor for The John Jay Sentinel and Executive Marketer for Student Council at John Jay, the definition for advocacy has evolved to more than just being informed about information. Rather it is about being in the system and strive to change it to make it better. She wants to be a ripple in the waves of change around food insecurity by informing and educating others about this important issue.
Matthew Horgan, Senior Curriculum Development and Training Coordinator. Matthew began as a mentor with Teens for Food Justice’s after-school program, was later hired as a part-time curriculum writer, and now works as the Senior Curriculum Development and Training Coordinator, where he writes curriculum and trains teachers and staff around the hydroponic systems in the classroom. He was born and raised in Rockaway Beach, NYC, and he graduated from SUNY Binghamton University with a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Environmental Studies and St. Edwards University with a Professional Science Master’s degree in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development. His studies of the environmental field brought him to Upstate New York, Texas, France, Vermont, and Costa Rica. During this time, he grew excited about urban agriculture’s potential for environmental sustainability and potential to deliver healthy and nutritious food to people living in cities. He also became aware of the powerful tool writing has in depicting the environmental challenges of our time and began a blog to practice his writing skills (SustainEveryone.com). His intention with the blog is to explore the impacts of our actions on human health and wildlife, and to discuss solutions that consider the well-being of people and the natural world.
Brandon Brones, Hydroponic Farmer-Educator, DeWitt Clinton High School. Brandon Brones is a multi-generational food worker from Kentucky committed to ending racism and injustice within the food system. Having familial roots in the food industry—from farmers to school cafeteria workers—his exposure to these inequities began at a young age and blossomed into his own curious journey into food and solving its problems. Specifically reentry for those formerly incarcerated and finding placement and purpose within the vast umbrella of jobs in the food system. He calloussed his hands throughout Chicago’s bustling restaurant scene, taking note of access and sustainability within the hospitality industry, which lead him to The Chicago Botanic Garden’s Windy Harvest Apprenticeship. After absorbing the basics of urban farming, he made his way to Brooklyn to train as a Next-Gen Farmer at Square Roots and develop the skills necessary to propel his future endeavor: BareBack Farms. This inclusive educational farming cooperative will be focused on connecting young queer farmers of color to ancestral and sustainable practicess.
Michael Sterenberg, Hydroponic Farmer-Educator, Martin Luther King Educational Campus. A New York City native, Michael graduated in 2017 from Davidson College with a bachelor’s degree in economics. Upon graduating, he began working in New York’s restaurant industry, gaining service experience at some of the city’s best fine dining restaurants including Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Eleven Madison Park. Inspired by the scale, reach and influence of the top restaurants, he became passionate and curious about learning how food can be leveraged to create change in larger social and environmental contexts, leading to his discovery of TFFJ. He is very excited to be working with students on the farm, and believes it is a tremendous introduction into the world of sustainability and health. In his free time, Michael enjoys playing basketball, reading books in coffee shops, and fermenting all types of food!
Taylor Gordon, Farm Manager, Brownsville Collaborative Middle School. Taylor is an East New York, Brooklyn native, and began working as a youth farm leader at East New York farms at age 14. As a community gardener, he is dedicated to the fight for better access to fresh produce in his community and has worked on developing community gardens in formerly vacant lots. Taylor is also an audio engineer; he graduated in 2009 from Recording Connection in New York City. He believes in community-based solutions and using food justice and music to usher in positive changes.
Alyssa Vazquez, Farm Manager, Urban Assembly Unison School. Alyssa joined Teens For Food Justice as a member of its first teen volunteer team in Fall 2013 and returned as a mentor the following year. A senior at Brooklyn College, she is currently majoring in Urban Sustainability with a concentration in Environmental Science. She is involved with Ecology and Sustainability clubs at Brooklyn College and volunteers at the aquaponic greenhouse on campus in the Aquatic Research and Environmental Assessment Center, or AREAC. She spends her summers teaching high school students about gardening, environmental justice, and sustainability at Brooklyn College and is also involved in Participatory Budgeting efforts in the Midwood area of Brooklyn.
Aiman Satter, Intern. Born and raised in Queens, Aiman is a junior at Queens College where he studies Economics with a minor in Business and Liberal Arts. He has experience working with SEO tools such as Google Analytics and Ahrefs in addition to presenting to executives like CFOs and CISOs to communicate effective solutions. Fascinated by the rise in urban farming, he is excited to contribute his skills to the TFFJ mission while expanding his own knowledge of hydroponic farming. He enjoys going to comedy events, journaling, and exploring New York.